The NFL has its share of perennial contenders, but every year, teams come out of nowhere to challenge for playoff spots. We don’t see a lot of teams going from nothing to Super Bowl, but each year, there is at least one last place team that ends up in the playoff hunt the next year.
On Wednesday, Football Outsiders put together a ranking of last year’s eight last place teams in terms of playoff odds. The San Francisco 49ers are among those eight teams, and it is not surprising they rank last in playoff chances. FO gives them a 6.7 percent chance of making the playoffs, which ranks 32nd in the NFL. They rank just behind the Cleveland Browns, who have a 6.8 percent chance of making the playoffs. Here’s what FO had to say about the 49ers:
Cleveland is actually forecast to be the worst team in the league by our DVOA projections, but it is San Francisco that has the lowest odds of making the postseason. This is what happens when a bad team plays in what is otherwise the best division in football. The 49ers have the hardest projected schedule in the league. We have Seattle and Arizona projected as the top two teams, and if both of those teams somehow stumble, the Rams have a defense good enough to sneak themselves into the postseason. Meanwhile, the 49ers will go three-and-out over and over, and they will do it really, really fast. At least there's still some talent on this defense: NaVorro Bowman will lead the league in tackles because he is still a very good player and will always be on the field.
The divisional thing makes all the sense in the world. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals are both expected to make the playoffs, and are viewed among the best teams in the NFL. The 49ers not only need to improve, but would need to improve over Super Bowl contenders.
The Dallas Cowboys are on top with 50.5 percent odds of making the playoffs. If Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are healthy, they stand an excellent chance of taking the division. Of course, Romo is the huge if. They saw great things from Dak Prescott in the preseason opener, but he is a rookie, so we’ll see how consistent he is the rest of this preseason.