Even in this season of parity, there are 13 teams with losing records. In most of those cities, the sky is falling. I’m here to provide a reminder that things usually aren't quite as bad as they seem.
Here are a few reasons for optimism for all 13 losing squads.
13. St. Louis Rams (3-4): Do I really need to say it? Sam Bradford will have his ups and downs, but he'll eventually become top-10 quarterback for a long time. Oh, and Steve Spagnuolo might wind up a good coach. He has the Rams in the top 10 in scoring defense despite shaky personnel. They remain alive in the NFC West race.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4): Some of the young offensive pieces (Marcedes Lewis, Mike Thomas, Deji Karim) have impressed and look like guys to build around. Defensive end Aaron Kampman was a fantastic free-agent pickup. Improved attendance numbers bolster the chances of keeping the Jaguars in town.
11. Oakland Raiders (3-4): The Raiders have a chance Sunday to reach .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2002. Their running game is back to being a major plus, with Darren McFadden looking like a legitimate top-five pick. They are 2-0 in the division, with both games left against Kansas City.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (2-4): The veterans are struggling, but the Bengals put together an impressive rookie class. Wideout Jordan Shipley and tight end Jermaine Gresham should be factors on offense of a long time. If Marvin Lewis leaves after the season, the team has a capable replacement in-house in Mike Zimmer.
9. Minnesota Vikings (2-4): Adrian Peterson is back to being the best running back in football and hasn't fumbled once since the NFC Championship. Despite a diminished pass rush, the Vikings are among the top-five teams in yards-per-attempt allowed.
8. San Diego Chargers (2-5): The best 2-5 team of all-time. If you don't believe us, check this article. Special teams cannot completely explain a team being the top-ranked offense and top-ranked defense with this record. It's a fluke. They still have an elite quarterback in Philip Rivers and a cornerback playing his best career football in Quentin Jammer. If any team can make a run from 2-5, this is it.
7. Cleveland Browns (2-5): They give as consistent an effort as any team in football. They compete into the fourth quarter, no matter the opponent. Peyton Hillis has been a revelation as a Jamal Lewis-wannabe, and rookie quarterback Colt McCoy has a chance to be a solution next year at quarterback. Ben Watson was a solid pickup at tight end.
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6. Denver Broncos (2-5): Kyle Orton has developed into a true franchise quarterback. He's among the league's top-five quarterbacks in yards and yards-per-attempt. Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas — there's a wideout group the team can win with once the rest of the team catches up.
5. Detroit Lions (1-5): They've outscored their opponents this season (really.) They put together a solid offense despite playing their backup quarterback for more than a month. They never get blown out. Their two first-round picks (Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best) look like great selections. Suh may be a Pro Bowler as a rookie. The Lions are fun to watch again and the inspiration for this whole article.
4. Dallas Cowboys (1-5): They nailed the Dez Bryant pick. No matter what happens the rest of this season, Bryant and Miles Austin will terrorize opponents in the future. Left tackle Doug Free has been the team's best offensive lineman after an offseason of questions about him.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
3. Carolina Panthers (1-5): The offense has been so bad that it's been easy to ignore Carolina's usually strong defense. They are second in the league in interceptions and rank third in yards-per-attempt allowed. The linebacking group of James Anderson, Dan Connor and Jon Beason has been rock solid.
2. San Francisco 49ers (1-6): This positivity experiment is getting tougher. We'll say this about the 49ers: They have been extremely unlucky, and they still have five of their six division games left to go.
1. Buffalo Bills (0-6): They might not win, but the Bills will be fun to watch down the stretch. The finally found a No. 2 receiver in Stevie Johnson, and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing at an unbelievably high level. With a little help from the defense, this team could be a dangerous spoiler.
PFT: Defensive end finally finds a new team in San Diego — and for a honey of a deal that would be worth a max of $13.35 million.
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