2023 NFL Season: AFC can be most competitive conference ever

The AFC in the 2023 NFL season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive and talented conferences the league has ever seen.  When looking at the teams in the conference, I think as many as 12 of them all have solid arguments to make the postseason.  It’s truly insane how talented this conference is, and I think we could see one of the most competitive conferences of all time in 2023.

There may only be a team or two who win, let’s say, 12 or 13 games, but I don’t think it’s impossible to see 10+ teams finish with a winning record.  It’s really a shame that there are only seven playoff spots up for grabs, because a 12-team playoff in the AFC would truly be something to behold.

Between elite quarterback play, elite coaching, and loaded rosters, the AFC in the 2023 NFL season is shaping up to be something that we’ve never seen before.

2023 NFL Season: AFC can be most competitive conference ever

Last year’s division champions in the AFC were the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars.  I really don’t think we need to make any sort of argument for these teams to again at least make the postseason.  They’re the best of the best in the conference and are the teams to beat in their respective divisions.

What is interesting is what I believe to be as many as eight teams vying for the three Wild Card spots.

All of the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Tennessee Titans have an argument to make the postseason in 2023.  Besides the Broncos and Jets, the rest of these teams have all made the playoffs within the last few years.

The two teams that I’d feel like I’d need to make an argument for are the two teams with the longest playoff-drought streaks in the NFL with the Broncos and Jets.

Sean Payton is now running the show in Denver and has a Hall of Fame coaching resume.  He’s won over 150 games, has a winning record in the playoffs, a Super Bowl title, and a huge record of offensive success.  It’s not farfetched to think that Payton can enact an immediate turnaround in Denver, much like he did back in 2006 with the New Orleans Saints.

If Russell Wilson can return to his old self, the Denver Broncos are going to be a dangerous team.  The Jets are similarly constructed.  They traded for Aaron Rodgers, who won back-to-back MVP awards in 2020 and 2021.  Rodgers comes to a Jets’ team that featured a top-five defense in 2022 and some added playmakers.

Rodgers did have the worst year of his career in 2022 with the Green Bay Packers, but like Wilson, you can argue that the drop in performance was not primarily the QB’s fault.

The rest of the six teams that I think have a shot at the playoffs all have at least one of the following: elite coaching, elite quarterbacking, and stout defenses.  Some of those clubs have all three, or at least two of them.

What may end up being a bit frustrating for the broader NFL base is that there are bound to be a few AFC teams who we’d like to see make the playoffs in the 2023 NFL season that may not because of a tiebreaker.

However, the talent in this conference for the 2023 NFL season is undeniable.