To help pass the time between now and the start of training camp, I thought it would be fun to do a regular season and playoff simulation of the 2023-2024 NFL Season until a Super Bowl winner is crowned. I divided the teams into their respective divisions and I will be posting a new article each day for each division, plus each round of the playoffs. That amounts to 12 articles that I can milk out of one idea in the dead of the offseason, which makes my job so much easier. I’ll be sure to link my previous predictions below.
So without further ado, here are my predictions for every division. Continuing with...
The AFC North
I’m probably higher on the Baltimore Ravens than most, but I see a team that has massively improved this offseason with the additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers. This is an offense that already has Mark Andrews and J.K. Dobbins, and oh yeah, Lamar Jackson got paid! Just like the Jaguars, the Ravens also have a grizzled Super Bowl winning head coach. Although, if the Ravens continue to come up empty when it matters most, a coaching change could be on the horizon. Still, they’re the favorites to win the AFC North.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been the thorn on the Chiefs’ and Bills’ sides ever since Joe Burrow was drafted by his hometown team. Since Burrow’s arrival, they’re 3-1 vs Kansas City and 1-0 vs Buffalo. Joe Burrow may not play the flashiest style of football, but the dude is a winner. Cincinnati has also done a good job of surrounding him with young talented receivers like JaMarr Chase and Tee Higgins.
I’ll be the first person to tell you that Kevin Stefanski is a dang good coach. I know some Browns fans want Stefanski fired, but I think this is the year that the league’s perception of the Browns takes a complete 180 and Stefanski will be a critical part of that. Deshaun Watson will have the whole offseason to further acclimate himself to the playbook, and he’ll be starting the entire year. They also have some weapons on offense including Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, David Njoku, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Elijah Moore who they acquired from the Jets this offseason. With some defensive improvements, this could be a sneaky good team in 2023.
Mike Tomlin has never had a losing record as head coach, but I still think Pittsburgh is the worst team in the AFC North. Kenny Pickett was serviceable as a rookie, but I don’t think he has the upside you want in a quarterback. The Steelers have to play Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson twice a year, and I don’t think Kenny Pickett is good enough to beat those high powered offenses. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Tomlin stumbles his way into a Wild Card spot. I’m probably being too harsh here, but I don’t see anything special with this roster.
The Projected Standings
1. Ravens: 14-3
2. Bengals: 13-4
3. Browns: 10-7
4. Steelers: 8-9
Next up: NFC North