NFL 2013: Bottoms Up (After Week 4)

Yahoo Contributor Network

It's nearly become a tradition in today's National Football League.

Just about every season, we see a last-place club turn into a first-place club in the blink of an eye, AKA one season.

A year ago, the Washington Redskins won the NFC East for the first time since 1999. This after the team had finished in the division basement each of the previous four seasons.

On Wednesdays, we are taking a look at how each of last season's 12 playoff teams is faring in 2013.

So in the spirit of equal times, we will also take a look at the eight teams that finished last a year ago and rank them from worst to best.

Are any of these teams on course to win a division title? One quarter into the season, there are some worthy candidates.

NOTE: This piece does include the results of Thursday night's contest between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns.

8. AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

You know the old saying when it comes to not saying anything at all when you can't say something nice? All kidding aside, it's been a rough start for new head coach Gus Bradley, who has seen his team total a mere 31 points in four games this season. But the Jaguars do get second-year wide receiver Justin Blackmon back from a four-game league suspension and he could give a struggling St. Louis Rams defense some problems this week…

7. NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)

The saga that is the Buccaneers these days took on another chapter this week as former first-round quarterback Josh Freeman was released in just his fifth NFL season. Rookie Mike Glennon had his issues in his first start last Sunday in a 13-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Greg Schiano's team is off this week (some will say that has been the case all season) and will try and regroup against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6…

6. NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)

Since leading the Washington Redskins at halftime, 26-7, in Week 1, Chip Kelly's Eagles have been outscored by a combined 131-73 count. And after holding on to beat the defending NFC East champions, these Birds have lost three games in a row. Only the New York Giants have allowed more points per game in the league this season, which means just about anything goes when these teams square off at MetLife Stadium this Sunday…

5. NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (2-2)

The Cardinals snapped a long road losing streak with last Sunday's 13-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and wideout Larry Fitzgerald have connected for three scores in four games, good news for the latter considering he caught only four touchdown passes during all of 2012. The defense has been a bit inconsistent and the pass rush non-existent. But all of that could be solved this week with the return of suspended Pro Bowl inside linebacker Daryl Washington…

4. AFC East: Buffalo Bills (2-3)

Five games into the season and Doug Marrone's team has alternated losses and wins each week. That means the Bills come off an entertaining but disappointing primetime setback to the Cleveland Browns in which rookie quarterback EJ Manuel went down. Buffalo's first-round pick may be out for a bit, according to reports. Fellow rookies such as wide receiver Robert Woods and middle linebacker Kiko Alonso are making their mark as well but no Manuel could be an issue for this young club…

3. AFC North: Cleveland Browns (3-2)

From their traditional 0-2 start of recent seasons, the Browns suddenly flipped the switch and made it three straight wins thanks to a 37-24 conquest of the Buffalo Bills. The team now has playmakers on both sides of the football and former starter Brandon Weeden filled in nicely Thursday night after Brian Hoyer went down. Head coach Rob Chudzinksi has a little extra time to get his team ready for their next game with the Detroit Lions in Week 6 but the loss of Hoyer (knee) for the season is unfortunate…

2. NFC North: Detroit Lions (3-1)

Somewhat tempted to put Jim Schwartz's team at No. 1 this week after they handed the Bears their first loss of the season. Running back Reggie Bush has added a spark to the offense, wideout Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford are back connecting for touchdowns and the Lions' defense has been aggressive. Detroit has not beaten the Green Bay Packers on the road since 1991 and if they manage that feat on Sunday, this could be a very dangerous team…

1. AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)

Off to their best start since 2003, the Chiefs are playing physical and opportunistic defense. Keep in mind that this was a team that totaled only 13 takeaways last season and this year has already forced 12 turnovers in four contests. Kansas City has only allowed 41 points this season, not bad for a club that gave up 40 points in their first game of 2012. And veteran quarterback Alex Smith has been in control of an efficient offense. But a win over the improved Tennessee Titans will be easier said than done…

Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

View Comments