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Cowboys have the best shot of going from worst to first in their division

Going from last to first isn't uncommon in the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys are primed to continue that tradition.

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Washington entered the 2015 season with a quarterback controversy, and some brewing drama between second-year head coach Jay Gruden and Robert Griffin III. The thought at the time was that Gruden must find a way to get along with Griffin or else Washington would be doomed to another bad season after finishing 4-12 in Gruden's first year on the job.

Instead, Griffin watched from the sidelines as Kirk Cousins led the team to an NFC East title, taking Washington from last to first in the division.

It's not a rare feat in the NFL, a league that prides itself on parity. In 12 of the last 13 seasons, at least one team has reversed its fortunes around to jump from fourth place to first place in its division. The last three teams to do it were all in the NFC East, with the Philadelphia Eagles going from 4-12 in 2012 to 10-6 in 2013, and Washington climbing from 5-11 in 2011 to 10-6 in 2012.

Below are the last seven teams to pull off the feat along with the eight teams that finished last in 2015:

In 2016, there will likely be another team to leap from the bottom of the standings to the top. And once again, the NFC East is again primed for a reversal.

Dallas Cowboys

A year after winning the NFC East, the Cowboys found out just how valuable Tony Romo really is when the team had to turn to Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore in his absence. Romo went 3-1 as a starter last season, but the other three starters were just 1-11 combined for Dallas while Romo sat out with a collarbone injury.

Getting Romo back in 2016 is an obvious boost and the reason why the Cowboys are still a force to be reckoned with, but his health isn't the only thing the team has going for it. Dez Bryant is back from injury too, and the offense will rely less on Romo after Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott to handle the bulk of the rushing duties.

The defense has pass rushing concerns, but it'll be aided by an offense that won't be a consistent disaster like it was in 2015. The Cowboys led the NFL with turnovers on 18 percent of the team's offensive possessions, and the Dallas defense managed to recover three fumbles all season, a weird statistical anomaly that will almost certainly rise in 2016.

None of the other three NFC East teams have a stranglehold on the division, so the door is open for the Cowboys to return to their spot at the top. Dallas is actually the betting favorite to be the division champion on Bovada.

Chance of going from last to first: 5/10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Not that long ago, the NFC South was the division famous for its instability. From 2003 to 2007, there was a streak of five consecutive NFC South champions that finished last in the year prior, and the New Orleans Saints made it six times in seven years when they won the title in 2009.

But it hasn't happened in the NFC South since. The Carolina Panthers enter 2016 with three straight division titles, and toppling a team that finished 15-1 is a tall task. Still, the Buccaneers are a young team with a lot of positives.

Jameis Winston was impressive as a rookie and promises to be even better in his second NFL season with targets like Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans to work with. Tampa Bay also re-signed running back Doug Martin, keeping the offense mostly intact heading into the 2016 season.

The question is whether the Buccaneers defense has improved enough after allowing 31 or more points seven times in 2015, the highest amount in the NFL. To help fix the problem, Tampa Bay drafted Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence with their first two picks, and also signed Robert Ayers, Brent Grimes and Daryl Smith during free agency.

Ultimately, the Buccaneers' hopes depend a lot on the Panthers coming back down to Earth after a dominant season in 2015. Super Bowl hangovers are not uncommon, so it wouldn't be unprecedented if Carolina left the door open.

Chance of going from last to first: 3/10

Tennessee Titans

The AFC South was collectively 25-39 in 2015, but there aren't many divisions with more optimism and excitement. Andrew Luck is just 26 years old and he's the oldest starting quarterback in the division, which is filled with young, talented players.

Tennessee has one of those players in second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota. The former Heisman Trophy winner struggled through injuries as a rookie, so the team helped him out by adding linemen Ben Jones and Jack Conklin up front. He'll also likely be asked to do less now that the Titans have DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield.

The Titans offense was the team's biggest weakness in 2015, so shoring it up with a more grinding attack should help the defense improve after finishing No. 27 in points allowed.

In the wide open AFC South, it's anyone's guess which team will come out on top. Health will play a huge factor and Mariota will need to avoid the problems that plagued him in his first season, but if he can stay clean in 2016, the Titans have as good of a shot as any team in the division.

Chance of going from last to first: 3/10

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As unpredictable as the NFL can be, history tells us that at least one team will rally from a poor season in 2015 to surprise in 2016. The Cowboys, Buccaneers and Titans are three teams in good position to improve and complete a the turnaround after last-place finishes.