NFC South's history of worst to first

There has been a lot of talk, particularly from Tampa Bay’s fans, about the NFC South’s tendency to have a team go from worst to first.

Let’s explore this phenomenon a little because it is a big part of the NFC South’s history. In every season since the division began play in 2002, the last place team has jumped to first place the following year with only one exception: 2008.

Since divisional realignment, that has happened 12 times all around the league and precisely half of them have come from the NFC South. Also, each NFC South team has done it at least once. Here’s the complete history of the team’s that went from worst to first.

  • 2003 Carolina Panthers. Went from 7-9 to 11-5 and reached the Super Bowl.

  • 2004 Atlanta Falcons. Went from 5-11 to 11-5.

  • 2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Followed a 5-11 season with an 11-5 year.

  • 2006 New Orleans Saints. Jumped from 3-13 to 10-6.

  • 2007 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Went from 4-12 to 9-7.

  • 2009 New Orleans Saints. Followed an 8-8 season with a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl championship.