So to all the unfortunate people who read this blog, I qualified to make my annual NFL predictions again. For the second straight year, I successfully predicted eight of the fourteen playoff teams. For every Los Angeles Rams will win the division prediction, I had a Miami prediction that was almost perfect. I missed on the Cincinnati Bengals (Yeah, Joe Burrow is good) and nailed the improvement of the Philadelphia Eagles. Counting 2021 and 2022, I have successfully predicted 16 of the last 28 NFL playoff teams. For a league that changes so regularly, change is often more incremental than many football fans would like to believe. So, let’s do a quick recap of the 2022 season.
Super Bowl LVII: Kansas City 38 Philadelphia 35
This is Kansas City’s 3rd Super Bowl title and 2nd since the 2019 season. They also won their 5th AFC Championship and 13th AFC West title: 7th consecutive since 2016.
For Philadelphia, their recent string of success continues. They won their 4th NFC title and 12th NFC East title.
Other AFC Division winners
Buffalo: AFC East – 10th Division title: 3rd consecutive
Cincinnati: AFC North – 11th Division title: 2nd consecutive
Jacksonville: AFC South – 4th Division title
Other AFC Playoff Teams
Miami Dolphins: 24th appearance
Los Angeles Chargers: 20th appearance
Baltimore Ravens: 14th appearance
Now, the NFC!
Other NFC Division Winners
Minnesota: AFC North – 19th Division title
Tampa Bay: AFC South – 8th Division title and 3rd team all-time to win a division with an under .500 record.
San Francisco: AFC West – 21st Division title
Other NFC Playoff Teams
Dallas Cowboys: Tied with Green Bay for the most postseason playoff appearances with 35.
New York Giants: 34th playoff appearance
Seattle Seahawks: 20th playoff appearance
Onto the 2023 divisional predictions and playoff teams. The power in the NFL is definitely moving east.
Miami is a sleeping giant. Mike McDaniel appears to be a wonderful coach that fits into the Sean McVay mold of young coaches taking over the NFL by storm. If the Dolphins can avoid injury and stay healthy, this team can win this division and the conference. I believe the battle between Buffalo and Miami will go down to Week 18 this year. Miami will be the wild card.
Everyone is excited about the changes that the New York Jets have made. Coming off a mediocre 7-10 season, the Jets only need to improve by 3 games to be a wild card team. But here is the kicker. I am not sure if free agent and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers is playing at an elite level anymore. This will put pressure on this young team to step up their game. Because of this, I think the Jets will likely win 9 games and miss the playoffs.
From 2001 to 2019 (19 seasons), the Patriots won the AFC East 17 times including an NFL record 11 consecutive division titles. No team may ever match this incredible statistic. But looking at this team from a talent perspective, this team could win the AFC and NFC South and possibly even the NFC North. But in the AFC East, they are the 4th best team out of 4 talent wise. Expect the Patriots to hang around .500 but still finish last.
Cincinnati has Joe Burrow and a great amount of talent around him. The offensive line, the problem for this team the last two seasons, continues to improve. The defense took a step-up last year. This is a very good team that can also win the AFC. Cincinnati will roll to a wild card this year, but an improved Baltimore will steal the division from them.
Pittsburgh’s season relies heavily on the development of Kenny Pickett. The talent on this team continues to improve. And their coach, Mike Tomlin, continues his incredible streak of not finishing below .500 in any season that he has coached (Dating back to 2006). This team is an unknown dynamic. I can see a few future scenarios. Pickett is still developing but improving and the Steelers once again hang around the .500 mark. Or Pickett develops into the next elite quarterback. If this is the case, the Steelers could very well win this division. I personally believe the latter is going to happen but next season (2024). But watch out for the Steelers. They could be a dark horse this season.
Cleveland has talent but not at the level of the rest of this division. They may pull an upset or two, but last place is where they will finish.
Jacksonville is continuing to build around Trevor Lawrence. The issue is that the Jaguars have a 1st place schedule this year. So even if they show improvement, it is very possible that their record is worse. But because the division seems in flux, they still are the most talented team in the South. They should repeat.
Tennessee has an incredible running game and solid defense which can lead to another division title. The problem revolves around the quarterback. With two quarterbacks breathing down starter Ryan Tannehill’s neck on the depth chart, any mistake could lead to him being benched. I expect this to happen. I expect that the Titans are going to be engaging in the QB carousel this year. Because of this, they will miss the playoffs.
Houston can only look forward to a brighter future after the disastrous 2022 season. They have their QB and defensive leaders of the future to build around. With time, there will be talent. I expect them to be better and finish just out of the cellar.
Indianapolis’s season has been in turmoil since Jonathan Taylor requested a trade. With a young quarterback starting and dysfunction in the franchise, this season could get very bad for the Colts very early. This is exactly what will happen.
Denver’s 2022 season was an absolute disaster. With Sean Payton taking over the reins for this franchise, the Broncos are expected to be one of the surprise teams of 2023. Russell Wilson will finally have an offensive play-calling genius to help him improve in the Mile High City. I am not ready to make them a playoff team yet even if they win nine or ten games.
I like the Chargers. I like their talent. I like their ballsy coach. So why does it feel like this will be a lost season with Brandon Staley on the unemployment line by December? 2023 will be another season where the Chargers underperform their expectations.
Many teams get hammered for their pathetic histories. Because the Raiders won 3 Super Bowls between 1976 and 1983, their recent string of failure is often overlooked by the media. Since their three straight AFC West division titles from 2000-2002 and AFC Title in 2002, this team has played twenty seasons of football with two playoff appearances, 1 AFC West title, two winning seasons, three .500 seasons, and 15 losing seasons. They are 116-206 since 2003, the 2nd worst record in the league in front of only the Cleveland Browns. The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo from the 49ers. This isn’t going to matter. The Raiders will be in the cellar again.
Dallas has an incredible amount of talent especially on their lines. The problem revolves around the leadership of Dak Prescott. I believe Dallas will shock the league and win the NFC East this year keeping that incredible streak alive of no repeat division winners that dates back to 2004. But will the Cowboys get over their postseason blues? The answer to this question is NO.
With that incredibly difficult loss in the Super Bowl, I expect the Eagles to have a hangover this year. They will lose a few games they should win and allow Dallas to slide past them and win the division. The talent on this team is explosive and incredible. If they slide into the playoffs, the Eagles will be the one team that no one will want to play.
The Commanders seem like a team that can make the playoffs. They have been steadily improving. Now that the chaotic ownership situation has been settled (One of their biggest problems over the past twenty years), the Commander management can start guiding this team towards success. But in 2023, that success will have to wait at least one more year.
The Giants rolled to a playoff appearance and wild card win due to one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. As a person who is still not sold on Daniel Jones or this team’s defensive talent, I think a more difficult schedule this season will expose this team as being lucky in 2022.
Chicago is another team that can only improve off the miserable season they had last year. Justin Fields started to develop as a leader as the season went on. The lines are improving. The defense is being refurbished. I am not sure if this is a playoff team this year, but the Bears should have a defined identity by the end of the season.
Green Bay is my wild card. The talent on this team has definitely slipped. I am putting them in 3rd place because of the unknown talent of Jordan Love. I am expecting him to have a rough season and the Packers will struggle to win games this year. But if I am wrong and Love turns out to be their QB of the future, the Packers can walk away with this division.
Minnesota is due for a rebuild. They have a talented team that seemed to have good fortune throughout the season which led them to the NFC North title. As the season went on, the Vikings looked more unimpressive and flawed. They were finally exposed at home during the wild card round against the Giants. With the 1st place schedule, I expect the Vikings to have a rough season. It would not surprise me if there were a coaching and quarterback change at the end of the year.
This division maybe even more unstable than the AFC South. Every team in this division is below average talent wise. So who will rise up and win this division’s only playoff spot.
The starting quarterbacks in this division are:
There are too many unknowns here. Talent wise, I really like the Atlanta Falcons but because of Carr, here are my picks.
Atlanta is building a decent team in the background. The team has decided that 3rd round pick Desmond Ridder will be their starter. With an improving run game and defense, if Ridder is just a game manager, I think the Falcons can make the playoffs. If Ridder is even more, this team can win this division.
Carolina is on the Bryce Young rookie train. This will be an interesting season for the Panthers with a lot of ups and downs. They will have a better idea of their future and what they are lacking after Young completes his first season.
Tampa Bay could very well be the worst team in the NFL this year. A long fall for a franchise that hosted a Super Bowl trophy just three seasons ago. The rebuild has begun and Baker Mayfield will do his best to try to win a game or two this season.
The Seahawks appear to be the rising team. Despite the increase in talent, I am still not sold on Geno Smith. With Smith as the QB, this team’s peak is likely the divisional round. Smith is basically a Dak Prescott type of quarterback with less talent. I don’t see him taking Seattle on a deep playoff run despite the talent that surrounds them.
Speaking of teams in trouble, the Los Angeles Rams are setting themselves up to have a season much worse than their previous one. After setting the NFL record for the worst title defense team in NFL history (With a 5-12 record), this team ate many of their overinflated veteran contracts that were signed to push them towards their Super Bowl triumph during the 2021 season. Now, they have the capability of scraping the bottom of the barrel in this league with the 2020 champion Buccaneers. The defense looks awful. If they win games, it will be because of Matthew Stafford. A dark season approaches for Los Angeles. Luckily, they can probably start competing for a playoff spot again in 2025 with the cap space and draft picks that are coming.
Arizona is the worst franchise in NFL history. They have a talented quarterback, a lot of talent at the skill positions and a good defense. Despite this, they only managed one playoff appearance. The team is now in full rebuild mode. It will be shocking if Arizona is anything other than the worst team in the NFL this season.
Here are my 2023 playoff seeds.
EXPERT OF SOME