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Ranking the 2023 NFL Divisions: A Preseason Analysis

The excitement is palpable as the final round of preseason games winds down, signaling the imminent arrival of the 2023 NFL regular season. This year promises a plethora of high hopes and compelling storylines that are sure to captivate fans across the league. The AFC boasts an abundance of talent, so much so that playoff contention might elude several quality teams. On the other hand, the NFC, while not as stacked, holds two of the league's best teams (Philadelphia and San Francisco) and promises intriguing narratives in cities like Green Bay, Detroit, Dallas, and Seattle.

8) NFC South: Seeking Redemption

The NFC South enters as the clear underdog among the divisions. None of its teams managed a winning record in 2022, and prospects aren't looking much brighter this year. With all four franchises ushering in new full-time starting quarterbacks, uncertainty abounds. The likes of Desmond Ridder (Atlanta), Bryce Young (Carolina), and Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay) must prove their mettle. New Orleans appears a frontrunner with Derek Carr's steadying presence. Hopes for surprises hinge on Carolina and Atlanta's free agency investments, yet all four teams have much to prove and improve upon.

7) AFC South: The Jaguars' Ascension

A notable shift occurred in Jacksonville last season as the Jaguars rapidly transitioned from draft strugglers to division champs. Trevor Lawrence's rise, coupled with a promising offense, paints a promising picture. Houston struggles to build a competitive roster around rookie C.J. Stroud, while Indianapolis contends with off-field drama and rookie QB Anthony Richardson's inexperience. Tennessee grapples with injuries and Derrick Henry's age. The division's trajectory is downward.

6) NFC North: Changing Tides

Much like Jacksonville, Detroit sits in an enviable position. The Packers adjust to post-Rodgers life with Jordan Love, the Vikings navigate significant changes, and the Bears rely on Justin Fields' progression. Detroit's prospects look brighter, yet the division is ripe for change.

5) NFC West: Disparity Defined

Disparity reigns supreme in the NFC West. Arizona faces uncertainty due to Kyler Murray's ACL recovery, while the Rams contend with player departures and injuries. Seattle needs defensive improvement, and the 49ers rely on the dynamic Brock Purdy. The division's vast gap between teams is evident.

4) NFC East: Eagles Rising

The NFC East, a step above the NFC West, boasts Eagles' reigning conference champs and three playoff teams. Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts and a strong defense make them formidable, while Dallas strengthens with Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore. New York and Washington hold questions about their quarterbacks' capabilities.

3) AFC West: The Chiefs' Domain

Kansas City's dominance continues in a division grappling with changes. Los Angeles relies on Justin Herbert's development, Denver expects impact from Sean Payton's arrival, and the Raiders face struggles.

2) AFC East: Promise and Challenges

The AFC East's allure on paper requires caution. While Buffalo remains a contender, other teams raise questions. Rodgers' arrival at the Jets could shake things up, Miami faces Tua Tagovailoa's health concerns, and the Patriots possess a stout defense yet seek offensive prowess.

1) AFC North: An Intriguing Battle

The AFC North stands as the division to watch, with each team harboring playoff potential. Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett brings promise, Cleveland is poised to rebound, Baltimore aims to elevate Lamar Jackson's play, and Cincinnati hopes Joe Burrow recovers fully. Deep playoff runs are conceivable for both Baltimore and Cincinnati.

As the 2023 NFL season looms, division dynamics promise both excitement and uncertainty. As we gear up for kickoff, let's savor the anticipation of how these rankings may shift as the action unfolds.

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