Dustin Baker’s 2023 NFL Standings Predictions

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According to Vegas sportsbooks, the most likely matchup for Super Bowl LVIII is the Kansas City Chiefs versus the Philadelphia Eagles which all but guarantees that particular combination will not occur. In fact, this was the Super Bowl matchup last year, and February rematches rarely occur in the NFL.

Dustin Baker’s 2023 NFL Standings Predictions

Thinking outside of the box, considering dark horses, roster strength, team age, and parity in the NFL, these are 2023 NFL standing predictions.

** = Wildcard Playoff Participant

AFC East

Dustin Baker's 2023 NFL Standings Predictions
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New York Jets: 11-6
Buffalo Bills: 9-8
Miami Dolphins: 9-8
New England Patriots: 6-11

Something adverse affects the Bills, perhaps an injury, and their impressive three-season run hits a roadbump. The Aaron Rodgers experiment nets a playoff berth. Miami is undone by Tua Tagovailoa’s injuries. The Patriots encountered an awful season by their standards, and Bill Belichick contemplates retirement.

AFC North

2023 NFL Standings
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Baltimore Ravens: 11-6
**Cincinnati Bengals: 10-7
**Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-7
Cleveland Browns: 9-8

In the NFL’s most murderous division, all four teams damn near make the dance. But the Ravens prevail for a division crown and have grander plans afoot in January and February. Surrounding Lamar Jackson with real weapons works. Pittsburgh and Cleveland battle for the 7th seed, with the Steelers outlasting the field because of Kenny Pickett’s impressive development.

AFC South

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Jacksonville Jaguars: 11-6
Tennessee Titans: 8-9
Houston Texans: 5-12
Indianapolis Colts: 3-14

The NFL’s worst division mostly whimpers, while the Jaguars continue prolonged relevance. Trevor Lawrence gains a few MVP votes, and the rest of the division is harmless for now.

AFC West

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Kansas City Chiefs: 12-5
**Denver Broncos: 10-7
Los Angeles Chargers: 9-8
Las Vegas Raiders: 5-12

Picking against the Chiefs in anything is silly, so Kansas City takes the AFC West. The Broncos turn the futility around and visit the postseason for the first time since 2015. The Chargers miss the postseason, and Brandon Staley is dismissed. Las Vegas, through trades, ends up with the 1st overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

NFC East

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Philadelphia Eagles: 12-5
**Dallas Cowboys: 10-7
New York Giants: 8-9
Washington Commanders 6-11

The Eagles coast through the regular season but don’t play as well as 2022. Dallas’ fantastic 53-man roster provides a deep playoff run but is later ruined by Mike McCarthy’s coaching. The Giants remain status quo and begin to realize Daniel Jones isn’t worth $40 million annually. Washington isn’t awful but poses no significant threat to anybody.

NFC North

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Minnesota Vikings: 11-6
**Green Bay Packers: 10-7
Detroit Lions: 9-8
Chicago Bears: 6-11

Minnesota proves 2022 wasn’t a total outlier or mirage, and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s “competitive rebuild” trick is applauded. The Packers don’t stink. Detroit misses the postseason after oodles of offseason hype, and the Bears improve by a few wins.

NFC South

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New Orleans Saints: 10-7
Carolina Panthers: 8-9
Atlanta Falcons: 6-11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-12

Derek Carr finally has a defense, propelling New Orleans to an NFC South triumph. Bryce Young wins Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Atlanta + Tampa Bay aren’t serious threats to anything.

NFC West

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Sean McVay proves his coaching mettle by guiding an undertalented roster to the postseason. Brock Purdy stays healthy for San Francisco, Seattle returns to earth, and the Cardinals utterly tank.

San Francisco 49ers: 11-6
**Los Angeles Rams: 9-8
Seattle Seahawks: 9-8
Arizona Cardinals: 3-14

AFC Playoff Seeds

  1. Chiefs
  2. Jets
  3. Ravens
  4. Jaguars
  5. Bengals
  6. Broncos
  7. Steelers

NFC Playoff Seeds

  1. Eagles
  2. Vikings
  3. 49ers
  4. Saints
  5. Cowboys
  6. Packers
  7. Rams

AFC Playoffs

Jets over Steelers
over Broncos
over Bengals

Chiefs over Jaguars
over Jets

Ravens over Chiefs

NFC Playoffs

Vikings over Rams
over Packers
over Saints

49ers over Vikings
over Eagles

49ers over Cowboys

Super Bowl LVII

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers

Super Bowl Champion

Baltimore Ravens

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.