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Can the Buccaneers go from worst to first in 2016?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a good shot at winning the division. That, at least, is what SB Nation’s Adam Stites thinks. He went through every NFL division and decided that of all the last-place teams, the Bucs have the second-best shot at moving up into first place — behind the Dallas Cowboys.

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.

The goal for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be to just make the playoffs this season, and the best way to do that is to win the division. The question is whether that’s realistic: every team in the NFC South has a good quarterback, and all of them at least have some talent on defense. I would not be shocked to see any of these teams rise to the top, and that includes the Bucs, of course.

As Stites notes, that will largely depend on the team’s defense. The Bucs should be mostly fine on offense, with Doug Martin leading the way and Jameis Winston and Mike Evans finishing off opponents. The team spent a lot of time adding talent to the defense, and they brought in an entirely new coaching staff. They will likely have two new starters at cornerback, one at linebacker, and two or three along the defensive line — plus a whole lot of new backup and rotational players. The only real question mark is safety, where the Bucs lack playmakers.

Overall, that’s a pretty good recipe for a quick turnaround, especially if some of the underperformance in the past couple of years was due to Lovie Smith and his coaching staff. Getting someone like Alterraun Verner back to a Pro Bowl level would do wonders for the Bucs.

So yes, the Bucs have a good shot at going from worst to first — or at least as good a shot as any team in the NFL.