NFL Predictions: What Losing Team Wins Its Division in 2023?

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Predicting worst to first is so passe. What losing team, one with fewer than six wins last season, rises up to win its division in 2023? The ultimate of NFL predictions.

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We go through this every year in the NFL. A team (or two) makes a big leap from one season to the next. It doesn’t happen like this in other sports for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the sample size in the NFL is smaller than in any other major sport. So many small plays can have an outsized impact when the entirety of the sample is just 17 segments long. 

The other thing is that the difference between teams in this league is actually really small. We say some teams stink and others are great, but it is a bunch of minute details that separate the best from the worst. When a few things change over an offseason, either positively or negatively, it can lead to drastically different results. That’s what makes NFL predictions so much fun!

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Because of all that, the worst-to-first jump in the NFL is kind of common place. No one bats an eye anymore; the tricky part is figuring out which basement dweller is going to make the leap. Well, who is it going to be in 2023? Or perhaps, is this is a proper question this season?

Our initial contenders are as follows: New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Washington Commanders, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals

Frankly, all of these teams are too good. Many finished with seven wins last year, putting them firmly on the cusp of legitimate competition. So what about the truly bad teams, of which several were in last place last year? Let’s talk about the teams with fewer than six wins. Who can rise up and win their division this season?


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Todd Salem: Broncos Can Pull It Off

It can’t just be me, but is this the best group of worsts we’ve ever had? Not only could I imagine one team jumping up to finish first in their division, but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of four teams on this list made such a leap!

The teams I’m ruling out are Houston, Washington, Chicago, and Arizona. The Commanders’ division is too tough even if they are a solid team again. We would have to see an utter collapse from two conference favorites for Washington to move into first. Same with Arizona, though the Cardinals don’t have the talent to compete anyway. With the others, none of that is the case. The divisions are super winnable; I just don’t think the rosters are good enough to even compete in a mediocre division.

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Everyone else? I could see it! The argument for some is really easy, especially considering how balanced many divisions were last year. In fact, in our division previews, we just straight up picked worst-to-first as what we thought would happen in multiple divisions! We’re not even talking about “if you had to pick one, who would it be?” This was picking the division straight and settling on a last-place team from 2022 to come out on top. You had the Jets winning the East; I had Atlanta winning the South.

With that being the case, we need to retire this bit. Has going from worst-to-first jumped the shark? Is it so expected as to no longer be notable? I guess the issue comes from the quality of a last-place finisher. The Jets went 7-10 and added Aaron Rodgers, among other additions. The Falcons were 7-10 as well, just one game out of first place last year.

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So if we’re actually going to make this a thing worth discussing, going back to “if you had to pick” someone that finished with fewer than six wins, who would you go with?

That obviously rules out a bunch of these teams because ’22 was so strange, but I like Denver in this exercise. The Broncos are a potentially elite defensive group headed by a Hall of Fame-caliber offensive mind now at head coach. That alone makes them intriguing. A good group of skill players and a solid offensive line mean one thing. If Russell Wilson bounces back, this team will be competitive. That’s a pretty good gamble compared to the other options left in this admittedly arbitrary exercise.


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Dan Salem: Colts and Rams are Dangerous

What’s fun about picking who will triumph and go from worst to first is that the opposite always happens as well. Several teams fall from first to worst. We’ll get to that next week, because I love talking worst to first and honing in on teams that finished with fewer than six wins makes things even more fun! That said, we must acknowledge that no matter how many wins you got last season, if you finished in last place, then it was a disappointment. Everyone feels as though the Jets failed last season, because they did. Same with the Falcons and every other last place team. We now believe the Jets and Falcons will succeed and triumph in the best way possible. They will both win their divisions. This is awesome!

Okay, now for the hard part. Does any team other than Denver stand a chance at rebounding from fewer than six wins to a division title? I don’t think the Broncos stand a chance, not with Kansas City and Los Angeles ahead of them. But the way it can happen is with some bad luck for their opponents and probably an injury or two. This same philosophy opens the door for a few other losers to shoot up the standings.

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The Los Angeles Rams finished with only five wins last year, but dealt with crippling injuries. They will be much better this season, so they need two things to happen for a division title to fall their way. The Rams need Seattle to plateau, which is pretty likely considering no one will be caught off guard by Geno Smith this year. They also need San Francisco to stumble hard and likely deal with a similar set of injuries that doomed Los Angeles last year. I can sort of see it, but the 49ers likely have too far to fall for this one to feel realistic.

My final pick for an unlikely rise goes to the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie Anthony Richardson will be their starter from the get go, meaning he’s already ready to make some moves. The Colts had only four wins last year, but their division is not very treacherous. Houston and Tennessee are both resetting at quarterback, so only the Jaguars stand in the way for Indianapolis. Assume the Colts have a star in Richardson, their defense is serviceable, and Jonathon Taylor decides it’s better to play than cry on the sidelines. This can be a good team. Now all they need is for Jacksonville to stumble, which isn’t that hard to imagine. They weren’t good two seasons ago and while everything is trending up, it doesn’t take much for twelve wins to become seven. Watch out for the Colts.


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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