Which last shall be first?

While you wait to find out where Barry Sims signs - backup linemen qualify as big news this time of year - here's a little game to help get the cob webs out of your head from the weekend.

It's a guessing game, one I like to call "Worst to First." But it's not copyrighted or anything, so feel free to take it to the water cooler and help out those struggling officemates of yours.

Of all the teams finishing at the bottom of their division last year, and this isn't just homerism, I think the Rams have the best opportunity to turn things around this year, based largely on the fact that last year's 3 win season had much more to do with a really unlucky rash of injuries to key starters, particularly the o-line. The Rams enter the 2008 season with veteran starters at key positions. The young talent stars in key supporting roles, but, for the most part, rookies and sophomores don't have to bare the weight of important jobs alone, e.g. Chris Long has a big role in the defense but a healthy Leonard Little will be the main guy on the rush.

Let's look at the competition to go from worst to first.

AFC East
Miami, 1-15: There's really nowhere to go but up for the Phins, a perfect example of how a lack of expectations can be truly liberating. Jake Long blocking for Ronnie Brown translates to another win or two. But stuck in a division with the Patriots and what should be a much improved Bills team is no place to try and go from worst to first.

AFC North
Baltimore, 5-11:  LT Jeff Ogden retired. First round pick QB Joe Flacco could be asked to lead the offense, unless career backup Kyle Boller steps up. Miami got their lone win against the Ravens, who enter a rebuilding stage of their own. B-more knows defense though, and that could be enough to at least put Cincinnati in the cellar.

AFC South
Houston, 8-8
: The Texans finished the season at 8-8, seeing significant progress from guys like Mario Williams and their new QB Matt Schaub. In the offseason, they upgraded the o-line with first round pick OT Duane Brown and the pass rush with free agent outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. The problem for Houston is that they play in the same division as the Colts and Jaguars.

AFC West
Oakland, 4-12
: New(er) QB, new RB, Oakland's rebuilding and should duke it out with KC for last place.

NFC North
Chicago, 7-9
: This could be a pretty interesting division, but the Vikings might have surpassed the Bears for defensive supremacy here. And Chicago still has that offense.

NFC East
Philadelphia, 8-8
: .500 was probably a gift. Even if starters like McNabb and Westbrook stay healthy, they'll have a hard time unseating the Giants or the Cowboys.

NFC South
Atlanta, 4-12
: Another franchise being rebuilt, with circumstances much more sordid than the other rebuilders.

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