Perhaps more than any other league, the NFL seems to promote and realize the type of parity the NBA and MLB can’t usually compete with.
It’s not often that a 20-win NBA team or a 60-win MLB team automatically catapults itself into the conference finals in a subsequent season.
However, magical turnarounds like that happen all the time in the NFL.
Just last year, we saw the Washington Football Team stage a dramatic turnaround behind head coach Ron Rivera and their disruptive defensive line.
They finished 3-13 in 2019, and bounced back in 2020 to win the NFC East.
In the past two decades, it is nearly a guarantee that at least one team who finished last in their division one year will win it the following season.
Since it is a matter of who, and not if, a team can pull off the feat based on recent statistical trends, let’s take a look at the two NFL teams who are most likely to pull it off in the 2021 season.
In order to find the most optimal candidates for a worst-to-first transformation, it makes sense to target some of the weakest divisions in the NFL.
Based on record alone, there wasn’t a more disappointing division than the NFC East.
Washington captured the crown with a mediocre 7-9 record, so it stands to reason that with just a few minor adjustments, the Philadelphia Eagles could easily be back on top.
They certainly had some notable additions this offseason, headlined by new head coach Nick Sirianni, and Heisman Trophy winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
Smith and incumbent wide receiver Jalen Reagor should give the Eagles some much-needed play-making ability on the outside.
Philadelphia’s biggest addition might have been by subtraction, with the trade of Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts.
Wentz’s struggles last season cast an unhealthy amount of negative focus on the team, and starting fresh with Jalen Hurts’ potential will be a good thing for the Eagles.
— quincy_avery (@Quincy_Avery) February 21, 2021
On paper, it wouldn’t seem like the Atlanta Falcons have that good of a chance to turn it around in the NFC South.
They’re in the same division with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who just returned all 22 starters from their Super Bowl winning team.
The Falcons also have to contend with the New Orleans Saints, who employ one of the best coaches in the NFL in Sean Payton, and have also been one of the best teams of the last 15 years.
With that said, the Falcons are still a team to keep an eye on come September.
It’s no secret that the team’s window to contend is rapidly closing, and veteran quarterback Matt Ryan will do everything in his power to avoid another lackluster season.
They just added one of the most highly regarded prospects in recent NFL draft history in tight end Kyle Pitts, who figures to be a very solid player at worst.
— NFL (@NFL) May 7, 2021
If new head coach Arthur Smith can bring his trademark creativity to this offense, it might be enough to throw the other NFC South teams for a loop for at least next season.