As we start to ramp up to the 2023 NFL season, it’s time to look at the teams that will survive, thrive or struggle. 14 teams made ghe playoffs last year. Not all of them can make it back. It’s time to take a look at the most likely candidates to miss the cut, as well a dark horse or two.
Let’s start with a bang. San Francisco gave a great roster but who they have at QB? Even as a self-professed lover of Brock Purdy, he was great in a relatively small sample size as a rookie but can he back it up. If not, is Trey Lance really capable of leading a playoff ready team? And this time they don’t have Jimmy Garropolo to rely on.
One thing I am confident of is that they won’t have the same injury luck as last year but the 49ers could be ripe for picking if the Seahawks continue their upward trajectory.
This list included the Vikings before Dalvin Cook was released. However the news makes it all the more clear that Minnesota are prepareling for a rebuild. They managed a 13-4 record in 2022 despite being little more than a solid team. Despite the division bring wide open, they’re looking at tearing apart the roster and Cook is the latest stage, having already traded Za’darius Smith and let Kirk Cousins run his contract down.
The Ravens hype train has kicked into gear. And it does make sense to some degree. But let’s look at it in perspective. Lamar Jackson has missed crunch time in the last two seasons. Star signing Odell Beckham won’t have played a down of football for the thick end of two seasons by kick off.
And the kicker is, while Jackson has now been signed long term, the Ravens missed out on the bulk of free agency, unable to fill more than a couple of gaps in the roster – namely Cornerback and defensive line. The offseason has progressively got better. But how much better is this roster than the 2022 vintage really?
Two words. Tom Brady. Tampa were champions of a weak division in 2022. The worst of the playoff contenders last year.
Not much has been added in free agency or the draft and now Baker Mayfield is expected to haul a middling team lacking depth to the playoffs. Add to that a revitalised Panthers team with Bryce Young. Plus the Falcons and Saints are expected to do better.
The ‘Fins peaked way too early in 2022. While most of the star talent remains, this was a team on the periphery in a crowded field. What’s more, they are in one of the toughest divisions football, up against the Bills and an improving Jets team. Further still, the Dolphins lost out on early draft picks for their pursuit of Tom Brady.
Miami will be in the mix but they will have to make improvements just to stand still in the AFC playoff race.
Image: Sam Navarro / USA TODAY Sports
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