First up on this episode of the Hard Count Football Podcast, I dive into the 49ers’ predicament surrounding QB Trey Lance. San Francisco traded three first-round picks to move up in the draft to select Lance just a few years ago, but Lance has only started three games for the team (excluding the one he got injured in last season). With Brock Purdy taking the team to an NFC Championship last season, along with adding Sam Darnold, a guy who HC Kyle Shanahan adored coming out of college, where does Lance stand in the QB room? For the sake of the 49ers, they need him to work out, but this is Lance’s last shot to be a starter in San Francisco. 

This week, I also discuss which teams have the best chance to go worst-to-first in their division, along with first-to-worst in each conference.

AFC Worst-to-First: New York Jets

The Jets were 7-10 last season after starting off really hot. The obvious piece they were missing is at QB, and now that’s solved with the addition of Aaron Rodgers. This roster is loaded all over the place, and now they filled their biggest hole. This is a much-improved receiver group between Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, and Mecole Hardman. If Breece Hall can be anything like he was last year, then this team will be explosive both on the ground and through the air. Even if he isn’t, they drafted Izzy Abanikanda from Pitt and have Michael Carter and Bam Knight to back him up. This defense was top five in the NFL last year, and they only got better, adding Chuck Clark, Al Woods, and Will McDonald to this defense to fill some needs. In the division, New England won’t be great, the Dolphins have a question mark at QB and on the OL, and the Jets should be good enough to compete with the Bills. Of all the teams that finished in last place in the AFC, the Jets have the best chance to rebound.

AFC First-to-Worst: Jacksonville Jaguars

I don’t even really like this, but there’s no chance the Bengals, Bills, or Chiefs finish in last place, so I guess that leaves the Jaguars. I could only see this happening if C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson both have incredible rookie seasons and Trevor Lawrence doesn’t take that next step or if Jacksonville gets crushed with injuries. I think the Jaguars actually have a better chance to make the AFC Championship than finish in last place. Either way, it isn’t a great pick, but I guess the Jaguars are the team that has the best chance to go first to worst in the AFC.

NFC Worst-to-First: Atlanta Falcons

I spent last week’s episode talking about how I don’t like the Falcons to win more than eight games, but they definitely have the best chance to go worst-to-first simply because of how awful this division is. Besides the Saints, the Bucs and Panthers are in rebuild mode, and if Desmond Ridder can be okay, the Falcons have an easy schedule and could honestly win five games just within the division. They will heavily rely on the run game, with them drafting Bijan Robinson in the first round. Arthur Smith knows a thing or two about running backs from his time in Tennessee, so I could see a similar offense rollout. Ryan Tannehill looked like an All-Pro in that kind of offense, so we’ll see what Ridder can do. The weapons are there with Drake London and Kyle Pitts, but they don’t have a great defense. The division is not good, so the Falcons have the best chance to go worst-to-first in the NFC.

NFC First-to-Worst: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Keeping it in the NFC South, I think the Bucs are most likely to go first to worst. Not only that, but I think they absolutely will finish last in this division. They only won eight games last year, got in the playoffs because they were in the worst division in football, and got killed in their first playoff game. They went from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield under center, and even though I like Baker, he isn’t good enough to win more games than Brady did with the same exact team. They didn’t improve anywhere, and the defense wasn’t what it should have been under Todd Bowles last season. So even in this bad division, they’re the worst team and easily have the best chance to finish last.

Check out the Hard Count Football Podcast with Jacob Charnow every Tuesday!