Bellus’ Betting Breakdown: Who’s in and who’s out?
As we approach the start of yet another NFL season it is time to remember one of our favourite trends when it comes to predicting who will make the postseason.
No matter what happens this year, I can guarantee you that the playoffs will feature postseason turnover.
While some teams at the top of the conference can make multiple trips in a row to the postseason, the bottom of the conference feels like a revolving door.
Since 2012, there have been at least four new playoff teams in every season, and since the playoffs expanded in 2020, there have been seven new playoff teams every season.
And that’s the beauty of the NFL, teams have the ability to go worst-to-first thanks to scheduling, and can flip a division on its head after one down season.
Here are the playoff teams from last season as a reminder:
2022 Playoff Picture
|Ravens (NEW)||Giants (NEW)|
|Dolphins (NEW)||Seahawks (NEW)|
As it currently stands, I can see at least three new teams jumping into the fold this season.
New York Jets
And If the trend of seven new teams happens again this year, here are four other teams I’ll discuss at the end of this piece
New Orleans Saints
Let’s get to those teams.
New York Jets IN, Miami Dolphins OUT
The Jets have been a quarterback away for more than a decade and enter this year with the longest active playoff drought at 12 years.
Enter Aaron Rodgers.
With Rodgers, the Jets now have a quarterback to compete with the rest of the best teams in the AFC.
Last year, New York won seven games largely thanks to their defence as the unit gave up just the fourth-fewest points in the league.
In 2022 the Jets scored 17 or fewer points nine times, and went 0-9 in those games.
Meanwhile, despite being a down season, Rodgers quarterbacked the Green Bay Packers to the 14th-highest scoring offence in the league, averaging 21.7 points per game.
Rodgers and the Packers made the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons.
As for Miami, while talent is there on both sides of the ball it’s hard to feel comfortable with Tua Tagovailoa playing all 17 games at quarterback.
And in a loaded conference, you’re only going to be as good as your quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons IN, Tampa Bay Buccaneers OUT
I have already written about the Falcons this summer, so here’s a link on why I like them to win the division.
Detroit Lions IN, New York Giants OUT
Motor City Dan Campbell has the beautiful people of Detroit ready for some postseason football.
It’s hard to tell a Lions’ fan not to be excited.
Last year, Detroit won nine games, finishing the season with a record above .500 for the first time since 2017.
This year, the Lions will look to end the league’s second-longest playoff drought of six years.
A trip to the postseason has been a few years in the making for the Lions.
Despite a 12-21-1 record in the standings over the last two seasons, the team is 23-11 against under Dan Campbell, best in the league.
The Lions were 9-1 when they won the turnover battle in 2022 and 0-6 when they lost the turnover battle.
But an adjustment to the passing game following a Week 9 win over Green Bay resulted in Jared Goff throwing 15 touchdowns in the closing nine games, with no interceptions.
The team lost just two of those games, barely missing the playoffs.
This year, expect rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama to have an immediate impact.
If Gibbs can catch passes in the NFL like he did in college, he’ll fill the void of D’Andre Swift just nicely, who was second on the team in targets last year.
Here is a look at my new projected playoff picture for this season:
2023 Projected Playoff Picture (3 new teams)
I think these look reasonable, but let’s say it’s five new teams. Let’s add two more.
2023 Projected Playoff Picture (5 new teams)
|Titans (NEW)||Falcons (NEW)|
Tennessee Titans IN, Jacksonville Jaguars OUT
Mike Vrabel brought winning football back to Tennessee.
The Titans won the AFC South in 2020 for the first time since 2008.
And they followed it up with another title in 2021.
They came up one game short of making it three straight last year, and somehow lost their final seven games of the year.
Starter Ryan Tannehill won’t set any records, but he wins games. The quarterback is 36-19 during his time with the Titans and went 6-6 last year before a season-ending ankle injury.
The Titans lost four of the five games he missed and not only ended their division title streak, but missed the playoffs.
But the pieces are still there and the AFC South is a division for the taking if you can take down Jacksonville.
Trevor Lawrence is great and I see a lot of success for him in Jacksonville, but teams don’t win divisions back-to-back years all the time and weird things happen.
If Jacksonville misses the playoffs I can see it being due to their lack of success in one-score games.
The Jags’ are just 6-10 in games decided by one score or less since drafting Trevor Lawrence, if that keeps up this year, it could be the difference between winning the division and missing the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints IN, Seattle Seahawks OUT
No team has an easier schedule this season, based on win totals, than the Saints.
With Derek Carr now at quarterback I expect this offence to look better than it did with a 34-year-old Andy Dalton slinging it around.
One thing we know about New Orleans is the defence will show up. They’ll keep the team in games.
And if Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas can stay healthy, look for this team to be a tough out come December.
As for Seattle, it was either them or the Vikings that had to go and I just trust the offence in Minnesota a bit more.
While the Seahawks and Geno Smith were certainly better than expectations in 2022, they finished the season with a point difference of +6 and went 3-1 in games decided by less than a field goal.
If the offence regresses at all it could swing their season.
We still have two more teams to go to match the totals from the last three seasons.
I’ll admit, these feel far-fetched. But here’s how it shakes out in my world.
2023 Projected Playoff Picture (7 new teams)
|Titans (NEW)||Falcons (NEW)|
|Steelers (NEW)||Saints (NEW)|
Pittsburgh Steelers IN, Los Angeles Chargers OUT
Like I said, we’re in a little too deep here, but if turnover is going to happen in the AFC, the Chargers could be on the outside looking in.
With memories of blowing a 27-0 lead in the playoffs in the not-too-distant past, a challenging start to the season could put Chargers head coach Brandon Staley on the hot seat.
Meanwhile, Mike Tomlin enters Year 17 with the Steelers looking to punch his ticket to the playoffs for the 11th time after missing the postseason in 2022.
In the six other times Pittsburgh has missed the playoffs under Tomlin, the team has either made the playoffs or finished second in the AFC North the following season.
Pittsburgh won six of their final seven games in 2022 and open the 2023 calendar with a chance to make a statement against the San Francisco 49ers.
We’ve seen plenty of young quarterbacks lead their team to success, let’s see if Kenny Pickett can add his name to that list this year.
Washington Commanders IN, Minnesota Vikings OUT
Folks, I needed a seventh team.
This could’ve been Chicago, it could’ve been Green Bay, shoot it could’ve been a team from the AFC.
But the Vikings have a fatal flaw, and it’s Kirk Cousins.
Cousins has never quarterbacked a team to the playoffs in consecutive seasons and after leading the NFL in fourth-quarter scoring and going a remarkable 11-0 in one-score games last year, this thing could all come crashing down in 2023.
As for Washington, quarterback Sam Howell is going to get a chance to play Patrick Mahomes this year as Eric Bieniemy is now calling plays on offence for the Commanders after being the offensive coordinator in Kansas City for five years.
Meanwhile, Washington has a defence that will give them a chance to compete in the NFC, a conference that is lacking star power at quarterback compared to the AFC.