Every year in the NFL it seems like we have a team come out of nowhere to make a run for the Super Bowl. Whether it was the Buccaneers in 2020, Bengals in 2021, or the Eagles in 2022, every year delivers surprises no one seems to expect.
This year is shaping up to be no different. In the AFC, you have a bunch of future Hall of Fame QBs and young superstar QBs who are just waiting to make a run to the Super Bowl. In the NFC< you have the Eagles and 49ers as the powerhouses of the conference, but little else in the conference stands out. So, who’s going to be the tams no one expects in 2023 that take a major leap?
In the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off their best year since the 2017 season, when they made the AFC Championship Game and lost a heartbreaking game to the Patriots. Trevor Lawrence came into his own under first year head coach Doug Pederson, and the Jaguars found themselves in the AFC Divisional Round against the soon to be Super Bowl champion Chiefs. The Jaguars have a major advantage that the rest of the AFC doesn’t: a bad division. Every other division has multiple teams that can reasonably be expected to compete for the division title. The Jaguars will face two teams with first year QBs, two teams with new head coaches, and a team in Tennessee that can never seem to figure out the offensive side of the ball. An easier division can allow them to stack up some wins and rise through the ranks of the AFC. With potentially two home playoff games this year and one of the best young QBs in the league, it wouldn’t be very surprising to see them in the AFC Championship Game playing for a Super Bowl appearance.
The NFC is definitely murkier. The Eagles and 49ers remain the dominant two teams in the conference. Their rosters are stacked from top to bottom, and they met in the NFC Championship Game last year after finishing as the 1 and 2 seeds, respectively. However, can the Saints crash the party this year? Last year, primarily with Andy Dalton at QB, they went 7-10. They have an elite defense and in the offseason signed Derek Carr to be their franchise QB. Like the Jaguars, the Saints benefit from being in a weak division. If they can get the offense clicking, they can make some noise this year in a relatively weak conference.
The NFL is filled with surprises every year, and 2023 will be the same! Kickoff can’t come soon enough!