The 2023 NFL season isn't that far away, though we're just three months removed from the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes still reign supreme over the NFL with their second Super Bowl title in four years, even if the AFC is the deepest it's been in decades.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Eagles appear to be even better than last season -- as the conference doesn't look to be as strong as in years past. Is the league preparing for another Chiefs-Eagles Super Bowl, or will a few teams rise up and take Kansas City and/or Philadelphia off the top of the conference pyramid?
While it may be only May (the schedule has not even been released yet), here are some bold predictions for the 2023 season. These predictions are reasonably bold (no hot takes) and no conference champions and Super Bowl winners are prediction.
This is what could happen in 2023 based on the situations of the team and player.
The Detroit Lions win a playoff game
Detroit is well positioned to win the NFC North for the first time in its history (it hasn't won a division title since it was called the NFC Central in 1993). With the uncertainly surrounding the Green Bay Packers in the post-Aaron Rodgers era, the Minnesota Vikings being helter-skelter year-to-year, and the Chicago Bears rebuilding -- the Lions have an excellent opportunity to claim the division and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The Lions will host a playoff game if they win the NFC North, and have a talented roster on both sides of the ball to make some noise in the postseason. Thanks to a weaker NFC, Detroit seems poised to take another step under Dan Campbell in 2023.
Expectations may be high, but the Lions have the talent to score with anybody. They finally have a secondary that may be able to stop opponents too.
Lamar Jackson throws for 4,000 yards
Jackson finally has his contract situation with the Baltimore Ravens resolved, and can get to work in a new offensive system with the best group of pass catchers he's ever had. Jackson's top three wide receivers are Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman, and rookie Zay Flowers -- who should compliment each other well in the offense. The Ravens also have one of the game's best tight ends in Mark Andrews.
Todd Monken's offense will focus on the passing game more, not just manipulating Jackson's strength as a runner. Jackson has led the league in touchdown passes and passer rating once, so he does know how to throw the ball.
If Jackson can stay healthy, he'll throw for 4,000 yards in this revamped offense this season (his previous career-high is 3,127 in 2019) -- a great season, even if.
The NFC East finally has a repeat winner
The last team to repeat as NFC East champions were the Philadelphia Eagles from 2001 through 2004. The division hasn't had a repeat winner since then.
The Eagles went 14-3 last season, winning a division that saw three teams go to the divisional round of the playoffs. Could Philadelphia actually repeat with the division the best it's been in 15 years?
With Jalen Hurts as quarterback and a talented roster that looks even better (on paper) this offseason, the Eagles appear primed to make another deep playoff run again. Tougher schedule or not, Philadelphia appears to be the best team in the NFC once again.
Thanks to Hurts, a dominant running game, and a lethal pass rush, the Eagles appear primed to repeat in the NFC East despite the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants improving.
Bijan Robinson finishes in the top 5 in rushing
How could a rookie running back have this much impact in Year 1? For starters, the Atlanta Falcons had one of the best run offenses in the league last season, finishing third in the NFL in rush yards per game (159.9) and second in rush-play percentage (55.3%). This was with Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson carrying the offense.
Add Robinson to the mix and watch those numbers explode. The Falcons run blocking is excellent and will create enough holes for Robinson to get a lot of big runs and force plenty of missed tackles. Don't be surprised if Robinson makes an Adrian Peterson-type impact for this team in his rookie season.
Justin Jefferson leads NFL in receiving yards -- again
The NFL hasn't had a player lead the NFL in receiving yards in consecutive seasons since Calvin Johnson in 2011 and 2012. Thanks to how Kevin O'Connell runs an offense, Jefferson is primed to have another monster season catching the football.
Jefferson had 17 more targets in 2022 than he did in 2021, which led to 193 more receiving yards than the previous year. With Jefferson being one of the NFL's best route runners, O'Connell is going to maximize the opportunities to get him the football and make plays (he did this with Cooper Kupp in the Los Angeles Rams when he was the offensive coordinator, a Sean McVay staple).
The Vikings offense is perfectly suited for Jefferson to get a lot of targets, as he's just scratching the surface of how good he can be in this league (first player to have 4,500 receiving yards after three seasons).
Garrett Wilson has 1,500 receiving yards and 15 receiving TDs
Wilson had an incredible rookie season, given the state of his quarterback situation. Zach Wilson was the worst starting quarterback in the league last season, while Joe Flacco and Mike White weren't much better. Wilson still managed to put up 1,103 receiving yards despite his quarterbacks' inefficiency.
That shouldn't be an issue with Aaron Rodgers, as Wilson is the best pass catcher in a loaded offense that has Breece Hall back in the fold. Wilson will be the No. 1 wideout in an offense with Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, Randall Cobb, and Corey Davis.
Rodgers will distribute the ball, but he has a tendency of targeting his best playmaker frequently. Wilson is set up for a monster second season, as he could join Jerry Rice as the only players to have 1,500 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns in a season within their first two seasons in the league.
The Dallas Cowboys reach the conference championship game
Stop if you heard this before. The Cowboys have not reached the conference championship game since the 1995 season. There are plenty of reasons to believe Dallas won't make it that far in the playoffs, mainly because Mike McCarthy is back to calling plays and the San Francisco 49ers are their kryptonite. Dak Prescott also became a turnover machine overnight.
Despite the adversity surrounding the Cowboys, Dallas certainly improved its roster from the last year. The addition of Brandin Cooks is massive for the passing game, while the subtraction of Ezekiel Elliott's contract is huge for roster construction. Stephon Gilmore is also a big addition for an already strong defense under Dan Quinn. Prescott also can't be as turnover prone as he was last season.
Like it or not, the Cowboys are better. They are one of the top three teams in a weak NFC. This is arguably the best chance for the Cowboys to make a deep playoff run, coming off consecutive 12-win seasons.
The New England Patriots have their worst season under Bill Belichick
Feels like the Patriots are due to hit a massive wall in 2023. The AFC East is arguably the best it's ever been in the Bill Belichick era, with Aaron Rodgers heading to the New York Jets. Not only are the Jets playoff contenders, but the Buffalo Bills are annual Super Bowl contenders and the Miami Dolphins have a talented roster that made the playoffs last season -- and have Tua Tagovailoa back.
While does New England fit into all this? Mac Jones is a question mark, even if he has an actual offensive coordinator in Bill O'Brien. New England didn't do enough to surround Jones with talent in a league where the Patriots need to score points in order to win games.
The AFC is loaded with good teams and Patriots reside in the AFC East, having to play those teams twice a year. They also play the NFC East and AFC West in 2023. The stage appears set for a down season in New England.
Belichick went 5-11 in his first season leading the Patriots in 2000 (.313 win percentage). If the Patriots can't score points and help out a good defense, a rare five-win season may be coming in New England.
Nick Bosa gets 20 sacks
Bosa has seen the double team frequently in San Francisco, becoming the marked pass rusher in a 49ers defense that relies on him to get to the quarterback. With the addition of Javon Hargrave, the 49ers have an interior presence in the pass rush not seen since DeForest Buckner.
Hargrave will free up the edge for Bosa, who is coming off winning Defensive Player of the Year honors and leading the league with 18.5 sacks. Bosa appears primed to hit the 20-sack mark this season , since he's not the only player opposing offenses have to account for that gets to the quarterback.
Even with DeMeco Ryans gone, Bosa should feast.
Patrick Mahomes throws for 5,000 yards in consecutive seasons
Drew Brees is the only quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in consecutive seasons, accomplishing the feat from 2011 to 2013. Mahomes will join him this year, as Andy Reid will set up the Chiefs quarterback to have another massive season throwing the ball.
The development of Skyy Moore and rookie Rashee Rice will be key, but Mahomes still has Travis Kelce in his prime and another year of Kadarius Toney in the system. Kansas City has different players on offense, but is still deep at the skill positions with Mahomes mastering reading opposing defenses.
Mahomes is so quick at getting rid of the ball. If he gets the proper protection and can stay upright, he'll be able to throw for 5,000 yards again. The Chiefs offense shouldn't miss a beat.