The three best teams heading into this season are the Chiefs, Eagles, and Bengals. We all know there is always a few surprise teams in the NFL every year, who will it be this season?
An offseason to forget for a team that won only four games last season. Former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is their new head coach, while Kyler Murray continues his recovery after tearing an ACL late last year.
Murray wanted the team to select Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr., which happened. Johnson will be a good player, but he’s a bad pick at number eight.
From being NFL champions in 2021 to ending this past season with a 5-12 record. No defending Super Bowl winner had ever suffered that many losses.
As expected, this offseason would see several departures for the Rams; cornerback Jalen Ramsey went to Miami, while linebackers Leonard Floyd and Bobby Wagner were released. Without having a first-round selection, they would trade down and draft 14 players instead.
From being Super Bowl LV champions in 2020 to sharing the league’s best record a year later (13-4), and winning another division title despite an 8-9 record; that has been quite an incredible three-year stretch for the Buccaneers.
Todd Bowles steps into his second year as head coach of the club without quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Cameron Brate or left tackle Donovan Smith; even in an open NFC South division, that is not a great recipe for winning.
Chris Ballard chose Anthony Richardson on Day One of the NFL Draft as he could provide depth behind Gardner Minhsew, an Eagles vet familiar with Shane Steichen’s system.
Ballard earned 12 selections – evenly split between offense and defense – while Steichen takes over a seven-game losing streak to finish his season as coach.
Anthony Richardson was a terrible pick for this team; he cannot throw the ball. The rest of the draft was solid.
The Raiders have experienced an unsuccessful 6-11 campaign this past season and released quarterback Derek Carr from their roster. General manager Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels responded by signing former Patriots and 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer and Jakobi Myers/Philip Dorsett as replacements.
The team added nine draft choices this year, with six being used on defense to improve an increasingly weak defensive unit.
This past season, Ron Rivera’s club was the only NFC East club not to post a winning record and fail to reach the playoffs.
The Commanders appeared determined to retain second-year pro-Sam Howell at quarterback, although they also signed journeyman Jacoby Brissett. Washington put great emphasis on offensive line improvement during free agency.
Frank Reich was named Carolina Panthers Week 1 starting quarterback during their inaugural season in 1995. Now he is the Panthers new Head Coach.
Carolina gave up much to secure the first overall selection in this year’s draft and selected quarterback Bryce Young. Their offense will benefit from signing running back Miles Sanders and wide receivers Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark.
One year ago, the Bears appointed Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus as general manager and head coach, respectively, resulting in one of the NFL’s worst records (3-14) and an incredible 10-game losing streak ultimately forced their changeover.
Chicago traded away their top overall pick to Carolina in exchange for wide receiver D.J. Moore and more. Chicago allowed more points than any team in 2022 and used seven of this year’s ten draft choices on defense. The Bears seem to be doing everything right in this newest rebuild, so don’t be surprised if they improve.
General manager Nick Caserio has enjoyed quite the offseason. There was the hiring of head coach DeMeco Ryans. The veteran additions include linebackers Denzel Perryman and Cory Littleton, running back Devin Singletary and tight end Dalton Schultz.
The Texans grabbed quarterback C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick and pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. third after swinging a deal with Arizona. This team should be improved this season and are another good draft away from being really good.
Aaron Rodgers finally was dealt to the Jets, and it will be exciting to see how their draft picks from this and next year work out.
As is usually the case, the Packers were relatively silent during free agency but managed to draft 13 players, including first-round linebacker Lukas Van Ness from Iowa and three wide receivers, two tight ends and Auburn kicker Anders Carlson who was selected sixth overall.
Jordan Love is the man, for now, but it won’t be for long.
Browns suffered through another problematic season (7-10), finishing last in the AFC North and being the only team with a losing record in their division.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson joined Cleveland in December and split its last six outings before feeling comfortable leading the team. The University of Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (3rd round selection) was chosen as their top selection.
The Falcons have finished below.500 for five consecutive years, winning only seven games this past year but improving on their 2021 performance by keeping an identical record.
Arthur Smith did an admirable job acquiring veteran talent, signing defensive lineman Calais Campbell and trading for tight end Jonnu Smith. Atlanta used its first-round selection on a talented running back Bijan Robinson (Texas).
Since 2010, the Patriots had gone 11 straight seasons making the playoffs; since, they’ve suffered two sub-.500 seasons. Last season was incredibly frustrating as Mac Jones struggled through an inconsistent offense..
Veteran coach Bill O’Brien returns to Foxborough as the offensive coordinator, while Bill Belichick used three draft choices on defense and selected two punter/kickers.
Dennis Allen returns for his second season as head coach of the Saints after experiencing its first losing campaign since 2016. With him comes veteran quarterback Derek Carr who rejoins Allen after being let go from the Raiders this offseason and joins forces once more under Allen.
The Saints struggled in terms of turnovers this past season, which contributed significantly to their disappointing finish. Their run defense, in particular, struggled.
Being in the NFC South means the Saints will probably contend for a divisional title.
Hard to believe is that a team that won the Super Bowl back in 2015 has not returned to postseason play since and has finished below 500 each of the last six years.
Sean Payton has joined Denver as its new head coach in hopes of ending their playoff drought. This should prove extremely helpful to quarterback Russell Wilson who struggled greatly during his first year.
The Broncos should be good defensively again.
The Tennessee Titans overcame a disappointing start by winning seven of their next eight games and rising from an 0-2 mark to 7-3; however, that turnaround resulted in seven consecutive losses at the end of their season. Running back Derrick Henry led their effort while quarterback Ryan Tannehill came and went from the starting lineup.
Defense was absolutely terrible against stopping passes this season; all six draft picks of the Titans this year went towards offensive talent. The Titans could be in a lot of trouble this season.
Omar Khan demonstrated great tenacity as General Manager during his inaugural year and throughout the draft process. Under Khan, the club refreshed their inside linebacking corps with Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb.
On night one of the draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers moved up three spots in order to select Georgia tackle Broderick Jones (No. 21 overall), while Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr (No. 32 overall) fell right into their laps. This ranking will move up considerably if Kenny Pickett continues to develop.
What can we make of the Vikings? They had few difficulties scoring last season and often came through in close games – something they struggled with this year – yet their defense proved too weak even after making the playoffs and winning their division with 13-4 record.
If the Vikings defense can improve they will have a shot in a weak NFC North.
Thanks to an impressive 2022 draft, the Seahawks managed to rebound from their last-place finish in 2021 and earn a playoff berth thanks to a great draft in 2022. Although they lost all three matches with NFC West champion 49ers, including one that dished out an embarrassing loss in the wild-card round, Geno Smith won NFL Comeback Player of Year honors while linebacker Bobby Wagner made an epic return after spending time with the Rams.
How long will their memory of blowing a 27-point lead at Jacksonville remain fresh? Earlier this offseason, they signed linebacker Eric Kendricks (late of Minnesota Vikings). Additionally, they selected exactly one player from TCU three times across seven rounds – wideouts Quentin Johnson (1st), Derius Davis (4th) and quarterback Max Duggan (7th).
The Chargers have issues with star running back Austin Ekeler and a big-time issue when it comes to coaching.
Ironically, 2010 marked the last time the Jets made the playoffs; that same season also marked Aaron Rodgers’s only Super Bowl appearance with Green Bay Packers.
New York made many concessions to secure the four-time MFL MVP. Can Rodgers make the difference, Robert Saleh’s team managed a 7-4 start before losing its last six matches of 2023.
The Jets seem on the cusp of being a playoff team, but many questions still exist.
The Giants hope to build on their first playoff appearance since 2016 and first postseason victory since Super Bowl XLVI in 2011. To that end, they awarded quarterback Daniel Jones with a new contract and put running back Saquon Barkley on a franchise tag. Their 25th-ranked defense should improve with new defensive tackles Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson joining Bobby Okereke on defense.
The AFC South champion Jaguars were quiet this offseason regarding signing veteran talent. However, general manager Trent Baalke was very active during the draft process, ultimately selecting 13 players – three offensive picks up front and seven defensive selections across four rounds. The Jaguars play in the AFC South and are the probable favorites to win the division.
Brad Holmes completed an outstanding offseason as General Manager. The Lions added cornerbacks Cameron Sutton (Steelers) and Emmanuel Moseley (49ers), and used their second-round selection on versatile defensive back Brian Branch from Alabama. The Lions seem on the cusp of the playoffs.
As has become routine for the Cowboys in recent seasons, their season ended with a playoff loss to the 49ers. Since then, it has been an offseason marked by more subtractions (running back Ezekiel Elliott and tight end Dalton Schultz) than additions: they did sign wide receiver Brandin Cooks from Houston (Texans) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore from Indianapolis (Colts), as well as first-round draft pick Mazi Smith who should help improve what currently ranks as an NFL 22nd-ranked run defense. This team failed big time in the draft and in a division where the Eagles and Giants continue to improve, that is not a good thing.
San Francisco 49ers fans can take comfort knowing their team has reached the NFC championship game two consecutive seasons and three in four years, yet enter 2023 without an established quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo now belongs to the Las Vegas Raiders while Trey Lance could potentially be traded or Brock Purdy might return from injury as they continue their season-long journey towards glory under Kyle Shanahan’s tutelage. Could Sam Darnold be set as Kyle Shanahan’s Week 1 starter?
Last season, the Dolphins returned to the playoffs for only the second time since 2016 but still haven’t won one since 2000. Chris Grier orchestrated a trade for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Rams), but Tua Tagovailoa’s health remains questioned. The question is will he ever stay healthy for an entire season?
The Ravens typically make good use of the draft to bolster their roster, and this year was no different, with their first-round selection coming in the form of Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers as they looked to add talent in various positions across their offense.
Regarding veterans, GM Eric DeCosta signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (who didn’t play football in 2022) to a one-year deal and signed quarterback Lamar Jackson to a five-year, $260 million contract extension.
Sean McDermott’s team has won the AFC East each of the past three seasons and reached the conference title game once, in 2020. However, they failed to advance beyond divisional playoffs the past two years, including being humiliated by the visiting Bengals in January. Quarterback Josh Allen remains turnover prone while losing pass-rusher Von Miller during the year was an enormous blow – yet they remain an extremely talented group.
Andy Reid’s team looks to become the first since 2003-’04 New England Patriots to successfully repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Unfortunately, Kansas City experienced many free agent departures this offseason, such as losing starting tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Bengals and Andrew Wylie to the Commanders; also, Steve Spagnuolo’s defense suffered at times and five of its seven draft picks went to this side of scrimmage by General Manager Brett Veach.
Zac Taylor led his Bengals team from an 0-2 start to finish 12-5 and advanced to the AFC title game for a second consecutive year, this time losing out at Kansas City. Following free agency and losing Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates as safeties, three draft choices were allocated towards defensive backs to keep the defence on the right track. Orlando Brown Jr. and Cody Ford provided key offensive line additions.
The defending NFC Champions have continued their pursuit of defensive excellence by recruiting three former Georgia Bulldogs – defensive tackle Jalen Carter and outside linebacker Nolan Smith in the first round, defensive back Kelee Ringo in the fourth round, and Tyler Steen could fill right guard Issac Seumalo’s position after he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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