The 2022 NFL season has been unpredictable and quite a contrast from the previous year. The Rams and Bengals, the two Super Bowl participants from this past February, have been on the outside looking in at their respective playoff races for much of the year.
Powerhouses like the Packers and Buccaneers, along with teams filled with high expectations like the Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos, and Colts, have all struggled to live up to the preseason hype, tossing NFL odds into a tizzy for a good portion of this campaign.
The downfall (permanent or temporary) of the aforementioned has opened the door for others to climb the power rankings and put themselves in a position to make a run. Teams like the Eagles, Vikings, Giants, Dolphins, Seahawks, and even Jets have spent much of their seasons in the top half of the standings, enjoying more success than most anticipated.
Many experts and prognosticators pegged the Bills and Chiefs to lead the charge in the AFC, and thanks to quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, they’re doing just that. Buffalo and Kansas City have proven they’re head and shoulders above their competition. Neither advanced to the Super Bowl last year, giving an extra chip on their shoulder to prove preseason projections right this time around, considering the Super Bowl NFL lines.
So that leaves the have-nots
The trade deadline was much more active in 2022 than usual, with the volume of transactions surprising even the likes of NFL insiders Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport. Many deals signaled a white flag being raised by organisations looking to the future as the present passes them by.
Unlike the 2022 NFL Draft, the ’23 iteration is supposed to feature much more top-end talent at the quarterback position, leading to a compelling first round and a silver lining for these teams below positioning themselves for a prime spot then instead of the current slate. Let’s take a look at the teams with the best chance to secure the top spot in the 2023 NFL Draft, something readily available to wager on when scanning Vegas NFL odds.
The Texans have given a longer leash to Davis Mills than most expected. David Culley wasn’t afforded the same luxury as he lasted just one year as the head coach, only to be replaced by Lovie Smith, who doesn’t appear to be any more equipped to turn things around.
Mills will finish out 2022 because there isn’t anything else worth exploring behind him, and they’ll likely have their pick of the QB litter next April. Not trading Brandin Cooks at the deadline slightly hurts their chances here, but they’re still bad enough to take the top spot on this list.
The Lions were one of the most entertaining teams to watch through the first quarter of the season, but it didn’t necessarily translate to wins because their defense is dreadful. There were a lot of folks rooting for a resurgence here because of Dan Campbell’s fiery personality shining during Hard Knocks, but that fire is now relegated to his hot seat.
Jared Goff was always considered a transitional quarterback after the Matthew Stafford trade, but that transition may happen soon if the Lions are in the top three…again. There are a lot of pieces to like on offense, but the organisation made their intentions known when they dealt one of those away in TJ Hockenson… in the division to the Vikings, no less.
Matt Rhule earned the unenviable title of becoming the first head coach to be fired when Carolina let him go in October, leaving Kliff Kingsbury as the odds-on favorite to get the pink slip next.
The Panthers then dealt Robbie Anderson to those Cardinals and got a king’s ransom back from the 49ers in exchange for Christian McCaffrey to clearly signify that a rebuild was underway; a rebuild that may have been undertaken anyway, seeing how Carolina’s quarterback carousel goes around more than any other team in the league.
It’s almost preposterous to put Pittsburgh on this list, considering Mike Tomlin has never even had a losing season in his long tenure with the black and gold. But they, too, became sellers at the deadline, sending Chase Claypool to Chicago, another team under serious consideration for this list.
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