NFL Division Rankings after the 2023 draft
Who lands where?
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The 2023 NFL draft is over. Free agency has long since sailed. With many teams in shape for the upcoming season, how do the divisions look? Here is the breakdown…
8. NFC South
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If possible, this division is worse than last year when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won it with a sub-.500 record. The Bucs are without Tom Brady. The Panthers are banking on Bryce Young, the first pick in the 2023 NFL draft. The Falcons have a stable of running backs but are weak at quarterback. The Saints have Derek Carr, who has yet to prove himself as a playoff success.
7. NFC North
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The Packers are sinking fast. They drafted Penn State’s Sean Clifford to back up the question mark that is Jordan Love. The Bears have a star in Justin Fields, but don’t appear to have a playbook to bring out the best in him. Do not expect the Vikings to win 13 games again. The Lions are getting better, but a perennial doormat can’t be expected to carry an entire division … until it does.
6. AFC South
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This is tricky because the Jacksonville Jaguars figured to be one of the better teams in the conference, and eventually the league. However, behind Doug Pederson’s group is the Indianapolis Colts, who will go from a carousel of over-the-hill veteran QBs to a likely project in Florida rookie Anthony Richardson. Is anyone sold on Will Levis or is Tennessee banking on a return to health of Ryan Tannehill. Murky waters. The Texans should be better after getting the Nos. 2 and 3 picks in the draft. However, there is a difference between better and competitive.
5. NFC West
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What was a feared division for a couple of years is no longer at the top—or even top four. The San Francisco 49ers are the top team, but have quarterback concerns due to injury. The Cardinals are a mess and who knows when Kyler Murray will be 100% after his knee injury. The Seahawks had a surprising season in 2022, but is Geno Smith going to replicate that success? And the Rams? They won a Super Bowl, then sank in 2022. Matthew Stafford is a year older. And while Stetson Bennett went to the same school as the championship-winning quarterback in LA, no one should confuse him with Stafford. A fourth-round pick? Why?
4. AFC West
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The Kansas City Chiefs rule and should for the foreseeable future. Not going to have confidence in the Chargers until Brandon Staley stops relying on analytics. Justin Herbert has superstar potential but his coach will continue to submarine the team with his decisions. The Raiders have Jimmy G, who will be solid … if he can stay healthy. The rest of the team has yet to deliver. And the Broncos gain Sean Payton, but would need a massive turnaround to wow.
3. AFC North
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Now that the Ravens have Lamar Jackson under contract for five more years, the AFC North looks powerful. The Bengals are a threat to make a deep playoff run. The Steelers look like they will be a menace with Mike Tomlin and Kenny Pickett. The lone question mark is the Cleveland Browns. There’s no way to figure out what they will be in the second year with Deshaun Watson.
2. NFC East
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The Philadelphia Eagles have taken care of the business end with Jalen Hurts and decent draft. Teams don’t repeat in the NFC East, but good luck dethroning Philly. The Dallas Cowboys figure to be good for double-digit wins. Don’t expect the Giants to repeat their 2022 success in Year Two with Brian Daboll. Sorry, Big Blue fans. Washington could be in trouble, especially at QB.
1. AFC East
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The Buffalo Bills remain the beast of the AFC East. Could this finally be the year they return to the Super Bowl and find a way to earn a ring? The Jets have Aaron Rodgers and that means they should be much improved from a team that finally shows sparks and life in 2022. The Dolphins have Tua — when he is able — and Mike McDaniel’s team is built with speed to burn. A threat on every play. Hard to imagine but the biggest mystery is the Patriots and they figure to be better than .500. This division is scary good.