The 2022/23 NFL season only ended a couple of months ago, but despite the dust having barely settled, I can't help looking forward to next year.
That's right! It's time to make some way-too-early predictions for the 2023/24 NFL season. While it may seem premature to start forecasting the future of the league, there's no denying that excitement for what's to come is already building around the league. So, let's take a look at some of the potential storylines, breakout stars, and championship contenders that could define the year.
AFC West Champions: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have been consistently dominating the AFC West division since 2016 and are fully expected to continue their success in 2023. With Patrick Mahomes still in the game at just 28 years old, the Chiefs' winning streak is likely to continue and are once again favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Following their postseason run last year, the Los Angeles Chargers are also expected to do well in 2023. Justin Herbert is embarking on his fourth season with Kellen Moore taking over as the offensive coordinator, which should improve their season record, but they are still unlikely to compete with KC .
I don't expect Russell Wilson to save the Denver Broncos any time soon. Likelihood is that they do a little better with an improved O-line but they certainly won't compete for a playoff spot.
The Raiders may have brought Jimmy Garoppolo to Vegas, but without Darren Waller, the offense isn't expected to improve enough to challenge the top spot in a highly competitive division.
AFC West Prediction
AFC North Champions: Cincinnati Bengals
Cincy's trajectory was permanently altered when they picked up Joe Burrow in the 2020 NFL Draft. Combined with the offensive trio of Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgings and Tyler Boyd, Burrow led the team to two consecutive AFC Championships and almost took them to back-to-back Super Bowls. I'm expecting to make another run deep into the 2024 postseason.
The Ravens are the only side that could come close... Baltimore has been a consistent threat in the AFC North for a few years, but never quite made that final push towards a championship. If Lamar Jackson sticks around, they have a chance at threatening Cincy, but my money's still on Cincinnati to take the AFC North.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns have a lot to prove. They have the potential to be a strong team, but it could go either way. Deshaun Watson will have his first full season in Cleveland and could be the QB they need to truly compete in the NFL.
As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have been consistently decent under coach Mike Tomlin, with no losing seasons in 16 years. Their potential is hard to gauge with Kenny Pickett in his second season, supported by Najee Harris and George Pickens. But even with all the young talent on their roster, it's doubtful they will surpass the Bengals, Ravens, or even Browns.
AFC North Prediction:
AFC South Champions: Jacksonville Jaguars
The AFC South division crown now belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars after the arrival of Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson. Last season, the Jags not only made the playoffs but also won their first playoff game since 2017. With Lawrence entering his third season and a young roster, it's possible for the Jaguars to beat their nine wins from last season and continue their success in 2023.
The Tennessee Titans do have a small chance to take the AFC South title if Derrick Henry is in form. But, they'll need to upgrade their QB if they want to become real contenders. While Ryan Tannehill can get them to the playoffs, it's unlikely that Malik Willis can do the same.
If Houston drafts a franchise quarterback they might experience a quick turnaround but otherwise I don't expect much from the Texans in the 2023/24 regular season.
And lastly, the Indianapolis Colts, like several other teams, currently lack a quarterback, making it quite the challenge to predict their performance next year. While they have strong pieces on the roster, players like Jonathan Taylor and Darius Leonard have some uncertainty heading into next season. Therefore, the Colts could go either way, just like usual.
AFC South Prediction
AFC East Champions: Miami Dolphins
I expect Mike McDaniel and Tua Tagovailoa's high-powered scoring attack to improve on their success from when the Miami Dolphins were cruising in 2022. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle make up an electrifying duo that has proven to be difficult to slow down, and on the defensive side, Christian Wilkins, Bradley Chubb, and newly acquired Jalen Ramsey will cause chaos for opponents. If Tua can stay healthy, I think the Dolphins could just steal the top spot from Buffalo.
Although the Buffalo Bills once again failed to claim a championship, I only expect it to motivate Josh Allen. Sean McDermott certainly has no intention to suddenly fall off the map as core talents like Stefon Diggs, Matt Milano, and Von Miller should keep them competitive for years to come.
Meanwhile, the New York Jets have a playoff-calibre roster now that Aaron Rodgers has arrived in the Big Apple. We are optimistic about their chances to improve with a young core consisting of Breece Hall, along with 2023 Rookie of the Year recipients Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner. With Rodgers officially on board, we foresee the Jets competing for a Wild Card spot at minimum.
Although we may be foolish to overlook the greatest coach of all time and doubt his ability to improve upon a third-place finish in the AFC East, this division is stacked with talent. While having a great coach is vital, talent often trumps coaching. We remain uncertain if the Patriots have enough top-tier athletes to finish anywhere but third or last place in this fiercely competitive division.
AFC East Prediction
NFC West Champions: San Francisco 49ers
In 2022, the San Francisco 49ers displayed their playoff potential, regardless of the QB at the helm. The starting QB for the upcoming season is uncertain, as Trey Lance, Brock Purdy, or another player could take the reins. DeMeco Ryans' defense has been replaced by Steve Wilks, and while they should still perform well, there are no guarantees. However, the 49ers have a top-tier skill position group, making them a favorite to repeat as NFC West champions.
The Seattle Seahawks had a solid draft class in 2022 and have the potential to improve upon their nine-win record from last year. With Geno Smith returning, along with offensive standouts D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks should have a potent offense. Their defense needs work, but the upcoming draft could provide some solutions.
The Los Angeles Rams have a group of elite players returning, including Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy, the 2022 Super Bowl champions could become contenders again. However, their rushing attack and several big losses on defense, including Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey, could set them back. The strength of their division also poses a challenge.
The Arizona Cardinals are expected to finish last in the NFC West due to Kyler Murray's recent surgery and the likely losses of J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins. They struggled with Murray last season, and the lack of these key players will make it difficult for them to compete.
NFC West Prediction:
NFC North Champions: Detroit Lions
Under Dan Campbell's leadership, the Detroit Lions saw a remarkable improvement, going from three wins to nine between 2021 and 2022. With Jameson Williams set to play 11 games in 2023, in addition to Aidan Hutchinson and two more top 20 first-round picks added to the roster, the Lions are expected to become a tough team on both sides of the ball, provided that their defense makes a significant improvement. I'm expecting their explosive offense to return and take them to a shock win in the NFC North.
In the first season of Kevin O'Connell coaching the Minnesota Vikings, they won 13 games. However, it's reasonable to anticipate some regression in 2023. The performance of Brian Flores-led defense will likely play a significant role in determining how much regression will occur. The team faced some veteran departures due to a tight cap crunch in the offseason, and although Justin Jefferson's presence makes them a strong contender, I still bank on Detroit making the top spot.
The Chicago Bears had the most cap space in the NFL going into the offseason and have already made substantial improvements to their roster, including the addition of D.J. Moore. Justin Fields has shown promise, and the offensive line and skill position group are expected to make significant contributions in his third year.
There is much uncertainty surrounding the Green Bay Packers in 2023. Although it's Jordan Love's time to shine, he could definitely struggle to settle into the starting spot. Additionally, there are questions about who will step up as a receiver besides Christian Watson. Given that even a four-time MVP couldn't lead the team to the playoffs in 2022, it's challenging to have high expectations.
NFC North Prediction:
NFC South Champions: New Orleans Saints
Welcome to the most unpredictable division in the league...
With only the Saints having a truly established quarterback in the NFC South, Dennis Allen's has a chance to take a rather mediocre team to a division title. The addition of Derek Carr, and a strong defense is likely to give them a competitive edge. If Carr can work well with the offensive weapons at his disposal, they could easily defeat their divisional opponents.
Head coach Frank Reich and the Carolina Panthers are really the only other team that could compete for the title. By no means will they compete deep into the postseason, but it's really a coin flip between them and New Orleans in the South.
The departure of Tom Brady has left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without an obvious replacement at quarterback, and the starting role is up for grabs between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. However, the team has a talented core of players on both sides of the ball that should keep them afloat.
The Atlanta Falcons may struggle to find a new franchise quarterback without a major trade, and Desmond Ridder may be their best option. Building on their strong rushing attack and adding to their defense and offense will be crucial for a successful season which is looking very unlikely as things stand.
NFC South Prediction:
NFC East Champions: Philadelphia Eagles
The NFC East is expected to be perhaps the most competitive division, but I still expect the Philadelphia Eagles to have another successful season with key players like Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown returning for their second run together. Despite losing a few veterans to free agency, the team is expected to perform well and I could even see them winning the big game in 2024.
The Dallas Cowboys have high expectations every year but have struggled to deliver in the past. Dak Prescott will need to improve his interception rate, and the team will need to adjust to Mike McCarthy's play calling. However, the addition of Micah Parsons is expected to give the team an edge.
The New York Giants are expected to remain a playoff contender with the return of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, and adding Darren Waller to the team will only make them stronger. The team could benefit from adding depth to their cornerback group though, so it could all depend on what they do in the draft.
The Washington Commanders have some uncertainty at the QB position, but their defense is expected to improve with Chase Young leading the way. Either way, I don't see them competing with some of the best teams in the league, landing them the last spot in the NFC East in our prediction.
NFC East prediction
2024 Super Bowl Key Contenders:
Kansas City Chiefs
With Patrick Mahomes leading the team, the Chiefs have made it to the AFC Championship Game in five straight seasons. The team's talent and potential have not faded, making them strong contenders for the Super Bowl.
The Eagles exceeded expectations in the last season, thanks to the team's strength and completeness on both sides of the field. The team's success is dependent on re-signing key players, such as Miles Sanders, Jason Kelce, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Brandon Graham, Javon Hagrave, and James Bradberry, and further development of Jalen Hurts.
The Bengals were almost in the Super Bowl twice, and their young roster promises to challenge the Chiefs for the championship.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers need to find a new defensive coordinator after Demeco Ryans left for Houston. Nevertheless, the team's consistency and talent are still present, but their success depends on finding a new quarterback and defensive coordinator.
Buffalo has a strong team that has battled injuries to key players. A healthy Buffalo team will pose a significant challenge to the top rankings.
2024 Super Bowl Odds
After winning Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to repeat their victory, with the best odds to win the Super Bowl at +600.
All of the top five teams saw their odds increase after future Hall of Famer, Aaron Rodgers officially joined the Jets. Initially, the Jets had the 10th-best odds at +3500, but rose to sixth with +1400 once the news hit headlines. Only the Chiefs (+600), San Francisco 49ers (+700), Philadelphia Eagles (+850), and Josh Allen's Buffalo Bills (+850) have shorter odds than the Jets.
Full 2023 Super Bowl Futures Odds
|TEAM||2024 SUPER BOWL ODDS|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+600|
|San Francisco 49ers||+700|
|New York Jets||+1400|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+2500|
|New Orleans Saints||+3500|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+3500|
|New York Giants||+4000|
|Green Bay Packers||+5000|
|New England Patriots||+5000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+5000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+8000|
With Rodgers moving to New York, their prospects seem to be on the upswing. However, it's not uncommon for teams that trade Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks like him, with whom they achieved great success, to struggle to return to the championship. Only time will reveal if the Jets can break this trend.
So there you have it, a far-too-early prediction of the 2023/24 season. I'll be placing my spread bet once the last trade is made and the NFL draft shows us what new talent will be entering the league and where it will be going.
Keep your eyes peeled on our sports bets odds comparison page for all the NFL odds when the season gets underway. Until then, expect more NFL content just to keep myself satisfied until September.