The wait is finally over. The preseason is in the rearview mirror and now it's off to Week 1 and the start of the 2023 NFL regular season. In one week, we'll be watching the Kansas City Chiefs unveil their latest Super Bowl banner and kick the year off with a matchup against the Lions on Sept. 7. And then it's a mad dash to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.
As we gear up for the Week 1 opener, we here at CBS Sports are making our predictions as to how each division race will ultimately pan out and also highlight some value on the betting market as well.
Here's a rundown of the staff members making the picks: Pete Prisco, Cody Benjamin, Jared Dubin, Josh Edwards, Ryan Wilson, Tyler Sullivan, Jordan Dajani, Bryan DeArdo, Garrett Podell, Jeff Kerr, John Breech and Will Brinson.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
Prisco: Bills. Despite all the fanfare for the Jets with Aaron Rodgers as quarterback, the Bills are still the team to beat. They will be improved on defense with Sean McDermott taking over and Josh Allen will again have a big year on offense -- even better than a year ago. The Jets and Dolphins will fight for second.
Benjamin: Jets. The Bills are rightful favorites, but if Aaron Rodgers actually gets protection, Robert Saleh's squad is too talented in key areas -- on the ground, out wide, all across the defense -- to be a total disappointment. Better to bet on the future Hall of Fame QB than the injury-bitten Dolphins or sluggish Patriots.
Dubin: Bills. Perhaps if Jalen Ramsey were still healthy or I had more confidence in the Jets' offensive line, I could pick against the Bills. But there's a reason we've thought this was arguably the best team in the league for several years now.
Edwards: Bills. The pick may lack creativity but I have fewer concerns about the Bills than I do the other teams in the division. I still do not know what to expect from Mac Jones. Tua Tagovailoa's health is a concern in Miami. As a rule, it is often a fool's errand to place too much confidence in a 39-year-old quarterback even though I would generally be inclined to pick New York. It is a make-or-break year for Josh Allen and Buffalo.
Wilson: Jets. I wasn't sure Aaron Rodgers would be a good fit in New York, but he appears as happy as ever, his teammates speaking glowingly of his leadership, and he's still one of the best QBs on the planet. And the Jets also have that dominant defense.
Sullivan: Jets. I would have gone with the Dolphins had it not been for Ramsey's injury, but I do think the Rodgers-led Jets will have some spunk to them this season. The weapons around him are solid and the defense is top notch. This is more Stafford/Rams and Brady/Bucs than it is Wilson/Broncos.
Dajani: Jets. Give me the Jets! This defense is a top-five unit and the offense finally has some consistency at the most important position in the game. The Jets have a nice wide receiving corps and a loaded running back room. Plus, a motivated Aaron Rodgers is the best Aaron Rodgers.
DeArdo: Dolphins. Buffalo's three-year reign as the beasts of the East comes to an end. The Bills should get a wild card spot, though, along with Aaron Rodgers and the Jets. Semi hot take: One of these three teams will be in the AFC Championship game, if not the Super Bowl.
Kerr: Bills. Love this value as Buffalo still has Josh Allen leading a loaded offense. Offensive line is a concern. Von Miller is also coming back at some point.
Podell: Bills. The Bills are the current three-time reigning champion, and they have been one of the NFL's most dominant teams across the last three regular seasons, leading the league in points per game (29.4) and points allowed per game (19.4) in that span. Quarterback Josh Allen is the engine that drives the Bills, and he'll once again factor into another strong run for Buffalo in 2023. He provided gigantic production in 2022, ranking second in the NFL to only MVP Patrick Mahomes in total yards (5,045) and total touchdowns (42). With the additions of first-round pick tight end Dalton Kincaid and second-round pick guard O'Cyrus Torrence, Buffalo's offense could be more efficient in 2023, leading to a fourth straight division crown.
Brinson: Bills. The lack of respect and interest in the Buffalo Bills this offseason is wild to me. This team has the second-most wins in the NFL behind the Chiefs over the last three years, has morphed into the new dominant franchise in their division and no one wants to back them to win this year, even in the division. Thank Aaron Rodgers and the Jets for the free chip on Buffalo's shoulder.
Breech: Bills. It seems like the Bills have somehow become the forgotten team in the AFC East, but I would like them to know that I haven't forgotten about them.
Prisco: Chiefs. The Chiefs still have Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, which is why they will win this division again. It's the same story. The Chargers will be better with Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator, but they will still be second to the Chiefs.
Benjamin: Chiefs. There is never a reason to bet on anyone but K.C. while Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are standing. No matter what the potential payout might be. This is the new-school Brady and Belichick pairing, which means if you can count on anything, it's the Chiefs atop the West.
Dubin: Chiefs. I'm not picking against the Chiefs in the AFC West until some other team actually knocks them off.
Edwards: Chiefs. I have no confidence in the Broncos or Raiders. The Chargers have the talent to compete with Kansas City but they often manifest their own demise. There is no reason to question the Chiefs' claim to the division unless something unforeseen occurs.
Wilson: Chargers. The Chiefs are the obvious choice and for a million good reasons. But I'm a huge Justin Herbert fan and think he can get this team to 12 wins. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is an upgrade, and the addition of first-round pick Quentin Johnston gives this unit another big-play weapon.
Sullivan: Chiefs. Someone in this division needs to give me a reason to go against the Chiefs before I do. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL these days and I'm not in the business of fading him.
Dajani: Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and Co. are the favorites to win the Super Bowl again this year. At the very least they will win the division.
DeArdo: Chiefs. Finally, we have a repeat division champion in the AFC. Yes, Chris Jones is threatening to hold out, and yes, the Chiefs lost several more receivers this year, but as long as they have Patrick Mahomes, they're getting the benefit of the doubt from me. The Chargers (the Chiefs' biggest threat in the division) should get a wild-card spot if they don't unseat Kansas City as division champs.
Kerr: Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid still exist.
Podell: Chargers. Face-of-the-franchise quarterback Justin Herbert finally has a new offensive coordinator: it's former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore! He led productive offenses in Dallas as they boasted a top-five scoring offense in 2022 (27.5 points per game, the fourth most in the NFL) and averaged 354.9 yards per game. The development of Dak Prescott, who broke the Cowboys' single-season passing touchdown record in 2021 under Moore, was "at the center of Kellen's impact," according to Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy, who wanted to take the reins back and call plays again. Moore paired with Herbert, who has the most passing yards (14,089) through a player's first three seasons in NFL history and the second-most passing touchdowns (94) through a player's first three seasons in NFL history, will likely lead to many more fireworks at SoFi Stadium. Former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's Chargers offense averaged an NFL-low 6.34 air yards per pass attempt last season, woefully underutilizing one of Herbert's biggest strengths. Dak Prescott averaged 8.41 air yards per pass attempt over his four seasons with Moore as his OC, the ninth most in the NFL in that span. Herbert should see a similar uptick in that department, only strengthening Los Angeles' aerial attack and their ability to break through the Chiefs' glass ceiling, seven consecutive division titles won by Kansas City, in the AFC West.
Brinson: Chiefs. Time is a flat circle, it just took me a few years to learn it. Fading the Chiefs is silly and they're one of the best bets on the board at -165 to win the AFC West. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes at less than -200 is silly.
Breech: Chiefs. I will be picking the Chiefs until another AFC West team gives me a reason not to pick the Chiefs.
Prisco: Jaguars. The Jaguars have a soft schedule, a quarterback on the verge of pushing for the MVP and young players ready to take the next step. Add in Doug Pederson and this team is ready to win 12-13 games. The Titans will be tough week in and week out, but they lack the offense the Jaguars have.
Benjamin: Jaguars. It's the copout pick in a weak division, but who cares? The Colts and Texans are playing for tomorrow, the Titans are mostly stuck in the past, and Trevor Lawrence is poised for a big leap among the loaded crop of star AFC QBs.
Dubin: Jaguars. The AFC South is... not good. Jacksonville should carry it with relative ease.
Edwards: Jaguars. Jacksonville is probably a trendy pick but do not sleep on Tennessee. Trevor Lawrence inspires more confidence than any other quarterback in the division and the Jaguars are flush with skill talent and defensive potential. Three of the division's teams have rookie quarterbacks so I am leaning experience.
Wilson: Jaguars. I'm not going to overthink this one; Doug Pederson + Trevor Lawrence is all you need to know. Lawrence will now have Calvin Ridley running routes for him and if the offensive line can hold up, the team could be really, really good.
Sullivan: Jaguars. Might be the easiest pick this year (which means something will go haywire). Trevor Lawrence is primed for a significant jump in Year 3 as he enters his second season under Doug Pederson and has a new weapon in Calvin Ridley. Outside of Jacksonville, you have a descending Titans team and two clubs with first year quarterbacks.
Dajani: Titans. Everyone is going to pick the Jaguars, but give me the Titans. This team had to lose seven straight games and its quarterback for the Jags to make the playoffs last year. Trevor Lawrence does appear to be a franchise QB, but what did the Jags do on defense this offseason? Nothing. If the Titans stay healthy, I'll take them to reclaim the top spot in the AFC South.
DeArdo: Titans. Jacksonville was a tempting pick, but something tells me Mike Vrabel and the Titans are going to have a bounce back year after a highly disappointing 2022 campaign. I'll end up regretting this pick if Trevor Lawrence has another big year.
Kerr: Jaguars. Best team in a division with two rebuilding teams and an aging Titans team
Podell: Jaguars. The primary reason why the Jaguars are the prohibitive favorites to repeat as AFC South champions is because of Trevor Lawrence's continued growth under head coach Doug Pederson. Going from having Urban Meyer as his head coach to Pederson launched his production into another galaxy. Lawrence threw 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, the third-worst TD-INT ratio in the entire NFL, which led to a 71.9 passer rating, the second-worst in the entire NFL as a rookie in 2021. Following the signings of receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, plus tight end Evan Engram in addition to Pederson's arrival, he became a top-10 quarterback with a top-five touchdown-to-interception rate (25-8, tied for the fifth-best) and the 10th-best passer rating (95.2). Lawrence's dramatic progression is historic among quarterbacks who have been in his shoes: his passer rating increase of 23.3 points is the second-highest jump among first overall pick passers from their first to second seasons in NFL history. Only Hall of Famer and four-time Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw progressed more quickly than Lawrence from his first to second season.
Brinson: Jaguars. Now this one is a little scarier, since the Jags were 3-7 at one point last year before getting white hot. Momentum from year-to-year is a questionable/not-actually real thing but the 2022 Jaguars may just be a different situation because of the extremely odd Urban Meyer year prior to Doug Pederson taking over last season. I have no interest in fading Trevor Lawrence and would much rather bet on him to win MVP with the Jaguars schedule.
Breech: Titans. This is not a typo, I am picking the Titans to win the division. The Titans came one play away from winning the division last year and that was with a team that had an injured quarterback and no receivers. This year, the roster is slightly better and Tennessee still has Mike Vrabel, who continues to be one of the most underrated coaches in the NFL.
Prisco: Bengals. This is a tough division to pick since I think they will cannibalize each other. But I will go with the best quarterback and that's Joe Burrow. The improved offensive line will help and they have taken on defense.
Benjamin: Steelers. To be clear, if we're talking actual expectations, the Bengals or Ravens are safer bets. But the Steelers are not a crazy underdog pick. We all know Mike Tomlin's track record. But now their offense finally appears to have playoff-caliber juice, which goes a long way.
Dubin: Bengals. I could have (and maybe would have) picked the Ravens if Marlon Humphrey were healthy, but without him, I'll roll with the Bengals again.
Edwards: Bengals. I believe the Browns have the best roster in the AFC North but I have the utmost respect for Cincinnati defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow's mindset is able to mask any deficiencies one may find on the roster. They may start slow as usual but I expect them to be there in the end.
Wilson: Steelers. Why not. After watching Kenny Pickett and this offense look flawless in August, I'm sold. The two biggest issues are offensive coordinator Matt Canada, and the depth in the secondary. Both have the potential to derail the season; only Mike Tomlin can do anything about the former, but if rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. can step up early, that could mitigate any concerns on the back end while TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith do work up front.
Sullivan: Ravens. Baltimore is slept on in this division race. Lamar Jackson is healthy, has a new OC and new weapons at receiver at his disposal. Pair that with an ever-solid Ravens defense and they could surprise folks. Burrow and the Bengals are rightfully the favorite, but keep an eye on Baltimore.
Dajani: Bengals. This is probably the most competitive division in the NFL, but I think the Bengals are a top three team. Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. was one of the most important additions of the entire offseason.
DeArdo: Steelers. The Bengals are tough, but the Steelers' depth and defense may allow them to steal the division back from Cincinnati. Pittsburgh should also have more continuity out of the gate with Joe Burrow missing significant practice time for a second straight summer. Either way, the Steelers and Bengals should represent the North in the playoffs.
Kerr: Steelers. This offense is going to be very good. Look for Kenny Pickett and George Pickens to be breakout stars.
Podell: Ravens. Quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, and Pro Bowltight end Mark Andrews have the best supporting cast of their careers with the acquisitions of Boston College rookie receiver Zay Flowers, the 22nd overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, in addition to three-time Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr. This trio of pass-catchers is supported by a much more pass-friendly attack in 2023 thanks to new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. He most recently called plays for the back-to-back defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs where he also was hands-on with the quarterbacks as their position coach during their championship runs. Monken also has four seasons of prior experience as an NFL play-caller, serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC from 2016-2018 and the Cleveland Browns OC in 2019. During his final two seasons with the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay had a top-five passing offense each year. Monken's Buccaneers led the NFL in passing yards per game (320.3) in 2018 with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterbacks. No team has averaged more passing yards per game since. Also, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow may put Cincy behind the eight ball by missing a few games to start the 2023 season thanks to a calf injury.
Brinson: Bengals. Chalk for me in the AFC and I don't care: Give me the best QB in every division to win this year and Joe Burrow obviously qualifies. The Bengals hype train cooled down significantly after Burrow's preseason calf injury but nothing really changed except Zac Taylor deciding to stop playing all his starters. If Cincy's young secondary takes a step and Orlando Brown is as advertised, the Bengals could go off this season.
Breech: Bengals. The Bengals have won this division in each of the past two seasons and this team is better than both of those teams.
Prisco: Eagles. The Eagles are still the class of this tough division, but they won't win 14 games this time around. The division is tough. Watch out for the Commanders. They will be a playoff team.
Benjamin: Cowboys. Let's make one thing clear: The Eagles deserve more trust in crunch time and/or the playoffs. But this division should be neck-and-neck all year, and possibly between all four teams. The Cowboys' continuity on a young, play-making "D" gives them the slight edge in this scenario.
Dubin: Eagles. You can make an argument for Dallas in the NFC East based on the strength of its defense, but offense is more important and more consistent these days and I feel better about the Eagles' offense due to the strength of their offensive line.
Edwards: Eagles. New York impressed in Brian Daboll's first season but I do not think they did enough this offseason to challenge Philadelphia or Dallas. The Cowboys have a tendency to get in their own way so the Eagles are the safest choice to repeat despite significant turnover in the coaching staff and on defense.
Wilson: Giants. Brian Daboll convinced me a season ago that he's one of the best coaches in the NFL. He got the most out of Daniel Jones and that offense when a lot of folks thought it was impossible. The team then spent money this offseason to build around Jones, and while the Eagles are the favorites, New York is a completely different team than it was even 12 months ago. The biggest issues for the first time in the Daniel Jones era ... isn't about Daniel Jones; it's about how the two rookie cornerbacks will play. If the preseason is any guide, they'll be better than advertised.
Sullivan: Eagles. Typically don't like riding with the Super Bowl loser as they oftentimes stumble the following season, but I don't expect that with Philadelphia. They are bringing back largely the same core and added some Day 1 impact rookies like Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith at the draft. I don't see them falling off in this race even if Dallas got better this offseason as well.
Dajani: Eagles. The Eagles are one of the best teams in the league, and are here to stay as legitimate contenders. They have two of the best receivers in the game, one of the best offensive lines, a solid group of running backs, a star quarterback and a top 10 defense.
DeArdo: Eagles. By far the toughest division to predict. I'm going with the safe bet and picking the Eagles to successfully defend their title. They lost some talent, but the Eagles still have Jalen Hurts, who seems primed for an MVP-caliber season if he stays healthy. Dallas and New York should be vying for wild-card spots.
Podell: Cowboys. The Cowboys under head coach Mike McCarthy have been winning in the regular season like it's the 1990s again: consecutive seasons with 12 victories in 2021 (12-5) and 2022 (12-5), with quarterback Dak Prescott playing 12 or more games each season. The last two seasons marked the first consecutive Dallas seasons with 12 or more wins since the 1992-95 seasons, when the Cowboys won three Super Bowls in four years with Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin leading the way. In the 2021 season, that was good enough to make them NFC East champions. Last season it wasn't, since the Eagles went an unrelenting 14-3. However, there are plenty of reasons why the Cowboys could retake the division crown in 2023. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones made some smart moves this offseason, trading late-round picks for quality veterans who can plug key roster roles. He did so in the deals to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Both are already making an impact on their new Cowboys teammates in their roles as the team's No. 2 receiver and No. 2 cornerback. These moves were made on top of retaining just about all of their key defensive players from a unit that allowed the fifth-fewest points (20.1 points per game) in the NFL in 2022. Dallas also finally crowned Tony Pollard as their deserving, lead running back following the release of the fading Ezekiel Elliott.
Breech: Cowboys. I've nailed the NFC East winner in each of the past two years, including last season when I picked the Eagles. This year, I'm jumping on the Cowboys bandwagon.
Brinson: Cowboys. Any suggestion of Philly regression is met with hyper aggression from Eagles fans. It's completely unsurprising but backing up 2022 after losing both coordinators, a few key defensive players while expecting Jalen Hurts to take another step forward and/or not a step back is asking a lot. The Cowboys were right there last year anyway and Dak Prescott should be motivated after the Trey Lance deal, Tony Pollard is finally getting turned loose and I expect nothing but an elite defensive performance from Dan Quinn's crew.
Prisco: 49ers. It's easy to say the Lions are the chic team to win this division, but the Packers will be better than expected. Jordan Love will show people he's more than capable of being a good NFL quarterback and the defense will be good. The Lions have to learn how to win big games first. The Bears are a year away.
Benjamin: Seahawks. It doesn't feel great betting on Geno Smith to replicate his improbable 2022 breakout, but then again, this team made underrated upgrades to an already solid supporting cast. The 49ers are still superior on paper, and yet they've got their own QB uncertainties with Brock Purdy under pressure for an encore.
Dubin: 49ers. The Niners remain the class of the NFC West, even with a bit of uncertainty under center. The rest of the roster is just too good.
Edwards: 49ers. Seattle is the Tennessee of the NFC. Despite question marks on the roster, they are consistently competitive. With that being said, San Francisco is loaded with skill talent and Kyle Shanahan will always have his team in a position to contend. Los Angeles' window has likely closed and Arizona should fall too far behind with Kyler Murray absent early in the year.
Wilson: Seahawks. Eugene Cyril Smith III is the primary reason. He was a great story a year ago, but he's playing behind an improved offensive line, and alongside a solid run game and wide receivers DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (once he returns from wrist surgery). The defense continues to improve, as well, and despite the 49ers winning the West by four games last season, I'd expect a much tighter race in '23.
Sullivan: Seahawks. Seattle doubled down on Geno Smith this offseason and surrounded him with even more weapons on offense along with playmakers on defense. San Francisco has the best roster in this division, but this race will be closer than many expect.
Dajani: Seahawks. Everyone is probably going to pick the 49ers, so let me switch it up. Seattle has all it needs on offense to be successful, but I expect the defense to take a big step forward with the additions of Bobby Wagner, Devon Witherspoon, Julian Love, Derick Hall and Dre'Mont Jones.
Kerr: Seahawks. A bold one with San Francisco in the division, but Kenneth Walker III and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are two young studs. Devon Witherspoon is going to be really good, too.
Podell: 49ers. The San Francisco 49ers boast one of the NFL's most complete rosters. They could probably sign a random fan the week before a game and have that person play quarterback well enough to escape with a win. Having a cast of playmakers like wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, tight end George Kittle, and running backs Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell with head coach Kyle Shanahan calling plays allows for whoever their quarterback is to press buttons like they're playing "Madden" in order to string together successful plays with ease. Defensively, they not only return nearly all of their starters from the NFL's top defense of 2022, but they strengthened their defensive tackle spot -- their biggest weakness -- in free agency after signing former Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowler Javon Hargrave to a four-year, $84 million contract.
Breech: 49ers. The 49ers started three different quarterbacks last year and still managed to run away with the division. This year, I don't think we'll see them start three different quarterbacks again, but I do still think they'll run away with the division.
Brinson: 49ers. One of the easiest divisional picks out there just because of the 49ers roster, even if giving up on Trey Lance (way too early?) is a little nerve-wracking for a team that definitely doesn't make an NFC Championship game run in 2022 without its third-string QB (turned franchise QB Brock Purdy). The defense and skill position guys plus Kyle Shanahan pulling the trigger on offense just make them too good to fade.
- Detroit Lions +120
- Minnesota Vikings +260
- Green Bay Packers +360
- Chicago Bears +440
Prisco: Packers. It's easy to say the Lions are the chic team to win this division, but the Packers will be better than expected. Jordan Love will show people he's more than capable of being a good NFL quarterback and the defense will be good. The Lions have to learn how to win big games first. The Bears are a year away.
Benjamin: Vikings. The Lions get all the hype, and they have the more complete roster. But the Vikings' upside is greater thanks to the X factors of Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and new defensive coordinator Brian Flores. In the end, they're closer to wild card material, but in a tight division, they can repeat as champs.
Dubin: Vikings. The Lions are the trendy NFC North pick, while Minnesota is expected to take a step back after dramatically overperforming last season; but there's plenty of room for Detroit to get better and Minnesota to get worse while the Vikings still win the division.
Edwards: Lions. I do not think there is an obvious choice to win the NFC North, which is exciting. Detroit has a gritty nature to them but their ceiling is relatively low. Green Bay is an unknown with Jordan Love slated to receive his first extended playing time. Minnesota is consistently competitive with Kirk Cousins. Chicago is the only team I feel comfortable ruling out.
Wilson: Lions. At this point, this might be one of the most popular picks on the internet. But it's hard not to love coach Dan Campbell, and how GM Brad Holmes has put this team together. First-round picks Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell will be immediate contributors, and the NFC, in general, is wide open. So much so that it's not even double-take-worthy when I say that Jared Goff has a case as the second-best QB in the conference.
Sullivan: Packers. Detroit has been extremely trendy this summer and that hype could be justified by the time the season ends. However, I think Jordan Love is going to surprise folks with his ability out of the gate. While he won't be Aaron Rodgers, it won't be as significant of a drop off as expected and Green Bay will find themselves in the thick of this division race.
Dajani: Vikings. This team went 13-4 last year, but Vegas thinks it's 50/50 they lose more games than they win this year. That's crazy to me. I like the Vikings head coach, they have a consistent quarterback, the best wide receiver in the game and a defense led by Brian Flores.
DeArdo: Packers. The Packers are quietly doing a lot of good things, especially on offense with Jordan Love and Co. The Lions and Vikings should be in the playoff mix, with my pick being the Lions should it come down to those two teams vying for one wild-card spot. The Justin Fields-led Bears are perhaps building something, but they have too many holes to contend in 2023.
Kerr: Lions. This is Detroit's time to siege the division, bolstered by consistent quarterback play from off and a strong offensive and defensive line.
Podell: Packers. Trading Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets certainly removes the "Super Bowl or bust" narrative that has surrounded the franchise for the last several years, but that doesn't mean they can't contend for the NFC North title. Even though Jordan Love has only thrown 83 passes in his career since being selected 26th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, he displayed plenty of growth in 2022. He completed six of his nine passes when he came off the bench in Week 12 of the 2022 season on "Sunday Night Football" while on the road at Philadelphia Eagles for 113 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown pass to Christian Watson. Love's second and final drive of the night culminated in a 33-yard field goal by kicker Mason Crosby, the final points in a 40-33 defeat.Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, who nurtured Aaron Rodgers' career from 2006-2016, came out of retirement to coach him once again last season. He is choosing to remain on staff with the Packers in 2023 because of Love's development. The young passer will be insulated by one of the best offensive lines in football, as the Packers front five allowed a pressure on 26.6% of dropbacks, the second-fewest rate in the NFL.His defense is also full of talent with seven former first-round picks and three Pro Bowlers or All-Pros.
Breech: Vikings. Everyone seems to love the Lions ... except for me. I'll take the Vikings.
Brinson: Lions. Was quite tempted to take the Packers here but the Lions are simply the most well-built team in this division right now, with the consistency at quarterback in Jared Goff, a really strong offensive line and some high-end, first-round, immediate impact rookie additions in Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell.
Prisco: Saints. This is a tough division to pick a winner. They all have issues. But I will go with the Saints since they have the best quarterback in the division right now. They all could be 8-9 and 9-8. Nobody will run away with it.
Benjamin: Saints. We would've loved to go with Bryce Young and the Panthers, but that was before the rookie QB's offense revealed itself to be even more shoddy than expected in the preseason. Atlanta got better, but we're rolling with the more proven QB, weapons and defensive veterans.
Dubin: Falcons. I don't have a good reason for picking Atlanta. I don't think any team in the NFC South is actually good, but I guess I have confidence in Arthur Smith crafting an efficient offense.
Edwards: Saints. The Saints are a bastion of consistency in the NFC South. It will be fun to watch the direction of Carolina and Atlanta this season but New Orleans is comfortable working in silence. Derek Carr may not be Patrick Mahomes but he gives the franchise its best quarterback play since Drew Brees in his prime.
Wilson: Saints. I have a soft spot for Derek Carr, and I think he'll thrive in New Orleans where the Saints are solid on both sides of the ball and they play in a division where the other teams feature a rookie QB, a second-year QB in his first year as starter, and a journeyman QB on his fourth team in three years who also happens to be replacing the GOAT.
Sullivan: Saints. New Orleans has the clear advantage at quarterback and weapons that fit to Carr's skill set. I think he enjoys a nice little resurgence with the Saints and pile up a bunch of wins thanks to one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.
Dajani: Saints. I've gone back and forth on this one. I would love to take a flier on someone like the Panthers, but the Saints are a safer pick. New Orleans has a solid defense and a new quarterback in Derek Carr. There are stats that indicate he could have a Matthew Stafford-like impact on the Saints. New Orleans is the favorite in the division for a reason.
DeArdo: Saints. New Orleans gets a less than a strong vote of confidence here, given what the Falcons and Panthers were able to do this offseason. But the Saints still have the division's best roster and a hungry veteran quarterback in Derek Carr.
Kerr: Saints. Derek Carr gives them the leg up in the division, but there's good young talent on this team, too.
Podell: Saints. Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr could be just what the Saints need to get back to the top of the NFC South. Their scoring defense was already top 10 a year ago (20.3 points per game allowed, ninth in the entire league), which allowed them to play in 11 one-score games since their offense averaged 0.9 fewer points per game. The Saints went 5-6 in those games in 2022, but those moments are Carr's specialty. His 33 game-winning drives and 28 fourth-quarter comebacks are the most by a quarterback through their first nine seasons since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger.
Breech: Saints. This division is wide open and I could see the Falcons winning it, but in the end, I decided to take the team with the most proven quarterback.
Brinson: Falcons. The addition of Bijan Robinson along with the consistency they created with their offensive line will go a long way toward helping this offense take a fairly large step forward, with Desmond Ridder playing the role of "Poor Man's Ryan Tannehill" in this Titans-Lite creation from Arthur Smith. Defensively the Falcons should be much improved, thanks to a handful of veteran additions.