Every year in the NFL, a handful of teams come out of nowhere and make the playoffs. It’s one of the reasons why this league can be so hard to predict. When looking back at the 2022-2023 NFL playoff picture, a total of 7 new teams made the postseason. You can expect around that same number again in the 2023-2024 season. Parity is the name of the game in the NFL and unlike some other professional sports, it keeps us guessing each year. Let’s now focus on 3 teams primed to be NFL playoff teams in 2023.
The Chicago Bears had a decision to make this offseason. They could keep the #1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and draft a quarterback or they could trade the pick and stick with Justin Fields. After much speculation the Bears decided to stick with Fields and in return received a nice trade package. They now have extra picks to build for the future and D.J. Moore who was included in the deal.
I expect Justin Fields to continue his rise and carry the Bears to the playoffs. D.J. Moore will give Fields a much needed receiving weapon and tight end Cole Kmet will take another step forward. The Bears defense should also improve as they added stud linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in free agency. Look for the Bears to grab one of the NFC Wild Card spots next year.
Las Vegas Raiders
In 2022, the Raiders finished with a record of 6-11. When you look back at their year they had several close losses including two overtime defeats. It’s clear they were a better team than their record indicated, they just need to learn how to finish games. With Derek Carr now in New Orleans, Las Vegas will look to Jimmy Garoppolo to help them take the next step.
Garoppolo may not be the most talented quarterback in the league but he is a winner. With a career record of 40-17, he has shown when healthy he can lead a team to the playoffs. Running back Josh Jacobs should have another monster year and he recently landed at #2 in our best running backs in 2023 list. If the defense can show improvement, I expect the Raiders to finish 2nd in the AFC West.
New Orleans Saints
Going into the 2023 season one thing is clear, the NFC South is the worst division in the NFL. Three of the four teams are in rebuilding mode and now is the time for the Saints to capitalize. New Orleans wasted little time in grabbing Derek Carr when he became available this offseason. Carr should elevate this offense which hopes to have Michael Thomas back healthy. The pieces are there for the Saints to make a run and they look like the clear leaders of the division.