Since the 2023 NFL schedule has been released, it seems that every Tom, Dick, and Harry is putting out what their predictions will be for the upcoming season. Honestly, a lot of them are boring predictions, and way too many are “playing it safe” by picking Kansas City and Philadelphia as the big winners again.
Of course, nobody ever gets it 100% right, but it’s fun to look back and brag about how close we were…and then point and laugh at those who were way off! To be perfectly clear, I do not have a crystal ball, nor am I from the future, so I do not condone the use of these predictions for gambling. However, if you do happen to place a small wager and win, I do request a 5% “Awesome Guy that Knows Football Stuff” tip.
So, what goes into my predictions that make them so special? I look at the strength of schedule from the previous year, I look at retirements, trades, free agent signings, the draft, bye weeks, and strength of schedule for this season as well. Not to mention my superior football intellect. I will take into consideration injuries that happened last year, but I will not presume that anyone gets injured at some point during this upcoming season. I also don’t predict ties, because ties are stupid and who wants that? This is what we do when we’re waiting for training camp to finally take off! Buckle up, people!
We’re going to start in the AFC because it’s just better than the NFC. It seems like almost all the best free agents from the NFC went to the AFC; Aaron Rogers, Odell Beckham Jr., Jimmy Garoppolo… Ok, maybe not Jimmy G, but still. Maybe even Dalvin Cook. For the AFC, I project that eight teams will finish with a record of 10-7 or better. Sadly, only seven of them will make the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals: 11-6
The Bengals will win the division again despite having a tougher schedule, but only by tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens. They added OT Orlando Brown Jr., but lost Jesse Bates III. Cincinnati is just too explosive on offense with Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon. Notable Wins: at home against the Bills in Week 9, and vs. Minnesota in Week 15. Notable Losses: To the 49ers in San Fran Week 8, and at Jacksonville Week 13.
Baltimore Ravens: 11-6
Lamar Jackson will not be going back to his 2019 MVP form as some are suggesting. The additions of Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers, and Nelson Agholor, as well as new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken will make them better, but it will be a learning curve from their previous run-first offense. Notable Wins: at Tennessee in Week 6, and Miami at home in Week 17. Notable Losses: at the LA Chargers in Week 12 right before their Bye, and at San Fran in Week 16. Traveling from east to west coast is hard!
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-8
Contrary to what Colin Cowherd says, Pittsburgh is not a playoff team this year. The Steelers drafted very well this year and have some immediate young starters in Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr, but they’re just too green to contend. Second year QB, Kenny Pickett and his 7/9 TD to INT ratio last year isn’t convincing me that he’ll even start the whole season. Notable Wins: At home against Tennessee in Week 9, and vs. the Patriots in Week 14. Notable Losses: In San Francisco Opening Weekend, and vs. Jacksonville in Week 8.
Cleveland Brown: 9-8
The Browns take a jump from seven wins last season to nine this year with (hopefully) no quarterback drama. But an early Bye in Week 5 wears down the Browns at the end of the year, and they go down. They’ll start hot going 3-1 and 4-2, but then they’ll drop four of their last six of the season to finish last in the division, just being edged out by the Steelers by a tie-breaker. Classic Cleveland. Notable Wins: Week 12 at Denver, and Week 15 at home vs. the Chicago Bears. Notable Losses: Week 13 at the Rams, and Week 17 vs. the Jets.
This is only the first of an “eight part blog” that will cover each of the NFL divisions. Please continue to come back and check, as I will be covering the AFC East next and telling you if all of the Aaron Rodgers hype is real, or if the Jets are going to be in for an emergency landing. When I’m finished covering the AFC by division, I’ll let you know how what the playoff picture will look like, and who has the best chance of making it to the Super Bowl. Thanks for the “read”!