The NFL season is days away, with teams across the landscape convincing themselves that this could be the year. For many teams, after a tumultuous 2022 regular season, they are hoping to turn the tides in 2023 and hopefully take that next step towards contention.
These five teams should be hopeful about their chances to turn their fortunes around starting this weekend.
- Denver Broncos
Can it get any worse for the Denver Broncos? After a 2022 regular season where expectations were sky-high for the new-look Broncos led by Russell Wilson, we all know what happened next. They were the embarrassment of the NFL. With Sean Payton in town to lead the way, there is reason to believe. He proved he could get the most out of another aging superstar quarterback, Drew Brees. There is talent around Wilson, namely, Jerry Jeudy and a healthy Javonte Williams, to spark this offense in a Payton system. Defensively, they were a top-ten unit last season and added Frank Clark this offseason to bolster the pass rush. In a crowded AFC playoff field, the Broncos may fall short of the postseason, but they’ll be in the thick of it until the end.
- Green Bay Packers
Calling the Green Bay Packers a bounce-back team might be a stretch after they won eight games last year, but after losing Aaron Rodgers this offseason, they’ll be better than anyone anticipated when he was dealt away. After two years on the bench, Jordan Love is ready for this moment. There is reason to believe in him, and he should flourish in Matt LaFleur‘s system. Defensively, they dealt with some injuries last year but should have an All-Pro level player at each level of the defense in Jaire Alexander, De’Vondre Campbell, and Kenny Clark. In a wide-open NFC North, the Packers are being forgotten but have all the tools to be a double-digit win team.
- New York Jets
Sticking with Aaron Rodgers, we all know where he ended up. The New York Jets have been the talk of the offseason and now have Super Bowl expectations after finishing last in the AFC East last season. Rodgers will transform this offense with Garrett Wilson blossoming alongside an elite running back duo in Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook. Defensively, they have the potential to be the best defense in the AFC, with Sauce Gardner anchoring the back end and Quinnen Williams leading a deep defensive front. The Jets will be followed closely all season, but they’re primed and ready to meet their newfound expectations this year.
- Atlanta Falcons
The NFC South is being wholly dismissed, rightly so since there aren’t many headlines, but the Atlanta Falcons are being grossly slept on. This team is legit. Their most significant question mark happens to be at the quarterback spot with Desmond Ridder taking the reins, but reports are that he’s had a great training camp and should be just fine. Around him, Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and rookie Bijan Robinson give the Falcons a dangerous trio that will do some damage with competent quarterback play. Defensively, they struggled last year, but after multiple key free agents were brought in to patch up the unit, namely Jessie Bates, they’ll no longer be a liability. Come playoff time, no one will want to play this team.
- Cleveland Browns
This is a make-or-break season for the Cleveland Browns. After shaking up the NFL landscape by bringing Deshaun Watson over a year ago, the Browns need to put it together. Kevin Stefanski‘s job is on the line, and he better have figured out how to rejuvenate Watson if he wants to be an NFL head coach next fall. In a crowded AFC North, the margin of error is so small for the Browns that they have no time to waste to get into a rhythm. Having Nick Chubb helps, along with a defense with multiple big playmakers, but this all comes down to the player Watson is. If Watson puts it together, the Browns immediately could become one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC playoff picture.
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