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2023/24 NFL season: Ranking the eight worst-to-first candidates

In 18 of the past 20 NFL seasons, at least one team has won its division after finishing last the year prior.

We took a look at all eight last-place teams from a season ago to see which club has the best chance of winning its division in 2023/24.

Atlanta Falcons

2022/23 record: 7-10 

Odds to win NFC South: +220

The team with the best odds to win its division in 2023/24 after coming last the year prior? The Atlanta Falcons. 

Atlanta finished with the same record as division rivals New Orleans and Carolina last year, but tiebreakers slotted them in fourth place when it was all said and done. 

Arthur Smith’s club having the shortest odds of any 2022/23 last-place finisher is largely due to Tom Brady’s departure from Tampa Bay, who won the NFC South the last two seasons, and uncertainties as to how they, the new-look Saints, and up-and-coming Panthers will look this season.

Only New Orleans (+110) has better odds to win the NFC South.

New York Jets

2022/23 record: 7-10

Odds to win AFC East: +240

The team with the highest hopes of any 2022/23 bottom-dweller, the Jets are flying high heading into the new campaign with four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers under center.

Jets fans will happily see QB Zach Wilson back up the future Hall of Famer after last season’s 6-3 start turned sideways over the second half of the season.

Coming first in the AFC East will be no easy task, though, as the juggernaut Buffalo Bills (+120 to Win Division) look to make it four-straight first-place finishes in the division.

Cleveland Browns

2022/23 record: 7-10

Odds to win AFC North: +375

The Browns winning the AFC North would not only mean going worst to first, but it would be Cleveland’s first division title in more than three decades. They last won it in 1989, when it was called the AFC Central Division and included the Houston Oilers.

In 2023/24, the AFC North may be the strongest division in football, making the Browns’ worst-to-first quest that more difficult.

Deshaun Watson and company are third in the betting to win the division, behind the Bengals (+140) and Ravens (+225).

Chicago Bears

2022/23 record: 3-14 

Odds to win NFC North: +400

The NFL’s worst team a year ago, the Bears are optimistic to compete in what looks to be a wide-open NFC North this season. Eight of the last 12 division titles have gone to the Packers, but with Aaron Rodgers out of town, the power balance has shifted.

Third-year QB Justin Fields is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league, and if his development stays on course while rattling off a couple of divisional wins, Chicago can challenge for the NFC North title.

Denver Broncos

2022/23 record: 5-12

Odds to win AFC West: +550

One of the laughingstocks of the league a year ago looks to be a much more serious outfit heading into 2023/24.

We know what to expect from new head coach Sean Payton, but does Russell Wilson have any gas left in the tank?

Not only will the Broncos have to patch up the mistakes they made last season, but they will have to one-up the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (-160 to Win Division) to win the AFC West.

Houston Texans

2022/23 record: 3-13-1

Odds to win AFC South: +800

The Texans are a team for the future - a new QB in CJ Stroud, a freak edge rusher in Will Anderson, and a highly-rated head coach in DeMeco Ryans - but year one of the new regime may be a rocky one.

Houston has the longest odds to win the AFC South, while the Jaguars (-160) are favored to come first for the second-straight year.

Washington Commanders

2022/23 record: 8-8-1

Odds to win NFC East: +1200

The NFC East has not seen a repeat winner since the Philadelphia Eagles won back-to-back division titles in 2003 and 2004.

The Commanders have the longest odds to win what will be a gauntlet of a division, which includes three playoff teams and the Super Bowl runners-up from a year ago.

First-year starting QB Sam Howell will need to light it up for Washington to compete for top spot in the NFC East.

Arizona Cardinals

2022/23 record: 4-13

Odds to win NFC West: +2500

Once the upstart team of the NFC, the Cardinals are as far away from a division title as any team in the NFL.

With a brand new head coach in Jonathan Gannon and no Kyler Murray for the start of the season, as he recovers from an ACL injury, little is expected from Arizona in the 2023/24 campaign.

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