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NFL · 24 days ago

NFL Preview: Who Are the Likeliest New Playoff Teams?

Danny Mogollon

Danny Mogollon

NFL Preview: Who Are the Likeliest New Playoff Teams?

It’s not uncommon for half the playoff teams to be new from year to year in the NFL. Call it parity or unpredictability…it’s part of the league’s secret sauce. Last season, we saw the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC, along with the NFC’s New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, and Seattle Seahawks, make the playoffs a year after missing out.

Who are the five most likely teams (by FanDuel odds) to make the leap in 2023?

1. New Orleans Saints -188

Why are the New Orleans Saints ranked so high and a big favorite to make the playoffs in 2023? For starters, their division. With Tom Brady retired, the Tampa Bay Bucs have the lowest odds of any defending division champ. At +750 to win the NFC South, it’s nearly a lock that the division will see a new winner, with the Saints the favorite (+130). The other reason is the addition of Derek Carr, who expects to make them the most improved team at quarterback in the NFC.

2. Detroit Lions -170

Like the Saints, the Detroit Lions aren’t just expected to make the playoffs but win their division (+145 to win the NFC North). The Lions also benefit from the departure of a Hall of Fame quarterback within the division. In addition, they were “the first team out” of the 2022 playoffs to use college basketball parlance. At 9-8, Detroit was the only NFC team with a winning mark not to make the playoffs and had a better record than the NFC South-winning Bucs. Books and bettors expect the Lions to continue improving with Dan Campbell and Jared Goff. With an emerging offensive line, this offense could be excellent.

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3. New York Jets -134

While Tom Brady retired, Aaron Rodgers switched conferences. He appears to be wholly reinvigorated and fully invested in the New York Jets, who are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. New York’s passing offense could be the most improved in the NFL, and Robert Saleh’s defense unit might be the league’s best. Led by Quinnen Williams and Sauce Gardner, they have an elite defensive line (pass rush) and secondary built to handle the top offenses in modern football.

4. Atlanta Falcons +104

If not the Saints, why not the Atlanta Falcons? Arthur Smith’s team is the second choice to win the NFC South (+210), second only to New Orleans among non-playoff teams from 2022 regarding division odds. The Falcons added rookie running back Bijan Robinson, the favorite (+300) to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. For postseason success, you’d much prefer to build around a young quarterback, but Smith knows a little something about winning regular-season games behind a workhorse back from his days running Tennessee’s offense.

5. Cleveland Browns +112

Doesn’t it always feel like the Cleveland Browns, who beat out the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers (+128), are on the cusp? They’ve been considered a talented team for several years running but have only made the postseason once since 2002, so they’ve had a lot of opportunities to break through. They didn’t add a quarterback, but they sort of did if Deshaun Watson can rediscover his 2018-2020 form. If Watson plays at an elite level, all bets are off, and the Browns ceiling could go beyond just making the playoffs.

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