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Predicting the NFC Playoff Picture for the 2023 NFL Season

NFC Playoff Predictions - Los Angeles Rams
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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 NFC seedings will unfold in the 2023 season.

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No. 1 | Philadelphia Eagles (12-5)

This one is not so surprising. Last year’s NFC champs were super close to going all the way but fell just short. Even though they lost both of their coordinators and a couple of good players, they were so much better than everyone else last year that they are still probably the favorite. The X-factor will likely be whether Jalen Hurts can continue his progression as one of the league’s best quarterbacks. He was debatably the best in the league last year outside of Patrick Mahomes, but he also could not have been put in a better situation.

The Cowboys are probably the biggest threat to beat the Eagles, but they have too many question marks to compete with a more established team. The Giants could also make a run for the top, but everything will have to work out for them. The Super Bowl Hangover (where the losing team falls apart the next year) is very typical, so will the Eagles be one of those teams? We shall see.

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No. 2 | San Francisco 49ers (12-5)

This one should also not be too big of a shock. Even though it is likely that Brock Purdy will take a step back from how he played after Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo went down, it is hard to believe a team with that elite of defense and an offense run by Kyle Shanahan will not be one of the top teams in a weaker conference and relatively weak division.

The Seahawks will likely be the biggest threat to the 49ers. I, for one, do not believe that Geno Smith will have another season like he did, but no one expected him to play that well last year. The Rams will also have a more healthy Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp, but they still have a ton of holes on their roster. As long as San Francisco’s defense lives up to last year’s standards, they will have no problem winning the West.

No. 3 | New Orleans Saints (10-7)

This one sounds crazy, but when you look at the teams in both the NFC North and NFC South, it is not as unrealistic as one might think. They went 7-10 last year with Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston starting at quarterback. I might be overrating Derek Carr, but I think he is at least two tiers above them. Carr was certainly disappointing for Las Vegas last year, but I would be shocked if he is not better this year. In addition to the most important position improving, I would expect a breakout year from Chris Olave and a bounce-back year from Michael Thomas.

Furthermore, there are not a ton of threats in the south. The Panthers are probably the most realistic team to topple the Saints, but it is hard to predict how good rookie quarterback Bryce Young will be. 10 wins might seem like a lot, but I would not be surprised if New Orleans wins even more.

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No. 4 | Minnesota Vikings (9-8)

Last year, the Vikings went 13-4 and were called “fraudulent” all year long because a good amount of their games were nail-biters. Though fraudulent might be a little harsh, they did end up losing in the first round to the Giants. Their offense will likely be reliant on Kirk Cousins throwing it up to Justin Jefferson when things go wrong. Though this is not necessarily a bad strategy, it will likely catch up to them long-term. They also had one of the worst defenses in the league last year.

The winner of the division will likely be Minnesota or Detroit … unless see massive jumps from either Justin Fields or Jordan Love. As impressive as Jared Goff was last season, it is hard to believe he will be much better this year. It will be interesting to see which team comes out on top, whether they overachieve or not.

No. 5 | Dallas Cowboys (10-7)

It is debatable that there is not a single quarterback in the league under more pressure than Dak Prescott. He will be eligible for an extension next year, and if the Cowboys go on a run in the playoffs, he will likely be demanding one of the biggest deals in history. Whether he will be worth that is a different question, but that is what is at stake. Dallas cut Ezekiel Elliot this year, giving Tony Pollard the starting running back position full-time. They also extended Trevon Diggs for another five years.

The Cowboys are debatably the best team in the NFC outside of Philly and San Francisco. Unfortunately, they will play in what might be the best division in football. This is super ironic given the fact the NFC East has had multiple recent years where they were the worst division in the league. Ultimately, Dallas has what it takes to finish at the top of the NFC, but they are another Prescott injury away from missing the playoffs altogether.

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

If there is any quarterback who has more pressure than Dak Prescott, it might be Daniel Jones. The Giants decided to give Jones a big contract after having a career year in which he led the Giants to their first playoff appearance since 2016 and their first playoff win since the 2011 Super Bowl campaign. Many think it was a mistake and they should have paid their star running back, Saquon Barkley, instead. Barkley settled on a one-year, $11 million prove-it deal. The biggest move the Giants made this year was trading for tight end Darren Waller. Waller is probably the best target Jones has had since being drafted and the best tight end the Giants have had since Jeremy Shockey.

If all goes well for the Giants this year and things fall apart for the Eagles or Cowboys, there is a small chance they could win the East. However, it will probably take an even better year from Jones to do this. This is, however, probably the best supporting cast Jones has had in his tenure with the Giants. Who knows how it will turn out?

No. 7 | Los Angeles Rams (9-8)

The Rams are debatably the biggest boom-or-bust team in the league. On one hand, they took a massive step back from their Super Bowl and not much has gotten better for them this offseason. They also sold a good amount of their draft capital after making trades for Jalen Ramsey and Matt Stafford. While this is a trade the Rams would make every time (given the fact they were two key pieces on the Super Bowl team), they still have to deal with the long-term consequences of not being able to use their draft assets.

With this all being said, they still have Sean McVay, one of the best coaches in the league. Matthew Stafford will most likely play better this year than last, Los Angeles will have a healthy Cooper Kupp, and they will always maintain a defensive tackle advantage as long as they have Aaron Donald. It might be a long shot that this team returns to the playoffs given the fact that the Lions, Bears, Seahawks, or Panthers can make a push. However, as the season winds down, I would pick the more experienced team to pull out in close games.


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