No one wants to admit it, but these Super Bowl contenders are vulnerable. Toss out the obvious. Buffalo and Jacksonville may fall from first to worst. NFL predictions.
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Finding a diamond in the rough is one thing. Perhaps there were inklings the season prior or big offseason additions. It is easy to find a last-place finisher primed to make a huge leap up the standings. But what about the inverse? Will a team really drop from first to worst in their division in the 2023 NFL season?
Its going to happen, so NFL predictions are mandatory. The numbers bear it out. This league is so topsy-turvy that most seasons, we see a precipitous drop from a former division champion. Who will it be this season?
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Here are our contenders: Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers feel like a lock and the only easy answer to this impossible question. Experience tells us that this face alone means the Bucs probably won’t fall all the way to the bottom, but they are the best bet. Let’s eliminate them! No one likes an easy answer, so now we dig deeper. The Bills and Jaguars are on notice.
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Todd Salem: Jaguars Close to the Edge
Right from the jump, we can see how much trickier this set of NFL predictions is than finding a last-place team ready to make a leap. Specifically in the AFC, all four possibilities feel like locks to contend again.
If you want to make an argument for Buffalo or Cincinnati, I’d at least listen, if only because the totality of those two divisions is superb. Any of the eight squads could legitimately make the playoffs. That alone makes a dive to last possible, if not quite plausible. The issue, of course, is that both Buffalo and Cincy are Super Bowl contenders with no clear reason for a huge drop outside of a season from hell with injuries derailing the entire roster.
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The NFC is our savior. Minnesota and Tampa Bay could both, easily, finish in last place. Neither is a division favorite, let alone assured of a postseason berth. However, we both kind of like the Vikings this year. I feel they have become underrated in a rather overrated division. The Bucs are the simplest outcome. They don’t seem ready to compete in ’23 and are instead preparing for a potential franchise quarterback in the 2024 draft. Also, they were just one game out of last place a season ago, hardly a monstrous drop.
But if we remove Tampa Bay from the equation, what’s a second pick you like?
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I just want to outline the argument for Jacksonville. The Jaguars were solid last year but hardly world-beaters. They squeaked into the playoffs at 9-8. If Tennessee stays healthy this season, the Titans could get back to their playoff ways. With one of the best coaches in the NFL, a game plan on offense, and blue chippers on defense, the front office decided to give this core one last go. Maybe it was the right decision.
Combined with that, we would need to see both Indianapolis and Houston ahead of schedule. Both teams have interesting potential. Indy’s offensive line is not far removed from being elite. With perhaps the most talented quarterback to enter the league in a few seasons, the sky is the limit. Houston has similar upside on defense. CJ Stroud would need to be ready to lead a competent offense from day one, which doesn’t seem that likely, but if we’re talking gambles, a Jacksonville collapse headed by early success from their divisional peers feels plausible.
Dan Salem: Buffalo Is Vulnerable
Predicting the apocalypse is a fool’s errand, even though it’s coming and everyone knows it’s coming. Tampa Bay is the obvious answer to “First to Worst” because I’m not sure they are legitimately trying to compete this year. The team is okay and does have a few stars, but tanking makes more sense than winning. Also, the rest of the division has young quarterbacks and rebuilding rosters with potential. Then there’s New Orleans. They all likely jump a game, the Saints included, while the Bucs fall back a game or two. This puts them in last place, since everyone was bunched in the standings to begin with. So we eliminate Tampa Bay, because they feel too obvious, even if that simple fact means it probably won’t happen.
We are making NFL predictions and someone has to hit rock bottom. I don’t see San Francisco finishing behind Arizona. There’s no way Kansas City ends up behind both the Raiders and Broncos. Cincinnati isn’t finishing behind both Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Even the Jaguars aren’t going to fall behind Houston. I just don’t see it, which leaves three other teams that have the potential to tumble.
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Among Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Minnesota, I can see all three finishing with seven or eight wins because something goes wrong. The Bills can finish behind New England, New York and Miami no matter how many games they win. Philly could easily stumble behind Washington, who everyone assumes pulls up the rear. Minnesota is also vulnerable, because everyone expects the Bears and Lions to make major leaps. So who will it be?
I expect a hangover in Philadelphia, but not so bad that Washington is somehow better. The Vikings are in a similar situation. They’ve retained the core of what made them successful last season, so I can’t see them being worse than their entire division. This leaves Buffalo, who is my choice for falling from first to worst.
Is it likely? No, not really because New England and Miami have major question marks. But let’s assume that Aaron Rodgers, Mac Jones, and Tua all stay healthy and play as well as they did last season. We’ve got ten to eleven wins in New York and Miami, with nine or ten in New England too. Where does this leave Buffalo? The team is losing its identity and Josh Allen is only one player, despite being great. Tom Brady and Rodgers couldn’t get their teams over the hump last season, and Allen is stuck in mediocrity with his team here in 2023. You can’t afford to plateau when your division rivals are all moving up the mountain quickly, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Buffalo.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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