Not every losing team is an automatic win, even for the NFL’s elite.
If a playoff contender sleeps on one of the following squads with a sub-.500 record, it’s guaranteed to get upset. These cellar dwellers have nothing meaningful to play for between now and next season, but pride will keep them competitive.
3. Cleveland Browns
Five out of the Browns’ nine losses were one-score games and only two were by more than 10 points. Prior to Sunday’s loss against the Washington Redskins, they had found a way to reverse their losing trend and come out on top in three straight contests.
Cleveland’s defense knows how to create turnovers (see: eight vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers), and Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon are more-than-capable playmakers. These aren’t the Browns of old.
2. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton would be in the MVP race if he played like he has been all season.
On Sunday, he completed 19 of 33 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns leading the Panthers to a 31-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The week before, they shocked the Atlanta Falcons by the score of 30-20 on the back of Netwon’s 403 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns—yes, the same Falcons that beat down the New York Giants 34-0.
They’re a six-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs away from being one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
1. New Orleans Saints
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New Orleans is inconsistent. But when they’re on, no losing team in the NFL is more dangerous.
It embarrassed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday 41-0. Drew Brees tossed four touchdowns, but that’s predictable—the Bucs defense is a joke. How well the Saints defense played, though, was a surprise.
They forced a whopping five Josh Freeman turnovers. And when New Orleans' defense is giving their offense extra opportunities like that, they’re nearly unbeatable.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.