We are creeping ever closer to the start of the 2023 NFL Season and as we do, we will be previewing each division and giving out our best bets for each divisional winner and over/under for each team’s win totals.
We strongly encourage our readers to not follow these futures blindly, nor follow each one of them. So many things happen during just the preseason, let alone the entire season that would totally change the direction of a team and derail a future ticket.
The Bengals repeated as divisional champions last season. This year, no team is slated to win less than 8 games. Oddly enough, last year saw all teams in the AFC North finish with 3-3 records in divisional games. In what should be the most competitive division in not only the AFC but likely in the entire NFL, we believe these win totals are a bit high for at least one team.
The 2022-2023 season ended in an unfortunate way for the Ravens as they lost back-to-back games to the rival Bengals. The 1st was to end the regular season while the 2nd was in the wildcard round of the playoffs.
It was the defense that was leaned upon most of the season. They finished 3rd in the league allowing just 18.8ppg to opponents. And they ranked 4th in both 3rd conversion percentage and red zone scoring percentage to opponents.
However, the offense struggled, specifically after week 12 when Lamar Jackson’s season ended. The team went 3-5 from that point on.
In the offseason, the team extended Jackson’s contract, signed Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted Zay Flowers. All these moves should prove beneficial to the offense. The other piece to the offense was the firing of Greg Roman and hiring of former Georgia OC, Todd Monken.
JK Dobbins is still in the backfield and will handle most of the rushing duties. The defense will also benefit from these moves. If the offense can convert more on the 3rd down and extend drives, it’ll keep their vaunted defense fresh throughout the game/season.
After opening with a home loss to Pittsburgh followed by a road loss to Dallas, the 2021 Division Champs and Super Bowl runners-ups seemed to be falling back in the wrong direction as many had done before them. However, they won 4 of their next 6 and then 10 straight before meeting KC in the AFC Title game.
Unfortunately, they were not able to get back to the big game and fell 23-20. Overall, the Bengals were one of the most balanced teams in the league last season. They ranked inside the top 10 on both sides of the ball. That said, it is interesting to note that they were ranked the worst team in the league on 4th down conversion percentage on offense.
Almost the entire team is back again this season and certainly the standouts on both sides of the ball. Not only that, but almost the entire coaching staff returns. The continuity will serve the Bengal well once again in 2023-2024.
Will they finally get the job done and not only make the Super Bowl but also win it this season? We `do not think that will be the case but would certainly not be surprised if Joe Burrow and the boys do just that.
After a 4-7 start to the season, Deshaun Watson was back form serving his 11-game suspension and looked to make an immediate impact. However, they finished just 3-3 in his 6 games of the season, and the offense looked arguably worse with under center.
Both sides of the ball were mediocre at best during point of the season. Nick Chubb helped the Browns to the #5 spot in the league in rushing and was the most consistent part of the Browns season in 2022-2023. He is back and Watson will now have had a full camp with the squad.
The Browns did not make any real significant changes over the offseason. With just 7 wins last season, we believe the 9.5 number here is simply unattainable for them. Chubb should still be able to put together a solid rushing effort but it will remain to be seen if Watson really improved any this past season.
How does Coach Tomlin do it? Even without franchise QB, Big Ben, Tomlin was able to get his Steelers to finish above .500. After a 2-6 start to the season, the seat became scorching hot for Tomlin.
However, he didn’t fold and instead rallied his team to a 7-2 finish. Which ended with 4 straight. They fell short of the playoffs but in what was a true rebuilding year, the Steelers 9-8 season was definitely successful.
Kenny Pickett had moments where he looked like he could become the next franchise QB and others where he looked like a wide-eyed rookie. Overall, the offense still has a lot of improving to do if they want to contend within the division.
Defensively, they are knocking on the door as a top piece of their paths to victory each week. The division is tough, but it should only make Pickett stronger for the years to come.