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NFL Schedule Release: The 6 Easiest, Hardest Paths to the Playoffs

The 2023 NFL Schedule release occurred on Thursday night, and now we can get a better idea of which teams have the best shot at the playoffs
NFL Schedule Release

The NFL recently released the schedule for all 32 teams in the league, which means that we know have a full understanding of the path each team must take to reach the playoffs. While we already knew the opponent, we now know the order in which these games will be played and how far each team will have to travel.

NFL Schedule Release: The 6 Hardest, Easiest Paths to the Playoffs

The Hard Ones

New England Patriots

We knew before the NFL schedule release that the New England Patriots are going to be in for a rough time in 2023. Going from Matt Patricia to Bill O’Brien is a massive upgrade, but the rest of the roster didn’t improve too dramatically in the past few months. Seven of New England’s eight wins last year came against backup quarterbacks, or quarterbacks that would later be benched, and they can’t bet on having that type of luck for a second consecutive season. Unless their impressive rookie class can contribute immediately, they’re probably looking at another mediocre season.

Prediction: No playoffs

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have a much harder schedule this time around, but it’s hard to bet against Josh Allen. While it doesn’t look like they’ll have DeAndre Hopkins, they do have Dalton Kincaid and should remain one of the best teams in football, regardless of how hard their schedule release is.

Prediction: Playoffs, AFC East champions

Kansas City Chiefs

See above. If you’re betting against the Kansas City Chiefs, you’re going to lose money. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are the 2020’s version of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and they’ve yet to win fewer than 12 games since Mahomes took over. Last year, they lost Tyreek Hill and still won the Super Bowl, so while this is a difficult schedule, they should be up for the challenge.

Prediction: Playoffs, AFC West champions

Las Vegas Raiders

Poor Raiders fans. After making the playoffs in 2021, Josh McDaniels has done his part to prove that his first head coaching stint wasn’t an accident. McDaniels is a good offensive mind, but it takes more than that to be a reliable head coach. Going from Derek Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo is a massive downgrade, and the team didn’t do enough in free agency to offset that loss. If Mark Davis can afford to fire him, McDaniels will probably be gone before the end of the season.

Prediction: No playoffs

Miami Dolphins

It’s impossible to predict the success of the 2023 Miami Dolphins without knowing the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. While he’s no superstar, he is good enough to get the most out of this stacked roster. Assuming he can stay healthy, the Dolphins should push for a Wild Card birth, even with this difficult schedule.

Prediction: Down to the wire with the New York Jets

Baltimore Ravens

While they had a rough go of things early in the offseason, the morale surrounding the Baltimore Ravens has improved dramatically over the past few weeks. After signing Odell Beckham, the team agreed to terms with Lamar Jackson and later selected Zay Flowers in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. This team now has the firepower to complement their defense and should be one of better teams in the league.

Prediction: Playoffs, 5 or 6 seed

The Easy Ones

New Orleans Saints

The 2023 New Orleans Saints will look a lot different than their 2022 counterparts, as they have a new quarterback and lost multiple starters along the defensive line. While they probably won’t be real contenders, they should be NFC South favorites and could end up with double-digits wins against this easy schedule.

Prediction: Playoffs, NFC South champions

Atlanta Falcons

Desmond Ridder may or may not be the future of this organization, but he’ll have an easy path to prove his case this year. As someone that is firmly anti-Ridder, the easy schedule probably won’t matter. The team also had a rough NFL Draft, so they shouldn’t expect too much from their rookies.

Prediction: No playoffs

Carolina Panthers

Adjusting to life in the NFL is never easy, but at least this schedule will make the task less daunting for whoever the Panthers select with the first-overall pick. Carolina went 6-6 when Matt Rhule wasn’t running the show, so this team isn’t as far away as some believe. If Bryce Young hits the ground running, they might be able to compete with the Saints in a weak NFC South. However, that’s a big ask for a rookie quarterback.

Prediction: No playoffs

Indianapolis Colts

Much like the Atlanta Falcons, the Indianapolis Colts have too many holes on their roster for a weak schedule to mean much of anything. However, this is a good sign for Anthony Richardson, who will be able to adjust to NFL life against a relatively weak slate of opponents.

Prediction: No playoffs

Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence is on the path to being an elite quarterback, and Trent Baalke has built a competent roster in Jacksonville for the first time since 2017. This team was going to be dangerous no matter what, but with this schedule, they could make a push for the first-overall seed in the AFC.

Prediction: Playoffs, AFC South champions

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans have officially missed their championship window, and the team seems to know it. The Titans have parted ways with multiple veterans and are reportedly shopping Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, so they probably won’t compete for the playoffs, even with a weak schedule. The best thing they can do is turn the team over to Will Levis and see if he sinks or swims. In a worst-case scenario, a bad Levis probably puts the team in a position to select Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in 2024.


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