The start of the 2023 NFL season is just two days away, which means it’s time to make some predictions.
One thing I’ve noticed while making NFL predictions over the years is that half the reason people love reading predictions is so that they can throw them back in your face at the end of the season, but let me just say, that’s not a problem for me. I have a toddler, so I get things thrown in my face all the time.
If you do want to make fun of my predictions, you can send all your hate tweets to me on Twitter by clicking here, and just so you know, Raiders fans, I’m already mentally preparing for your hate tweets.
Before we get to my predictions, let me explain how things are going to work here: I’m going to go through each division and predict each team’s final record. After that, I’ll be making a bold prediction for each division.
Once you roll through the divisional portion of these predictions, you’ll see my playoff picks and eventually the team I’m picking to win the Super Bowl. In four of the past eight years I’ve correctly picked the AFC team that ended up in the Super Bowl, and in two of the past seven years my preseason Super Bowl pick has ended up winning it all, so you might want to scroll down and check out my prediction for the Super Bowl to see if I’m picking your favorite team. That being said, I might also be a giant jinx because last year I picked the Broncos to win it all. That pick was so bad that the NFL almost banned me from making predictions this year.
Finally, if you’re, I picked the exact record or came within one win of picking the exact record of nine different teams, including the Dolphins, who I said would go 9-8. On the other hand, I completely whiffed on the Giants. I had them going 5-12 and if you watched any football in 2022, then you already know that the Giants didn’t go 5-12. With a first-year coach, they ended up going 9-7-1 and making the playoffs. I feel so bad about whiffing on them last year that I’m going to make it up to them by picking them to win the NFC East this year…. or maybe I won’t. I don’t know, I’m not sure yet.
You don’t care about last year though, so let’s get to the 2023 predictions.
1. *Bills: 11-6
2. *Jets: 11-6
3. Patriots: 10-7
4. Dolphins: 9-8
AFC East bold prediction: Dolphins finish in last place
Let me start off here by saying that I actually like the Dolphins, I just like everyone in the AFC East a little bit more. My biggest problem with the Dolphins is that I think there’s a good chance they could stumble out of the gate. Before they get to their Week 9 bye, they have to face the Chargers, Patriots, Bills, Giants and both Super Bowl teams from last year. Also, I’ll need to see Tua Tagovailoa stay healthy for an entire season before I start believing that he can actually stay healthy for an entire season.
1. *Bengals: 12-5
2. *Ravens: 11-6
3. *Browns: 10-7
4. Steelers: 9-8
AFC North bold prediction: Every team in the division finishes above .500
The AFC North is so loaded this year that the entire division could end up making NFL history. Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, there has NEVER been a season where every single team in a division finished with a winning record. There have been several seasons where the last place team finished 8-8 (that most recently happened last year in the NFC East), but there’s never been an instance where every team finished ABOVE .500. With Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson at quarterback, plus a reloaded Steelers team, it’s hard to imagine any team in this division finishing the year with a losing record (Note: I’m also picking every AFC East team to finish with a winning record, which I guess is extra bold since since this has never happened in NFL history and I’m predicting it to happen twice in one year).
1. *Titans: 9-8
2. Jaguars: 8-9
3. Colts: 5-12
4. Texans: 4-13
AFC South bold prediction: Titans win the division
This is not a typo, I am picking the Titans to win the division. It’s easy to forget that the Titans literally came one play away from winning the division last year.
That fumble was by a player (Joshua Dobbs) who started that game even though he had only been on the roster for 10 days. I repeat: With the division title on the line in Week 18, the Titans almost beat the Jaguars with a quarterback who had 10 days to learn Tennessee’s offense.
Basically, the Titans almost won the division last year even though they had an injured quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and no receivers. This year, Tannehill is back and they’ve made a major upgrade at receiver by signing DeAndre Hopkins. That bumps Treylon Burks to the No. 2 slot, which should be better for him. The Titans roster is slightly better than it was last year and Tennessee has Mike Vrabel, who continues to be one of the most underrated coaches in the NFL.
Also, the Jaguars have to play the 49ers, Bills and Chiefs this year while the Titans get to avoid all three of those teams, and I think that could end up playing a huge factor in who wins the division.
1. *Chiefs: 12-5
2. Chargers: 9-8
3. Broncos: 8-9
4. Raiders: 6-11
AFC West bold prediction: Chargers miss the playoffs
Since the arrival of Brandon Staley in 2021, the Chargers have been on the cusp of greatness, but they haven’t quite been able to get over the hump and I think that’s mainly because someone cursed this franchise to never get over the hump. They are the Sisyphus of NFL franchises. If you didn’t take a Greek mythology class in college, that’s the guy who rolls the ball up the hill but never actually makes it to the top. That’s the Chargers. They are perpetually rolling the ball up the hill, only to have it continually roll over their hopes and dreams on its way back down the hill. The last time we saw them on the field the Chargers were blowing a 27-0 lead to the Jaguars in the playoffs and I feel like that loss could lead to a hangover in 2023. Not a bad hangover, but just nagging enough that they take a lot of Advil and miss playoffs.
1. *Cowboys: 12-5
2. *Eagles: 12-5
3. Giants: 8-9
4. Commanders: 7-10
NFC East bold prediction: Dak Prescott wins NFL MVP.
With CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks both in the fold, Dak Prescott finally has two top receivers who can both put up big numbers and if you combine that with the fact that the Cowboys running game is a giant question mark this year with Tony Pollard coming off a serious injury, I think we could see a career year from Dak. The bold part here is that I’m picking Dak to win MVP even though he’s coming off a year where he became the first player in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions in a season where he missed at least five games.
Last year, I picked the Eagles to win the division and although I think they’ll once again be good, I’m rolling with the Cowboys this year. That being said, don’t send me any hate mail just yet Eagles fans, because I do have your team advancing to the NFC title game for the second straight year where they lose to the… you know what, I’m not going to say. You’re going to have to keep reading to find out.
1. *Vikings: 9-8
2. *Lions: 9-8
3. Packers: 7-10
4. Bears: 6-11
NFC North bold prediction: Lions end their 32-year drought without a playoff win.
Although I’m not picking the Lions to win the division this year, fans in Detroit might not hate me for that since I AM picking the Lions to end their 32-year drought without a playoff win. For those of you who have lost track or weren’t born yet, the Lions haven’t won a playoff game since January 1992 when they beat the Cowboys in the divisional round to advance to the NFC Championship for the first and only time in franchise history. I don’t think they’ll be getting back to the NFC title game, but I do think we’ll see them pull off a wild-card win this year.
1. *Saints: 10-7
2. *Falcons: 9-8
3. Buccaneers: 7-10
4. Panthers: 6-11
NFC South bold prediction: Two teams make the playoffs
Most people are expecting the NFC South to be one of the worst divisions in football this year, but I’m not so sure that’s going to be the case. Unlike the AFC, the NFC isn’t exactly loaded with good teams, which is why I think this division might be able to sneak two teams into the playoffs. As “bad” as this division was last year, every team still managed to win seven games, which made it one of only two divisions in the NFC that pulled that off.
1. *49ers: 12-5
2. Seahawks: 8-9
3. Rams: 5-12
4. Cardinals: 3-14
NFC West bold prediction: Seahawks tumble back to earth.
After watching the Seahawks make the playoffs last season, I’m predicting that things fall apart this year. I’m not saying things are going to completely fall apart like they did for the Cardinals, who went from making the playoffs in 2021 to being one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, but I am saying that I don’t expect the Seahawks to get back to the playoffs. My biggest concern is Geno Smith and the fact that he started to fade down the stretch last season. Although Geno was spectacular early in the year, I think the Geno that we saw during the second half of the 2022 season is the one we’re going to see in 2023.
Teams: 1. Cowboys 2. 49ers 3. Saints 4. Vikings 5. Eagles 6. Lions 7. Falcons
(2) 49ers 30-20 over (7) Falcons
(6) Lions 27-23 over (3) Saints
(5) Eagles 31-24 over (4) Vikings
(5) Eagles 27-24 over (2) 49ers
(1) Cowboys 30-23 over (6) Lions
(1) Cowboys 31-27 over (4) Eagles
Teams: 1. Chiefs 2. Bengals 3. Bills 4. Titans 5. Ravens 6. Jets 7. Browns
(2) Bengals 27-20 over (7) Browns
(3) Bills 23-20 over (6) Jets
(5) Ravens 31-23 over (4) Titans
(2) Bengals 27-24 over (3) Bills
(5) Ravens 34-31 over (1) Chiefs
(2) Bengals 20-17 over (5) Ravens
Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas (CBS)
Bengals 33-30 over Cowboys
Playoffs bold prediction: Bengals win their first Super Bowl
If this Super Bowl happens, then you’ll know that the NFL is using the script that I sent in and I’m guessing they will, because I’m not sure anyone could possibly come up with a better script.
I know that my bosses at CBS would be thrilled to see the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Putting America’s team on the NFL’s largest stage in a game that’s being played in Las Vegas would probably be the most-watched thing on television since the moon landing (Note: I wasn’t actually alive for the moon landing, but I’m guessing a lot of people were watching on TV).
After going 12-5 in each of the past two seasons, I think this is the year where the Cowboys finally break through and end their 28-year drought without reaching the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they aren’t actually going to win the Super Bowl and that’s because this year’s champion is going to be the Bengals.
This is the best roster that Joe Burrow has ever gotten to play with in Cincinnati. In 2021, he dragged the Bengals to the Super Bowl while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league (Four of the five starters from that year are no longer NFL starters). In 2022, the Bengals were one late penalty away from possibly beating the Chiefs in the AFC title game for the second straight year.
As the resident Bengals homer here at CBSSports.com, I am tempted to pick the Bengals to win the Super Bowl every year, but I never actually do it because I don’t want to jinx them. Also, until this year, I didn’t think it actually seemed like a realistic pick. This year’s team is better than last year’s team and it’s better than their 2021 team that made it to the Super Bowl. As long as Joe Burrow stays healthy, this feels like it could be Cincinnati’s year.
If the Bengals win it all, there’s a good chance that everyone in the city will celebrate by bathing in Skyline chili, so we should all be rooting for them to win.
Finally, if my season predictions all pan out — and I’m sure they will — here’s what the top of the NFL draft order will look like next April.
Order of first five picks for 2024 NFL Draft
2. Cardinals (via Texans)
That’s right, the Cardinals could end up with the first two picks in the draft. Thanks to the Will Anderson trade that allowed Houston to move from No. 12 to No. 3 in the 2023 draft, the Cardinals now have the Texans’ first-round pick, so Arizona will definitely be rooting against Houston this year.