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2023 Predictions: Risers and Fallers

Who moves up and who moves down this season?

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

NFL football is back tomorrow, and before it gets underway, we’ve got a few more season predictions to make for 2023. With last year in the rear view and a fresh campaign almost upon us, we’re taking a look at the teams we think are most likely to move up and slide down in the standings.  

Two Teams on the Rise

New Orleans Saints (7-10 in 2022)

After a tough season in 2022 with Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston at quarterback, the Saints grabbed Derek Carr from Vegas in the offseason. Carr may not be among the elite signal callers in the league, but he should still be a step up from last year’s duo. Around Carr, New Orleans has some elite talent, including Chris Olave, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Thomas has started a total of 8 games in the last three seasons, but if he can finally stay healthy, New Orleans will have one of the better one-two punches at wide receiver in the league.  

Defensively, this team has finished top-10 in the league in yards and points against for three consecutive seasons. As long as things don’t mysteriously collapse with the unit, the Saints’ offence will be given the chance to win almost every game. Even if the defence isn’t quite as good this year, they’ll be helped by the easiest schedule of opponents in the league. With six games against the lowly NFC South, the Saints could easily be division champs with ten-plus contests in the win category in 2023. 

New York Jets (7-10 in 2022)

This is an easy one. Even though he’s turning 40 in December, Aaron Rodgers will certainly help rejuvenate the team and culture in New York. He may not be able to turn the Jets’ offence into the best one in the league, but it’ll definitely be better than it was in 2022. With an arsenal of weapons including Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall and the newly acquired Dalvin Cook, Rodgers has much more talent at his disposal this year than he did last season in Green Bay. 

On the other side of the ball, Sauce Gardner will look to lead one of the best units in the NFL once again. After a terrific rookie season, Gardner is already looked at as one of the best corners in the league and was a massive part of turning New York’s defence around last year. With D.J. Reed on the other side, the Jets are a truly tough team to throw the ball against.  

A veteran quarterback on a new team doesn’t always work the way fans think it will (think Russell Wilson in Denver). However, New York’s offence can’t really get any worse than it was last year anyways, and if this offensive line can protect Aaron, he’s still more than good enough to get the ball where it needs to go. Look for the Jets to take a big step and compete for a playoff spot in 2023.  

Going the Other Way…

Minnesota Vikings (13-4 in 2022)

The Vikings had a truly incredible regular season in 2022, but a repeat performance is nearly impossible. The team finished 13-4 despite having a negative point differential on the year thanks to an 11-0 record in one score games. In the playoffs, they were quickly eliminated at home against the Giants, leading many to view Minnesota as one of the worst 13-win teams ever.   

This isn’t to say that the Vikings are a bad team at all, but regression is almost a sure thing at this point. Justin Jefferson will still headline a talented offence that finished 8th in points last year, but unless Minnesota’s defence makes unexpected strides, it’s tough to imagine this team getting close to that 13-win mark again. They should be a good team that contends for a playoff spot, but with the Lions on the rise in the NFC North, don’t be too surprised to see them fighting for it all the way up until the very end of the season. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9 in 2022)

Tom Brady’s three-year stint with the Bucs is over, and Tampa Bay’s foreseeable future looks very grim. The team has some elite talent on both sides of the ball, but there are simply too many question marks on the roster, starting at quarterback. After backing up Matt Stafford last year in L.A., Baker Mayfield will get the keys to this offence to start 2023. For a team that finished 8-9 with Tom Brady under center last year, having Mayfield there now shouldn’t instill much confidence in the season. 

Besides the personnel on the field, Todd Bowles will need to be a much better coach with less talent around in 2023. In his first season, Bowles led the Bucs to an 8-9 record and at times seemed unprepared for the head coaching duties. Hopefully for Tampa, he learned from the mistakes he made. Tampa will be playing in the league’s worst division this year and should see a few wins from divisional games, but besides that, don’t expect too much noise from the Bucs this season.  

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