Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go from worst to first in 2012?

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 27: Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Dave Ball #98 of the Tennessee Titans and fumbles the ball at the end near the game at LP Field on November 27, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Buccaneers 23 to 17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The NFC South has a history of teams going from worst to first. In fact, it has happened in five of the nine seasons the division has existed, and no division champion has ever repeated a title. Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue that trend and get to the top of the division in 2012 after falling to the bottom? SB Nation's Joel Thorman doesn't give them much chance, ranking them fifth most likely among the eight division losers to make it back to the top. The good news: he thinks the Bucs have the quality to be much, much better in 2012. The bad news: their division makes it very hard for them to get back to the top.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs could very well end up being better than most -- if not all -- of the teams already listed here. Josh Freeman is a young quarterback who should get better, and he now has a major receiving weapon in Vincent Jackson. The Bucs' rushing attack should get better as well with Doug Martin pairing with LeGarrette Blount. They were a 10-win team just two years ago, so it's not unreasonable to think they can do the same in 2012.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, they're in an incredibly difficult division, possibly the best in the NFL. The Saints are one of the elite teams in the league, and they should be near the top of the division again, despite the offseason issues relating to the bounty scandal. The Falcons are an above average team who should be in the playoff mix, and the Panthers are a rising team.

The Bucs will be better, but the competition around them will make it extremely difficult to pull a worst-to-first.

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