The 2023-24 NFL season is about to kickoff, so what better time than now to make some preseason predictions? Who will win each division? Who will be the standout performers? Which team will stand on top of the mountain at the end of the season hoisting the Lombardi Trophy?
Here are my predictions for the 2023-24 NFL season.
AFC Division Winners
The AFC might be the most competitive division in all of football heading into the upcoming season, with all four teams capable of playoff contention deep into the season. However, the one team that is a bit ahead of the field is the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen is the best quarterback in the division, they have the best defense, and the Bills have arguably the best home field advantage in the league. They went 7-1 in Buffalo last season, with their only loss coming in overtime to the Vikings in the game of the year. If everything goes right, the Bills will win the division by a couple games.
The AFC North is another division that will be super competitive. The Bengals won the division last season and are the favorites to repeat, but the Ravens should be a threat, especially if Lamar Jackson stays healthy. A second-year leap from Kenny Pickett could put the Steelers in a position to compete for the division, and Deshaun Watson could help the Browns mount a challenge for the division if he is at his best. All four teams could be realistic options depending on how their seasons go, but the team that I believe will win the AFC North is the Pittsburgh Steelers. I am buying the hype behind Kenny Pickett’s potential second-season leap, and a healthy T.J. Watt is a game-wrecker who is undoubtedly one of the best defensive players in the league. Due to that, I am picking the Steelers to win the AFC North.
The AFC South really only has two options, as the Texans and Colts have no chance of winning the division. That means it comes down to the Jaguars and Titans. The Titans have some question marks. Adding Deandre Hopkins to their passing attack should help them out, but is it really enough for the Titans to jump a Jaguars team that looked so strong at the end of last season, winning their final five games to clinch the division? Trevor Lawrence is my dark horse pick for NFL MVP, so I have to pick the Jaguars to win the AFC South. Adding Calvin Ridley to their receiving corps is a nice get, and the Jags could very well be in contention for best record in the AFC due to the weakness of the AFC South.
The AFC West winner seems obvious, with the obvious pick being the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers, however shouldn’t be slept on. If Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams can all stay healthy this year, the Chargers offense can be one of the best in the league. Derwin James also needs to stay healthy for the Chargers on the defensive side of things. The Chiefs may not have holdout Chris Jones on the defensive line, which means their defense could be in serious trouble. However, I’m still taking the Chiefs to win the AFC West despite Jones’ status being up in the air and Travis Kelce’s recent injury.
NFC Division Winner Predictions
The NFC East race should mainly be between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have lost a lot of key pieces, but they kept one of their biggest and most important pieces when Jason Kelce decided not to retire following the 2022-23 season. The Cowboys are heading into 2023 without Ezekiel Elliot, and they have a new offensive coordinator after firing Kellen Moore this past offseason. I believe Dak Prescott will have a better season than he had last year, but I think the presence of Jalen Hurts and perhaps the best 1-2 wide receiver punch in the league (A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith) gives the Eagles the edge to win the NFC East.
The NFC North is probably the most unpredictable division in the NFL. The Vikings are coming off of a division title last year, but the Lions have made real strides and could be even better this year. There also seems to be a bit of uncertainty surrounding the quality of the Packers and Bears, but both teams could surprise this season. These factors raise questions on whether or not the Vikings can win the division again. The team I have to pick though is the Detroit Lions. I’m buying into Dan Campbell and the effect he has had in Detroit, and I believe that the Lions that won eight of their last ten last season is the team that will show up in 2023 and lead the Lions to the NFC North title.
The NFC South may be the worst division in football, and without Tom Brady it isn’t as easy as just taking the Buccaneers anymore. The Bucs will need to prove that they can win games with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, and I’m not sure that Mayfield will even be good enough to keep the starting job throughout the entirety of the season. Desmond Ridder of the Falcons barely has any experience, and Carolina’s Bryce Young is a rookie. At least Derek Carr has had some good seasons with decent teams in the past, so I’m picking the Saints to win the division. The Panthers are my second choice, and on a different day I might’ve picked them.
The NFC West is another interesting division, but I believe that the San Francisco 49ers are by far the favorites for the division title. However, they have a couple big questions from the quarterback position. Will Brock Purdy stay healthy? If he can’t stay on the field, can Sam Darnold manage the game well enough to win? I believe the 49ers are built to win regardless of who is playing quarterback as long as it is an actual quarterback, so this is the easiest pick of all for me. I am picking the 49ers to win the NFC West.
Super Bowl Predictions
Heading into the 2023-24 season, my predictions for Super Bowl LVIII are that the Jacksonville Jaguars will face the San Francisco 49ers. I think Trevor Lawrence makes himself a no-doubt top-five NFL quarterback this year, leading the Jags to a top-two seed in the AFC with their easier schedule. On the other hand, the 49ers defensive and offensive schemes are both so good that if Brock Purdy stays healthy, I believe they can go all the way. For the Super Bowl itself, I am picking the 49ers to win the Super Bowl over the Jaguars.
That wraps up my 2023-24 NFL season predictions. I have my preferences and biases, so if you have anything you’d like to bring into the discussion regarding the 2023-24 NFL season, make sure to tweet it out to myself @derrik_maguire and to @BleacherBrawl to give us your thoughts entering the season.