The Super Bowl has concluded, and now the 2023-2024 season looms large in the distance. Football will be back before we know it. But the NFL Power Rankings have made their triumphant return after their playoff hiatus.
Some of these teams will be barely recognizable over the coming months, and the NFL Power Rankings will adjust accordingly. But for now, we must take the information we have at our disposal to predict the playoff field for next season.
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32) Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are a train dragging a final trailer that only has wheels on one side, slowing down the train and making it painfully unstable on its tracks. But the train is also ablaze, and there’s no way to stop it because there is no conductor.
The 2023-2024 NFL season will be a throwaway for the Cardinals. Kyler Murray will be out for a large portion of the season, and their roster is a complete mess. Monti Ossenfort is about to be one of the hardest-working men in the country to make this rebuild happen in a succinct manner.
31) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts remain coachless and quarterback-less, which is not a good combination. With the fourth pick in the upcoming NFL draft, they’ll likely look to move up to the top spot to draft the QB of their choice, unless, of course, they adore three or four of the class’ passers, which is unlikely given the stark differences in each player.
Whoever ends up being Indianapolis’ HC will have a decent defense to work with, two young receivers, and an incredibly talented running back. They must revamp the offensive line and develop their young passer, but it’s unlikely we see them competing in the AFC South with their current construction.
30) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons head into 2023 as a bit of an expeditionary. They need to find out exactly who Desmond Ridder can be as a QB moving forward. Arthur Smith has a way of making life easy on quarterbacks. He helped turn Ryan Tannehill’s career around and had Atlanta — albeit in a pathetic NFC South — competing with Marcus Mariota until his play devolved to the point of no return.
Terry Fontenot and Smith have a decent amount of coin to play with in the offseason. According to Over the Cap, the Falcons have the second-most effective cap space in the NFL, with over $51 million to spend. Ryan Neilsen will take over a defense that needs an influx of talent, but his time in New Orleans under Dennis Allen could bring a modern look to the Falcons’ heavy-zone defense.
29) Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr is on the team for now, but he won’t be in the near future. With the seventh pick in the NFL draft and a list of needs longer than a CVS receipt, drafting a QB may not be the best idea. With the star power they have on the roster, Las Vegas needs to somehow bring a veteran in that can manage the offense at a somewhat low price.
More than anything, the Las Vegas Raiders need to build a foundation on this roster on the offensive and defensive lines. They’re not ready to compete with Kansas City, and they’re in far worse shape than the Chargers. The Raiders need to be patient, sign a few low-cost veterans to fill gaps in the roster, and start drafting the best linemen they can get their hands on.
28) Houston Texans
The Houston Texans might not be good in 2023, but they will finally be interesting again. DeMeco Ryans pairing with Derek Stingley Jr., Jalen Pitre, and… others… will be an absolute blast to watch grow together.
But most importantly, a young QB is going to breathe some life into the franchise. In my first mock draft of the season, they took Alabama’s Bryce Young, but we won’t know until April what QB they end up with. Pairing young runners with a young QB is always a fun trip, and the Texans have a few exciting players on the offensive line to build further around.
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay fans can rest easy knowing they won their Super Bowl. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen in 2023. You’ll find out when you catch a glimpse of a Kyle Trask-led offense in September.
The Buccaneers are another NFL roster deep in the red. They’ll get themselves into the black by the time the season rolls around, and there’s still plenty of talent on the roster.
But that offense is going to struggle without significantly upgrading at quarterback. Tampa Bay had absolutely no running game in 2022, and Trask doesn’t have the skill set necessary to be anything more than a mediocre starter — if he ever makes it to that point.
26) New Orleans Saints
The Saints are out here looking like your finance bro buddy that keeps sinking his money into crypto because “it’s gonna come back, man, I just know it.” He’s in crippling credit card debt but keeps digging a deeper hole for himself.
The Saints are $60 million in the red with some horrific contracts on the books, and they’re out here trying to trade for Derek Carr.
And you know what? That might be the stock to get them back in the game, at least for a season or two. New Orleans has an aging but talented defense that can still play at a high level. If they do, in fact, trade for Carr, the Saints might sneak away with what looks like it could be one of the worst divisions in the history of the NFC South.
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25) Chicago Bears
As they’re currently constructed, the Bears have absolutely no chance to win more than six football games in 2023. But they have nearly $85 million in effective cap space, and their actual number sits above $93 million. We will see spending more frivolously than a 21-year-old millionaire influencer at a Las Vegas Night Club.
And if Chicago strikes on a good portion of that money spent, they could end up looking like this past season’s version of the Jacksonville Jaguars. They must improve their offensive line and add a few more weapons on the offensive end. But more than anything else, Justin Fields must continue growing as a passer in the quick game to take some of the pressure off that offensive line.
With his personal rushing ability and a strong OL, Chicago’s offense could look like a watered-down version of the Eagles next season.
24) Tennessee Titans
The Titans are a mess. They finished the season by losing seven games in a row, and the only team that has ever been more injured than them was… them the year prior. This time, however, they weren’t able to overcome it.
If Tennessee remains healthy and improves the offensive line, they could easily compete in the AFC South. The Jaguars are the clear favorite, but Tennessee’s defense is talented when healthy, and their unique brand of football can work if the entire team isn’t on injured reserve.
The biggest question surrounds the future of Ryan Tannehill. Maybe the Titans would be interested in a player like Anthony Richardson should he fall outside the top 10. Maybe they’d rather cut Tannehill and sign someone like Jimmy Garoppolo, who has experience in a passing attack that wins in similar ways, built off of play-action.
However, going into 2023 losing Tannehill and putting faith in Malik Willis, based on what we saw in 2022, is a bad idea.
23) Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is spending his offseason in dark holes for extended periods, and his words on the Pat MacAfee Show make it seem as though Green Bay isn’t interested in his services next season. If the Packers somehow pull off another Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers transition with Rodgers and Jordan Love, we’ll know for sure that witchcraft is, indeed, alive and well.
We haven’t seen the signs that Love will be that player, but we also haven’t seen him be the guy yet. Green Bay isn’t lacking talent in many spots on the roster, but the deployment of that talent is questionable at times. Matt LaFleur keeping Joe Barry on board as the defensive coordinator certainly is a decision.
22) Denver Broncos
The Broncos will head into next season as a bit of a mystery. Sean Payton is a good head coach who will do his best to revitalize Russell Wilson’s career. The offense will almost undoubtedly be better a season from now.
The question is, what will the defense look like? It’s not a sticky statistic from year-to-year already, and the Broncos lost their defensive play-caller to the Carolina Panthers. We don’t know who will replace Ejiro Evero, but whoever it is should be a Vic Fangio disciple to keep continuity on the defensive side of the ball.
21) Washington Commanders
The Washington Commanders are moving forward with Sam Howell as their quarterback heading into 2023. The fifth-round pick was a fun prospect with a bit of mobility and fun playmaking ability, but mechanical issues in his lower body. Howell’s not Baker Mayfield, but he’s a bit like Mayfield in style.
A fifth-round pick with less offensive firepower than the Cowboys and Eagles going against Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time, but I’m not the one making decisions for the team.
What Washington will have is a talented defense that really found its groove in 2022. If Howell can be decent, the Commanders could be competitive in an NFC lacking elite QB play.
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20) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers feel like they have a lot of needs to address in the offseason, but Mike Tomlin just kind of finds ways to get it done. For the past two seasons, Pittsburgh has begun the season low in the NFL Power Rankings, only to overachieve in the face of an average defense and an underwhelming offense.
They simply win football games. It makes no damn sense! Compels me, though.
Seeing what Pittsburgh can build around Kenny Pickett will be fascinating. The offensive line has overachieved relative to the talent on it, but there are spots the Steelers could upgrade there.
It’s hard to feel good about an offense led by Matt Canada, but Pittsburgh has always valued continuity within the organization over anything else. In the end, the Steelers might just win out of cultural spite. They’re the most stable organization in the sport, and that counts for something.
19) Seattle Seahawks
Many believed the Seattle Seahawks would be looking at a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Nobody believed that pick would come from the Denver Broncos and not themselves.
Geno Smith proved he wasn’t a half-year wonder with his performance this season. He was the most accurate passer in the league relative to expectation, and he’s about to be paid handsomely for his services.
Next season, however, the Seahawks won’t sneak up on anybody.
Seattle’s offensive line is young and talented, and they have more than enough offensive firepower to compete for a Wild Card spot. With two first-round picks, the Seahawks could infuse even more defensive talent to hopefully provide a bit more consistency to their defense.
18) Cleveland Browns
Like the inverse of the Steelers, the Cleveland Browns always seem to find a way to underwhelm compared to expectations. Deshaun Watson was one of the five-most talented passers in the league just a few short years ago, but off-field controversies have kept him off the field for large chunks of time. When he got back on it this past season, he was not good.
Cleveland has talent. Their offensive line is solid, they have one of the best running backs in the game, and their secondary has talent everywhere. But they’re still not the best team in their division, and they likely aren’t the second-best team in their division unless they somehow find a way to be less #964B00.
17) New England Patriots
It certainly can’t get worse on offense, right? Bill Belichick is going to keep hiring his buddies, but this time he hired one that has an offensive background. Bill O’Brien might not be Mike McDaniel or Kyle Shanahan, but he’s also not Matt Patricia, so it’s impossible to hate the hire.
Jonathan Jones is a free agent, which means nothing to the Patriots because Belichick always seems to pull a cornerback out of his magic hat. New England’s defense will continue to give them chances to win football games.
16) New York Jets
Depending on what happens at quarterback, the New York Jets could skyrocket in the NFL Power Rankings moving forward. But until the QB movement begins, New York is a middle-of-the-pack team anchored by an offense that, while talented, was bad a season ago with whoever was taking snaps for them.
The addition of Nathaniel Hackett probably doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in the offense moving forward after his Denver tenure. However, his offenses in Green Bay led to consecutive Aaron Rodgers MVP awards.
The Jets don’t need Rodgers to find offensive success. They simply need someone who can come in and take care of the ball while facilitating to their many weapons behind what should be a more than serviceable offensive line.
15) Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings were an enigma in 2022. They lived on one-score victories all season, so much so that the 13-win Vikings had a negative point differential. It was truly one of the most incredible seasons of all time.
Minnesota’s offense is in good shape moving forward, but they need to revamp their secondary if they want to compete in the NFC next season. They aren’t too far away defensively, but it’s not easy to turn over a secondary in the course of one offseason. Unfortunately for them, the Detroit Lions… yes, the Detroit Lions, aren’t getting any worse.
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14) Carolina Panthers
Hiring Evero to be Franch Reich’s defensive coordinator is a home-run hire. The Panthers have a talented young defense just waiting to be unlocked on an NFC South division looking down the barrel of a Desmond Ridder, Derek Carr?, and Kyle Trask trio of quarterbacks.
They still need a QB of their own, but with an improved offensive line and a few weapons running around on offense, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to lure a free agent into the building. Steve Wilks nearly had this roster in the playoffs. Competent QB play will be all they need to secure the NFC South in 2023.
13) New York Giants
Brian Daboll is coming off the Coach of the Year Award, and Joe Schoen has the third-most money in the league to play with. Now, New York needs to pay Daniel Jones and/or Saquon Barkley, but some of that money needs to be earmarked for their secondary, which needs an influx of talent to run Wink Martindale’s demanding man-heavy scheme.
The Giants have the defensive front to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. Adding a talented cornerback opposite of Adoree’ Jackson will go a long way, but they need depth players on the back end that can survive if the starters face injuries.
Jones grew significantly in 2022. There’s no reason to suspect he’s done improving as a passer, and his legs bring an added element to the Giants’ offense.
12) Los Angeles Rams
“Dalton, what are the Rams doing here? They were terrible in 2022.”
Truer words have never been spoken before. However, every player that mattered to the Rams was injured this past season, and their monetary decisions disallowed for proper depth pieces to step up.
Sean McVay has one foot out the door, as does Aaron Donald. Les Snead still doesn’t give a rat’s arse about draft picks, and they have the ammunition for one more go at a second Super Bowl.
This is it for the Rams. They need to revamp the offensive line and remain relatively healthy, but LA should be a playoff-caliber team if they do.
11) Detroit Lions
The fighting Dan Campbells were a treat to watch this past season. Behind a good offensive line and revamped receiving corps, the Lions’ offense rode an efficient Jared Goff all the way to offensive excellency. With Ben Johnson returning to Detroit, it’s likely we see further offensive success next season.
With two first- and second-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Lions could throw assets at the secondary in what looks to be a strong cornerback class. A slightly improved defense and Year 3 under Campbell could be the best season Detroit has had since joining the NFC North.
10) Miami Dolphins
McDaniel and Fangio together as one? If Tua Tagovailoa can remain healthy next season, there’s no reason to believe that the Dolphins won’t take one of the Wild Card spots in the AFC. For a while, it appeared Miami might end up having the very best offense in the NFL.
McDaniel’s ability to scheme open Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle over the middle was incredible, and Tagovailoa played with unbelievable confidence when healthy, throwing with outstanding anticipation and accuracy over the middle.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the way up. Trevor Lawrence looks the part of an upper-echelon franchise QB in the making, and Doug Pederson has turned an impossibly bad culture into a great locker-room environment.
Jacksonville spent good money in the offseason, and they hit on the pieces they purchased. If they improve their secondary just a bit, they could end up being one of the more dangerous teams in the NFL.
Calvin Ridley, should he be reinstated, adds another route-running element to a precise passing attack. They’ll be a difficult offense to slow down with a healthy Lawrence under center.
8) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ addition of Kellen Moore is a bit like the Patriots’ addition of O’Brien. It really couldn’t get much worse than it was under Joe Lombardi. While Moore certainly needs to continue his growth curve as an offensive coordinator, he brings far more creativity than Lombardi.
The Chargers also need to continue improving on defense. They have talent on that side of the ball but haven’t been able to find the type of success Brandon Staley found with the Rams. LA needs to add even more beef to the defensive interior, get better linebacker play, and remain healthy.
7) Baltimore Ravens
If the Baltimore Ravens retain Lamar Jackson (which should be a no-brainer) and the talented passer remains healthy in 2023, they will compete in the AFC. Baltimore has struggled with injuries all around the roster over the past two seasons. Their luck keeping receivers healthy has been non-existent, and they haven’t done the best job adding talent to the position, either.
Still, the Ravens will compete nonetheless. Mike Macdonald’s defense rounded into form after a few weeks, and there’s no reason to believe it’ll get worse with a healthy David Ojabo returning to the lineup.
6) Dallas Cowboys
Retaining Dan Quinn for a third season as the defensive coordinator was the best news Dallas fans could have received. Many liked Moore, but everybody understands that Quinn was the more important piece to the Cowboys’ puzzle.
Quinn’s defense has been one of the best in the NFL over the past two seasons. If Dallas can finally address the No. 2 CB spot, it’s hard to find a flaw on that side of the ball.
The offensive side is more interesting. The Cowboys don’t have a No. 2 receiver, and Mike McCarthy will be calling the shots for the first time in nearly a decade. Has his offense evolved with the times, or will slant-flat become the new all-curls to Cowboys fans?
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5) Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills feel a bit like the Cowboys in a few ways, except with an alien at QB who, when playing well, is a legitimate MVP candidate. However, Buffalo’s defense slowed down significantly after Von Miller’s season-ending injury.
Like Dallas, Buffalo needs a No. 2 receiver to complement Stefon Diggs. Ken Dorsey also must evolve. He needs to make things easier for his quarterback, and Allen must stop inviting contact, because it wasn’t all that long ago that we were in awe of Cam Newton doing similar things before his body broke down.
James Cook looked impressive as a rookie, but the run game still needs improvement.
4) Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals only have one problem. They play in the same conference as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.
If it weren’t for those pesky Chiefs, Cincinnati would be on their way to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, and Joe Burrow’s legend would be growing to unbelievable heights by now.
Lou Anarumo remains the most underrated coordinator in the NFL, and the Bengals’ defense should realistically remain sturdy even if they lose Jessie Bates III in free agency. There has been talk about trading Tee Higgins, but that’s a horrible idea.
Yes, you believe your Super Bowl window is open indefinitely with Burrow under center. But that’s not the reality. Maximizing the window while he’s still inexpensive is imperative.
3) San Francisco 49ers
It’s hard to believe that the 49ers won’t be as good as they were this season, unless losing DeMeco Ryans was too big a loss to overcome. They’ll be returning Trey Lance, who has one of the highest ceilings of any QB in the NFL, to an offense that is already an efficiency monster.
If Lance goes down with another injury or simply hasn’t improved, Brock Purdy has already shown he can lead a good offensive attack.
Losing Jimmie Ward would be a significant loss to the secondary if he leaves in free agency, but the 49ers aren’t losing much else during the offseason. The only reason they aren’t in the driver’s seat of the NFC is because of QB. We don’t know what to think of Lance yet, and Purdy will be coming off shoulder surgery.
2) Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles might be the best team in the NFC, but they’ve already been eliminated from defending the East title. Those are the rules in the East. No team has repeated as champion since the Eagles just after the turn of the century when, ironically, Andy Reid was the coach.
Jalen Hurts will continue to grow as a passer, and as long as he remains somewhat healthy, Philly’s offense will be difficult to stop. They’re losing several players on defense, but Howie Roseman isn’t a mad genius for no reason. He’ll figure something out.
Returning their staff would be a huge win as well. The Eagles are young, but they have talent on both sides of the ball that should only grow better.
1) Kansas City Chiefs
Is Reid still the coach, and is Mahomes still the QB? Yeah? Okay, then, they’re the best team in the NFL.
It really is that simple. Until someone can slow Kansas City down, there’s no reason to believe they’ll fall off. Many believed it would happen with the loss of Tyreek Hill.
The offense improved.
In the first few weeks of the season, the Chiefs defense will look like a steaming pile of bile. Then things will turn around, they’ll creep back into the top half of the league before the season ends, and Steve Spagnuolo can prove his genius in one-game playoff samples.
Rinse and repeat.