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October 18th, 2023
Now a third of the way through the 2023 NFL season, the landscape of the league is a bit clearer.
Reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, and 2022 Super Bowl runners-up, the Philadelphia Eagles, remain among the top three in the NFL, alongside the San Francisco 49ers — the current favorite to win this year’s big game.
On the flip side, a number of teams are all but a lost cause to make the postseason in 2024. Below we explore the bottom-dwellers of each NFL division and look at which of the worst teams in the league still have a fighting chance at the playoffs.
Record: 1-5Home: 0-3Away: 1-2Current streak: L3Current Super Bowl odds: +40000
The six-time Super Bowl-winning franchise once played the role of Goliath year after year in the league. But 2023 has seen the tides turn viciously in the opposite direction, with New England off to a 1-5 start, the worst in Bill Belichick’s 29-year head coaching career.
In addition to a penchant for falling short when the game’s on the line, the Pats rank in the bottom 10 in total offensive yards per game, rushing yards per game, and second to last in points scored, while their defense has kept New England in games, ranking 10th in the league in yards allowed.
Drawing the most difficult schedule in 2023, New England is in serious danger of finishing last in the AFC East, which would mark the first time the franchise has bottomed-out the division since 2000, Belichick’s first year with the team.
Record: 1-5Home: 0-3Away: 1-2Current streak: L2Current Super Bowl odds: +25000
Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton left retirement to clean up the mess made by first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett and got a little too arrogant on the way in, calling Hackett’s short-lived stint with the Broncos one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.
Unfortunately for Payton, he’s suffering a major case of foot-in-mouth, as the Broncos own just one win through six weeks. Ranked dead last in total defense, rushing yards allowed per game, and points allowed, the Broncos will find victories hard to come by in the AFC East, considering both Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers rank top five in the NFL in total offense.
The Bengals are getting back into the thick of the AFC North race 🤫 pic.twitter.com/bCUOfKxLLz— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) October 17, 2023
The Bengals are getting back into the thick of the AFC North race 🤫 pic.twitter.com/bCUOfKxLLz
Record: 3-3Home: 2-1Away: 1-2Current streak: W2Current Super Bowl odds: +2500
Following back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game, the 2022 Super Bowl runners-up are struggling to produce the magic of their previous two seasons.
After ranking fifth in passing yards per contest and second in touchdown passes per game, quarterback Joe Burrow’s production has experienced a major drop-off. A lingering calf injury and a leaky offensive line have made life difficult for the 2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, who signed a record five-year extension worth $275 million in the offseason.
In spite of their rough start, the Bengals boast the ninth-best odds to win the Super Bowl and are seemingly turning a corner, with a two-win streak against Arizona and Seattle. With a bye week in Week 7 to rest and recover, Cincinnati will look to make a statement with tough matchups looming at San Francisco and at home against the Buffalo Bills.
Record: 2-4Home: 2-1Away: 0-3Current streak: L2Current Super Bowl odds: +9000
Considering the Titans began the preseason in the bottom five of the Super Bowl futures odds, the team is right on schedule. Mike Vrabel’s squad showed fight, however, to start the season, with a 16-15 road loss in New Orleans and a 27-24 decision to the Chargers at home before failing to show up in a 27-3 loss at Cleveland.
Tennessee flipped the script in Week 4 with a 27-3 pummeling of the Bengals but has since come back down to earth with a pair of losses at the Colts and against the Ravens in London.
Next up is a home date with Atlanta before the Titans hit the road to face Pittsburgh in prime time, Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville. With Ryan Tannehill succumbing to an ankle injury in Week 6, the road ahead may get rockier, unless backup QB Malik Willis can develop quickly in his second season.
Record: 1-5Home: 0-2Away: 1-3Current streak: L4Current Super Bowl odds: +25000
A year after Brian Daboll earned NFL Coach of the Year for sending New York to the playoffs in his first season as head coach, the Giants are looking more like the team we saw in 2021.
Ranked second to last in total offense, rushing defense, and one of the most penalized teams in the league, the G-Men are a bit of a mess at the moment, and own arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL.
In Week 4 against Seattle, quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked a whopping 10 times, then a game later he went down with a neck injury on a sack by Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel.
Veteran Tyrod Taylor stepped in against the Bills in prime time in Week 6 and held his own, but New York ultimately ended up on the losing end of a 14-9 thriller in Orchard Park.
*Insert @moore_rondale one-handed catch below* pic.twitter.com/Ei8V0wpihk— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) October 17, 2023
*Insert @moore_rondale one-handed catch below* pic.twitter.com/Ei8V0wpihk
Record: 1-5Home: 1-2Away: 0-3Current streak: L3Current Super Bowl odds: +40000
Not many people expected Arizona to be good, and thus far that’s been the case. Under first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon, the former defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cardinals have surrendered the third most yards and sixth most points.
With Kyler Murray on the reserve/PUP list, and Joshua Dobbs starting in his place, the Cardinals have recorded one win, a 28-16 victory over the 4-2 Dallas Cowboys.
Record: 1-5Home: 0-3Away: 1-2Current streak: L1Current Super Bowl odds: +40000
The Chicago fanbase had higher hopes for the offense after the Bears traded away their No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to Carolina in exchange for D.J. Moore, plus the Panthers’ ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, as well as a 2024 first-round selection.
The result has been a mixed bag, with Moore beginning the season with two catches for 25 yards against Green Bay before he went off for 104 yards on six catches in a 27-17 loss to Tampa Bay.
Moore’s best performance was an eight-reception, 230-yard, three-touchdown outing in Chicago’s lone win, a 40-20 victory over Washington.
But Moore alone can’t save Chicago, and now Justin Fields is sidelined with a right hand injury he sustained in Week 6 in a loss to Minnesota.
Record: 0-6Home: 0-2Away: 0-4Current streak: L6Current SB odds: +50000
That No. 1 overall pick Carolina acquired from Chicago allowed the franchise to draft Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner who helped the Crimson Tide win a national championship in 2020.
Playing under new head coach Frank Reich, who was fired from the Indianapolis Colts in Week 9 of 2022, Young is off to an 0-6 start, with 967 passing yards and a 6-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
The Panthers inherited one of the easier schedules in the league this season yet rank third in rushing yards allowed and average the fourth-most penalties.
Next up, they face the team originally projected to finish worst in the NFL — the Houston Texans, who are 3-3 and one of the least turnover-prone teams in the league.
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