Eight teams finished at the bottom of their division each year in the NFL, but that does not mean you should always count them out in the following year. Over at SBNation.com, Joel Thorman wrote an article that looked at which teams had the best chances of going from "worst to first" in their division from 2011 to 2012. If you think SB Nation is any more optimistic than ESPN was in their 2015 future power rankings, though, then you are fooling yourself:
8. Cleveland Browns: Sorry, Cleveland. The Ravens and Steelers are both in the AFC North, and they're both significantly better than the Browns. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh are two of the most consistent teams in the league, and even a great season from the Bengals wasn't enough to finish ahead of either them in the AFC North. The Browns are building a solid foundation with Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden, but they have a while to go before they can start talking about winning the division.
Ugh, I think we're all dying for this reign of dominance in the AFC North to end for Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Despite losing every division game last year, though, Cleveland was pretty competitive against their AFC North rivals; hopefully they can make a statement this year, rather than waiting for next year.
Thorman lists the Chiefs as having the best chance of going from worst to first (note: Thorman is a die-hard Chiefs fan). Compared to the rest of the team, I'd probably agree with him. I don't see how St. Louis is the next most likely team to jump up to first place; not with the 49ers in that division. I don't need to see two years of consistency from San Francisco -- they are the real deal. I'd probably go with Washington at No. 2 because the NFC East is always so whacky and full of inconsistency. Where should Cleveland be ranked on the list? I'd go with fourth or fifth.