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Kickoff Only Six Days Away

Posted Sep 3, 2010

Worst to first isn't that uncommon

Competitive balance in the NFL is so strong that a team going from “worst-to-first” in its division is becoming an annual tradition.  For the seventh consecutive season – an NFL record – at least one team has finished in first place in their division the season after finishing in last place. In fact, out of the 32 teams in NFL annals to go from “worst-to-first,” 15 of them have done so in the past 10 years (2000-09), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2006.

One of the teams to make the remarkable turnaround in 2006 did so again in 2009…all the way to a Super Bowl victory. The New Orleans Saints, whose 8-8 record saw them finish last in the NFC South in 2008, improved by five wins en route to a 13-3 record and a division title for the second time in four seasons.  The Saints also became just the third to go from “worst-to-first” and cap the season with a win in the Super Bowl, following the 1999 St. Louis Rams and 2001 New England Patriots.

 

“One of your early goals is to win your division and generally that’s the first way to get in the playoffs,” says New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.  “So we were pleased with that.”

 

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their division since 2000: 

SEASON    TEAM                RECORD  PRIOR SEASON RECORD

2000       New Orleans      10-6          3-13

2001       Chicago              13-3          5-11

2001       New England**      11-5       5-11

2003       Carolina               11-5        7-9

2003       Kansas City          13-3        8-8*

2004       Atlanta                 11-5       5-11

2004       San Diego            12-4        4-12*

2005       Chicago                11-5       5-11

2005       Tampa Bay           11-5        5-11

2006       Baltimore             13-3        6-10*

2006       New Orleans         10-6        3-13

2006       Philadelphia         10-6         6-10

2007       Tampa Bay          9-7           4-12

2008       Miami                  11-5       1-15

2009       New Orleans**      13-3        8-8

* Tied for last place  ** Won Super Bowl