BN NFL Rankings: Super Bowl Contenders, Worst to First, Can They Do It Again? More
The Super Bowl is over, and the NFL offseason is right around the corner. During the 2023 season, we will have weekly NFL rankings here at Bleacher Nation NFL. But it will not be the traditional No. 1 through 32 style of NFL rankings. Instead, we’re going to group teams into tiers.
So, these tiers will change. Sometimes with the NFL calendar. Sometimes weekly. Honestly, they’ll change as frequently or infrequently as I see fit. Today we have six tiers of NFL Rankings that group teams by how they finished the 2022 season and what 2023 could hold for them.
We have the tiers in the NFL Rankings broken into six categories this time around:
- Super Bowl Contenders: These are the teams that will be primed to make a run at Super Bowl 58 next season.
- Likely Playoff Teams These are the teams you can pencil in as playoff contenders unless something goes wildly wrong between now and opening day.
- Can they do it Again? These teams made the playoffs (or fell just short) in 2022 but have to prove it wasn’t a fluke in 2023.
- Pick a Direction! These are the teams that need to simply pick a direction this offseason.
- Worst to First? These teams finished the 2022 season in last place. Can they go worst-to-first in 2023?
- The Rest of the Field: The NFL Draft is your Christmas if you’re a fan of these teams heading into 2023.
Here’s how the NFL Rankings work:
- It’s up to my discretion how the NFL rankings shake out. Some teams will be hit in the short term. However, others will be given the benefit for the long term. So, yes, it is entirely subjective.
- Yes, I watch the games. And yes, I watch your favorite team.
- Most importantly, it’s fun. My opinion of your favorite team has no bearing on their success or lack thereof. Unless they do good. In which case, you’re welcome.
So, with all that said, let’s dive into the first offseason installment of Bleacher Nation’s NFL Rankings:
Super Bowl Contenders
These are the teams that will be primed to make a run at Super Bowl 58 next season.
Kansas City Chiefs
Death, taxes and the Chiefs being good during the Reid-Mahomes era in Kansas City. The Chiefs are the champions for the second time during that era, and they’re the favorite to do it again next season. Patrick Mahomes proved everyone, me included, wrong during these playoffs. The two games I didn’t predict correctly throughout these playoffs were the AFC Championship and Super Bowl. I made the mistake of picking against Mahomes. I won’t be doing that again, at least not yet.
I picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl last week because their roster was better than the Chiefs from top to bottom. Jalen Hurts played a near-perfect game (the fumble that went the other way for six was the only blemish) and nearly proved me right. Philly has to replace Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon, but I think they’re the NFC favorites heading into 2023.
Two AFC title games and a Super Bowl appearance for the Bengals in Joe Burrow’s first two full seasons give them the benefit of any doubt. There are some long-term concerns, but they’re a favorite in 2023 from where I stand.
San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan might have been a healthy quarterback short of another trip to the Super Bowl a few weeks ago. San Francisco has an outstanding team, and while they have some figuring out to do under center, they’re likely to be back in the mix for a Super Bowl in 2023.
Likely Playoff Teams
These are the teams you can pencil in as playoff contenders unless something goes wildly wrong between now and opening day.
Buffalo has some things to figure out this offseason. They were not very good in the trenches in their divisional round loss to the Bengals. Josh Allen wasn’t at his best at points in the season. The Bills are a slam dunk to be back in the playoffs, but beyond that, well, I guess we’ll see.
The Cowboys may not be able to beat the 49ers in the playoffs, but there’s little doubt in my mind that they will have another shot at it next season.
The Vikings have an excellent offense. However, the defense leaves room for improvement. If Minnesota can address that, they’ll be back in a prime position to win the NFC North again. Brian Flores taking the DC job was a significant first step for the Vikings.
Baltimore narrowly lost the AFC North title to the Bengals and played a chunk of the stretch-run without Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have made it clear that Jackson will be back one way or another. A healthy Lamar makes the Ravens a playoff contender again next season.
Can they do it Again?
These teams made the playoffs (or fell just short) in 2022 but have to prove it wasn’t a fluke in 2023.
Brian Daboll was darn good as a rookie head coach in 2022. Daniel Jones had a career year, and Saquon Barkley was finally (mostly) healthy. A lot of things had to go right for the Giants, though. That’s the theme of this tier, after all. What happens with Jones and Barkley will go a long way in answering this question.
Trevor Lawrence turned into a star this season. The Jaguars’ late-season surge was one of the most enjoyable stories to root for in the NFL this season. Still, Jacksonville has to prove they can start just as strong and dominate a weak AFC South next season.
Similarly, the Geno Smith story was fun. Will the Seahawks re-sign him? Can he repeat his performance in 2023? Those are both legitimate questions the Seahawks will have to answer.
On the bright side, Justin Herbert and the Chargers made the playoffs. Unfortunately, they also have the unfortunate honor of owning one of the most epic playoff collapses of all time. Are they really there yet?
Tua Tagovailoa came into his own this season, and Mike McDaniel turned the Dolphins into a contender in his first season. Tua’s health presents questions. Whether or not McDaniel can repeat that performance does as well.
Detroit was a Seahawks loss away from sneaking into the postseason. They had a Jaguars-like late-season surge, and if they can do some things right this offseason, they could be a playoff contender next season.
Pittsburgh was tiebreakers away from the playoffs. Is Kenny Pickett the real deal? Can Matt Canada’s offense evolve in Pickett’s second year? If so, the Steelers a primed to be a playoff contender next season.
Pick a Direction!
These are the teams that need to simply pick a direction this offseason.
Aaron Rodgers is likely gone, and the Packers missed the playoffs with him last year. The Packers have questions to answer this offseason, and they span beyond the quarterback position. Still, they start there. It will be a big offseason for Green Bay.
The Patriots bounced back and forth between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe and still just missed the playoffs. They have questions to answer, but they’re not far from being considered a contender in the AFC East.
The Raiders have moved on from Derek Carr and will search for a new quarterback. They could go the veteran route and be geared to try to compete next season. Or, they could get crazy during the offseason and go after a quarterback in the draft, which would push them toward a rebuild.
The Titans must figure out what path they want to take moving forward. Derrick Henry isn’t getting any younger. Ryan Tannehill isn’t getting any better. The Titans window may be closing, but this offseason will be a significant indicator one way or another.
Tampa Bay was in the playoffs last year with Tom Brady under center. But Brady is gone, and the running game needs a massive overhaul. Tampa Bay could go after a veteran quarterback and upgrade the running game. Or, they could blow it all up.
Carolina had a late-season surge under interim head coach Steve Wilks. They’ve got an entirely new coaching staff in place for the 2023 season, and they still have free-agent-to-be PJ Walker and Sam Darnold as their in-house QB options.
Sean McVay is back. Matt Stafford is back. Aaron Donald is back. However, the Rams were terrible in 2022, and with the emergence of San Francisco and Seattle in the NFC West, I don’t see how this team will get back to contention in 2023.
Worst to First?
These teams finished the 2022 season in last place. Can they go worst-to-first in 2023?
Justin Fields took a huge step forward this season. Plus, the Bears have the No. 1 pick in the draft and oodles of cap space. So they could take a significant leap forward next season. I don’t know if I buy the worst to first potential some have mentioned, but it’s not a wild notion.
Deshaun Watson (deservedly so) missing the first 11 games of the season impacted their playoff hopes. Watson will play an entire season next year, and the Browns will be playoff contenders because of it.
Washington also just missed the playoffs despite not having the quarterback situation figured out. However, addressing that will involve bringing in a veteran to push Sam Howell. And, of course, Sam Howell being the guy. Which there is no guarantee of.
Denver might be heading for a reset, but hiring Sean Payton and being tied to Russell Wilson’s massive contract puts them in a spot where 2023 seems like an offseason in which they must at least try to compete. Plus, they have an excellent defense.
The Jets have an excellent roster. They’re just a quarterback away from being a serious playoff contender next season. Rodgers? Carr? Someone else? We’ll see. If they can figure that out, they’ll be in the conversation.
Houston has the No. 2 pick in the draft and a well-regarded new head coach. And that’s about it. Enjoy the draft, Texans fans.
The Falcons are bad, and they’re not close to not being good. They’re also not in the position of the Colts and Texans, who have committed to full-on rebuilds and have the capital to make it happen.
Jonathan Gannon was an excellent hire, but the Cardinals have big problems. New GM Monti Ossenfort has to figure out what to do with DeAndre Hopkins, whom Michael Bidwill wants to trade. He also has to figure out how to get the most out of Kyler Murray once he is healthy. As a result, 2023 will be another rebuilding year in Arizona.
The Rest of the Field
The NFL Draft is your Christmas if you’re a fan of these teams heading into 2023.
New head coach Shane Steichen will be tasked with developing the quarterback of the future in Indianapolis. That won’t be an overnight project. The Colts have a long road ahead.
That brings us to the Saints, who are in salary cap hell, have no quarterback, and really nothing good going for them. Blah.