2023 Season Outlook: NFC South

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Published October 13, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: NFC South

Written by Alex C.

With the short-lived Tom Brady regime finally coming to an end in Tampa Bay, the NFC South looks to be more competitive as we see who emerges as the new king of the division. There’s just one problem – each team in the division is beginning to look like shells of their former selves through hindering their growth with short-term solutions, wild experiments and lack of long-term direction. The NFC South is far from the explosive division it once was and has become a ghost town, looking for the next stars to fill up the vacancies.

The 2022 season witnessed the most underwhelming NFC South competition we’ve seen in quite a while, with each of the four teams finishing the season with losing records. The Tom Brady Buccaneers went toe-to-toe with the most mediocre squads, which still didn’t help the fact that Brady was facing an off-year himself. There are still many imperfections scattered around each of these teams, but the 2023 season is a issue of trial and error for the four quadrants as they attempt to figure out the trajectories of their future. It’s not a pretty sight, but there are still glimmers of hope shining within each of these franchises – there’s a possibility that this could be the most fun division to watch unfold throughout the 2023 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Previous Record – 8-9

The Tom Brady chapter in Tampa Bay has finally concluded after the star quarterback decided to retire a second time. It’s no secret that the 2022 season was an off-year not only for Brady, but for this entire roster who came into the previous season far from the Super Bowl -winning team they once were. Failed connections, coaching troubles and an Antonio Brown press run really hindered the team’s trajectory as they miraculously clinched a playoff berth with a losing record. Now that Brady’s gone, there’s only so many silver linings this team wields, but that could be the cost of giving everything up for another championship. Tampa Bay was projected to be a struggling team this year, but there could be more to them than what meets the eye.

The Buccaneers’ off-season couldn’t have kicked off in a more chaotic manner. With Brady finally announcing his retirement, it was time for the team to decide if they were going to swing for a quarterback in the draft or pick up a bridge in the meantime. The answer: Baker Mayfield. You can assume what the general reaction was following the signing, but this is Mayfield’s last shot at a starting job and if he can’t perform with one of the best receiver cores in the league – well, it might be wraps them. The team also lost a gem in corner Sean Murphy-Bunting, but were still able to successfully retain linebacker Lavonte David and corner Jamel Dean. The Bucs’ off-season wasn’t as flashy as what other teams were able to accomplish – but a good bulk was spent trying to create short term solutions to the roster, which may or may not cause anymore long-term problems.

The Bucs had a sneaky draft night as they walked away with a handful of gems. They used their first-round pick to snag explosive D-lineman Calijah Kancey, who looks to contribute heavily on a steady defensive line. They also picked up Nebraska receiver Trey Palmer and Eastern Michigan edge rusher Jose Ramirez, who look to be great late-round picks if they can win their positions. There was some emphasis on corner with Kansas State’s Josh Hayes and Kentucky’s Carrington Valentine as well, which could see some good return on investment in the future as they can learn behind a complimenting secondary. Tampa Bay’s draft wasn’t the craziest of the bunch, but it isn’t one that should fly over heads with many players looking to make an great impact when it’s their time to step up.

Now that we’ve gotten a nice two-game serving platter of the rag-tag Bucs squad, it’s clear that this Tampa Bay team can still put up a good fight. Baker isn’t the most gifted quarterback touching the field right now, but he’s putting up solid performances each week that prove Tampa Bay is far from the disaster they were projected to be. Now the question is: are they a legit contender? The answer would be no. So far the Bucs have out-played two very underwhelming defenses – which is still quite a success – but there’s a lot of doubt with how well they fare against a bonafide Super Bowl-contending squad. The division isn’t getting easier either, with each team making great additions on both sides of the ball. It’s hard to determine whether this team is going to be a fluke or not in the long-run, but they should appreciate the success they’ve seen so far in the earliest weeks of the season.

Season Outlook GradeC+

Carolina Panthers

Previous Record – 7-10

With the NFC South’s choppy conclusion to the previous season, it was hard to tell whether the Panthers were trying their luck at the playoffs or making a slight attempt at soft-tanking. Despite the confusion, they still ended up with the number-one pick in the 2023 draft after a blockbuster trade to Chicago which also sent away a lethal receiver in D.J. Moore. Now, Carolina has no other option than to gamble on their first overall pick – Bryce Young – and see if their new addition is able to properly develop. The Panthers don’t really have the most talented offensive roster – even after the off-season moves they’ve made – so it doesn’t seem like this Carolina squad is well-equipped to the task of developing a quasi-generational talent of a pick, but anything is possible in the NFL.

The Panthers gained more than they lost this off-season, which still isn’t saying a lot when the quarterback replacement for Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker is Andy Dalton. They tried their best at building an “offensive starter kit” for their new quarterback, but the package they put together still wasn’t the most impressive display of talent. They nabbed receivers Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark, running back Miles Sanders and tight-end Hayden Hurst. All have cemented themselves as reliable options in their previous situations, but nobody aside from Thielen has ever performed at an eyebrow-raising level. The defense got slightly better, however, as Carolina was able to nab safety Vonn Bell in free agency. Bell played a significant role in a steady Bengals secondary and looks to contribute heavily to an establishing Carolina defense.

Despite wielding the number-one overall pick, Carolina ended their draft weekend with only five total selections – however, taking Bryce Young with the first selection was projected to happen as soon as the Bears trade news broke. Carolina hasn’t seen reliable quarterback play since the last few seasons that Cam Newton was there – no, we’re not talking about his second stint either – so Young looks to be the signal caller that will bring the Panthers back to contention. Aside from the standout Young pick, Carolina was able to snag wide receiver Johnathan Mingo in the second round. The Ole Miss product fluctuated throughout receiver rankings surrounding the draft, but this is a good opportunity for Bryce to establish a QB-WR connection early on with someone from his class. It could help the team elevate from the clear low ceiling of its current offensive state.

When a team is able to snag the number-one pick in the upcoming draft, the expectation is that said team is able to shoot right back into a competitive position, possibly even transforming into a playoff contender. While having Young really helps Carolina get their feet off the ground, the Panthers don’t employ a championship-caliber roster that will better help their rookie quarterback adjust to the league. The offensive line is not sturdy at all and the receiving room isn’t exactly the sharpest – as a matter of fact, it may be the worst in the league as of right now. Even though Carolina was dealt a chance to flip their franchise around, the process isn’t going to happen immediately with this roster. This season is going to be arguably rougher than their last two combined, as expectations are beginning to pile up. If Carolina can properly build around Bryce and the kid is able to perform at a high level, then we could be looking at the beginning of a consistent championship contender.

Right now though, Carolina is going to be facing quite the challenge.

Season Outlook Grade – B

New Orleans Saints

Previous Record – 7-10

The post-Brees Saints have been anything but great. It’s no surprise that the departure of the future Hall of Fame quarterback has left quite the void in the roster for the past few seasons. The team has tried to compete with temporary patches of Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill, but there hasn’t been any success in getting back to the playoffs. The Saints have an outstanding defense and a couple of playmakers on offense, but all that was left was a steady anchor at the quarterback position. Derek Carr has since stepped up as the next quarterback to help bring the Saints back into the playoff race, which buys the organization some time as they properly figure out the future of the position in New Orleans. With the division wide open, the Saints face a great opportunity to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. It’s going to take more than a season, but they are taking steps in the right direction to get back into the playoff race.

As mentioned, former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was picked up by the Saints after a nasty breakup with his previous team. Carr’s play comes with its own question marks, but the vet has established himself as a consistent playmaker, stepping up whenever he’s needed. The Saints also added former Raiders tight-end Foster Moreau to give Carr a security blanket on offense. New Orleans brought back superstar receiver Michael Thomas and capitalized off of Jamaal Williams’ record-breaking season by picking him up in free agency. On the surface level, the Saints are doing their best to build up an offense that immensely struggled last year, but defensive moves were quiet as the team only lost defensive end Marcus Davenport while focusing on bringing back defensive end Cameron Jordan. The Saints off-season moves were very flashy to say the least – but putting on a show of this caliber leaves high expectations going into the season.

The Saints’ draft was pretty standard in comparison to other teams. Their first-round pick obtained from Philadelphia prior to the draft was used on Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Breese. Breese looks to help beef up a stable defensive line, being able to learn from some of the best pass rushers in the process. Still, New Orleans lost out on an opportunity to acquire a great prospect, such as a Jalen Carter, in the respective field. Another standout pick the Saints made was drafting Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener. Haener lacked the exposure and accolades of prospects like Bryce Young and CJ Stroud, but the team looks to utilize him a backup role, hopefully developing into a starter by the end of Carr’s tenure in New Orleans. The Saints had a few missed opportunities by the end of the draft weekend, but picked up a solid group of prospects that display a lot of long-term potential.

The Saints invested a lot of resources into building a squad that looks to compete for temporary success, capitalizing off of a divisional power struggle. With four games down, their chances at winning the NFC South are looking tough as the Buccaneers have snatched the lead early on. While their offseason additions were projected to help propel the team on both sides of the ball, the offense is still looking quite shaky, producing low-scoring competitive games with teams who aren’t looking at serious championship odds. The defense has stepped up tremendously, solidifying into one of the top defenses in the league, but the offense has got to be more reliable if the Saints want to win games and compete against championship-caliber teams. It’s still pretty early to judge the Carr transaction, but it’s come with ups and downs as the ex-Raider has both made great plays and fallen into old habits.

All criticism aside, there’s still a good chance that the Saints could turn things around and become a powerhouse in the NFC with the grand majority of teams using this season to figure out the future trajectory of their squads. They fall in this category themselves, but from a bird’s eye view, they have a good start compared to their competitors.

Season Outlook Grade – B+

Atlanta Falcons

Previous Record – 7-10

The Marcus Mariota-era in Atlanta was short-lived and ended off on a very sour note with Desmond Ridder being elevated to the starting role in the process. Mariota’s reunion with current Falcons head coach Arthur Smith went completely wrong as opposed to expectations, but the promotion of Ridder has left the team with an even bigger question mark surrounding the quarterback position. This Falcons squad isn’t the same pushover they were in 2022, making a lot of necessary upgrades in multiple skill positions, but all it takes is an inexperienced quarterback to throw everything off-track. All the Falcons require from the University of Cincinnati product is to perform the bare minimum in Arthur Smith’s run-heavy offense. Still, they have built quite the squad this off-season – it would be sad to see another consecutive seven-win record.

The Falcons had a very strong presence in free agency, picking up a multitude of notable names in the process. Perhaps the most remarkable signing that Atlanta made was picking up star safety Jessie Bates. Bates looks to help strengthen a struggling secondary, which was also fortunate enough to acquire cornerback Jeff Okudah from the Lions. The defensive line saw some upgrades with Calais Campbell being another notable addition to the defense. And just in case the Ridder situation doesn’t end up working well for the Falcons, they have a reliable backup option in Taylor Heinicke. With a surplus of available cap space, the Falcons were able to make a lot of depth signings all over the field in order to keep this steady roster competing.

No team besides the Lions had a more polarizing draft than the Falcons. Atlanta had the eighth overall pick in the draft and rather than picking up a well-needed cornerback or edge rusher, they took a swing at Texas running back Bijan Robinson in the first round. Many were skeptical at the fact that Atlanta took a running back so early in the process, which lead to many giving the Falcons low draft grades – however, Robinson has taken the league by storm, landing top-three in rushing yards this season so far. The team eventually fulfilled their needs at corner, guard and edge rusher later on in the draft, but Atlanta’s decision to skip out on a stacked corner class really baffled many.

Surprisingly enough, there really isn’t much to say about the Falcons as they enter the 2023 season. Nobody really expected much, and while they made a surprising 2-0 start to the season, their ceiling is starting to look very clear as they ended their last two games in disappointing losses. Arthur Smith has done a great job of establishing a lethal, run-heavy offensive scheme, but most of the team’s shortcomings are due to Ridder’s recent underwhelming performances. So much can change as the NFL looks to enter the mid-season stretch – but as of right now, Ridder is not the answer for Atlanta at quarterback. He is still named as the starter for the Falcons, but if he continues to disappoint, then they can quickly find themselves slipping from the playoff hunt. This squad has a lot of potential to make some noise – but it’s up to Arthur Smith to make that call, whether it involves Heinicke stepping in or trading for a quarterback before the trade deadline.

Season Outlook GradeC-

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2023 Season Outlook: NFC North

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Published September 22, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: NFC North

Written by Alex C.

The most historic set of teams – bundled up into one section – perfectly describes the NFC North. Some of the longest-running teams in the league can be traced back to this division, yet there remains quite the power struggle – especially in this day and age. It seems like the hierarchal structure we once saw in place was immediately flipped on its head after this past offseason. Now, it’s a standoff for who can survive as the chances at taking the crown are equal heading into the 2023 season.

It’s clear that the division won’t be the most the competitive, given the majority of teams are re-tooling their rosters to find the best fit. This leaves the window for the North wide open for every team. The Lions are clear favorites to win their first division title since 1993, but the Vikings, Packers and Bears aren’t going down without a fight. With new and familiar faces all around, it’s going to be an exciting time to see who emerges as the NFC North leader this upcoming season.

Minnesota Vikings

Previous Record – 13-4

The Vikings finished last season with a very unconvincing three-seed placement in the NFC, capitalizing off of an explosive offense that picked up whenever the defense lacked. It was tough for Vikings fans to watch games comfortably as every match came down to wire, but their luck ultimately ran out in the Wild Card of the 2022 playoffs with an upset loss against the New York Giants. Now this Vikings team is looking much different, but carries the same expectations they set with their 13-4 record from last season. The only problem is – this new Vikings squad looks unequipped to match their success from the previous year. Free agency losses and roster cuts have set this roster back further than what meets the eye and now the team is going to have to overcome a larger hurdle in order to get back into the playoff race.

Free agency for the Vikings started off as horribly as anyone could imagine. Right as it began, they lost key pieces on defense including defensive nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, defensive end Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Eric Kendricks and cornerback Patrick Peterson. All four players helped provide stability to this defensive unit and while it did underperform throughout the last season, there’s no doubt that the departures will cause a collapse. The Vikings were able to bring in Brian Flores to help restore the defensive foundation to this team, but Flores is going to have a lot of holes to patch in this unit. Fortunately, the Vikings were able to pick up corner Byron Murphy Jr. and defensive end Marcus Davenport to help bolster the new defensive unit. On offense, the team lost two previous pillars in wide receiver Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook. While Thielen’s play has regressed a bit with the emergence of Justin Jefferson, losing Cook is a big hit on the offense due to his major role in a dynamic run game. Sure, the contractual structure didn’t necessarily fit – but the VIkings lost a consistent weapon on offense that showed up in clutch moments.

While the grand majority of the original roster took a big hit, the new wave of rookies have some big shoes to fill. The Vikings weren’t very active in this year’s draft, but the team made a great decision in taking USC wideout Jordan Addison in the first round. Addison’s speed is the perfect compliment to Jefferson’s crisp route-running, fueling an already efficient offense. They took a chance on another USC product with corner Mekhi Blackmon being drafted to the team in the third round. Blackmon wasn’t a priority when skimming the rankings for corners in this stacked draft class, but the rookie has a chance to learn the ropes behind a solid set of players in the secondary. Aside from the Addison pick, the Vikings didn’t make a big impact in the 2023 NFL draft which may hurt the team as they gear up to compete in this division.

A lot of noise surrounded the 2022 Vikings as their explosive offense helped create some of the best moments of the season, but it was clear this 13-4 finish would be very deceiving. As the team has entered their first two matches of the season, the Vikings are struggling to pick up on the momentum they cruised with last year. Turnovers have been the burden of a team who looks to have an efficient offense, but the defense is failing to pick up the slack in big moments. Run-heavy teams are going to continue to feast on the Vikings defense if they can’t get it together, and Kirk’s inconsistent play isn’t going to help much either. There’s no doubt that he has developed into a decent quarterback in the regular season, but the flaws in his play concerning turnovers are really starting to shine again. If the Vikings can limit this issue and miraculously tie together this defense, then they may have a chance to compete for the division.

Season Outlook Grade – C+

Detroit Lions

Previous Record – 9-8

For the first time, you can feel the shroud of hope surrounding the Detroit Lions as they’ve emerged as the clear favorites to win the division this year. They were able to rally to a 9-8 finish last season, narrowly missing the playoffs while knocking Aaron Rodgers and the Packers off their fictional throne. Despite missing the postseason by a last-minute Seattle win, the hype surrounding the Lions was at an all-time high – but in order to match these expectations, Detroit had to get busy this offseason to fill the holes in their roster, especially on defense.

Just as expected, Detroit was relentless in the offseason, picking up an absurd amount of weapons. The Lions lost running back Jamaal Williams and wide-receiver D.J. Chark to free agency, so the short-term answers were found in the signings of Chicago running back David Montgomery and Jaguars receiver Marvin Jones Jr. Offensive signings were kind of slow, but Detroit picked up the pace on defense – pickups included corners Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Mosley, as well as Super Bowl-fresh safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. This came at a cost, however, as the Lions departed with their 2020 first-round corner Jeff Okudah, who was a great player but struggled to stay on the field due to injuries. Nonetheless, the Lions’ offseason was very good, giving the fans a product to look forward to watching throughout the 2023 season.

Upon first glance, the Lions’ draft picks could be seen as underwhelming. Despite the needy requirements in the secondary, they swung at taking Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with their twelfth pick and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell with the eighteenth pick. Many figured these choices were where the Lions had made their inevitable missteps, but the two played sufficient roles in a stunning Week 1 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Gibbs looks to be the long-term answer at running back, but Detroit should definitely consider giving him a good majority of the reps as the illusive back has already made his mark on this offense in just two games. The Lions were also able to pick up Alabama safety Brian Branch with great value in the second round and quarterback Hendon Hooker to play a sufficient back up role to Jared Goff. Their drafting garnered a lot of mixed reception but in retrospect, Detroit took a lot of good swings in the draft. Some of the picks were a bit unorthodox for the place in which they were selected, but the team has a solid bunch of rookies to help develop and contribute to a potential superstar-caliber team.

If you were to tell anybody before this last year that the Lions would have a good chance at making a deep playoff run – and even a Super Bowl appearance – you would have definitely been met with laughs for a good twenty minutes. The Lions have made significant progress from their 3-13 finish in 2021 and managed to completely turn this franchise around from another season of insufferable incompetency. With Rodgers out of the division and the Vikings projected to take a step back from last year, the door for the Lions’ division title is wide open. Dan Campbell has built quite the gritty squad with an old-school mindset, so the Lions will make a relentless push towards the NFC North crown.

If they’re able to pull it off, there’s a good chance they could make a lot of noise in the playoffs and steal a win in the wild card. Still, this is the Lions we’re talking about – but it’s still looking like things are finally changing for the better in Motor City.

Season Outlook GradeA

Green Bay Packers

Previous Record – 8-9

After what seemed like ages of Rodgers trade rumors, the Packers finally found a fitting partner and sent their star quarterback to the New York Jets. In just the blink of an eye, the future of the franchise lies in the lap of Jordan Love – a quarterback the Packers took in the first round of the 2020 draft, which indirectly led to Rodgers’ trade request. Green Bay are going into 2023 with a clean slate and look to return to contending form with Love at the helm. With what we’ve seen from him thus far, there’s definitely a lot of potential for the Packers to return to glory – but the road back to success isn’t going to be easy.

We’ve covered the Rodgers trade already, which is the biggest offseason move in the league as a whole. However, he didn’t head over to the Jets solo, recruiting a good chunk of his colleagues from the Packers to go with him. The list of departures now includes receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb as well as safety Adrian Amos. Aside from that, they had a very quiet offseason. Not much was achieved, which is quite odd when you have a potential break-or-bust situation going on for your season. They could’ve at least tried to push for some help at receiver, but this is Green Bay we’re looking at here.

Speaking of which, they made some questionable decisions on draft day, such as swinging for Iowa linebacker Lukas Van Ness in the first round. Don’t get it twisted, the Iowa product is a great player and was projected to go in the first round – however, adding on to the linebacker position was the least of the Packers’ worries going into the draft. Green Bay also stocked up on tight ends, taking two with Luke Musgrave being the standout choice. This should give Love the security blanket he needs as he steps into the starting role, but the hope is that he can connect early with Jayden Reed, who was taken shortly after. These picks weren’t necessarily terrible, but the Packers missed out on cashing in on a stacked receiving class in the first round. The selections were nice, but Green Bay scared a few fans with where they placed their priorities.

Two games into the regular season and the Jordan Love experiment is going very well for the Packers. While the team succumbed to a last-minute defeat to the Falcons in their week 2 matchup, there’s a lot of potential in this squad that was deemed to be in shambles following Rodgers’ departure. However, solid performances in two different matches doesn’t necessarily prove that taking Love in the first round of the 2020 draft was the right choice. He still has the entire season ahead of him to prove he’s the man in Green Bay, but with what we’ve seen from the Utah product, there’s no doubt the Packers will see another era of great quarterback play for many years to come.

Season Outlook GradeB+

Chicago Bears

Previous Record – 3-14

The Bears were one of the most underwhelming teams in the NFL last season, ending with the worst record in the league. Just like the beginning of any disastrous Chicago run, do you point the blame at the coaching, quarterback play, defense, or all of the above? The Bears showed a lot of promise with the offseason moves they’ve made, but from what we’ve seen they’re still failing in all aspects. Flipping the number one overall pick to build around Justin Fields was a great move on paper, but the results are beginning to show otherwise.

As soon as the season ended, Chicago got to working on their roster immediately. The Bears dealt their number one pick in the 2023 draft to Carolina, who coughed up a second-round pick in the 2023 and 2025 drafts, a first-rounder in the 2024 draft and their most valuable asset in receiver D.J. Moore. To say Chicago cashed in on this trade is an understatement. In addition, the Bears were able to sign linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, who helped fill the void of Roquan Smith who was traded halfway into the 2022 season. The Bears were also able to add defensive ends DeMarcus Walker and Andrew Billings to continue building upon an underachieving defense. On paper, Chicago’s offseason activity was great, given the team was able to fill their immediate needs on defense as well as nab a dangerous weapon for Fields.

The momentum didn’t stop in free agency either as the Bears had themselves quite the active draft to compliment their offseason moves. Chicago nabbed some much-needed help on the offensive line with their first round pick Darnell Wright. The lack of protection was a pestering issue, as we saw Fields have to constantly improvise as pressure arrived immediately. They also picked up additional selections with cornerback Tyrique Stevenson to help out on the secondary and running back Roschon Johnson to help uplift the run-game. The Bears’ draft class isn’t the snazziest, but this is a solid core of players who have a chance to contribute to this defeated franchise. Surely it can’t get worse than last season, right?

And of course, Chicago proves us wrong with a staggering 0-2 start in the beginning of the season with two matchups they could have easily won. The offense seems very stagnant with OC Luke Getsky drawing up some of the most questionable plays one could see in the National Football League. Not only are there red flags on coaching, but Fields is making some questionable decisions himself. There’s a clear disconnect with the two as Fields is missing the reads and making the wrong plays where he would usually step up. A once promising Bears team is beginning to look like a disaster – but stop me if you’ve heard that one before. The schedule isn’t going to get any easier either, with the entire division taking a step forward as Chicago is taking two steps back. Whether it’s Fields or the coaching staff arising as the main issue, Chicago looks to be in the exact same scenario they constantly find themselves in every year. There’s no telling what the future holds for the Bears, but it isn’t looking too pretty.

Season Outlook Grade C-

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2023 Season Outlook: NFC East

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Published September 14, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: NFC East

Written by Alex C.

If you went up the street asking people which teams wield the most obnoxious fanbases, you could bet good money that the answer would lie in this division. The teams residing within the NFC East are notorious for their regular season success with an inability to follow-up in the post-season – unless you’re Eli Manning or Nick Foles. It brings a smile to every football fan’s face when these teams come up short annually – especially when it’s the Cowboys.

Though postseason struggles have become standard protocol, NFC East teams are hard beasts to battle throughout the regular season. Believe it when we say that this division is truly unpredictable – these teams could sneakily snatch the crown at any given moment, even if they appear close to their wit’s end. With tales of tragedy and triumph on each team’s trail, it’s going to be very interesting seeing how the NFC East is going to unfold in the 2023 season.

Philadelhia Eagles

Previous Record – 14-3

The infamous Super Bowl losers. Its sad to see Philly’s season end to a last-minute holding call in the biggest game – but in all fairness, that same defense allowed twenty-four points in the second half.

They were a walking buzzsaw for the greater half of the season and that dominance was able to continue into the post-season. Jalen Hurts emerged as a star in the process, looking to be the heir to a McNabb or Vick with his play heavily emulating their styles. Not to mention, the robbery of A.J. Brown from the Titans in the previous off-season went exactly how Philly mapped it out. Almost everything that could go right with the Eagles went according to plan until the team fell flat on their face in the Super Bowl. Now, with a botched list of roster losses and the toughest schedule heading into the 2023 season, they wield a lot of pressure to run it back.

Whether you think so or not, the 2022 Eagles were one of those perfect teams you see placed together for a very short time period. However, they were faced with a difficult task of attempting to retain all of their players who looked to enter free agency. They were able to prevent Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham from retiring as well as re-siging James Bradburry, Darius Slay Jr., and Fletcher Cox. The two big losses that the Eagles faced were safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, both of whom played pivotal roles on the defense last season and secured themselves as potential threats come the playoffs. It seemed like the loss of these figures combined with the hefty contracts handed out – one of which making Jalen Hurts the highest paid quarterback in the league for a few weeks – would have the Eagles clawing their way back to contention. However, Philly’s general manager – Howie Rosman – has mastered the cap and let all the right pieces fall into place, especially during the draft.

Speaking of the draft, Philadephia emerged as the unanimous winner of the 2023 NFL Draft – well, if there was a title of such. Shockingly enough, Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter fell to the Eagles at the ninth spot after he was projected to be taken immediately off the board. Eight teams allowed this powerhouse of a pick to drop to one of the most loaded defenses in the league, where he can thrive with reliable vets in his corner. Philly was also successfully able to pick up another Georgia product who was a difference maker on a suffocating defense in linebacker Nolan Smith. To top things off, they picked a final member of the Goergia defense with cornerback Kelee RIngo. The Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better draft as they walked away with three main pieces from a championship-winning defense. There’s no doubt that these rookies will blossom as they’re surrounded by some of the best defensive players in the league, simultaneously receiving guidance from a passionate roster of individuals.

The main question to ask after the Super Bowl loss is – can the Eagles run it back? You never really hear about one of these star-studded teams making the big game following a loss in the previous season, but they face little to no deep competition in the NFC conference. The only team that could pose a threat in the off-season is the 49ers, and we’ve yet to see these two blockbuster rosters play a completely healthy game. You could also throw in the Cowboys or a dark horse contender – like the Seahawks or Lions – but for now, the Eagles have the NFC on lock. If they can rise up and succeed while going through the NFL’s hardest schedule, then another Super Bowl appearance is possibly on the horizon.

Season Outlook GradeA+

Dallas Cowboys

Previous Record – 12-5

The sole thing that bonds footballs fans together no matter who they support is simultaneously seeing “America’s team” fall short every year in the most embarrassing ways. Don’t get it twisted, as the Cowboys pose a serious threat in the regular season – but Dallas is far beyond their good ol’ days of consistent postseason success. While the overwhelming hate that they receive is definitely warranted, consider if a different team name was slapped on this roster. You would see more and more people call them a serious Super Bowl contender, especially with the work they put in throughout the offseason.

The biggest, widely known loss came in the form of running back Ezekiel Elliott getting cut from the team. Elliott played a big part in helping Dallas bounce back from an off-year and solidified himself as a household name with the squad. His deal with the Cowboys, however, was one of the defining contracts that contributed towards the collapse of the running back market, especially as his play dwindled down. With Pollard looking to get a new deal – which was eventually secured – it was time for the team to cut ties with Zeke after this past season. Dallas also lost tight-end Dalton Schultz to free-agency, an offensive player who rose to the occasion when needed but didn’t wield the flashy stats to show for it. They did some good digging for some additions though, as the team picked up receiver Bradin Cooks to add some assistance on offense and corner Stephon Gilmore to help out Trevon Diggs in the secondary. It was a lot going on for Dallas this offseason – especially with Pollard engaging in the simultaneous running-back holdouts – but the Cowboys took some solid steps at improving their already-strong roster.

Their effort throughout the 2023 NFL draft was solid, more or less. Their first pick in Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith wasn’t really ideal given the fact he was chosen a bit prematurely, but he could help out in an iffy defensive front. Dallas also ran with Michigan tight-end Luke Schoonmaker, who will look to contribute in a developing tight-end room – however, there were definitely better selections that they could’ve ran with at that position. Though his size created some question marks surrounding his potential in this league, running back Deuce Vaughn was a great pick, especially considering how late he was taken off the board. The Cowboys draft could’ve went better in different areas, but it was a valiant effort overall – nothing to raise chaos about.

If you ask the Cowboys fans, they’ll use every possible tactic to convince you it’s their year as with each and every season. Peel back the obnoxious behavior and it’s quite clear that this team actually wields the potential to go far in the post-season, but at this point we’re all familiar with the yearly protocol Dallas goes through. Whether it’s Dak or the coaching staff, the blame is hard to pinpoint given the organization as a whole collapses come playoff time. Dak has a reputation for being a turnover machine – and while Cowboys fans could bring up every stat about his turnover rate or QBR percentage, it doesn’t help how inconvenient it is when Dak gives up the ball. He’s not the terrible quarterback that the media – mainly social media – paints him as, but if he could get it together and deliver a consistent string of performances in the post-season, this squad can easily go toe-to-toe with any team in the league.

But this is the Cowboys we’re talking about – so enjoy the ride to another hilarious playoff exit.

Season Outlook GradeA-

New York Giants

Previous Record – 9-7-1

Nobody could’ve expected the New York Giants to start off as strong as they did last season. The hiring of head coach Brian Daboll worked wonders on the team as they managed to squeeze their way into the playoffs and pull off an upset win against the three-seed Minnesota Vikings. The same Giants squad that strung together a sad series of losing records was now on the road to success – but one can’t help but wonder if this team has reached their peak or not. Sure, they contain its fair share of talent across different positions, but it’s easy to spot the flaws on this supernatural roster. The receiving room is mediocre at best – and it’s not like Daniel Jones is the most spectacular quarterback to watch.

Unlike some organizations, the Giants are completely aware of their strengths and weaknesses and put together a convincing effort throughout the offseason to acknowledge these flaws. The G-Men made a lot of veteran additions all throughout the roster, including moves for receiver Parris Campbell, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, linebacker Bobby Okereke and safety Bobby McCain. Their best move was a high-way robbery trade for tight-end Darren Waller to which the Giants only gave up a third-round pick. This wasn’t their only lucky move, as the Cardinals also gave up hybrid defender Isaiah Simmons for a measly seventh-rounder. There was also the situation in which star running back Saquon Barkley threatened to sit out until the Giants met his demands for a new contract. This added a stressful tone to the team’s offseason as Barkley played a major role on leading the offense last season, but the two parties were eventually able to reach an agreement.

The Giants had an amazing draft that went over a lot of heads during the process. Their first pick was used on Maryland corner Deonte Banks – arguably the most athletic corner in the class – who shines in man coverage and wields the traits to develop into an amazing player. In addition, they picked up Tennessee receiver Jaylin Hyatt at great value in the third round. Hyatt was one of the best wideouts in the draft – ranked around the top five in receiving scouting reports – and looks to add a much needed spark in the Giants receiving room. There’s a lot of promise surrounding these rookies, as they have the potential to help elevate the team back to glory – but there’s still a fair share of questionable aspects surrounding this roster.

One of the biggest narratives clouding the Giants was the debate between Daniel Jones’ extension and whether the team should’ve used that money to pay Saquon Barkley instead. This led to Barkley sitting out from all team-related activities until got the contract he wanted. Obviously, this put a damper on the team – which translated to their Week 1 matchup against the Cowboys – but New York still wields the potential to grow into a consistent playoff contender. Jones isn’t the most reliable quarterback when it comes to ball security, but he can usually play well enough for four quarters to rally a team to victory. There’s still a chance for the G-Men but all they can hope for is that this talented roster is able to blossom into the bonafide contender they planned to nurture.

Season Outlook GradeB-

Washington Commanders

Previous Record – 8-8-1

It’s crazy to think that a groundless Washington team was a game away from making the playoffs in 2022. They had talent on both ends of the ball, but were held back from contention due to very uninspiring quarterback play from Carson Wentz and the usual tone-deaf operations from Dan Snyder. There’s still a lot to figure out, but the organization took a big step forward when Snyder was able to sell the team in July of 2023. With a new owner looking to bring Washington back to glory and a Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator in Eric Bieniemy boarding the ship, it’s all up to Ron Rivera to prove he’s capable of creating a winning squad.

The Commanders didn’t really get a whole lot done in the off-season, but many big decisions were settled in that time frame. First thing on the list was to decide is if they were going to pick up Chase Young’s fifth-year option. The defensive end out of Ohio State put on a stellar rookie campaign, hoisting the coveted AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. Sadly, injuries derailed his trajectory immensely and Young has yet to play longer than ten games a season since, leading the Commanders to decline his option. Next on the list was the issue at quarterback, given the team’s struggles to find success with Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke, who both left in free agency. This prompted them to take a wild chance on 2022 fifth-rounder Sam Howell to step up as QB1. Washington also picked up long-time backup Jacoby Brissett to play behind Howell as he develops, but the expectation is that Bieniemy will play the biggest role in his development.

Washington’s draft day was pretty quiet aside from their first-round pick. The team settled on Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, which caused a lot of confusion due to them passing up the draft’s most highly anticipated corner – Christian Gonzalez. Forbes looks to help elevate a solid secondary, contributing in a key moment of Washington’s Week 1 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. The Commanders took a few more picks on defense and the offensive line, but there wasn’t much more noise throughout the draft.

Washington is in a weird position as they gear up to enter the 2023 season, but nothing could be worse than the past twenty-plus years with Dan Snyder. Now that Snyder is finally out, all signs point to whether Rivera is capable of commanding this team’s future. The defensive-minded coach has great bones in a well-grounded defensive unit, but the offense is a different story. They have more weapons on offense than many give them credit for, but it’s all about how first-year starter Howell can perform with the resources provided. It was a rough start for the young quarterback, as he struggled with some iffy turnovers and had Brissett take over in the middle of the game – however, there were flashes of a quarterback that could get the job done. If he can play at a consistent pace, limit turnovers and work on decision-making, then Washington may have something special in this UNC product.

Season Outlook Grade C+

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2023 Season Outlook: NFC West

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Published September 6, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: NFC West

Written by Alex C.

The NFC West isn’t exactly the glamorous showcase it once was. At one point, it looked like it was bound to be one of the most competitive divisions in the league, with all four teams making a good case for a conference championship at the bare minimum. However, 2022 saw a sporadic mess inside the division as the teams projected to contend fell off the deep end – and the few that were expected to decline ended up shocking a lot of people.

As we usher into the 2023 season, the NFC West is more unbalanced than ever as we see a clear power struggle in the lower half of its hierarchy. Still, it wouldn’t exactly be a surprise if some of these teams made a push for the crown or even pulled off a major upset in the playoffs. There’s a lot to consider with the NFC West as we ease into the upcoming season, so let’s take a look at what each team is cooking before it’s time to display the finished product.

San Francisco 49ers

Previous Record – 13-4

After falling short one game of the Super Bowl, the Niners have their sights set on building upon last season’s success – however, there are still some major issues they need to work out. San Francisco is able to stand out among a disappointing wave of NFC teams with a talented supporting cast, but there’s no real leader under center to further elevate the team. The biggest narrative to emerge from last season revolved around “Mr. Irrelevant” from the 2022 NFL Draft, Brock Purdy, who rallied the team towards the NFC Championship game while both starting quarterbacks – Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo – were injured. Purdy showed flashes last year, playing at a high caliber while the league redefined what it meant to be named “Mr. Irrelevant” – but all it took was one injury for the Niner’s dreams of a sixth championship to be buried at the last moment yet again. Now, with a stacked roster – aside from the grey area surrounding the quarterback position – the Niners are entering “win now” mode.

San Francisco entered free agency looking like they had lost quite a bit from their championship-ready squad. Jimmy Garoppolo’s time in the Bay was already coming to a close anyway, but the Niners also lost offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, and safety Jimmie Ward. This is without mentioning the loss of defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who helped piece together a phenomenal defense that was among the league’s best last season. The team had some solid acquisitions, though, bringing in defensive end Javon Hargrave from the enemy Eagles and keeping Tashaun Gipson Sr. involved in a threatening safety unit. To avoid the quarterback troubles that ensued throughout the previous season, the Niners brought in Sam Darnold who looks to play a backup role with the team. Darnold didn’t pan out exactly as hoped from a first-round pick, but if there’s anyone that could get his career back on track, it’s Kyle Shanahan.

The Niners’ draft was definitely a quiet one – the team didn’t start getting active until the third round due to a severe lack of draft capital. The grand majority of their 2023 picks were traded away, leaving the team with compensatory picks to build off of. Their overall selection of talent was very balanced – they picked up two tight ends and a receiver for offense, picks in the secondary and linebacker core for defense, and a kicker to finish things off. There weren’t too many standout names as the team was dealt with a limited hand, but it would be very interesting to see just how well some of these picks at defense are able to grow through this strong defensive unit.

Through thick and thin, the Niners are still projected to perform the best in an under-performing NFC division – and conference – but there still lie a lot of grey areas around the roster. Defensive end Nick Bosa has played a pivotal role of igniting the defense at any given moment, and is now at the point of his career where contract negotiations are getting tighter and tighter. The situation hasn’t been looking too good, as Bosa was left off of the official depth chart release – however, there’s no way the Niners should let a playmaker like Bosa walk away so easily. And that’s without mentioning the quarterback situation, which resulted in Trey Lance getting traded to the Dallas Cowboys after a disappointing string of preseason performances. The circumstance was handled horribly, but it appears the Niners are confident with Brock Purdy under center – however, they better hope this situation pans out well and doesn’t end up like the Kaepernick story in San Francisco. The Niners have a lot on their plate, but can easily run back another NFC Championship appearance due to the lack of powerhouses in the conference.

Season Outlook GradeA

Seattle Seahawks

Previous Record – 9-8

Not a single soul expected thirty-year old Geno Smith to emerge as Seattle’s savior in what was perceived as their official fall from grace. The Seahawks salvaged everything they could following the Russell Wilson trade, bracing for what looked to be a potentially disastrous season. Fate had other plans, though, as the team rallied its way to a 9-8 finish, narrowly making the playoffs due to a last-minute Green Bay loss. Though they were bounced out of the wildcard by the rival Niners, the Seahawks left with lots to look forward to next season. With Geno surfacing as a reliable starting quarterback along with a young roster filled with loads of potential, they couldn’t have bounced back better and are already looking to improve from their previous season.

Though they miraculously advanced to a playoff berth, the Seahawks defensive and offensive lines were beyond repair. In their attempt to slap a temporary band-aid on the issue, the Hawks were able to bring in a plethora of names, including the return of longtime Seahawks defensive anchor Bobby Wagner. Wagner’s restored presence on the defensive unit is expected to help guide this young roster through proper development as well as increase their confidence as they further understand their roles on the field. They were also able to welcome more defensive names, such as safety Julian Love and defensive end Jarran Reed, just to name a few. The offseason wasn’t too flashy for the Hawks as the attention was geared towards the return of Wagner, but Seattle made more noise during the draft.

The Seahawks made out like bandits in the first-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, picking two highly-valued selections on both ends of the field. Many assumed the Hawks would go for Jalen Carter in an effort to strengthen the defensive line, but the team ended up swinging for cornerback Devon Witherspoon instead. The Seahawks already wield a lethal secondary, so the Witherspoon acquisition looks to elevate the unit even further. In addition, they were also able to walk away with Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was the highest rated receiving prospect in the 2023 draft class. Smith-Njigba looks to contribute to a very interesting receiving tandem alongside Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, making this once scattered roster look like a fully bloomed project that’s ready to contend.

With Seattle riding off of the sudden momentum gained from last season, it’s genuinely surprising to see how well they were able to defy the drastically low expectations set for them. Though it looks like they may have some worries surrounding the offensive line, they were able to stock up in every other area of the field in a process reminiscent of the legendary Legion of Boom’s assembly. If Pete Carroll is able to pull this type of scheme off once again as Geno performs at the same level – if not better – as he did last season, Seattle could look to bounce back as if they had never left.

Season Outlook GradeB+

Los Angeles Rams

Previous Record – 5-12

Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. The Los Angeles Rams followed up a championship-winning season with one of the worst defending champion campaigns we’ve seen in a very long time. We can sit here and blame the sudden downfall on injuries or a lack of draft capital, but the only thing that matters is how the Rams plan to move forward – and as great of a coach Sean McVay is, things still aren’t looking too well for them. More than half the roster is comprised of rookies or undrafted free agents, which isn’t a good look when you think about how well they can perform in a league filled with seasoned professionals.

The only silver lining in this roster is that key players Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford are still sticking around – the only person from the Super Bowl winning squad who wasn’t able to stay was star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. If last year’s horrific downfall wasn’t bad enough, Ramsey’s trade sealed the deal on the end of the Rams’ return to contention. This offseason saw them making a lot of cuts to clear cap space, essentially clean sweeping the house minus the three that stayed. They made little to no acquisitions in free agency and maintained only a select number of players, including Sony Michel who retired shortly after re-siging.

As if free agency didn’t go bad enough, the Rams were salvaging all of their draft picks, trying to double the number they entered with. To their credit, they walked away with fourteen total selections, but all of the rookies are in for a bumpy ride. Some gems were scooped, though, as the Rams were able to pick up TCU corner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Tennessee edge-rusher Byron Young fairly late in the process. They also made a move for Georgia’s championship-winning quarterback Stetson Bennett, who will likely play a back-up role in the mean time.

To some extent, having a relatively young roster could be very beneficial in the long run – the team is able to synchronously develop with each other, but it’s not going to be an easy process. You’re looking at a group of recently drafted college kids that are competing with the best athletes in football, so the growing pains will deeply sting. The Rams may have to monitor the sole remaining veterans and decide if they want to opt out of such an exhausting process. Big-name player like Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp could easily find themselves on another championship-contending roster if they don’t want to spend their remaining time trying to guide a fresh set of eyes through the league. This season is going to be quite the rollercoaster ride for the Rams organization, but there could be a lot of future potential with this team if all pans out well.

Season Outlook Grade – D+

Arizona Cardinals

Previous Record – 4-13

If you thought the Rams had it bad, the Cardinals have basically given up before the season even started. Their off-season started off on an oddly deceptive note as Kliff Kingsbury was finally fired from the head coaching position. Who was Kingsbury’s replacement, you ask? Johnathan Gannon – the defensive coordinator of the Eagles who gave up twenty-four points in a half. On top of the questionable coach hiring, the roster is filled with red flags as the team suffered many losses throughout the offseason.

Right before the offseason even begun, star edge-rusher J.J. Watt announced his intentions to retire after the season. If one loss on defense wasn’t bad enough, the Cardinals also lost cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and defensive end Zach Allen to free agency. And to top it all off, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was released after failure to reach an agreement on a new deal. The Cardinals were unable to make any significant noise through free agency as the team began to operate around the new Gannon era.

On the bright side, their draft turned out better than whatever else the team had going on. The Cardinals started things off by taking Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Paris looks to play a big role in helping strengthen a relatively weak offensive line, and his linked history with the franchise made for a feel-good story – a great pick overall. Arizona was also able to scoop up LSU edge-rusher BJ Ojulari in the second round and Louisville corner Kei’Trel Clark for great value in the sixth round. Both played their respective position at a great level and look to help improve a recently-fractured Cardinals defense. There was a lot of trading picks down for more selections in later rounds, but they did a good job of preserving capital and striking at the right moment.

The draft was a success, but the immediate future for Arizona is still not looking too bright as the team enters 2023. The biggest issue revolves around quarterback Kyler Murray’s inability to start due to an injury late in the previous season. Add on the lack of star power and a coach with a negative track record, and you’ve got a team that’s looking to tank. But if it’s one thing we’ve learned from Arizona, it’s that another tank job isn’t going to help this team return to contention. It would cause more problems as the team would be forced to decide Murray’s future.

The Cardinals truly have a lot on their plate – and it doesn’t look like things are going to get better anytime soon.

Season Outlook Grade – F

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2023 Season Outlook: AFC South

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Published August 31, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: AFC South

Written by Alex C.

Arguably the least serious division in the league, the status of the AFC South looks to shift as each team was overhauled and looks to be on a positive path moving forward. If it wasn’t for the supernatural run that the Jaguars put together in the second half of the previous season, the AFC South would have been the most clowned division in the entire NFL. Prior to that, it seemed as if the division was littered with directionless teams who were in a scramble to return to their individual glory.

With one of the best free agencies in recent memory occurring along with a successful draft across the board, this agonizing section of franchises all look to be in the position to recourse their trajectory and finally emerge from years of distress. There’s a lot to expect from each of them moving forward, so let’s delve into their current state and how they can build upon their limitless potential.


Previous Record – 9-8

The Jaguars took the NFL by storm last year, clinching a last-minute division title after an epic seasonal turnaround. With the well-needed departure of disastrous coach Urban Meyer, the state of the Jags franchise was left with a lot of grey areas. Fortunately, the team hired Super Bowl winning head coach Doug Pederson to help steer the team in a new direction. The Jags experienced some growing pains early on, sitting at an underwhelming 2-6 record in the middle of the season. Still, this ragtag group of misfits showed they had a lot of fight left in them as they rallied to a 9-8 finish, clinching the AFC South in an upset win against their division rival Tennessee Titans. The fun didn’t stop there either as the Jaguars were able to miraculously comeback from a 27-point deficit in a playoff game against the Chargers. Doug Pederson did the impossible and turned a directionless roster around into a bonafide playoff contender, but the question to be held is: can he do it again?

Comparing this Cinderella Jags team to the 2021 iteration of the franchise is a day-and-night difference. The same Trevor Lawrence that led Jacksonville to a 3-14 finish the year before ended his second season looking to be the next hot quarterback coming out of the AFC. The turnaround is more impressive when you look at the state of the roster, which somehow managed to stay intact as the team endured free agency. The Jags lost veteran wideout Marvin Jones Jr., who returned to Detroit despite his valiant contributions during the team’s year of struggle. With a reliable receiver out of the picture, the Jags prioritized the return of offensive staple Evan Engram. Despite hitting him with the disputable franchise tag, the team was able to bring Engram back for another three years. They also mustered up the resources to help out the offensive line and defensive end positions, which had their peaks and troughs throughout the previous season.

Going into the draft with nine picks, the Jags played their cards into flipping their capital to a total of thirteen picks that panned out through the later rounds. With their sizable amount of draft capital, Jacksonville came out of the draft with an array of selections across different positions. The team left Kansas City – the location of the 2023 draft – with pairs of offensive lineman, safeties, edge rushers and running backs as well as singular selections at tight-end, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and defensive end. However, the spotlight was shed on their first three selections – Anton Harrison (offensive tackle), Brenton Strange (tight-end), and Tank Bigsby (running back). The first two made for solid selections in a strong class for their respective fields, but the selection for Bigsby in the third round seemed like a great pick up as the Auburn product could sit behind and learn from running back Travis Etienne, who had a great season last year.

Doug Pederson worked every ounce of magic in his body to help turn this franchise around and after a year of building the squad, there’s a lot for Jacksonville to look forward to in the upcoming season. The Jaguars team that looked like a complete disaster going into 2022 overcame all adversity it was faced with and turned the tables from a projected catastrophe to a possible championship contender. With the overall state of the AFC South looking pretty weak, there’s no doubt that the Jags will be frontrunners to claim the division crown again. We’ve seen the wonders that Trevor Lawrence is capable of, but the only thing left for him to prove is if he can hang with the heavy hitters in the conference. How well can T-Law match up against a Mahomes-led Chiefs in a rematch or a Burrow-led Bengals with a revamped squad?

Lawrence has a lot of expectations going into the 2023 season, but there’s an overwhelming confidence from the league in his ability to take that next big step in his career. Here’s to hoping the Jaguars can get right back on track and turn around years of misfortune.

Season Outlook GradeA


Previous Record – 7-10

It’s crazy to think an overall solid Titans team that held the number one seed in the AFC conference at one point would endure such a disastrous end to season. From injuries to key positions to mediocre play across the board, it’s safe to say the Titans hit their ceiling in 2021. After losing star receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles the following season, the Titans started off strong – they looked to lock the AFC South title once again in consecutive years, but of course, destiny had other plans. Despite looking like a top contender in the division throughout the first half of the season, the Titans are left with an uncertain roster scattered with its fair share of red and green flags.

At this point, its safe to say that Tennessee is beginning a soft reset, going all in for the win despite some question marks surrounding the most crucial positions. The Titans lost a lot of players to free agency, many of which helped bolster the defense from the year prior. Names like linebacker David Long and defensive end DeMarcus Walker walked to free-agency, leading the Titans to prioritize defensive signings in the offseason. Tennessee came out of the free-agency stage with a plethora of good pick-ups, including linebackers Arden Key and Azeez Al-Shaair as well as cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting. And who could forget the highly anticipated acquisition of generational wide-receiver DeAndre Hopkins? The Titans put up an overall solid effort in free agency signings to accompany one of the more unsettling draft selections across all teams.

With the wide range of defensive players signed in the offseason, the Titans entered the 2023 NFL Draft shifting their focus on offense – but not in the ways that most would expect. A receiver-needy Tennessee skipped out on some solid wideouts and went with offensive tackle Peter Skoronski with their first selection. With the quarterback play that the team experienced last season, it was clear that they would benefit from an otherwise stacked o-lineman class. Their next selection, however, shook up the facility as they selected Kentucky quarterback Will Levis in the second round. With Tannehill inching closer to retirement and a lack of faith in the quarterback they selected in the previous draft – Malik Willis – the Titans used the Levis selection as an attempt to start from scratch, only to create a tense quarterback room.

The Titans made an off-hand effort at picking up some potential offensive targets in later rounds, but the intention is still unclear as to how they will approach the season with this roster. It’s clear they’re trying their best to climb back up the ranks in the AFC, but the key pieces that sustained a once-contending roster are slowly wasting their potential in complete mediocrity. Whether they like it or not, the Titans can’t continuously depend on Derrick Henry to do all of the heavy lifting time and time again. The team needs to establish some identity in the passing game – and while the Hopkins acquisition will help the team in that aspect, they need to figure out what their plan is at quarterback.

How long will an injured Tannehill take the reins on this offense before they end up in the same position as previous seasons? When will one of the two young quarterbacks be ready to step up and start, or make the start when the time comes? For now, the Titans roster poses more questions then it does address any answers.

Season Outlook Grade C+


Previous Record – 4-12-1

No team had a more confusing fall from grace than the Indianapolis Colts did last season. A franchise that was once seen as an automatic playoff lock has come to terms with its self-deprecatory game of quarterback roulette and questionable decision-making in poignant moments. We should’ve known their season was over when they continued the streak of picking up middle-aged washed up quarterbacks and brought in ex-Falcons player Matt Ryan into the mix. As if things couldn’t get any worse following a rocky start to the season, the Colts fired their head coach – Frank Reich – in the middle of the season, replacing him with the inexperienced ex-Colts center Jeff Saturday. Though this struggling Colts team has endured years of confusion and incompetency, things are finally looking to be better for Indianapolis in the future – for now, at least.

Things looked to be moving pretty quickly in free agency as the Colts lost just as much as they gained, especially on defense. Offseason losses include edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, linebacker Bobby Okereke, and safety Rodney McLeod – however, the most notable departure from the squad would have to be cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who served as a leader to the secondary with an established veteran status. Also prominent was the sudden waiving of cornerback Isaiah Rodgers due to issues with gambling on NFL games throughout the previous season. Though the defense took a small hit, the team’s signings were very diverse, covering all sorts of different roster spots. The range spanned from quarterback Gardner Minshew to linebacker/defensive end Samson Ebukam, as well as kicker Matt Gay. Free agency as a whole sort of just came and went for the Colts, who looked to dedicate more focus to their selections in the draft.

Right out the gate, the Colts were fortunate enough to catch Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall selection. The Colts have finally liberated themselves from the cycle of veteran quarterback play they found themselves in, but their main priority should be to ensure the development of Richardson goes as smoothly as possible – his play wielded a few uncertainties from draft analysts. Aside from the Colts finding their new quarterback, Indianapolis had a very productive draft with the team flaunting twelve overall picks from this year’s class. While their hotspot resided within the fifth round, the second standout pick they had from this class emerged in the third round, as the team went with North Carolina receiver Josh Downs. All in all, the Colts made a solid effort in the draft, but it all comes down to how the talent on this roster is managed.

The Colts are one of few teams who wield a terrible track record when it comes to the administration of their roster. Many examples come to mind, whether it be the failed management of injuries to star players or incompetent decision making from the organization – however, the Colts have to make sure they’ve learned from these mistakes to set their potential star quarterback for future success. Richardson has been named the starting quarterback for the beginning of the 2023 season and if the team is able to set his trajectory properly, they could look to bounce back into consistent playoff contention. Obviously, the process isn’t going to see immediate results, considering the kid is a rookie who comes with concerns regarding accuracy and recklessness in terms of his play – however, Richardson wields all of the right traits to make a great starting quarterback. Again, it’s going to take some time – but if the Colts can help get him on the right track, they’re looking at another few hot years of success.

Season Outlook GradeB


Previous Record – 3-13-1

The “younger brother” team and laughing stock of the NFL is ironically on the right track to make some noise in the following years. The absence of stars like DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt and – hesitantly included – Deshaun Watson, left a painful void in the middle of this organization that has continued to linger over the past few years. Constant regime changes and an array of whiffed draft selections has stunted this team’s growth for quite some time – fortunately, this year brings a perfect opportunity for this poor franchise to turn the tables as first year head-coach and Texans legend DeMeco Ryans looks to be the catalyst for change in Houston.

The Texans’ aggressive attempt at a successful free agency left us wondering who they didn’t end up signing in the process. Granted, there weren’t any blockbuster acquisitions, but Houston did a good job of picking up a reliable cast of players on both ends of the ball. Some of the signings include tight end Dalton Schultz, free safety Jimmie Ward, linebacker Denzel Perryman, running back Devin Singletary and wide receiver Robert Woods – just to name a few. Based off the names alone, this roster isn’t the star-studded ensemble you’ll constantly see lighting up the field, but it’s the perfect stepping-stone squad to help elevate the team higher. Last season, the Texans mightily struggled on both offense and defense but it can’t get worse than a 3-13-1 finish – especially with the moves Houston made in the draft.

The Texans were the stars in this years draft as the team made the bold move to trade up for the third overall pick, guaranteeing back-to-back selections. Their first selection with the number-two pick went towards acquiring Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. Just as predicted, Stroud was taken immediately off the board by the Texans – they were also able to pick up Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. with the following selection. Both Stroud and Anderson are expected to play major roles in flipping the fortune of a struggling Texans roster – and really, nothing can get worse than what the fans have put up with the past few years. The Texans should be able to get more out of Will Anderson Jr. though, giving the defensive-minded DeMeco Ryans an explosive piece to help develop and utilize in an effort to exercise their full potential.

The Texans ended 2022 on a very low note, succumbing to an ironic cause of self-sabotage in missing the first overall pick. It wasn’t the ideal situation to be in, but with a new set of eyes coming in to make up the coaching staff, it looks like they’re in position to reverse their history of misfortune with this draft. Both DeMeco and Casserio did a great job of building a roster filled with depth and reliability across all positions as well as executing some solid drafting – but at this point, the question lies among whether the two could coordinate in putting together a competent squad that will get Houston back in the playoff race. Despite the red flags due to Stroud’s cognition test results, this team is on the right track in getting the Texans back into the hunt. This will be a lengthy process, however, and all Houston can really hope for this year is to miraculously contend among a very stacked AFC.

Otherwise, it’s time to play the waiting game and see if this is the administration that will dig Houston out of the mud and into catapult them back into glory, whether it be consistent or temporary.

Season Outlook GradeB-

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2023 Season Outlook: AFC North

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Published August 23, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: AFC North

Written by Alex C.

There’s nothing like a good sports rivalry rooted in years of competitive division play and hostile fanbase interactions. In the case of the AFC North, these factors make up the foundation that stabilizes the four corners of the division. The AFC North has seen years of promise, and while the success flowing out of the division has felt lop-sided at times, this year is met with an interesting situation for all four participants.

The predicted winner may seem unanimous due to the recent climate of the league but for the first time, each team wields an equal opportunity to emerge as the new division winner. I know it’s hard to grasp that a division with the Cleveland Browns can be met with a four-way tie – but each organization is going into this upcoming season with high expectations and loads of talent in each skill position.

The AFC North looks to be one of the most exciting divisions this year, so let’s dive into what makes this season more special than previous terms.

Cincinatti Bengals

To everyone’s surprise, the Bengals have quickly emerged as a powerhouse in the AFC over the past few years. The past two or three seasons for the Bengals have been very promising as the team has climbed from four-win seasons to consecutive conference championship appearances. Though they wield a star-studded roster with phenomenal quarterback play, an electric receiving room and a solid defense unit, the Bengals are reaching a point where it’s going to be near-impossible to bring the band back together each year. The offseason losses are a perfect reflection of such a notion, but the team was able to balance out the losses with some solid additions – including the acquisition of Super Bowl winning offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr – to help anchor the o-line.

The two most notable losses from Cincinatti both came out of the safety room as Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell – two key pieces in the Bengals’ secondary – both signed with different teams. The two helped lead an electric secondary unit, a key factor in what made the Bengals a championship caliber squad. The team attempted to fill the void with the signings of safety Nick Scott and cornerback Sidney Jones, as well as through drafting defensive backs DJ Turner and Jordan Battle in the second and third rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, respectively.

The secondary may look completely different compared to previous years, but the rest of the defense looks to be way stronger come this season. Linebacker Germaine Pratt and edge-rusher Tarell Basham were brought in to serve some depth to the defense. Cincinatti also took edge rusher Myles Murphy in the first round of the draft and the Clemson product looks to be a playmaking spark on a stable Bengals defense.

It’s been a hectic offseason for Cincinnati as the team looks to finally get over the hump of recovering from a devastating Super Bowl loss and a bitter ending to the most recent AFC Championship game. The wide array of young talent on the roster is the main reason for the team’s success, but the longer time passes, the more difficult it will be to preserve the core squad. As mentioned, Joe Burrow is entering a crucial year in which the Bengals are going to have to back up the brinks truck in order to preserve him. Burrow isn’t the only one entering a contract year as the majority of his receiving core – mainly Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd – will have to simultaneously engage in business discussions with the team. We haven’t even gotten to the amount that star receiver Ja’Marr Chase will request when the team reaches his negotiations.

It’s going to be a rough couple of years for the Bengals front office, so the team has to put together a Super Bowl campaign this year in order to get the most out of their talented roster. With the Chiefs taking a major hit in free agency and the Bills at a low morale point, the door is wide open for Burrow and company to make a run at the Super Bowl this season.

Season Outlook GradeA-

Baltimore Ravens

To say the Ravens were the center of attention for all offseason discussions is an understatement. The talks surrounding Lamar Jackson’s contract situation had been bubbling throughout the 2022 season and reached their apex as soon as offseason begun. Fortunately, Lamar and the Ravens were able to settle on a number that made Jackson the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL – well for a month, at least. But the demands Lamar made throughout negotiations led the Ravens to having one of the best offseasons in the league.

For starters, the Ravens were able to maintain their roster as they faced very minimal losses, the most impactful cut being cornerback Marcus Peters. As a result, cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin and Trayvon Mullen were picked up, looking to add on to an already stacked secondary unit. The Ravens also made the effort to sign superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr., giving Lamar a reliable target to compliment his new deal.

The Ravens surprisingly had a very active draft despite only wielding six picks. The tone was set immediately when they decided to go with Boston College wideout Zay Flowers, who looks to be another reliable target for Lamar to improve the pass game. The Ravens were unable to select in the second round due to the midseason trade for Roquan Smith (which paid off immediately) – but everything worked out for the better as Baltimore was able to acquire Clemson linebacker Trent Simpson, who miraculously fell to the team in the third round.

With key additions to both offense and defense, the Ravens had an amazing offseason with an eventful draft to match. On paper, this Ravens squad looks to be a serious Super Bowl contender, but there’s still a big red flag hovering over this roster. The long-term durability of this team looks to be very questionable with both Lamar and OBJ missing significant time last season due to injury – the latter didn’t even play at all. Obviously, this hurts the team’s chances of championship success if the stars are unable to perform throughout the year.

If the Ravens can somehow manage to limit injuries while playing up to the expectations laid out, then this team could be a serious problem for opposing AFC forces.

Season Outlook GradeA

Pittsburgh Steelers

Previous Record – 9-8

Mike Tomlin did it again. Another winning season for the Pittsburgh Steelers – only this time amidst a hefty rebuild. The Steelers went into the year with a questionable offense, a grey area within the quarterback room, and a multitude of injuries on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh would miraculously emerge from a chaotic year with a near-playoff berth and a new quarterback to confide in with Kenny Pickett, giving the black-and-gold a new sense of hope amid a doubtful season.

The Steelers made some good moves in the offseason, but it came at a cost. The team’s secondary took a hit when cornerback Cameron Sutton and safety Terrell Edmunds both walked to free agency and signed with different squads. This wasn’t a problem though, as Pittsburgh was able to land veteran corner Patrick Peterson and safety Keanu Neal to fill the gap. Pittsburgh was also able to land a somewhat reliable receiver in Allen Robinson, adding another target for Kenny Pickett on the offense. Both Peterson and Robinson are far past their primes, but their veteran status will help provide guidance to the young talent in that locker room.

The Steelers had one of the best draft sequences, picking up some great prospects with amazing value. The first round saw Pittsburgh picking up arguably the best offensive tackle in the 2023 draft class in Georgia’s Broderick Jones. Jones helped anchor a championship-winning offensive-line and looks to add some solid protection for Kenny Pickett. That wasn’t the Steelers’ only phenomenal pick, as they were fortunately able to acquire Penn State corner Joey Porter Jr. at the beginning of the second round, and Georgia tight-end Darnell Washington deep into the third round. The two showed flashes of stardom throughout their college careers and look to serve as serviceable starters come the next season. Plus, Joey Porter Jr.’s father was a linebacker for the Steelers in his prime, so who doesn’t love a full circle story?

That being said, the Steelers are looking to have an amazing season with their retooled roster, but the question remains – how well will this team be able to compete in a stacked AFC North division? Sure, Kenny Pickett showed a lot of promise throughout his rookie campaign, but how well will he be able to compete against a wildly successful Joe Burrow, a highly-explosive Lamar Jackson, and – at his peak – a very skilled Deshaun Watson? The Steelers clearly have the proper supporting squad to help land them a spot in the playoffs, but the grand majority of their success will rely on Kenny Pickett being able to take that next step. If Pickett is able to improve upon his successful foundation, then the Steelers have themselves another winner.

Season Outlook GradeB+

Cleveland Browns

Previous Record – 7-10

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but the Cleveland Browns are showing a lot of promise this upcoming season. Despite falling to a 7-10 record in 2022, this rag-tag squad has the potential to finally flip their history of misfortune – though this hope comes at an unfortunate cost. The Browns nearly flipped the quarterback market up on its head after making a controversial move for Deshaun Watson. Though the deal thoroughly limited the team’s cap space, there’s a solid silver lining between the chaos.

On paper, this Browns squad is loaded with talent. Whether it’s Myles Garrett rallying the defense, Amari Cooper leading the receiving unit or Denzel Ward adding a much needed explosiveness to the secondary, the Browns can be special if managed properly. In an attempt to do so, they made a lot of depth signings throughout the offseason by adding some new key defensive pieces – star safety Juan Thornhill and dependable defensive end Za’Darius Smith. The two played major roles in their respective squads over the last season and look to add more reliability at defense.

The Browns had a very unorthodox approach at the draft, losing the majority of their high-end draft picks to the Deshaun Watson trade. Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t a big deal as the front office was able to pluck some absolute gems in the later rounds. Their first pick came in the third-round, settling for Tennessee wideout Cedric Tillman. Tillman didn’t see too much playing time on the field in Tennessee, but shows a lot of promise to be another serviceable target for Watson. And if Watson doesn’t end up returning to prime form, the Browns could get some use out of their new quarterback – Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The rookie won’t see a lot of playing time this season, but could serve as a reliable starter in the near future. Again, no superstars were taken due to limited picks this year, but the Browns put together a solid assortment considering the minimal value they wielded.

The quarterback situation with Watson has been referenced quite a bit in this short span of time, but the reality is this – the success of this team rallies behind whether or not Watson is able to return to prime form. He barely saw the field last season due to a suspension, but when the former star was able to return, he looked like a shell of his previous self. The explosiveness on offense just wasn’t there – unless Deshaun is able to get back on track, the Browns will just have another case of wasted potential.

Season Outlook GradeB-

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2023 Season Outlook: AFC East

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Published August 18, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: AFC East

Written by Alex C.

Arguably the toughest division in the NFL as of right now, every team in the AFC East provided consistent performances throughout the previous season. Though each fell short from their early season expectations, the division is in a much stronger position after the offseason moves made by each team.

The AFC East is predicted to be the most exciting division to watch unfold as the playing field has leveled, leaving all teams with the same projected chance to take the crown.

Today, we take a look at what makes the AFC East the most exhilarating division to see progress in as we take a stroll through the offseason and draft moves each team has made. It really is an exciting time to be a fan of one of these teams.

Buffalo Bills

Previous Record – 13-3

To the surprise of everyone in the NFL, the Bills have emerged as a powerhouse in the league over the past few years, taking back-to-back division titles for the past three seasons. The Sean McDermott regime led by an electric Josh Allen has reinstilled hope in a once devastated franchise. However, the fans have reached the point where another division title won’t satisfy their hunger – they want a championship.

Buffalo came up as favorites to win the Super Bowl last season, but ultimately fell to the Bengals in the AFC Division Title, losing 27-10 at home. Despite losing Tremaine Edmunds to free agency, the Bills were able to preserve their superstar safety Jordan Poyer, signing him to a two-year $12.5 million deal. Buffalo also let starting running back Devin Singletary walk to free agency, leaving James Cook with the opportunity to step-up and take on an extended workload.

They also made some sneaky moves in the draft in efforts to beef up the receiving core and offensive line – specifically in the guard position. Dalton Kincaid was the major takeaway of the night as he looks to sit behind the Bills’ starting tight-end Dawson Knox, and add an extra bit of flair to an already explosive offense. The Bills’ offseason was generally quiet this time around as all focus panned towards the return of safety Damar Hamlin – who plans to play as many snaps as he can this upcoming season – and the rising tensions between Stefon Diggs and the franchise following his displeasure on the sideline of the AFC Divisional game against the Dolphins.

Though the rumors of added tension have been shut down between Diggs himself and other key members of the Bills, there was a glimmer of reasoning in a rather immature exchange as the Bills begun to spiral towards the middle of the season. It seems like Buffalo was off to a hot start, but as the season begun to further unravel it was clear that Josh Allen was becoming more reckless with the ball, causing costly turnovers that could have easily been avoided. The main question now is: Can Josh Allen continue playing at a high caliber while limiting the unnecessary turnovers?

The Bills can easily repeat division titles for a fourth time if all goes well, but the AFC East looks to grow stronger day-by-day. It wouldn’t be surprising if they ran it back, but this looks to be a crucial year for a strong Buffalo team who could easily compete on the world’s biggest stage. It’s been all talk the past few years, but it’s now time to put words into action.

Season Outlook Grade A-


Previous Record – 9-8

Miami started off the season surprisingly strong, quickly climbing into the elite tier of NFL offenses with absolutely no expectations of doing so. It was known that the acquisition of Tyreek Hill would positively impact the team upon his arrival, but the Cheetah had Tua Tagovailoa looking like an elite quarterback alongside an epic receiving duo with Jaylen Waddle. But as we all know, Tua had a lot of problems managing to stay on the field last season – regardless, the Dolphins were still able to ride off the young gun’s success and squeak into a wildcard spot with a respectable 9-8 record.

First-year head coach Mike McDaniel worked wonders on this Miami team, but it’s now time to further build on the success of the 2022 season. The Fins made one of the most shocking offseason transactions, trading a 2023 third-round pick and tight-end, Hunter Long, to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey looks to be a part of a nasty duo with Xavien Howard, who has consistently played a huge role in the Miami secondary. The Dolphins also picked up quarterback Mike White, who looks to play a reliable backup role behind Tua, and veteran-receiver Chosen Anderson, adding a new level of speed to an already flashy offense.

Miami wielded very minimal draft picks this year, losing their few to trades and a forfeit due to tampering in a situation that would have persuaded Tom Brady to sign with the team. The strength of the roster is really based off the foundation built throughout the 2022 season, as well as the plethora of key signings in the offseason. It’s hard to say how well Miami will perform this upcoming season with the multitude of health-related issues that struck Tua.

If he can manage to stay healthy for an entire season despite playing behind an unreliable offensive line, then Miami could easily find themselves in playoff contention once again.

Season Outlook Grade B


Previous Record – 8-9

What more can be said about the new-age Patriots that hasn’t been said already?

Despite finishing the year with a solid 8-9 record, the Patriots season was a complete disaster. Who knows what Bill Belichick was thinking when he assigned the offensive coordinator role to a shared position between Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, whose unusual pairing brought the worst out of starting quarterback Mac Jones both on and off the field.

Jones had very limited help on offense, but his immature reactions towards the situation began to cause tension within the organization, leaving the team without a true leader in the locker room. Patricia and Judge have now been replaced with previous offensive coordinator Bill O’ Brien, but there is still a grey area concerning the definitive answer at quarterback. On top of that, the team continues to lack a reliable receiving core, with the only somewhat valuable addition to the unit being ex-Dolphins tight-end, Mike Gesicki.

The lack of transparency in the receiving rooms definitely translated into the draft, but Belichick still managed to come out with the biggest steal of the night – Oregon star cornerback Christian Gonzalez at pick number seventeen in the draft. Gonzalez was projected to fly off the board within the top ten range, but now looks to add on to an already lethal Patriots defense.

The grand majority of Patriots draft picks were used to beef up the defense, offensive line and special teams, still leaving a big question mark on the total offensive unit. It’s hard to determine what Belichick’s plan is on offense – aside from having O’Brien call the plays – but Bill’s defense will always be enough to suffocate opposing squads with an extremely lethal front seven backed by a dangerous secondary.

If there’s one thing that Patriots fans could boast about, it’s a defense backed by a football mastermind – but of course, a strong defense can only get you so far if your offense isn’t up to par. Whether the answer is Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe, Patriots fans are in for another rollercoaster of a season.

At least you guys have two decades of dominance to reminisce about…

Season Outlook Grade C+


Previous Record – 7-10

The biggest what-if scenario of last season was: What if the Jets had stable quarterback play?

The New York Jets defense took the league by storm in 2022, putting on a championship-level showcase on the front seven and secondary unit. Rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner broke out as a reliable partner across fellow ballhawk D.J. Reed Jr, and linebacker C.J. Mosley held his own and rallied a reliable spread in the middle of the field. And who could forget the constant pressure applied in the front-line, with Quinnen Williams leading the way and putting together an All-Pro-caliber season? Rookies Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson also instilled a new life into a once stale offense, so where was the problem with the Jets?

The answer – inconsistent quarterback play.

Zach Wilson displayed a major incompetency in moving the ball, which the cost the team a lot of potentially easy victories. The Jets are aware of the foundation they’ve built last season and what they need to make another leap into playoff contention, leading them to a very active offseason. The big narrative this year – as it always was – revolved around Aaron Rodgers and his preferred destination as he split from the Green Bay Packers. The Jets quickly capitalized off the Rodgers sweepstakes, laying the red carpet treatment for big 12 – or 8 this year – as he geared to sign with Gang Green.

OC Nathaniel Hackett’s presence in the building helped bridge the gap, as the ex-Packers OC developed a close relationship with Rodgers in which he helped him map out back-to-back MVP campaigns. In addition, the Jets made a move at signing ex-Packers receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb to serve as a security blanket for Rodgers on offense.

The main question leading into the 2023 draft was how the Jets would tackle the improvement of the offensive line, which started off quite horribly as division – and lifetime rival – Bill Belichick screwed the team out of their intended pick of offensive tackle, Broderick Jones. Gang Green made a few more attempts at beefing up the O-line, but it was quite the sporadic set of picks to be made.

The Jets have a lot of potential to make a deep playoff run with their retooled roster, but at this point, all signs point to if Rodgers can rally this team to meet these expectations. He is coming off a major down-year, in which the Packers narrowly missed a playoff berth after a Week 18 loss to the Detroit Lions. If Rodgers can relink his chemistry with Nathaniel Hackett to put together another amazing run in Gotham, then the Jets could easily make a deep run at a division title and an AFC Championship appearance.

But as said previously, the AFC East looks to be the toughest division top-to-bottom. Can Rodgers hang with this spread of young talent, or will this Jets move mirror that of Brett Favre’s in 2007?

Either way, they are going to be one of the most fun teams to watch in the league going into the 2023 season.

Season Outlook Grade A-

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2023 Season Outlook: AFC West

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Published August 13, 2023

2023 Season Outlook: AFC West

Written by Alex C.

With the beginning of preseason going underway, we’re starting to get a feel for the direction each team’s season will be headed. Some teams have already made remarkable progress while others look to endure some heavy problems throughout the upcoming season.

That being said, we want to closely examine and grade the outlook for each team in every division based upon a slew of different factors, from free agency signings to contract situations to camp progress. Obviously, we can’t completely predict how a team will perform throughout the year, but the posted pre-requisites will give us a feel of the direction of the organization going forward.

The first NFL division that we will take a look at will be the erratic AFC West.

Although it was perceived to be one of the best divisions in the league last year, each team – aside from the Kansas City Chiefs – managed to hit a new low point before the season could even come to a conclusion. Since the early 2010’s, AFC West teams have seen glimpses of success, with the Chiefs wielding the only option guaranteeing it in the long-term for the post-season.

The upcoming season has yet to start but the division is beginning to appear drastically different from the year prior – here’s what it’s looking like as we approach the 2023 NFL season.

Kansas City Chiefs

Previous Record – 14-3

There’s no better way to kick things off than to discuss how the most recent Super Bowl winners intend to run it back. What Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid were able to accomplish with the hand they were dealt was pretty impressive, no matter how many times the duo proved themselves in the past.

The Chiefs started off the season prior losing their main receiving target in Tyreek Hill and a key contributor to the secondary unit with Tyrann Mathieu – it almost seemed as if the roster was gutted despite its superstar pieces standing out. The team was able to win the big game with an aging run-game, a sub-par receiving unit – aside from Kelce, of course – and what seemed like a moderate defense squad on the opposite side of the ball. Every piece on that team stepped up when it mattered the most, but the question is: will the team be able to repeat the miraculous success they’ve seen over the past year?

They’ll definitely squeak into the playoffs with another division title under their belt due to the reliable Mahomes-Kelce connection, but the rest of the roster is beginning to flash a lot of red flags. A majority of the receiving and defensive unit jumped ship in the off-season, losing key pieces such as Frank Clark, Orlando Brown Jr. and Juan Thornhill. The Chiefs made a respectable effort to retool its squad with key signings like Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor – as well as a solid swing at the draft – but there hasn’t been an immediate signing that will seemingly make an large impact upon arrival. Nonetheless, Andy Reid works at his own pace and has been at it long enough to know how to utilize the resources at his disposal.

Mahomes and Kelce will continue to be great, but the focus shifts on trying to resolve conflicts surrounding Chris Jones’ contract. If the Chiefs are able to bring back Jones next year, then they will continue to see consistent success for many years to come.

Season Outlook Grade A-

Los Angeles Chargers

Previous Record – 10-7

After enduring one of the most humiliating losses in NFL post-season history, the Chargers have their sights set on trying to bounce back from such a demoralizing event. They started the off-season strong, singing former Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Morgan Fox in efforts to beef up an already lethal defensive unit. Injuries on main-roster pieces did their best to derail the Chargers season last year, which heavily affected the team’s defense and exposed a major weak spot in the pass rush game that allowed opposing teams to utilize their run game.

The new signings combined with the moderate draft picks used on defense displayed an acknowledgement of the defensive weaknesses as well as a cognizance of the aging offensive unit. Aside from Justin Herbert shining as the main star of the Chargers offense, it would be remiss to ignore the impact of players such as Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler. They have all etched their position into Chargers history as reliable franchise icons, but it’s no surprise that the trio are beginning to see their expiration date. Ekeler is still relatively young, but Keenan and Mike are beginning to push the range of expiration in terms of wide receiver age, leading them to make one of the biggest receiver pickups in the draft.

The Chargers took TCU wideout, Quentin Johnston in the first round, adding an extra weapon to an already stacked offense. Johnston was the second receiver taken off the board and has begun showing out at camp, sparking a new skillset to add on the foundation laid by Allen and Williams.

If the Chargers continue to translate the offensive explosiveness throughout the season while ensuring the holes on defense are plugged up, they could make a sneaky push at the division and an easy playoff spot…but this is the Chargers we’re talking about, so anything could happen.

Season Outlook Grade B

Las Vegas Raiders

Previous Record – 6-11

It was pretty obvious to see that the Raiders’ first year under the Josh McDaniels-led system resulted in a complete disaster.

Coming off a surprise wild card appearance, the Raiders were expected to lock another playoff spot, especially with the acquisitions of Packers wide-receiver Davante Adams and Super Bowl winning edge-rusher Chandler Jones. With Gruden and Mayock finally out of the organization’s way, there was hope that McDaniels could turn around a promising team who managed to secure a playoff spot with an interim head coach.

Instead, we got a losing season with half of the losses stemming from second-half comebacks, setting a new record for the amount of times a team lost a double-digit lead in the regular season. In addition to the madness that ensued, relations with previous franchise quarterback, Derek Carr, intensely soured after he was benched towards the end of the season and eventually released. McDaniels’ attempt to rescind the chaos throughout the off-season has led the team to signing quarterback Jimmy Garropolo and a variety of other names familiar with the Patriots-bred system.

The Raiders roster is looking more like a shell of the modern-day Patriots than a team embracing the values of the silver and black. Add the fact that Josh Jacobs’ negotiations are beginning to fall, and its hard to see a silver lining with this Raiders roster. McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler were able to draft well, taking a chance on edge rusher Tyree Wilson in the first-round – however, it may take some time for the Raiders to see some improvement.

The trajectory of this upcoming season heavily relies on the execution of the McDaniels system – there’s a chance things could improve from the steps taken back during the Gruden era, but if all goes wrong then this season could add insult to injury.

Season Outlook Grade C+

Denver Broncos

Previous Record – 5-12

The way in which the Broncos’ season unfolded is exactly what the sports world expected from the Seahawks after sending their previous quarterback, Russell Wilson, to Denver. Anything that could go wrong went wrong as the organization fell victim to incompetent coaching, ego clashes, major injuries and overall horrible football being executed.

First-year head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, was fired right before the end of the season due to his failure to rally a potential playoff-contending squad. This opened the door for Denver to make one of the biggest moves of the offseason as they brought in Super Bowl winning head coach, Sean Payton, to replace Hackett. Payton played a major role in the career turnaround of the Saints’ previous franchise quarterback Drew Brees, and is expected to perform the same magic with Wilson still under center for the team. In addition, the Broncos made a key addition to the o-line by bringing in offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, who previously helped anchor a steady foundation on the 49ers.

The Broncos didn’t lose many players to free agency and were able to make a lot of depth signings on defense. The Russell Wilson trade led to decreased activity during this year’s draft but the end-result was a decent haul, bringing in a steady line of rookies with major potential. Iowa corner Riley Moss and Boise State safety JL Skinner look to help strengthen a stacked secondary, while Oklahoma wideout Marvin Mims is expected to add another dash of explosiveness to the offense.

Despite the results from the year prior, Denver wields a deep squad with lots of potential. The question to ask when going into the season is if Sean Payton and the coaching staff can help tie it all together and bring the Broncos to the expectations set before them. If Payton was able to work magic in New Orleans for a decade, then he should have a good shot at helping Denver improve – but taming the beast that is Russell Wilson’s ego won’t be an easy task.

Season Outlook Grade B-

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Predicting the 2023-24 NFL Division Winners

Published July 15, 2023

Predicting the 2023-24 NFL Division Winners

Written by Alex C.

As we anxiously await the return of football season, we’ve reached the point of the year where discussions are drawn to predict which teams will make any noise. It all starts at the core structure of team formations, commonly known as divisions. A single division is made up of four teams in one section, each of which spend every year fighting to be the leader of their division. With eight total divisions in the NFL – four per conference – we took a look at results gathered from last year and made the effort to try and predict who would be the winners of each division in the upcoming season.

AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

It should come with no surprise that the recent Super Bowl winners will take the crown for their division with ease. On paper, the AFC West looks to be a stacked division with a selection of QB’s that are notorious for wielding quality win percentages; but if we got anything from last season, it’s the rest of the AFC West teams have a lot to figure out before they could take a shot at the division title. The Chargers are coming off of the most embarrassing playoff defeat of the last decade, the Raiders are still running the Josh McDaniels crash course with no signs of consistent success and the Broncos have a lot to recover from after the disastrous season they had last year.

Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have built a solid foundation for one of the league’s most dedicated fanbases, taking over the league with a threatening offensive force and a well rounded defensive scheme. Every year, the same narratives spiral around the league concerning the Chiefs’ lack of notable names on both sides of the ball – Travis Kelce and Chris Jones excluded – but if this recent Super Bowl win taught us anything, it’s that Mahomes and Reid will the get job done no matter who is on the roster. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are here to stay and their presence in the division will be felt until their competitors finally scheme up a solution.

AFC East: New York Jets

This is a pretty bold prediction given the strong stature of the AFC East, but with a competent starting QB finally under center, the Jets have all the tools at their disposal to make a run for the division title. Many question the ability of a now 40-year old Aaron Rodgers, who is coming off of his worst season as a starter, but there’s no doubt Rodgers still has some gas left in the tank.

The Jets made a valiant effort last season, peaking at a 7-4 record with mediocre QB play, but by then it was still clear that Zach Wilson was not the answer the in Gotham. With a star-studded defense and a solid offensive unit, Rodgers finally has the weapons needed to thrive again.

The only problem that remains is how strong the AFC East has gotten over the past year. With Buffalo emerging as the favorites for the past few years, its going to be hard to knock down an established Bills squad. In addition, the Dolphins and Patriots have both beefed up their rosters on both ends of the ball, making for a difficult contest between all four squads.

Regardless, the Jets now have the potential to take the East by storm and make a solid playoff run.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens

The Cincinnati Bengals have recently emerged as the favorites to win the North with Joe Burrow putting on back-to-back AFC Championship runs for the team. Meanwhile, the Ravens are finally taking the initiative to try and get over the hump, starting with the deserved Lamar Jackson contract. In addition, Ravens GM, Eric DeCosta, and coach, John Harbaugh, finally made the effort to beef up the receiving core with the signing of Super Bowl winning wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting Boston wideout, Zay Flowers in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. With an already-exceptional defense and phenomenal offensive line, it seems like Baltimore finally has all the pieces to put on a dominant run.

The AFC North isn’t going to be an easy ride, however, as the Bengals are still the top dogs in the division. The Steelers are looking to be the underdogs, piecing together an exceptional defense and solid additions on offense to help Kenny Pickett take the next step. The Browns will always be seen as the anchor of the division, but if Deshaun Watson returns to prime form, things could get very scary in the North.

Regardless, the Ravens have a great chance to take the title this year if the offense can finally keep healthy for an entire season. Having O.B.J. healthy for a full seventeen games is a long shot but if possible, the Ravens could go deep this year.

AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars’ Cinderella run towards a playoff victory last season was the most exhilarating narrative to watch. Doug Pederson’s first-year as the Jaguars head coach led to the combined effort of him and 2021 first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence rallying the team from a 2-6 start to a division title. While the Jags do have the potential to run it back in the AFC South, a lot of their success from last year could be pointed towards the sheer mediocrity that struck the entire division in which the Titans lost 7 of their last 8 games to fall down the rankings, and the combined disappointment of Indianapolis and Houston who failed to stay above .500 throughout the season. Still, the Jaguars were able to prevail and pour out the potential we saw wasted during the Urban Meyer-era.

Trevor Lawrence was able to show why he was worth going first-overall by shaking the pressure and leading a comeback from a 27-point blowout in his playoff debut against the Los Angeles Chargers. Though the roster has some kinks to work out on both ends of the field, the Jags wield the potential to maintain their position as the new kings of the South. With the Titans spending the offseason in a soft-rebuild phase and the latter half of the group focusing on developing the quarterbacks they both took in the first-round of this year’s draft, the door for a consecutive Jag’s division title is wide open.

NFC West: San Francisco 49ers

The NFC West suffered a terrible fall from grace as half of the division failed to win over 5 games this season. The Rams had a terrible Super Bowl hangover as the entire championship winning roster was gutted due to free agency. The Cardinals season completely derailed as veteran wideout, DeAndre Hopkins, found himself suspended for a few games due to violating the league’s PED policy and star QB Kyler Murray suffered an ACL tear midway through the season.

The Seahawks clinched an unexpected playoff berth as Geno Smith delivered a stellar comeback performance, writing off his haters in the process – still, the Seahawks were unable to advance past the wild card round with their roster containing multiple holes in the offensive and defensive lines. With the grand majority of the division underperforming, the San Francisco 49ers have firmly maintained their position as a powerhouse in the NFC and wield the opportunity to takeover the west yet again.

However, the main X-Factor that San Francisco has to figure out is who will take on the role as QB1. Last season’s NFC Championship game against the Eagles resulted in a tragic ending as the fan-favorite Niners had all quarterbacks injured by the third quarter. Now, the Niners’ QB room looks to be a three-way competition between last year’s Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy, 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance and 2018 first-rounder, Sam Darnold. No matter who wins the starting role, they’re destined to succeed in the Shanahan’s QB-friendly scheme with a surplus of weapons on offense and a scary defensive unit.

On paper, there’s no way San Francisco doesn’t reclaim the West this season but there’s a lot for the team to figure out before September.

NFC East: Philadephia Eagles

Coming just up short of winning in the big game, the Eagles are not only projected to win their division, but they’re seen as sure-fire candidates to land a consecutive Super Bowl appearance this upcoming season. The NFC East is historically one of the better-looking divisions out of the bunch, but there doesn’t seem like too much for the Eagles to worry about aside from the Cowboys.

Dallas fans try to make it clear that every year is their year, but the outspoken claims aren’t too far-fetched this season. Dallas wields one of the better defenses in the league with a surplus of talent across all positions – they just need to work on the offense. If Dak doesn’t limit his costly turnovers, Dallas will definitely suffer the same fate as last year – except this time Zeke won’t find himself playing center. Seriously, who made that call?

New York made a giant leap from the sheer mediocrity they’ve put on display for the past five years after the team unexpectedly won their first playoff game with Daniel Jones as their QB. Still, one can’t help but think the Giants hit their ceiling with that win, but maybe Brian Daboll could work another miracle. Washington exists in a grey area with no clear direction of where to go after the team barely missed the playoffs – but hey, the culture is different, right?

The East looks like a clean-slated disaster aside from the Eagles who’ve quickly rose up the ranks as a powerhouse in the league. Though the defense was gutted due to free agency, Eagles GM, Howie Roseman drafted up a masterclass. Even though they came up short, it’s like everything is going the Eagles’ way this season.

Wielding one of the hardest schedules in the NFL, Philly’s resilience will be tested, but they can easily run it back as winners of the NFC East.

NFC North: Detroit Lions

If someone were to read this at the beginning of last season, they’d erupt in laughter and completely disregard the claim as a whole. With Aaron Rodgers finally out of the NFC North, the Packers have officially been dethroned, leaving the top spot in the division available.

Among the four competitors, the Detroit Lions have risen as favorites to win the division after the team rallied from a 2-6 record and climbed their way to a 9-8 finish, narrowly missing the playoffs at the last minute. Dan Campbell’s second-year as a head coach was a miraculous turnaround but now the question is how could Detroit build off this success. Its no secret that the team had very questionable drafting, but general manager, Brad Holmes, has worked wonders for the organization, gradually gluing together what could be a lethal squad.

With the Packers out of serious competitive talks and the Bears spending the season trying to build around Justin Fields, the only team that possesses any threat would be the Vikings – but even then, Minnesota has many flaws of their own. Similar to the Giants – who ironically knocked them out of the playoffs – it seems like the Vikings hit their ceiling as well with Kirk Cousins under center.

Detroit has the perfect chance to turn heads and make history to claim their first NFC North title.

NFC South: New Orleans Saints

It is no secret that the NFC South is the weakest division by a quarter mile. After Tom Brady retired after playing his last season with the Buccaneers, it’s almost as if there are no redeeming qualities that meet the eye in this particular section. The Panthers walked away with the number one overall pick in the 2023 draft with Bryce Young, but they’re still going to need time to develop the young star before he can make an impact.

Among the mess, the Saints are by far the most established team in the division. The signing of Derek Carr helps provide some well-needed stability at the position – something they’ve lacked since the retirement of Saints legend Drew Brees. New Orleans still has their red flags throughout the roster from Michael Thomas’ sporadic injury history to Alvin Kamara’s legal situation in Las Vegas; but the team wields enough talent to see success in the NFL’s weakest division.

Tampa Bay is coming off a legendary run with Tom Brady, filling his position with Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask – and unless they can shock the world, Tampa’s going to continue to plummet down the standings. Panthers obviously need time to develop their quarterback, Bryce Young, and the Falcons are in a weird position, placing all their bets on Desmond Ridder.

It seems the only team with any experience would be New Orleans, hence why they’re chosen as the favorites to take the division title.

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