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Guns, the medical profession, and bad history Part 1: US gun culture saved Europe in the World Wars and Cold War

Part 2 here
I found out about Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership when I first encountered the following article:
The US ‘Gun Culture’ That Saved Europe does not occur in a vacuum
(by the way, check the comments to get a real laugh)
Anyway, the writer is none other than Miguel Faria, a doctor and gun rights advocate who believes that Europe owes it's salvation in the World Wars to...American gun culture? I dug rather deep, finding out that Faria and his ilk at DRGO mangled the history of firearms in the US, the World Wars, US crime, the Wild West, and other issues so badly, that I had to mention it.
Offending links:
https://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint-articles/is-gun-control-really-about-people-control/
https://drgo.us/review-america-guns-and-freedom-a-journey-by-miguel-a-faria-jr-md/
Faria claims that the weak, spineless Europeans, with no gun culture, allowed the Germans to overwhelm them in two world wars, yet the brave US saved their miserable, gun-hating asses twice. This is as you can tell, is utter horseshit, as it simply babbles on without any concrete evidence (save, of course, for a brief mention of Sgt. Alvin York as an example). Outside of this one anecdote (which, to Faria's credit, is certainly inspirational but not a definitive illustration of US military skill) there is no concrete evidence. Furthermore, it ignores important factors such as troop numbers, military tactics, resources, geography, and industry in favor of a nonsensical narrative. Furthermore, Faria continues to push the "guns would have stopped the Nazis" cliche.
Of course, this is far from the only badhistory I found. As it turns out, Faria and his friends at DRGO also believe that easy gun laws stop all sorts of crime and other nonsensical tropes about guns, which I'll get to in part two.
So let's start at part one: how the World Wars were stopped by gun culture. Faria does little to help his case with WWI by mentioning the case of Alvin York and using next to nothing else as evidence. The fact that the Germans where outnumbered, with 13 million troops against a total of 15 million from the Allied Powers, escapes him. As does the blockade that starved the entirety of Germany, as well as the fact that many German sailors were carrying out mutinies and that the country fell into unrest. Or even the fact that the Central Powers were falling apart one-by -one, or that Germany had just finished removing the Russians (themselves a major foe) from the war when America arrived. He even glosses over the many Allied victories, such as the 2nd Marne and 100 Days Offensive, stating that
Many Americans in the 21st century still cling to their guns and their Bibles, and it stands to reason that the alleged “gun culture” mentality and patriotic outlook may not be gained solely by an 8-week army basic training boot camp. Life experience, patriotism and the attitude to fight along your fellow soldiers in a just cause—such as freedom and a country’s way of life—do not appear in a vacuum.
Um... ok. What evidence do you have for this? And furthermore, if having high gun ownership makes you good at winning wars, then why did the US suffer a draw in Korea? Or lose Vietnam? Or fall into quagmires like Iraq and Afghanistan? Overall Faria chooses a completely unexplained factor as the reason for US victory, one which not one historian will take seriously. Is he forgetting the ferocity with which the other Allied Powers fought before the Americans arrived? The multiple fights at Ypres, Verdun, Vimy Ridge, the First Marne, Cambrai, are all those so forgettable?
WWI was won for a number of reasons. Woodrow Wilson's overtures to the German government, combined with more pacifistic leaders rising to power as the German military broke apart, and unrest at home all lead to Germany's surrender. Germany's Ottoman allies were being pummeled by British and Arabic forces. The Austro-Hungarians were on their knees, and the Bulgarians had quit the war. American forces would not be present in full until Spring 1918, when the German Spring Offensive, largely held back by the same Europeans Faria dismisses, held the Germans back long enough for the Americans to turn the tide. Germans forces overexerted themselves just as American reinforcements, fresh, ready for combat, and larger in numbers, began to arrive in Europe.
Faria then proceeds to brag about how the "pusillanimous Europeans" did nothing as Nazi Germany goose-stepped all over them. In Poland, Hitler triumphed due to the Poles simply being unprepared to deal with the twin Nazi and Soviet assaults. No declaration of war, combined with new tactics enabled the Germans to overrun the Poles in their Blitzkrieg. Norway fell due to the Allies having to abandon it to protect France. German forces conquered France by maneuvering past the Maginot Line and driving the British out at Dunkirk. The French Army, meanwhile, suffered from poor leadership and failed to repel the German Army, which had the element of surprise, along with speed, on their side. Finally, Greece fell due to an army that was too small, not prepared enough, and had inadequate support from it's neighbors and the British/Commonwealth forces, as documented by George E. Blau in his book The German Campaign in the Balkans.
As for the spineless Europeans that are constantly scorned, Faria forgets that in every nation the Nazis invaded, there were dedicated resistance groups. The Yugoslavian resistance, which beat the Croats, helped liberate Sarajevo, and took Trieste. The Soviet partisans, who fought for their country when their armies could not. The Germans in the Ruhr pocket who helped capture Dusseldorf. Or perhaps the Italians, who liberated Naples and killed a German general or even the French Resistance, who fought to free Paris and) made up for their lack of military prowess with their sabotage and spying.
American industry also was critical, too. The efficiency at which the US produced vehicles and other materials made them able to overwhelm their opposition, especially with the added benefit of being out of range from enemy bombers:
War production profoundly changed American industry. Companies already engaged in defense work expanded. Others, like the automobile industry, were transformed completely. In 1941, more than three million cars were manufactured in the United States. Only 139 more were made during the entire war. Instead, Chrysler made fuselages. General Motors made airplane engines, guns, trucks and tanks. Packard made Rolls-Royce engines for the British air force. And at its vast Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the Ford Motor Company performed something like a miracle 24-hours a day. The average Ford car had some 15,000 parts. The B-24 Liberator long-range bomber had 1,550,000. One came off the line every 63 minutes.Shipyards turned out tonnage so fast that by the autumn of 1943 all Allied shipping sunk since 1939 had been replaced. In 1944 alone, the United States built more planes than the Japanese did from 1939 to 1945. By the end of the war, more than half of all industrial production in the world would take place in the United States.
Patriotism of soldiers certainly helps, yet the fanaticism of such countries as Japan and Germany did not win them the war. Japan's industry was unable to catch up with the sheer industrial might of the US (just look how fast each side could build aircraft carriers, for example). Germany, meanwhile, had to divide up their resources for the war effort, according to the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. German industry was disabled by repeated air raids that caused massive devastation:
In the wake of these attacks there are great paths of destruction. In Germany, 3,600,000 dwelling units, approximately 20% of the total, were destroyed or heavily damaged. Survey estimates show some 300,000 civilians killed and 780,000 wounded. The number made homeless aggregates 7,500,000. The principal German cities have been largely reduced to hollow walls and piles of rubble. German industry is bruised and temporarily paralyzed. These are the scars across the face of the enemy, the preface to the victory that followed.
The air raids that harassed Germany, were most effective when combined with a divided front. With up to 16 million American soldiers committed to the entire war, it would be hard to argue that the Nazis, (with 20 million) could sustain themselves against half that amount when combined with the scores of Soviet soldiers and the 5 million Brits (along with other Allied forces) also committed to the conflict.
Faria also arrogantly assumes that the Swiss were not invaded due to their zealous gun culture. More likely theories include the fact that the Swiss were not only tough fighters but could use the rugged terrain to their advantage. Furthermore, it's believed that the Nazis wanted to use the country's banking system to store their gold. As such, an invasion would likely ruin their financial interests.
Faria and others, such as Robert B Young, claim that authoritarian regimes can be destroyed by gun ownership. Nazis (surprise, surprise) are brought up. This is a fallacy that has many reasons for being wrong. First off, why have Australia, Canada, the UK, and Japan not become dictatorships after passing far stricter gun laws? Second of all, the supposed gun control=Nazism argument is laughably absurd. Yes, the Nazis did ban Jews from gun ownership, yet no such gun laws are being proposed in the US. Furthermore, the claim that there would have been an uprising by German Jews going Rambo against the Nazis is undermined by many factors, not the least of which is the fact that they made up 1% of the population. That is not to say that there's any problem with them rising up, yet as pointed out by Alan E Steinweis, an expert of the Holocaust:
It is preposterous to argue that the possession of firearms would have enabled them to mount resistance against a systematic program of persecution implemented by a modern bureaucracy, enforced by a well-armed police state, and either supported or tolerated by the majority of the German population. Mr. Carson’s suggestion that ordinary Germans, had they had guns, would have risked their lives in armed resistance against the regime simply does not comport with the regrettable historical reality of a regime that was quite popular at home. Inside Germany, only the army possessed the physical force necessary for defying or overthrowing the Nazis, but the generals had thrown in their lot with Hitler early on.The failure of Jews to mount an effective defense against the Waffen-SS in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 provides a good example of what happens when ordinary citizens with small arms go up against a well-equipped force. The uprising in the ghetto possesses enduring symbolic significance, as an instance of Jews’ determination to resist their oppression. But the uprising saved few Jewish lives and had little to no impact on the course of either World War II or the Holocaust. Jews around the world did, to be sure, react to the Holocaust by concluding that they needed to protect themselves from anti-Semites more effectively. But they understood that this would be accomplished not through the individual acquisition of firearms, but rather through the establishment of a Jewish state with an army to defend it.
Furthermore, Nazi gun control was an anti-Semitic propaganda tool. Mass shootings were hardly a problem in Germany at the time. In fact, the Nazi gun control law, while certainly aimed at disarming the Jews, also extended access to firearms for groups the Nazi regime did approve of. Licenses for hunting, for instance, were loosened to allow ownership of any gun.
Faria cites other genocides as proof of why gun control is problematic. He and his allies list, in addition to the Nazis, the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Castro's despotism in Cuba, and the Armenian, Cambodian, and Rwandan genocides. Faria uses the Warsaw ghetto as proof, yet seems to forget that the Jews who rebelled had armament comparable to civilians in the US, with one machine gun and some pistols. The Warsaw Uprising that he approvingly speaks of, meanwhile, relied on military-grade equipment such as sub-machine guns, not hunting rifles or more civilian-oriented weapons. The fact that it was an organized effort certainly helped, but so did their use of military-grade equipment that they made or had airdropped. The Hungarian revolution is also cited. What is neglected, however, is that the rebels actually won the first phase of the revolt. It was after the Soviet military arrived that Hungary gave in. He then mentions the dictatorship of Fidel Castro claiming that shortly after he took office, he asked " ¿Armas para que?", "Weapons for whom?". Yet what Castro meant was that the weapons that his 26 of July Movement had captured from the military and police would stay as such. Furthermore, he was talking about military weapons being smuggled and stolen.
Yet I tell you here and now that two days ago elements of certain organizations broke into the San Antonio barracks, which are under the jurisdiction of Commander Camilo Cienfuegos and also under my jurisdiction as commander in chief of the armed forces, and carried away 500 small arms, (16?) machine guns, and 80,000 cartridges.
The conversation does shift to gangsters, which presumably entails taking away civilian weapons, yet the conversation revolved around other rebels stockpiling weapons to counter Castro. Faria uses the 1959 Escambray rebellion in an attempt to point out the negatives of gun control, yet seems to miss the context. The Escambray rebels lost because, according to Ernest Volkman, they had lost CIA support, the elimination of many CIA assets by Castro likely factoring in. Faria has cited the small numbers and lack of supplies. Overall, to use gun control for the Escambray rebels is simply a poor argument, as it was other factors that lead to their defeat. Furthermore, as of 2017, it is believed that there are 2.10 guns per 100 people in Cuba. In fact, citizens can purchase firearms for hunting and self-defense. Why have no residents rebelled against the government using these weapons? And seeing as how little documentation there is of Cuba's gun culture, could it be that easy access to firearms would not have made much of a difference?
Armenia, Cambodia, and Rwanda are also ridiculous comparisons. In Armenia, the government did in fact pass a law in 1911 that required Armenians surrender their weapons. It was the outbreak of WWI that made the genocide inevitable, as long-held contempt for the Armenians by the Young Turks fueled suspicions that the Armenians would rebel against them. Furthermore, the Ottomans had forbidden groups like the Armenians from gun ownership for centuries. And before the 1911 law, a pogrom killed hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the 1890s. When the Armenians did have their guns taken, it was weapons that soldiers had been given, not just hunting rifles or handguns they owned for self-defense/hunting. To argue gun control enabled the genocide forgets the nuances behind the affair. The Armenian genocide website itself argues that it was not armed resistance that would have ended the genocide, but international awareness.
Cambodia is the next example, as Pol Pot did in fact eliminate guns. Unfortunately, most of those guns belonged to the upper-class:
Firearms ownership rates in rural rice farming communities practising subsistence agriculture have been very low in Cambodia, and firearms have not been part of traditional livelihood strategies. Cambodia is not rich in large game, and game meat is not part of the typical rural diet, which is largely based on the consumption of rice, with fish as a source of protein. Nutrition surveys have demonstrated that only a minority of the rural population eat any meat at all (27–34 per cent of children aged 24–59 months were found to have eaten some meat [Helmers and Kenefick, 1999, pp. 72–73]), and most of this is derived from livestock, such as chicken, pork, and to a lesser extent cattle. Low firearms ownership rates in rural society are also the outcome of government policies and low rural incomes. To counter communist and anti-colonial insurgencies, the French colonial rulers (1863–1953) passed several laws to prevent Cambodian peasants from arming themselves (Kopel, Gallant, and Eisen, 2005, p. 6; page no. from e-publication). The laws passed between 1920 and 1938 imposed a strict licensing system and only allowed hunters to own a single gun...Available evidence suggests that unlike in many Western societies, private firearms ownership during the early period of Cambodia’s independence before the Khmer Rouge took over (1953–75) was predominantly a characteristic of the urban male elite, who were mainly in government employment
While French colonists did place restrictions on gun ownership in the 1920s and 1930s, Cambodians in general never really were interested in it. Furthermore, the efforts to counter Communist insurgents involved the very same gun control that is seen as taking citizen's rights, yet it failed to stop Pol Pot from taking the country over. Overall, one could argue that lighter gun restrictions would have given the Cambodian populace a better chance, yet since they did not really have a thriving gun culture, it would have little impact. Those that did were upper-class, meaning that they were often in the minority.
As for Rwanda, I had trouble finding good sources. Rwanda does indeed allow gun ownership, yet the one law I was looking for, which was passed in 1979, had little information for me. As such, I'll have to make do with what I could find. The 1979 law was amended in 2000, 6 years after the genocide, to do such things as ban access of government firearms from the population. Basing the gun regulations off of this chart, I assume that Faria believes that gun registration, confiscation abilities, and more were what occurred. The Small Arms Survey's analysis of Rwanda, however, makes no mention of any abuse of this confiscation system. Furthermore, the idea that registration enabled the slaughter of Tutsi tribesmen and Hutu moderates ignores the fact that many Rwandans were required since the Belgian colonization to carry ID cards which gave their ethnicity. Alain Destexhe, a Belgian politician who worked for Doctors Without Borders in areas such as Rwanda, even goes so far as to say:
it was the ethnic classification registered on identity cards introduced by the Belgians that served as the basic instrument for the genocide of the Tutsi people...
Once again, it was an organized military faction, the Rwanda Patriotic Front, that stopped the genocide. It was not armed civilians, but a faction with weapons that far outclassed those legally available to civilians in the US. To argue that gun rights would stop these regimes ignores events that Faria cites.
Look at most regimes over the past 20 years, and you'll find that they had fairly large gun ownership. Sudan had millions of civilian weapons in circulation in 2007, yet it was 12 years before Omar al-Bashir was toppled, and not due to armed civilians. In Venezuela and Libya, authoritarian regimes grew in spite of high gun ownership rates. Yet easily the most surprising is the case of Iraq, where a large portion of the population, in spite of strict gun laws, owned firearms, yet Saddam stayed in power, enduring several rebellions and only being beaten by a US-led invasion. Saudi Arabia, an authoritarian regime in it's own right, had the 7th highest rate of gun ownership in the world.
Heading back to WWII and gun cultures, Faria makes the case that the only other country to offer the Nazis any resistance, the USSR, was largely due to the NKVD holding soldiers in place. He says:
just as Stalin’s “Patriotic War” stimulated Russians to fight for their motherland, and to make sure they did so the NKVD’s SMERCH units (Soviet military police and counter-intelligence units) were everywhere behind the front lines to stiffen Soviet fighting resolve if their morale lapsed.
While certainly, the Soviets did carry out these measures, they had already repelled the assault on Moscow when this order, No. 227, which organized such units, was passed. In late 1944, blocking detachments were disbanded, largely due to improvements on the front lines, yet their impact on morale arguably helped hurt Soviet morale almost as much as it fixed it. Furthermore, Faria also seems to overestimate the role of SMERSH units. While indeed responsible for slaughtering many deserters, the reality is far from what is depicted in such media as Enemy at the Gates. Geoffrey Roberts, in his book Stalin's Wars, writes that of the detainees arrested by these units,
3,980 were arrested, 1,189 were shot, 2,961 were sent to penal battalions or companies and 131,094 were returned to their units.
Faria insists that only Americans were driven by as sense of patriotism and civic duty, yet the same holds true for the Soviets, in spite of the monstrous actions of their government. Roberts states that Stalin's skill in tapping into Soviet patriotic fervor was essential to their victory, the patriotic messages providing a useful image of a united Soviet nation against a foreign menace.
Also mentioned are Filipino, Guatemalan, and other insurgents as proof of the importance of gun ownership. Once again, Faria makes more mistakes. He assumes that privately-owned firearms are what these groups used when it was also military-grade gear. The insurgents in the Philippines, meanwhile, operated even after strict gun laws were passed by president Marcos, and likely benefited from the jungle terrain. As for Guatemala, Faria seems to once again conflate organized insurgency with gun rights. The Guatemalan insurgents that held the regime back for decades received Soviet and Czech weapons that were smuggled through Communist states such as Nicaragua. The stereotypical patriot who owns guns to protect from an oppressive regime was not the kind of individual who fought against the government. Furthermore, many of these rebels were often peasants who were likely too poor to own firearms.
Overall, Faria misuses countless events to fit his narrative. His claims are so poorly constructed that they are almost impossible to support. Those that use historic events as basis often neglect to mention other factors, such as cultural differences, or history.
Sources:
On Gun Registration, the NRA, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Gun Laws: Exploding the Gun Culture Wars (A Call to Historians) Bernard E. Harcourt
http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/publications/by-type/yearbook/small-arms-survey-2007.html
https://www.britannica.com/place/Norway/World-War-II
Soviet Arms and Central American Turmoil, ALBERTO R. COLL
https://www.lawphil.net/executive/genogo1972/genor_6_1972.html
http://www.world-war-2.info/casualties/
https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-France-World-War-II/The-fall-of-France-June-5-25-1940
Blau, George E; THE GERMAN CAMPAIGNS IN THE BALKANS (SPRING 1941), 118
http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/deathgc.htm
https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/armenian-genocide
https://blog.usni.org/posts/2020/05/24/reflections-on-memorial-day
https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/battle-of-cambrai
Small Arms Survey: The Use and Perception of Weapons before and after Conflict: Evidence from Rwanda By Cécelle Meijer and Philip Verwimp
Small Arms Survey: How Many Weapons Are There in Cambodia? By Christina Wille
14/06/2000 - LAW N° 13/2000 OF 14/06/2000 MODIFYING THE DECREE-LAW N° 12/97 OF MAY, 1979 CONCERNING FIREARMS AND THEIR AMMUNITIONS
https://ucdp.uu.se/conflict/445
https://www.anesi.com/ussbs02.htm#c
Alain Destexhe, Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century; Pg 47
https://www.businessinsider.com/switzerland-gun-laws-rates-of-gun-deaths-2018-2?op=1
http://www.pbs.org/thewaat_home_war_production.htm
https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-I
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-chicago-gun-laws-explainer-20171006-story.html
http://www.genocide-museum.am/eng/online_exhibition_8.php
https://www.britannica.com/event/Rwanda-genocide-of-1994/Genocide
https://www.armenian-genocide.org/genocide.html
http://lanic.utexas.edu/project/castro/db/1959/19590109.html
https://www.britannica.com/event/Hungarian-Revolution-1956
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/opinion/ben-carson-is-wrong-on-guns-and-the-holocaust.html?_r=0
https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/01/09/guns-dont-kill-dictatorships-people-do/
Roberts, Geoffrey; Stalin's Wars From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 pgs 22, 132
https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/sudan
Volkman, Ernest 1995. "Our man in Havana. Cuban double agents 1961–1987" in Espionage: The Greatest Spy Operations of the Twentieth Century,
https://www.nytimes.com/1997/01/26/weekinreview/the-not-so-neutrals-of-world-war-ii.html
Roberts, Walter R. (1973). Tito, Mihailović and the Allies 1941–1945; pg 319
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lP70jPAqRs
https://thehistoryherald.com/articles/military-history/world-war-ii/aktion-rheinland/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Crisolli
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberation_of_Paris#FFI_uprising_(19%E2%80%9323_August))
https://www.historynet.com/french-resistance-resistant.htm
submitted by Someone-00 to badhistory

5

NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020

We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them.
Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now.


https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c

1. Arizona Cardinals


Why they can win the division:
Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other.

Why they could finish last again:
Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league.

Bottom line:
I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020.


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2. Detroit Lions


Why they can win the division:
Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough.

Why they could finish last again:
Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive.

Bottom line:
I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark.


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3. Miami Dolphins


Why they can win the division:
When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game.

Why they could finish last again:
As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams.

Bottom line:
As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here.


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4. Los Angeles Chargers


Why they can win the division:
First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy.

Bottom line:
In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division.


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5. Washington Redskins


Why they can win the division:
These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game.

Why they could finish last again:
Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you.

Bottom line:
These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently.


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6. Jacksonville Jaguars


Why they can win the division:
I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period.

Bottom line:
The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now.


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7. Carolina Panthers

Why they can win the division:
Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7.

Why they could finish last again:
Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season.

Bottom line:
The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center.


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8. Cincinnati Bengals


Why they can win the division:
We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates.

Why they could finish last again:
As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year.

Bottom line:
I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/
You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
submitted by hallach_halil to nfl