Predicting the AFC Playoff Picture for the 2023 NFL Season

AFC Playoffs

The NFL season will kick off in a couple of weeks.

Of course, this is the time of year when everyone gives their predictions for who is going to win MVP, make the playoffs, and go all the way. Every year, there is at least one team that overachieves and at least one that underachieves. It will be interesting to see who those teams are.

Without further ado, here are my predictions for how the AFC seedings will unfold in the 2023 season.

To view Chris’ NFC predictions, click here.

No. 1 | Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

Is anyone surprised? Though the Chiefs don’t always live up to expectations in the playoffs, they do in the regular season. They have won the AFC West every year since 2015. This was well before Patrick Mahomes arrived. The Chiefs have the best quarterback, the best tight end, a top-five offensive line, solid targets, and a top-three coach in the league. Even if they have a bottom half-of-the-league defense, they should be the overwhelming favorites to win both the AFC West and finish first in the conference.

No. 2 | Buffalo Bills (12-5)

Yes, the Bills have certainly had some drama this offseason. Yes, they face some skepticism ahead of the new campaign. With this being said, they still have debatably the second-best quarterback in the league, a top-10 receiver, and a pretty good defense. As great as Allen has been, he has still shown flashes of being inconsistent. He will likely have to be the X-factor of the season. If he does not play like a top-five quarterback this year, they will likely not win the division and almost definitely not be a No. 2 seed.

No. 3 | Cincinnati Bengals (12-5)

So far there are zero surprises. Sure, you can debate whether the Bengals should be ahead of the Bills, but for the most part, these three are the favorites to be the top three teams. It is also not at all ironic that these three teams employ three of the best quarterbacks in the league. Even though football is more of a team sport than the other three major sports, if you have an elite quarterback, you have a massive advantage over teams who do not. The fact that the Bengals have both a top-three quarterback and a top-five receiver means they are certainly a top-three duo in the league. Even if they do not have the greatest O-line, they are likely to remain elite. They also had a pretty solid defense last year as well. As long as everyone stays healthy, even with a more stacked AFC North this year, the Bengals should have no problem winning the division.

No. 4 | Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6)

My four division winner predictions are the same as last year in the same order. Though this is a little boring, the other teams did not do enough to convince me otherwise. Though Trevor Lawrence might not be a top-five quarterback just yet, he is hands down the best in his division and has top-five potential. The Jaguars put up one helluva fight against the Chiefs and showed they can hang with anyone in the league. Though many expect them to regress, I just do not see it. They only got better on offense and still have an above-average defense. They are also in one of the worst divisions in football, a division in which two rookie quarterbacks will start Week 1. Besides the Chiefs, the Jaguars are probably the team most likely to repeat as division champs.

No. 5 | Las Angeles Chargers (11-6)

The Chargers have a top-five quarterback in the league and are one of the better teams in the conference, but the only problem is they are in the same division as Mahomes. I think the Chargers are the best Wild Card in both conferences, by far. Though they have a poor defense, they still have a top-half-of-the-league O-line and decent targets. The defense will have to improve if they want to be better, but as long as they have Justin Herbert, they will be just fine.

No. 6 | New York Jets (10-7)

The Jets will be very unpredictable this year, but the upcoming season will also answer a lot of questions. Is Aaron Rodgers washed or will he bounce back as a top quarterback in a new setting? Is Robert Saleh a legit NFL coach? Will their offensive line be as big of a disaster as people think it will be? Regardless of what happens, it will likely be a boom or bust. I think a new, experienced quarterback and a couple of other new players on the roster will lead them to the playoffs but not quite win the division.

No. 7 | Baltimore Ravens (9-8)

This last spot was way too hard to decide. It came down to Baltimore, the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Indianapolis Colts. As long as Lamar Jackson stays healthy, they can compete with the Bengals, but unfortunately, that is by no means a guarantee. The signing of Odell Beckham Jr. will likely help Jackson in a big way and take some of the attention off Mark Andrews. Regardless of all the details, it will come down to whether Jackson can stay healthy.

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