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idleguy.com 2023 Pro Football Preview
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Philadelphia Eagles

2022 Record: (14-3)
2022 Off. Rank: (3)
2022 Def. Rank (2)

Falling just a few plays short of winning their second Super Bowl in six seasons, the Eagles return with determination and a roster mostly intact from 2022. With an offense that ranked 3rd and a defense that was second only to the 49ers, Philadelphia is primed to make it to the conference championship for a second straight season. Of course, their aspirations are a bit higher, seeking the ultimate crown.

Jalen Hurts has evolved into the prototype NFL QB, armed with throwing accuracy, deceptive running ability and a great understanding of situations, if not for his main rival at the position, Patrick Mahomes, he would have been the NFL MVP in 2022.

Hurts threw for 3,701 yards with 22 TDs and only six picks. He also accounted for 760 rushing yards and 13 more touchdowns. If he's not running with the ball, Hurts is throwing to primary receivers, A. J. Brown and DaVonta Smith, as dangerous a duo to be found. When those two aren't causing match-up problems, Devon Allen and Quez Watkins are on alternate routes. Rookie Joseph Ngata, drafted out of Clemson, may add more depth.

Philly's defense held opponents to 21 points or less in 13 of 17 contests in 2022. There are few standouts - Fletcher Cox on the line and Terrell Edmonds and Darius Slay in the secondary - because the Philly defense relies on assignment football and every man being accountable. There are few lapses on this unit, a key to their success.

The schedule appears reasonable. The Eagles will be tested in weeks 11-16, when they play the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys, Seahawks, and Giants in successive weeks. In week 17 they host Arizona before closing out the season at the Giants.

Expected 2023 Record: (13-4)

Dallas Cowboys

2022 Record: (12-5)
2022 Off. Rank: (11)
2022 Def. Rank (12)

Dallas put together back-to-back 12-5 seasons in 2021-22 and will challenge the Eagles for the top spit in what may be the best division in the NFL. When healthy, Dak Prescott is among the elite QBs in the game, and, when he's not, Cooper Rush proved he can get the job done, winning four of five starts in Prescott's absence last season.

Dallas managed to split games with the Eagles in 2022, but that wasn't quite enough. Overtime road losses to Green Bay (week 10) and Jacksonville (week 15) killed any chance to catch the soaring Eagles.

Picking up Deuce Vaughn from Kansas State in the draft allowed the Cowboys to release Ezekiel Elliott, ceding the #1 RB slot to Tony Pollard. The team also retained their receiving trio of CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Gallup. Peyton Hendershot has ample upside at tight end.

This will be head coach Mike McCarthy's fourth season with the Cowboys. Considering his success over the years, Dallas could very well overtake the Eagles. However, Dallas hasn't had a sniff of a Super Bowl since defeating the Steelers, 27-17, in 1996. An appearance would be their first in nearly 30 years.

Dallas has plenty of ability on defense. Led by talented Micah Parsons, who can seemingly play any position, the Cowboys also have exceptional position players in DE DeMarcus Lawrence, LB Leighton Vander Esch, cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Trevon Diggs, and safety Jayron Kearse. It wouldn't take much to move the Dallas D to a top three ranking.

Expected 2023 Record: (13-4)

Washington Commanders

2022 Record: (8-8-1)
2022 Off. Rank: (20)
2022 Def. Rank (3)

Washington looks like one of the few NFL teams to improve this year, thanks fo hiring offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy from Kansas City and boosting second-year QB Sam Howell (North Carolina) into the starting role.

The former Redskins (Commanders) were rising along with a 75- record, but fell apart in December going 1-3-1 to close out the regular season. Taylor Heinicke ran out of gas and talent, and another season went by the wayside in Washington.

On the upside, they did finish at .500 for the first time since 2016 and their defense was exceptional. Brian Robinson Jr. emerged as a legitimate running back with pass catching ability and Logan Thomas had a solid season at tight end.

A softer schedule and some offensive improvement could land the Commanders in the playoffs.

Expected 2023 Record: (9-7)

New York Giants

2022 Record: (9-7-1)
2022 Off. Rank: (18)
2022 Def. Rank (25)

The Giants accomplished the impossible in 2022, finishing with a winning record (their first since 2016) while ranking in the bottom half of the league on both offense and defense. The Giants pulled off the trick with a maturing QB in Daniel Jones, a healthy running back, Shaquon Barkley, and an easy early schedule that had them at 7-2 at the end of week 10.

Things soured in the second half, with the Giants going 2-5-1 down the stretch, missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year.

Unfortunately, that may be as good as it gets for New York in some time. They have the curse of playing in the same division as the Cowboys and Eagles, plus, the Commanders, who finished well, at 8-8-1, are improving and already have a solid defensive unit.

Expected 2023 Record: (7-10)


Detroit Lions

2022 Record: (9-8)
2022 Off. Rank: (4)
2022 Def. Rank (32)

If the Lions improve a little on defense, they should at least tie Minnesota for the division crown. They were the best team in the NFC North the last half of the season. After starting 1-6, the Lions won eight of their last ten and just missed the playoffs on a tie-breaker with Seattle because of a week 4, 48-45 loss to the Seahawks.

QB Jared Goff, unceremoniously tossed aside from the Rams in the deal that sent Matthew Stafford to LA and a Super Bowl which was almost certainly rigged, is now in season three with the team and seems to have rediscovered his mojo. Goff compiled impressive stats in 2022, completing 65 percent of his throws for 4,438 yards, 29TDs and 7 interceptions.

Drafting Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th pick of the 2023 draft was a shocker to many, but the Lions needed a replacement for Jamaal Williams, gone to New Orleans. David Montgomery will share time with Gibbs and provide a solid one-two backfield. The Lions also nabbed Tennessee's wideout Hendon Hooker in the third round. He'll add plenty of speed on the outside.

The big haul from the draft was Butkus Award winner Jack Campbell, out of Iowa, a consensus All-American who will fit into the middle linebacking role with ease. He's projected to be a perennial All-Pro.

The Lions have lots of youth on the defensive side, which also means not much experience, but, as a group, they should improve with more playing time. A couple of standouts are Aidan Hutchinson on the line and defensive back, Cameron Sutton. Alabama's Brian Branch was taken in the second round of the draft and he could become a starter right away as free safety or in slot coverage.

Detroit has talent galore and considering the way they finished the 2022 campaign, winning the division should be attainable.

Expected 2023 Record: (11-6)

Minnesota Vikings

2022 Record: (13-4)
2022 Off. Rank: (7)
2022 Def. Rank (31)

The 2022 Vikings were probably the worst 13-4 team the league's ever had.

Taking advantage of a soft schedule and some meltdowns by teams that were supposed to be good, but were anything but, the Vikings split with the Packers and Lions in their division, swept the Bears and notched wins against the like of New England, New Orleans, the Jets, Colts, Cardinals, Commanders, and Dolphins. They did manage to 33-30 overtime win at Buffalo, but losses to Philly (24-7) and Dallas (40-3), showed their true colors.

Minnesota got knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round, 31-24, by the Giants.

Star running back, Dalvin Cook, is gone to free agency, but the Vikings retain the services of Justin Jefferson, who emerged as a superstar wideout in 2022, leading the entire league with 1,809 receiving yards.

Defensively, the Vikings weren't just bad, they were horrible, allowing 388.7 yards per game. Only Detroit was worse.

The Vikings only need to stay productive on offense and improve marginally on defense to put together another winning season because Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers probably won't be much better than they were last season, the Bears won only three games in 2022, but Detroit looks to be better. Look for the Vikings to vie for a playoff spot, though the schedule will be more demanding.

Minnesota starts off with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, the Chargers, Carolina and Kansas City though the first five weeks. At the end, they're at Cincinnati, then host Detroit and Green Bay, and close out with a road game against the Lions. Could be a tough slog.

Expected 2023 Record: (9-8)

Green Bay Packers

2022 Record: (8-9)
2022 Off. Rank: (17)
2022 Def. Rank (17)

Green Bay's implosion in 2022 wasn't pretty to watch, especially for those who marveled at QBs Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers over the past 30 years. It happened mid-season, after the Packers started 3-1 and were thinking division title.

Five straight losses later - to the Giants, Jets, Commanders, Bills, and Lions - the Packers were 3-6, looking desperate. They went 5-3 the rest of the way, but a 20-16 loss to Detroit in the season finale managed to keep both teams out fo the playoffs. Green Bay's 8-9 record was their worst showing since 2018 when they stumbled to a 6-9-1 record.

Rodgers wasn't exactly bad last season, but he surely wasn't in All-Pro form. And now he's gone, looking to cash in with a new deal with the Jets and plenty of endorsement deals in the Big Apple.

That leave the QB job to Jordan Love, who has sat on the bench for three seasons and is a huge question mark for the team. The Packers were below average on both sides of the ball, and the probability of Love replicating the heroics of Rodgers is a serious long shot.

Green Bay is likely going backwards this season.

Expected 2023 Record: (6-11)

Chicago Bears

2022 Record: (3-14)
2022 Off. Rank: (28)
2022 Def. Rank (29)

Justin Fields was supposed to be manna from heaven for the Bears. A starting quarterback with college credentials and tremendous upside potential would solidify the offense, complementing an already solid defense.

That didn't last long.

In 2021, Fields played in 10 games. The Bears lost seven of them. In 2022, Fields started in 15 games. The Bears lost 12 of them, plus two more in which he didn't play, finishing tied with Houston for the worst record in the league, 3-14.

After a 3-4 start in 2022, the Bears lost 10 straight, currently the longest losing streak in the league. in those 10 losses, the defense yielded a total of 331 points, 33.1 per game.

With a defense like that - and this was a defense that was supposed to be one of the best just a few years back - winning six or seven games would be an incredible accomplishment.

It won't happen. The offense is bad (Fields was sacked 55 times last season) and the defense is worse.

Expected 2023 Record: (3-14)

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