The Circuit’s 2023 NFL Season Predictions
The 2023 season is upon us! With one legend on a new team and one legend retired (for now…), this season promises to shake things up! Except for the fact that there is a runaway freight train in the AFC West. Who will win MVP? Who will win the #1 pick? And can anyone stop Kansas City? Find out what The Circuit has to say! Circuit Artwork Fall is in the air, and that means Tom Brady is rising from his hyperbaric chamber after his five month slumber and football is back baby! Can the Rams repeat? Will the Chiefs miss Tyreek Hill? How many weeks will it take to get used to Joe Buck & Troy Aikman on MNF? We answer all your questions and more! First, we’re mixing things up and starting with the individual awards! I predict the five major NFL awards, as well as five of my classic novelty awards. Here we go! NFL MVP: Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) Getty Images WHOOOOA!!! I know, I know. I have been on the Joe Burrow MVP train for a while now, but this calf injury is scaring me. I think they’ll be very cautious with him to start the season (as they should be). I think it’s even on the board he doesn’t play for a few weeks, and that will hurt him tremendously. When it comes to Lawrence, let’s look at history; In his second year with Doug Pederson as his coach, Carson Wentz was going to win the MVP before he got hurt. And I think we can all agree that Lawrence is infinitely better than Wentz. So with Lawrence in year 3 in the NFL, year 2 with Pederson and a division where they will rack up wins, give me Lawrence with the surprise MVP (we all know Mahomes is the best player alive and he will be for the next 12 years minimum. But they won’t give it to him every year. And I’m betting this year is one of the years they won’t). NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett (Cleveland Browns) Getty Images Jalen Ramsey was (yet again) my pick for this but then he went down likely for the year… so hard to see a path for him winning. Garrett has been a game-wrecker for years now, and I expect the Browns to be better than most people do, so give me Garrett finally winning this award. He has to at some point, right? NFL Coach of the Year: Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs) Getty Images I don’t see a lot of strong contenders emerging this season for Coach of the Year, so I’ll go with the best coach in the game right now. If they won’t give the quarterback an award, maybe they give one to the coach. NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Bijan Robinson (Atlanta Falcons) Getty Images I am very low on this quarterback class, so I’ll go with the racehorse that is joining a weapons palooza in Atlanta. I think he’ll get a lot of carries immediately, and be a major reason why the Falcons improve tremendously. This is the easiest pick of them all! NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Carter (Philadelphia Eagles) Getty Images Ohhhhh boy! My team got THE STEAL of the draft! Once considered maybe the top pick in the draft, to get him at #9 was unbelievable. Look for Carter to be motivated after all the drama that surrounded him in college, and he’ll run away with this award. Nat Hackett Awful Coaching Award: Jonathan Gannon (Arizona Cardinals) Getty Images A new namesake!!! For the first time in the history of The Circuit novelty awards across all sports, we’ve changed the name. That’s how truly, exceptionally awful Nat Hackett was last year in Denver. Somewhere, in some Donut shop, Jim Tomsula is celebrating. I watched Gannon in Philly last year, and was unimpressed. Now you’re giving him the keys to a franchise with a disaster at quarterback, star wide receiver gone and almost no talent? To quote Morgan Freeman in The Dark Knight; Good luck. Kirk Cousins “You Like That?” Award: Deshaun Watson (Cleveland Browns) Getty Images Sure he looked bad last year, but of course he did! He hadn’t played football in 18 months. Just two years ago he was looked at as a top-5 quarterback, and now that he’s knocked the rust off I expect him to return to that form in a big way in 2023. Tim Tebow Playoff Charge Award: Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals) Getty Images I am capital C Concerned about this lingering calf injury. I think the Bengals will start slow, everyone will panic, and then as soon as the calendar flips to November, Burrow and the Bengals will get rolling and ride a huge wave of momentum into the playoffs. Randy Moss Most Impactful Acquisition Award: Aaron Rodgers (New York Jets) Getty Images The Jets were highly competitive last year with far and away the worst quarterback play in the league. Even if Rodgers isn’t his MVP form from 2020 and 2021, as long as he’s better than Zach Wilson and that guy who got folded in half like a card table, the Jets should be contenders. Mark Sanchez Butt-Fumble Award: Derek Carr (New Orleans Saints) Getty Images Last year, everyone said that the Saints were a good team that just needed a top-15 quarterback. And everyone said that Carr is a top-15 quarterback that just needed a good team. Welp. I see the Saints AND Carr being about the same as they were last year because they have a bad coach, and both are simply overrated. I’m continuing my trend of not projecting win-loss totals, but just sticking to over/unders because they’re more fun and this serves as a gambling guide to my degenerate brethren. However I was interested in how often teams had the advantage at quarterback? To determine this, I created a QB Quadrant system I made up. The system is quite simple: I rank all 32 (projected) starting quarterbacks into 4 separate quadrants; The Logan Roy Quadrant, the Kendall Roy Quadrant, the Shiv Roy Quadrant and the Roman Roy Quadrant. Without further ado, here are my QB Quadrants! Quarterback Rankings: Logan Roy Quadrant (These guys can do it all by themselves. They can run the show and carry the team on their shoulders no matter who or what is around them) Getty Images Aaron Rodgers (New YorkJets) Last Year= Q1 Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles) Last Year= Q3 Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals) Last Year= Q1 Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) Last Year= Q1 Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers) Last Year= Q1 Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) Last Year= Q2 Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) Last Year= Q1 Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) Last Year= Q3 Aaron Rodgers appears to be all-in with the Jets. Maybe he’s washed, maybe he isn’t, but there was no one in the Kendall Roy Quadrant really stepping up to knock him out. Until he’s washed-washed, he’ll be in the top tier. Hurts is one of the big risers in the QB Quadrants from ‘22 to ‘23. A Super Bowl run and MVP runner-up finish will do that! I still am not 100% convinced he can be an elite passer, but I am convinced he’s an elite leader. Not to mention, he’s easily the best QB in the NFC. Joe Burrow is the fucking man, man. Would have been my MVP prediction if not for the calf injury, and will likely have multiple before he hangs em up. He could have his leg amputated this fall and he’ll still be in the Q1. Allen had a bad year last year. Throwing up turnovers in the red zone, getting blasted at home in the playoffs, and pissing off his best receiver. Yikes. The quarterback position is still pretty weak overall so he was in no danger of slipping into Q2, but the arrow isn’t pointing straight up like it was from ‘21 to ‘22. Herbert is stuck in a cursed franchise. The fact that he is a no-doubt Q1 QB is amazing, and unfortunate he’s trapped in former San Diego. Lamar also moved up from last year, but it has little to do with him improving and more to do with one Q1 guy retiring (Brady), one Q1 guy getting hurt (Stafford) and one Q1 guy doing jumping jacks on an airplane (Wilson). I have never bought into Lamar dating back to Louisville, but maybe bringing in Odell can get him over the edge. Mahomes will be here until he retires. Lawrence is my MVP pick, so it would be pretty strange if he wasn’t in Q1. He was the best college quarterback I’ve ever watched, and towards the end of last season he began to show flashes of brilliance. Kendall Roy Quadrant (These guys show flashes of brilliance and overall are quite competent. Can’t quite carry the team on their shoulders, but with a great (legal) defense and a solid PR team, they can shine) Getty Images Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) Last Year= Q2 Deshaun Watson (Cleveland Browns) Last Year= Unranked Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks) Last Year= Q4 Jared Goff (Detroit Lions) Last Year= Q3 Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings) Last Year= Q2 Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams) Last Year= Q1 Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos) Last Year= Q1 Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins) Last Year= Q3 Dak is… Dak. Some people act like he’s an elite quarterback and they’re just flatly wrong. He’s Kirk Cousins with more commercials, and that’s just a fact. The touchdowns, the passer rating, the wins, all of it are almost identical to Cousins. If Dak ever wants to be a Q1 guy, he needs to win big in the playoffs instead of sliding to run out the clock… when he was trailing. Watson is a total wild card. Some people will just blindly hate him because of the off-the-field stuff, but guess what? That doesn’t matter on the football field! He was elite in college and elite in the NFL until he got suspended, and I’m betting on him getting back to form this season. If you had told me this time last year that Smith would jump from Q4 to Q2, I would have laughed at you. He was awesome last year, and his team is better this year. Look out! Everyone loves the Lions, and seemingly are back on Goff? He did helm one of the best offenses of the last 25 years in the 2018 Rams and led them to a Super Bowl? Apparently only I remember that. Yes he’s good! Cousins will be a Q2 guy until he retires. No better. No worse. Stafford fell from Q1 more so due to circumstance than me believing he’s gotten visibly worse. He got hurt and the team absolutely fell apart, so I can’t justify him being elite. But I still think he’s better than half the quarterbacks in the league. Jesus Christ, Russell Wilson. Last year was baaaaaad. He’s lucky I only dropped him to Q2. I could see Tua ending up in Q1 by the end of the year with those weapons. I could also see him being out of the league due to concussions. Time will tell, but for now he’s above average. Shiv Roy Quadrant (These guys are wild cards. There’s a 50/50 shot they can make the right decisions and turn in a really great year. There’s also a 50/50 shot they burn the team to the ground with mistake after mistake) Getty Images Brock Purdy (San Francisco 49ers) Last Year= Unranked Daniel Jones (New York Giants) Last Year= Q4 Derek Carr (New Orleans Saints) Last Year= Q2 Jimmy Garoppolo (Las Vegas Raiders) Last Year= Unranked Jordan Love (Green Bay Packers) Last Year= Unranked Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers) Last Year= Unranked Mac Jones (New England Patriots) Last Year= Q3 Ryan Tannenhill (Tennessee Titans) Last Year= Q2 I am not sold that Purdy is elite. But I did watch him catch fire last year, and I really liked him at Iowa State, so there is some pedigree there. He might very well be a borderline Q1 guy after this season, but I just need to see it one more year. Danny Dimes!!! Moving on up! He turned a completely average season into a huge payday, so mad props. I think he’s below average, and won’t remain the starter for the length of this contract. Derek Carr has never been great, and with a really bad coach I’m not convinced he will even be good again. Jimmy G… I don’t know, man. Last year he was benched, then came in and threw picks out of the back of his own endzone, then got hurt, now he’s back with McDaniels in Vegas (where there are plenty of *clears throat* adult video stars). This might not be great. I believe in Jordan Love. He’s had time to sit and watch, to learn how to play, and I think he has an awesome receiver in Christian Watson. I like Love to have a good year and maybe even move up into Q2 by 2024! I do like Pickett, and I think he can be the face of the Steelers for a decade. I just think it will take some time, and he doesn’t have a great team around him so he’s still in the bottom half of NFL quarterbacks. Mac Jones played really well his rookie year and then was saddled with a defensive coach at OC. Of course he looked bad! I expect him to bounce back, I just have to see it first. Tannenhill feels like the clock finally struck midnight. It was a great story in 2019, and then it just kind of continued for another couple years? Even though we all knew he wasn’t HIM. He’s a perfectly serviceable quarterback with a plethora of experience and poise, but his ceiling is just not that high. Roman Roy Quadrant (If these guys are your quarterback; you’re concerned. They’ll make a good play here and there, but there’s a much better shot your team is playing for the #1 pick rather than a playoff spot come Thanksgiving) Getty Images Anthony Richardson (Indianapolis Colts) Last Year= Unranked Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) Last Year= Q4 Bryce Young (Carolina Panthers) Last Year= Unranked CJ Stroud (Houston Texans) Last Year= Unranked Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons) Last Year= Unranked Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) Last Year= Q4 Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals) Last Year= Q2 Sam Howell (Washington Commanders) Last Year= Unranked Richardson, Stroud, Ridder, Young and Howell are all getting their first real reps this year so it’s hard to judge any of them. I think Love will be pretty good, I think Howell will be very bad. The other three you could tell me any scenario and I would believe it. Baker, Baker, Baker. I have generally been a Baker guy, and think he should have stayed with the Rams after he played well for them last season. On a Tampa Bay team that all of a sudden is rudderless, I do not expect this to go well. The Justin Fields discourse is irresponsible and must be stopped. People picking him for MVP and saying the Bears are Super Bowl dark horse contenders need to have their opinion cards removed. This team is going to suck, just like they did last year and the year before that. Justin Fields is an above-average running quarterback and maybe the worst throwing quarterback in the league. This guy does not have it and never will. And then there’s Kyler Murray. Starting to feel like maybe he should have picked baseball, huh? He had a great 6 weeks to start 2022 and other than that it’s been a disaster. He better hope Caleb Williams has a bad year at USC, or Kyler might be out of a job come April. Now let’s take a look at the divisions! We will go through each division and pick the over/under for all 32 teams! AFC East Getty Images Miami Dolphins (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER New York Jets (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER Buffalo Bills (Over/Under=10.5 wins) UNDER New England Patriots (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER The Dolphins will cruise to the over assuming Tua can stay healthy. I think the Jets and the Bills are going to be very close in record, with the former ever so slightly hitting the over and the latter ever so slightly hitting the under. The Patriots are going to struggle, and the fire Bill murmurs will grow louder and louder as the season goes along. AFC North Getty Images Cleveland Browns (Over/Under=8.5 wins) OVER Cincinnati Bengals (Over/Under=11.5 wins) UNDER Pittsburgh Steelers (Over/Under=8.5 wins) OVER Baltimore Ravens (Over/Under=9.5 wins) UNDER I like this Browns team. Garrett is an elite pass rusher, Chubb is an elite rusher, and I believe Watson will bounce back in a big way. Give me the over and a real AFC sleeper. The only reason I have the Bengals with the under is because I am concerned about Burrow’s calf, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they stumble out of the gates and can never really catch their footing. Every year feels like the year Tomilin will go under .500… but this will not be that year. I like the Steelers as a stealth playoff team in 2023. I like the Ravens offseason, and yet I still don’t think this team is going to be very good. In a really tough division, someone has to finish 4th, right? AFC South Getty Images Jacksonville Jaguars (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER Tennessee Titans (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER Indianapolis Colts (Over/Under=6.5 wins) UNDER Houston Texans (Over/Under=5.5 wins) UNDER Jacksonville is going to obliterate this division, and could hit the over by Thanksgiving. Lawrence will be the MVP and the Jaguars are very much alive for the #1 seed in the AFC. Despite having at least 3 wins within the division, Vrabel is still one of the best coaches in the league and they have an elite running back who actually can make a difference. Tannenhill is still the second best QB in the division, I don’t see this team being very good this season. It’s likely they turn the huddle over to either Willis or Levis by Thanksgiving, so 7 wins seems pretty likely. You could tell me Anthony Richardson is going to win an MVP someday or you could tell me he’ll be out of the league in 3 years, and both are equally believable. But for this season? Yeah, this team won’t be very good. Especially without Taylor, their best player. The Texans certainly got better, I love Ryans as a coach and think he’ll build a real culture there. It’s just 2 or 3 years too early for them to actually be competitive. AFC West Getty Images Kansas City Chiefs (Over/Under=11.5 wins) OVER Los Angeles Chargers (Over/Under=9.5 wins) UNDER Las Vegas Raiders (Over/Under=7.5 wins) OVER Denver Broncos (Over/Under=8.5 wins) UNDER As long as Patrick Mahomes is on the team, Kansas City isn’t losing 6 games. I don’t care whether Chris Jones is there or not. If Travis Kelce is there or not. Sorry to break it to everyone, but it doesn’t matter! The Chiefs will win 12 games as long as #15 is under center. Period. Jacksonville broke the Chargers in a way that can not be recovered from. Despite adding one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL in Kellen Moore, I think this team is about to take a huge step back. I like the Raiders! They have talent, and the greatest player of all-time is now a partial owner. I like the vibes in Vegas! Let’s ride! To a 7-10 season! Go Broncos. NFC East Getty Images Philadelphia Eagles (Over/Under=10.5 wins) OVER Dallas Cowboys (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER New York Giants (Over/Under=8.5 wins) UNDER Washington Commanders (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER The Eagles are better than they were last year, they have the best *motivational leader* in the league in Jalen Hurts, they got the best player in the draft at #9, and they’re bringing back the Kelly Green uniforms! And they’re my favorite team. Way over! Dallas lost their offensive mastermind in Kellen Moore, their workhorse back Ezekiel Elliott, and they’re the Cowboys. They’ll be really good, but not great. The Giants were a great story last season, but they’re primed for a regression. Unfortunately that tends to happen when you sign a below-average quarterback to a big deal! I actually think the Commanders could be sneaky good with that defense, but it just so happens they have an awful coach and an awful quarterback. Tough to overcome in a division with the Eagles and Cowboys. NFC North Getty Images Green Bay Packers (Over/Under=7.5 wins) OVER Detroit Lions (Over/Under=9.5 wins) UNDER Minnesota Vikings (Over/Under=8.5 wins) UNDER Chicago Bears (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER I think the Packers, Lions and Vikings will all be within 2 games of each other, specifically in that order. Green Bay finally has good chemistry, the Lions *Martin Short panic noise* appear to be good, and the Vikings can’t possibly repeat their success in close games. And then there are the Bears. Everyone’s favorite sleeper pick for the division AND the MVP!!! No fucking chance. This team, as they have every year with Justin Fields, will suck. NFC South Getty Images Atlanta Falcons (Over/Under=8.0 wins) OVER New Orleans Saints (Over/Under=9.5 wins) UNDER Carolina Panthers (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Over/Under=6.5 wins) UNDER Gimmie the Falcons! They have a ton of weapons and a solid coach in a really bad division. If Ridder can just be competent, they should win the NFC South. The Saints should be better. But will they really be? Derek Carr is probably an upgrade at quarterback, but will he be? I think the Saints will be a fringe playoff contender, but that doesn’t seem like it will be good enough. Bryce Young is a questionable franchise quarterback, but he’s got some good pieces around him, particularly on defense. The Panthers won’t be very good, but they’ll be better. Oof. I like Baker! One Browns quarterback has won a playoff game since M*A*S*H was airing live, and that’s Baker Mayfield. But unfortunately this team sold their soul to win a Super Bowl, and now the bill is coming due. NFC West Getty Images San Francisco 49ers (Over/Under=11.5 wins) OVER Seattle Seahawks (Over/Under=8.5 wins) OVER Los Angeles Rams (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER Arizona Cardinals (Over/Under=5.5 wins) UNDER Shanahan will have Purdy ready to roll, and with all those weapons the 49ers are going to beat this over and be a real Super Bowl threat. And are we sure Tom Brady won't be on this team come Thanksgiving? Are we really sure? I might pick the Seahawks to win 4 or 5 divisions in the NFL, but unfortunately this isn’t one of them. They have an excellent coach, a quarterback who is having one of the best resurgences of all-time, and they’ve absolutely nailed their last few drafts. I like the Hawks a lot, just not as much as San Francisco. Poor Rams. I have a Rams fan in my life and she is bracing for a rough next 5 years. Much like the Bucs, they sold their soul to win the Super Bowl. This bill could be incredibly difficult to stomach, as this very well could be the last season in Los Angeles for Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. Yikes. Well we know Caleb Williams looks good in red! Now that the gambling is out of the way, it’s time to make some playoff predictions! AFC Wild Card Round: Getty Images 2 Kansas City Chiefs def 7 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 Cincinnati Bengals def 3 Miami Dolphins 5 New York Jets def 4 Cleveland Browns The Steelers will take great strides this season, and Pickett will evolve into a legit quarterback… but let’s be real, the Chiefs will roll them in this game. The Bengals will fall to the #6 seed due to Burrow’s nagging calf injury that may or may not be serious, but all bets are off when the playoffs arrive. They go on the road and take out the Dolphins in the Florida heat. How many times have both the Jets AND the Browns made the playoffs in the same season? I could probably count those instances on one hand. But in this great back-and-forth game, give me Rodgers and the Jets on the road. NFC Wild Card Round: Getty Images 2 San Francisco 49ers def 7 Detroit Lions 6 Seattle Seahawks def 3 Green Bay Packers 5 Dallas Cowboys def 4 Atlanta Falcons Everyone is on the Lions this year, but how soon everyone forgets… they’re the Lions! Some franchises just aren’t meant to succeed, and I’m not sure why people aren’t respecting that hierarchy. I think they sneak into the playoffs in a very weak conference, but get wrecked by a vastly superior 49ers team. Packers-Seahawks will be a fun contest, but I like this Seahawks team just a bit more. But the future is bright in Lambeau! Atlanta will put up a ton of points in the regular season, but will come to a (falcon) screeching halt against the elite Dallas defense. Give me Dak and them ‘Boys fairly comfortably. AFC Divisional Round: Getty Images 1 Jacksonville Jaguars def 6 Cincinnati Bengals 2 Kansas City Chiefs def 5 New York Jets The Jaguars might not have a great defense, but it will be juuuuust good enough to get by the Bengals and get to the AFC title game in an all-time classic. The Jets are a fun story, but they aren’t going into Arrowhead and beating the Chiefs. Sorry. NFC Divisional Round: Getty Images 1 Philadelphia Eagles def 6 Seattle Seahawks 3 Dallas Cowboys def 2 San Francisco 49ers I like the Seahawks, but not this much. The Eagles are loaded for bear and will roll Seattle at the Link. And then the big one. Part III of this recent little rivalry between Dallas and San Francisco, and finally the Cowboys get one! McCarthy won’t be staring up at the jumbotron in a befuddled state. Dak won’t slide to run the clock out when he’s trailing. And I don’t know what Jerry Jones won’t do, but he won’t do it. For the first time since before I was born, the Cowboys will play in the NFC Championship! AFC Conference Championship: Getty Images 1 Jacksonville Jaguars def 2 Kansas City Chiefs I know, I know. This is CRAZY. But I can’t pick the Chiefs every year! In the first true road playoff game for Mahomes, I think the Chiefs come up just short, and Trevor Lawrence ascends to his rightful place in the NFL hierarchy. NFC Conference Championship: Getty Images 1 Philadelphia Eagles def 5 Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl hangover my ass! Jalen Hurts won’t let this team fall off. We may have a maniac for a coach, but we are stacked at every position that matters (so every position other than running backs… I didn’t make the rules, I just follow them. You guys don’t matter. Sorry!). Give me the Eagles somewhat easily, flying high into another Super Bowl. Super Bowl: Getty Images 1 Philadelphia Eagles def 1 Jacksonville Jaguars (Super Bowl MVP: DeVonta Smith) FLY EAGLES FLY!!! I hate to be that guy and pick my team to win, but to quote Killmonger, “I’m just feelin’ it”. The last time I picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl was 2011, and that was a disaster. But this will be different! Eagles in a blowout, and this site will party hard! There you have it! All my predictions for the 2023 NFL season, the year Make sure to check back in towards the end of September for my 1st Quarter Polls to see what I got right and more importantly, what I got wrong!