• Justin Fields continues his uptrend: In 2022, expect a 20-point increase in the passing grade from its below-average 54.4.
• The Lions claim the NFC North: A season ago, the Lions were considered a low-key contender, but now they’re the real deal.
• Jordan Addison pleads for OROY: Expect Addison to perform right away and Justin Jefferson to get most of the defense attention.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
We’ve had time to digest offseason developments, so now it’s time to lose perspective and make some bold predictions for the 2023 NFL season.
This will go beyond simple win-loss predictions and will focus on specific things for each team, some relevant to PFF scores and others more of a bigger picture.
Remember, they are clearly predictions. It won’t be the most accurate predictions in the world, but the recordings are based on data or tape evidence and are things that have a reasonable chance of happening, and not just the madness conjured up by ChatGPT.
More articles on bold prediction
AFC West | AFC East | AFC North | AFC South
NFC West | NFC East | NFC South
1. Linebacker TJ Edwards gets a better PFF score than Tremaine Edmunds
The Chicago Bears spent last season clearing salary cap space and cutting the roster, including a high-end off-ball linebacker (Roquan Smith), only to make that spot their top spending priority this offseason. Tremaine Edmunds was signed after a career year in Buffalo, but TJ Edwards was also given a much more modest deal. Edwards doesn’t have the physical abilities that Edmunds does and has had to succeed in the NFL the hard way, but he always succeeded. Don’t be shocked if Edwards looks very good alongside his highly paid teammate and scores a better PFF.
2. Justin Fields improves his PFF passing score by more than 20 points
Fields had to do everything on his own in 2022. He couldn’t promote the Bears to many wins, but he was the only reason the offense moved the ball most of the time. It depended mostly on his rushing skills, with some big passes. This offseason, the Bears got some serious help, and we should see that pay off immediately in his pass production and efficiency. Fields only achieved a passing PFF score of 54.4 last season. A jump of 20 points would have put him just inside the top 15.
3. Chicago still puts up the worst line of defense in the league
The Bears recorded by far the lowest pressure in the league last season, and their defensive line simply lacked viable talent. They attacked the unit in the draft and later signed Yannick Ngakoue to fix that, but it still looks like a glaring weakness unless these newcomers are able to immediately exceed expectations. Ngakoue is the team’s only proven pass rusher, and his PFF pass rushing score has been declining for three straight seasons with four different teams.
1. Jahmyr Gibbs sees 70+ goals as a rookie
Eight running backs recorded 70 or more goals in 2022. Gibbs raised eyebrows at being drafted as high as he was given how the league is currently handling the running back position, but from the start the Lions have spoken of him more as an unportfolio playmaker than a running back. In the training camp, Gibbs was regularly distributed and was regularly in action. He could play an important role in the passing game.
2. The Lions win the NFC North
It’s time to embrace the shift in narrative and enjoy being considered a favorite. A year ago, the Lions were everyone’s insignificant opponents for a playoff spot, and while they came tantalizingly close to that goal, they fell short. They are indeed the division favorites this time around, and with good reason. They kept important bits and added potential immediate improvements in draft and free agency. Now it’s time to prove to people that the hype is justified.
3. Detroit’s offensive line rivals Philadelphia’s for best in the league
A year ago I predicted the Lions would have a top five offensive line in the NFL. They reached that level at times – four times in the PFF’s weekly offensive line rankings – but injuries hampered the group and prevented them from realizing their true potential. The interior was a permanent revolving door, which will hopefully be a whole different story this season. If the group stays healthy, it has the potential to be hot on the heels of Philadelphia as the front runners in football.
Green Bay Packers
1. Romeo Doubs breaks out
The Romeo Doubs hype this time last year was no mirage; it just came a year early. Doubs has prevailed in the training camp and in joint duels and has put in a solid performance in the preparatory games. He’s a good receiver but expectations got out of hand last pre-season and he couldn’t live up to them – especially after picking up an injury. Doubs will prove to be a great receiver and a reliable target for Jordan Love this season.
2. Luke Musgrave threatens 1,000 yards as a rookie
Rookie tight ends don’t typically reach 1,000 yards, even in this day and age of 17 games and extensive passing. That’s happened twice, and one of them was Mike Ditka in 1961. Musgrave probably won’t break the 1,000-yard mark, but he could get very close judging by the way the team used him in training camp , and on his reception skills. He’s got all the physical tools, and the Packers have used him for things like jet sweeps that aren’t typically designed for tight ends. Musgrave averaged 3.4 yards per distance streak in just two games last season at Oregon State before an injury sidelined him, but he seemed primed for a monster year.
3. Green Bay’s defense improves into the top ten
A season ago, it was expected to be the Packers’ best defense Aaron Rodgers had ever played with. Instead, the team placed 21st in expected points added per game allowed and 26th in yards per game. However, the fundamental reasons for optimism are still there and there is every chance that the unit will significantly surpass last season’s results. The Packers have several skilled edge rushers, cornerbacks, and linebackers and can make an impact against the run and the pass. This is a unit with top 10 potential.
1. Christian Darrisaw makes All-Pro in left tackle
Christian Darrisaw had a heart attack a season ago and might have been a solid All-Pro player if concussions hadn’t kept him from three games. He posted an overall PFF of 90.3, trailing only Trent Williams, and was dominant as a run blocker. He didn’t allow a sack until he faced Micah Parsons in Week 11 and he still seems to be improving. With another small step, Darrisaw will be one of the best linemen in the game.
2. Jordan Addison is a Strong Offensive Rookie of the Year
Every year there are players that the draft community over-considers for measurable reasons. Jordan Addison was the top receiver on the field at two different schools during his collegiate career, while also posting walk metrics and an average time pace. He slipped well into the first round but has consistently proven throughout training camp and pre-season that elite play works well. Addison averaged at least 2.9 yards per stride in his final two years of college. Expect him to perform right away and Justin Jefferson will draw most of the defense’s attention.
3. Defense remains a unit in the bottom third
Changing plans will likely help the Vikings’ defense regardless of what it changes into. That was the low the unit hit in 2022. However, the clear gaps in the personnel area that have arisen in the process are not completely covered up. The Vikings’ cornerback room appears to be one of the weakest in the league on paper, and they’ll need a strong recovery year from Danielle Hunter or a real breakout from Marcus Davenport for the defensive line to not be a weakness. They may be improving, but it’s hard to imagine how they can make a big leap.