Which NFC Cellar-Dweller Is A Worst-To-First Contender?

  • Bovada has updated Division Odds for all 32 NFL franchises
  • At least one NFL team has gone from the bottom to the top of their division in 15 of the past 16 seasons
  • This year’s worst-to-first contenders in the NFC include the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Giants and Lions

After finishing last in the NFC East in 2016 with a 7-9 record, the Philadelphia Eagles went 13-3 to win the 2017 division title en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

As explained in my recent AFC Worst-To-First article, one NFL team has risen from the bottom to the top of their division in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

Using the odds at Bovada, I rank the NFC teams from least to most-likely to accomplish that feat in 2019. The NFC’s last-place teams in 2018 were the Detroit Lions (NFC North), New York Giants (NFC East), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South), and Arizona Cardinals (NFC West).

NFC Worst-to-First Odds

Team Division Odds to Win Division at Bovada
Detroit Lions NFC North +900
New York Giants NFC East +1200
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFC South +1200
Arizona Cardinals NFC West +2500

*All odds taken on 06/28/19

New York Giants: +1200 to win NFC East

Citing an improved offensive line, the presence of phenom Saquon Barkley and the NFL’s sixth-easiest schedule, Sports Illustrated recently listed the G-Men as a legitimate worst-to-first contender. Still, it’s hard to imagine a roster that PFF graded as the 27th most-talented in the league will outduel Dallas or Philadelphia for the division crown.

Since 2013, the Giants have finished better than 7-9 exactly one time and they have 6 wins or less in four of the past five seasons. With a projected $60 million in cap space next offseason, New York looks to be rebuilding after cutting ties with both Odell Beckham Jr. and safety Landon Collins.

Eli Manning just said he “doesn’t feel like there’s a QB competition” with No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones, which should scare the hell out of Giants fans.

Arizona Cardinals: +2500 to win NFC West

Things are much more exciting in the desert where Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray will command a mysterious offense under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

However, even if the partnership produces fireworks and David Johnson is revived as a fantasy football superstar, a .500 record would be a wildly successful result for a franchise that finished 3-13 last season.

Don’t bet on the Cardinals winning the NFC West, but absolutely give them credit for their splashy, sexy offseason.

Detroit Lions: +900 to win NFC North

The best argument against the Lions winning their division is they share it with the Bears, Packers and Vikings; the NFC North recently ranked #1 in the NFL Division Power Rankings.

And the second best argument is they’re coached by Matt Patricia, who flamed out spectacularly in his first year out of Bill Belichick’s nest. There was of course last summer’s sexual assault allegation, the report he worked players too hard in training camp, the story he always rolled into meetings late, and the whole 6-10 record thing.

Will matters improve in Motown? Well, Matthew Stafford did play with broken bones in his back last year, the team has a strong offensive line and a new offensive coordinator (Darrell Bevell), and receiver Kenny Golladay and running back Kerryon Johnson are two bonafide breakout candidates. A wildcard berth into the playoffs isn’t out of the question.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +1200 to win NFC South

People seem to forget that Carson Palmer went 8-16 with the Raiders and was completely written off as a NFL starting quarterback before the Cardinals stole him for a 6th Round pick and paired him with Bruce Arians.

People who are not football experts like Warren Sharp also seem to forget that Arians coached the 2017 Cardinals to 8-8 despite David Johnson being lost for the full season and playing most of the year with Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton at quarterback.

If the man in the Kangol hat can work that same magic with Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers are loaded with pass catching talent (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard). Tampa Bay will also be much better on the other side of the ball after bringing in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, behemoth DT Ndamukong Suh and linebacker Devin White (No. 5 overall pick), who was reportedly the talk of minicamp.

While the Saints, Panthers and Falcons all seem better positioned to win the division, Bruce Arians’ impressive track record makes the Bucs my NFC best bet to go from worst to first.

Steve Dominey

Steve has almost 15 years of experience in marketing, PR and sports television. After acquiring a Journalism degree from Carleton University, he assembled highlight packs for Canada's most-watched sports network (TSN) before transitioning to a career in communications. He describes himself as a good father, great dog owner, and mediocre gambler and husband.