AFC Playoff Teams
Chiefs – Unless something drastic happens to Mahomes (and he won the Super Bowl on one leg remember) Andy Reid’s team will extend their eight year playoff streak. Kansas City have been AFC West Champions since 2015, there’s no reason to think that ends now.
Bengals – If the addition of Orlando Brown Jr. solidifies an Offensive line that allowed 44 sacks last year (and it should) then the Bengals could even finish top of the AFC. Irv Smith will help with the blocking too. Even if they don’t manage to overhaul Kansas City Joe Burrow will surely still add to his three playoff appearances in four years (including College).
Jacksonville Jaguars – They won eight of their final 11 games in 2022. They turned the ball over five times against the Chargers and Trevor Lawrence still won his first NFL playoff game. By the end of 2022 Doug Pederson’s offence seemed to be taking shape.
Buffalo Bills – Somehow the Bills strength of schedule in 2023 is the weakest in the AFC East. In what promises to be a very close AFC East that should be crucial. Josh Allen rode the struggle bus throughout 2022 so it’ll be interesting to see how he bounces back. They haven’t added much to help him. Damien Harris has filled the hole left by Devin Singletary but that offensive line still looks a problem.
New York Jets – Their best two offensive linemen and their rookie running back spend large portions of the 2022 season on IR. Despite that they ended the season just two wins away from a playoff berth. Their injury related quarterback carousel lead their pass offence the finish 31st for touchdowns. They still won seven games as Robert Saleh’s Jets defense showed signs of becoming a dominant unit in 2022. Surely they can’t be unlucky with injuries twice in two seasons?
Los Angeles Chargers – They’ve got the quarterback to light up the Conference. Their luck with injuries has hampered the offence so far, they rarely all play together. If Herbert and his receivers can stay healthy for an entire season the Chargers could challenge the Chiefs for the division. They lost to Andy Reid’s team by just three points twice in 2022.
Miami Dolphins – Any team with Tyreek Hill on it is going to be tricky to stop and if Hill gets injured Jaylen Waddle is almost unstoppable. They face the toughest schedule in the AFC in 2023 but with a backup quarterback who fits Mike McDaniel’s offence ready to take over if Tua is beset by injury again they’re in a good place.
NFC Playoff Teams
Seattle Seahawks – Julian Love, Dre’Mont Jones and Devin Bush Jr. have all signed up. In addition to Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed returning to add to 2022’s very promising young defense. That takes a lot of pressure away from Geno Smith in his second season leading the offence. In a tumultuous NFC West, the Seahawks are already a few steps ahead of the competition.
New York Giants – Their 2023 schedule is the third most difficult in the league. Darren Waller and Jamison Crowder joining Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley in a Brian Daboll offence promises to be exciting though. The defense has added Rakeem Nunes-Rochez and Bobby Okereke who should add to the pass rush. With the Eagles losing both their offensive and defensive coordinators they’ll need time to adapt.
Minnesota Vikings – Kevin O’Connell’s charges quickly settled into the group of teams who always compete during the regular season. They don’t seem to be as suited to the postseason though. Their strength of schedule is the 18th trickiest in the league. T.J Hockenson became an important part of the offence by the end of 2022. The addition of Josh Oliver should allow them to play more “12 personnel” in 2023. That means Hockenson should be even more important in the future. Adding Troy Reeder, Marcus Davenport and Dean Lowry will help Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter rush the passer. They recorded 10 and 10.5 respectively in 2022 so it’s not like they need much help.
Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons’ offence was 3rd for rushing yards in 2022 and 10th for rushing touchdowns. The addition of Taylor Heineke is fascinating, he was a beloved leader in Washington, but Atlanta seemed happy with Desmond Ridder as a quarterback late in 2022. Signing Calais Campbell illustrates how the Falcons are looking to add strong characters who can lead on and off the field.
Detroit Lions – Dan Campbell’s men won eight of their final 10 games in 2022 and despite nine free agent departures they’ve improved their roster in free agency. David Montgomery and Marvin Jones Jr. Add a huge amount of knowledge and experience to a young and exciting offence. Graham Glasgow rejoins after two years in Denver. CJ Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley and Cam Sutton add 15 seasons of experience to the defensive backfield and Jalen Reeves-Maybin returns to Michigan after a season in Houston. They’ve lost a few coaches, but they’ve essentially added coaches on the field.
Dallas Cowboys – Like the Vikings they’re always in the mix during the regular season but they seem unsuited to the playoffs. They’ve swapped Zeke for Ronald Jones II who was barely used last season in KC. He’s actually only started 16 games since 2020 so he could be a bit of a surprise package in 2023. They also swapped Kellen Moore for Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer was Seahawks offensive coordinator for Russell Wilson’s best years. If he can reignite Dak Prescott the 2023 Dallas offence will be interesting. Brandin Cooks arrived as part of a trade that saw the Texans receive two future draft picks. So, there’s been some movement in Dallas but that’s Jerry Jones’ Cowboys for you.
San Francisco 49ers – Talking about teams who sail serenely through the regular season only to crash into the playoff rocks, oh look here’s Kyle Shanahan’s boys. If Trey Lance is the 49ers starting quarterback, they might start the season slowly (because he’s hardly played any football since 2019). If history has taught us anything it’s that Shanahan will work out how to get the best out of his roster. Eight of their smothering 2022 defense left in free agency but the addition of Jarvon Hargrave, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant adds 52 career sacks to the defensive line. They have no draft picks in the first two rounds this year. But somehow the coaching team always extracts the best from their roster.