How each NFL team should approach the rest of the 2023 season

2T8RKJR Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) high fives teammates against the Arizona Cardinals during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov 19, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Maria Lysaker)

As we near the final month and a half of the 2023 NFL regular season, it is make-or-break time for many teams. Do they go for the playoffs, or is it time to turn the page toward the offseason and the 2024 NFL Draft?

Here is what all 32 NFL teams should do moving forward this season.


ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

Arizona Cardinals: Improve, But Still Lose

Record: 2-9
Current draft pick: 2
Chance of making the playoffs: <1%

It feels strange to say the Cardinals have been a pleasant surprise as a 2-9 team with the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft, but it does feel that way. This roster looked bad on paper heading into the season, especially knowing quarterback Kyler Murray was going to miss the first half of the season. But they’ve been up to every challenge each week, giving even some of the best teams on their schedule a run for their money.

With how many young guys the Cardinals are playing, there are a lot of positives for this team to take into the future. They should continue to let their young players get snaps and improve while maintaining a top-three draft pick.

Atlanta Falcons: Win The Division

Record: 4-6
Current draft pick: 8
Chance of making the playoffs: 21%

At 4-6, the Falcons are still just one game out of the NFC South lead. The Saints, currently in first place, don’t look like they’re about to run away with the division, and the Buccaneers, currently tied with the Falcons in second place, won’t rack up an untouchable win total to get into the playoffs, either.

If Atlanta is to be a legitimate contender, the front office will need to address the quarterback position and the pass-rush unit this offseason. But for now, this team isn't bad enough to be drafting Drake Maye or Caleb Williams in April. So go for the playoff spot, and if they are eyeing a quarterback in the draft, get aggressive and trade up.

Baltimore Ravens: Grab The 1 Seed, Win The Super Bowl

Record: 8-3
Current draft pick: 31
Chance of making the playoffs: 95%

The Ravens currently hold the top spot in the AFC, and it feels like this team still hasn’t hit its peak. The defense has bounced back in a big way this season, and quarterback Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP level. You can’t waste seasons like this. They have a chance to host throughout the playoffs, and they have a quarterback who can win the whole thing.

Buffalo Bills: Go Back In Time, Actually Sign DeAndre Hopkins

Record: 6-5
Current draft pick: 18
Chance of making the playoffs: 41%

The real answer for the Bills is to get hot in December, make the playoffs and go on a run. They’ve had some crushing losses, but at 6-5, they’re by no means out of the hunt. Buffalo has suffered through some brutal injuries, especially on defense. But a hole at the WR2 position seems to be the main culprit of their underperformance. They believed in their current group going into the season. That is proving to be blissful ignorance.

Carolina Panthers: Don’t Break Bryce Forever

Record: 1-9
Current draft pick: 1 (to CHI)
Chance of making the playoffs: <1%

It is ugly in Carolina right now, and it is hard to believe anyone outside of the owner and Bryce Young is safe when it comes to next season. There are plenty of building blocks for next year, but of the players and coaches the Panthers can replace, they just might replace all of them.

Frank Reich isn't a bad coach, but it is hard to believe the players will take to his voice for another season after the disaster that has been 2023. Worst of all, Young isn't playing at the high level he proved capable of at Alabama. He looks like a deer in headlights on almost every snap. The receiver room and offensive line — two of the worst units in the league — need to undergo major changes to snap Young out of this funk.

Chicago Bears: Go Get QB1 & WR1

Record: 3-8
Current draft pick: 4
Chance of making the playoffs: 1%

The Bears have the luxury of two top-five selections right now, including No. 1 overall. Thankfully for them, even if they win a game or two down the stretch, they are poised to keep the top spot in the draft due to the Panthers' woes. Chicago should supercharge the offense with Caleb Williams or Drake Maye at the top and Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze with the second pick. Let’s light up the scoreboard in Chicago next season.

Cincinnati Bengals: Take Full Advantage of a Down Year

Record: 5-5
Current draft pick: 17
Chance of making the playoffs: 8

Losing Joe Burrow for the season is a huge blow, as he was showing the Bengals were going to be a force in the playoffs no matter what their seed was. Without Burrow, that’s all out of the window.

The Bengals are 5-5 with the seventh-toughest schedule remaining. There’s a realistic possibility this team could be picking around the top 10. They won’t lose games on purpose, but getting a high draft pick with a roster that is still in a competing window could be a big boost for them. Go get a top-level wide receiver, defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton or tight end Brock Bowers, and come out swinging next season.

Cleveland Browns: Make The Playoffs

Record: 7-3
Current draft pick: 24 (to HOU)
Chance of making the playoffs: 84%

Dorian Thompson-Robinson likely isn't going to be a Cinderella story in the AFC playoffs this year. However, even with Deshaun Watson out for the season, this team should do whatever it can to make the playoffs. This franchise has made the postseason just three times since 1989 — in 1994, 2002 and 2020. The Browns are 7-3 with the 10th-easiest schedule remaining. Plus, this defense might just be the best in the NFL. Go make the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (Super Bowl)

Record: 7-3
Current draft pick: 26
Chance of making the playoffs: 94%

At 7-3, the Cowboys are behind both the Detroit Lions (8-2) and the Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) in the NFC playoff picture. They have the fifth-toughest schedule remaining, which is much higher on the difficulty list than both the Lions and Eagles.

But Dallas is in a winning window. CeeDee Lamb is playing like one of the best receivers in the league, DaRon Bland is good for a defensive touchdown every other week and Dak Prescott is playing really good football. The Cowboys might not be the favorites, but they’ve got the pieces to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.

Denver Broncos: Shut Everyone Up (Make The Playoffs)

Record: 5-5
Current draft pick: 16
Chance of making the playoffs: 26%

On paper, the Broncos' 2022 roster looked good enough for a playoff run. Instead, it was an embarrassing disaster in basically every way. A major coaching shake-up and one 70-20 loss later, the Broncos feel like a different team as it stands today. They’ve played the third-toughest schedule to this point and stand at 5-5 with four wins in a row. It also feels like they’re not close to their offensive ceiling yet, either.

This team — largely due to the Russell Wilson contract and how bad that all started — has been the butt of a lot of NFL jokes over the past year. But they can shut a lot of us up by making it into the postseason after that 2022 circus.

Detroit Lions: Restore the Roar

Record: 8-2
Current draft pick: 30
Chance of making the playoffs: 98%

The Lions' roster isn’t perfect, but they have the ingredients for a playoff run. They rank in the top 10 in expected points added per play, PFF overall grade, PFF rushing grade and PFF receiving grade. This is the beginning of a winning window. Any playoff experience is worth going for.

Green Bay Packers: Get An Answer at QB

Record: 4-6
Current draft pick: 9
Chance of making the playoffs: 21%

Jordan Love was hot and cold to open the 2023 campaign, his first as the Packers' starting quarterback, but has put together a good string of games over the past few weeks. Green Bay currently holds the No. 9 overall pick, which puts them at least in the conversation for a quarterback. The most important thing they can do is establish whether they truly believe Love is the team's future at the position. The rest of the offseason will revolve around that.

Houston Texans: “Playoffs!? Are You Kidding Me!?”

Record: 6-4
Current draft pick: 21 (to ARZ)
Chance of making the playoffs: 47%

In the immortal words of Jim Mora: “Playoffs!?” You better believe it. What DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud have done for the Texans for them to be 6-4 and currently in a wild-card spot is remarkable, given their preseason outlook.

The front office already made big splashes last draft with Stroud, edge defender Will Anderson and wide receiver Tank Dell. They’ll continue to build the roster over the next year, but to have a chance to establish a playoff/winning culture so quickly is huge for this franchise. Even if you’re most likely a one-and-done in the postseason, making it there is the goal.

Indianapolis Colts: Continue The Youth Movement

Record: 5-5
Current draft pick: 15
Chance of making the playoffs: 37%

It feels like a waste of a year in Indianapolis with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson hurt and not able to gain valuable experience. He was off to a promising start, too. It would be wise for the Colts to continue to play their young guys and see what they have before making a run at the division next season when Richardson is healthy.

JuJu Brents and Jaylon Jones have shown promise in the secondary, and Josh Downs and Blake Freeland have taken on significant workloads. Allowing those younger players to get more regular-season action will help determine where the Colts need to go in the draft this year. At this stage, it looks like a top-tier wide receiver is the move.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Fix Key Offensive Woes

Record: 7-3
Current draft pick: 28
Chance of making the playoffs: 89%

The Jaguars have suffered a few frustrating losses in 2023, particularly against playoff-caliber teams in the Chiefs and 49ers, but they are still 7-3 at the top of their division with a chance to host a playoff game.

The offense’s inability to convert in key situations — on third and fourth down and in the red zone — has hindered Jacksonville at times. The team ranks 24th in the league in third-down conversions, 28th in fourth-down conversions and 28th in red-zone conversions (touchdowns). Yet, the Jaguars are 7-3. Improve even slightly in those areas, and this team can make some noise.

Kansas City Chiefs: Hold Open Tryouts at WR

Record: 7-3
Current draft pick: 29
Chance of making the playoffs: 96%

The Chiefs need the Midwest version of Vince Papale. Kansas City’s 19 drops this season are the fifth most in the league. Their 71.6 team receiving grade ranks 16th in the league. And with all due respect, giving Justin Watson 11 targets in a key primetime game against the Eagles isn't ideal.

Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney have been disappointing. Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling aren’t as reliable as they need to be. It’s just not good enough right now. The Chiefs can't do much about the problem at this point, but they have to prioritize an impact wide receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Read More: The Chiefs have boxed themselves into a WR dilemma. Rookie Rashee Rice may be the answer

Las Vegas Raiders: Focus On The Draft

Record: 5-6
Current draft pick: 14
Chance of making the playoffs: 9%

It feels odd saying a team should lose, especially one that hasn’t done much winning lately. While it's nice to see Antonio Pierce have some success as interim head coach, the truth is that this team isn’t in a winning window and needs to have a successful offseason. Building up the confidence of the guys in the locker room for next year is good, but the team's main focus should be on how they improve the core via the 2024 NFL Draft.

Los Angeles Chargers: Turn The Page

Record: 4-6
Current draft pick: 12
Chance of making the playoffs: 12%

Head coach Brandon Staley might not be able to survive another close loss. The Chargers are 4-6 with the sixth-toughest schedule remaining. I don’t think the playoffs are in the cards for this team this year, and they need to focus on how they can get the most out of Justin Herbert, one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league.

Los Angeles Rams: Continue To Let The Young Players Play

Record: 4-6
Current draft pick: 13
Chance of making the playoffs: 12%

The Rams finally got a full draft class, and look what it is yielding. They’ve found starters in Puka Nacua, Byron Young and Steve Avila. Los Angeles once again has all of its first three picks for the upcoming draft, and while the team had to kick the salary cap and draft cans down the road to win a Super Bowl, they’ve done a good job so far to find new starters.

Miami Dolphins: Turn Injuries Off

Record: 7-3
Current draft pick: 25
Chance of making the playoffs: 85%

When they’re fully healthy, the Miami Dolphins are a Super Bowl-caliber team. A long-term goal is to invest more in the offensive line this offseason, but they have legit playoff aspirations, so it’s hard to say that’s what they should do. They have the pieces to compete this year.

Minnesota Vikings: Win … I Guess?

Record: 6-5
Current draft pick: 20
Chance of making the playoffs: 83%

Kevin O’Connell is making a case for Coach of the Year with how much he is getting out of this Vikings roster — both before and after Kirk Cousins got hurt.

Looking at the team's depth chart, the best course of action seems to be to get the better draft pick and start to rebuild in key areas (quarterback, pass rush, interior offensive line). But the Vikings are winning. A lot. They’re already 6-5, which, even if they lose out, will mean they’re picking too high for Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. Any other quarterback they might want in this class could be available at their pick or through a trade-up, but they’ve already been too successful to tank.

New England Patriots: Caleb Williams or Drake Maye No Matter What

Record: 2-8
Current draft pick: 3
Chance of making the playoffs: <1%

The Patriots are not a good football team. The quarterback room needs a remodel, and the team around that group isn’t where it needs to be to compete. New England's 2-8 record is a reflection of how poorly the roster is constructed. Their only goal moving forward should be to make sure that when the 2024 NFL Draft comes and goes, they have one of Caleb Williams or Drake Maye on their depth chart.

New Orleans Saints: (You Better) Win The Division

Record: 5-5
Current draft pick: 19
Chance of making the playoffs: 66%

Some team has to win the NFC South, and because the Saints have pushed so much of their salary cap down the road for the sake of their current depth chart, they better hope it’s them. Otherwise, this regime will have to face the consequences of a massive swing and miss.

It’s been ugly in New Orleans, specifically with Derek Carr looking very up and down, as he did with the Raiders, but the Saints still have a chance at a division title. Their best move is likely to tank and start to rebuild the roster with youth, but that won’t happen with how invested they are. They might as well go win a division for it. They’re pot committed.

New York Giants: Stop Winning

Record: 3-8
Current draft pick: 5
Chance of making the playoffs: 1%

Look, I love a Tommy DeVito feel-good story as much as the next guy, but if the Giants win one more game, their chances of securing a top quarterback, impact offensive tackle or Marvin Harrison Jr. go way down, especially since their strength of schedule is one of the highest of the teams currently picking in the top 10.

Ideally, the Giants draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, but they’re already flirting with fire. You need a high-impact player at the top of this next draft to jumpstart a quick turnaround next season.

New York Jets: Don’t let Aaron Rodgers come back this season

Record: 4-6
Current draft pick: 11
Chance of making the playoffs: 8%

Rumors and reports are floating around that quarterback Aaron Rodgers could be ready to return and play by mid-December. That would be an incredibly quick turnaround from the Achilles tear he suffered in his very first game with New York. Not only do I think that could be dangerous long-term, I don’t think it’s worth it. The Jets are already 4-6 and have realized that the offensive line and receiving corps are not what they need to be.

Don’t risk Rodgers’ health for next season. Get a better draft pick and make a serious run in 2024.

Philadelphia Eagles: Go For It All

Record: 9-1
Current draft pick: 32
Chance of making the playoffs: >99.9%

This one is pretty simple. The Eagles made it to the Super Bowl last year, and they have the best record in the NFL as it stands. Their goal should be returning to the big game and coming home with the Lombardi Trophy this time. They have the formula to do so.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Figure out if Kenny Pickett is the guy

Record: 6-4
Current draft pick: 23
Chance of making the playoffs: 61%

The Steelers may be 6-4, but I think they are punching above their weight class, given how their roster is constructed. They recently fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada, and I believe a big catalyst for that was because they’re now having to honestly question whether their former first-round quarterback is the man to lead this franchise long-term.

Pickett has not looked like the answer under Canada. Perhaps the team will learn it was Canada holding Pickett back. Either way, they need an answer.

San Francisco 49ers: Get Healthy, Stay Healthy, Make A Run

Record: 7-3
Current draft pick: 27
Chance of making the playoffs: 97%

The Niners are good enough to make it to the Super Bowl. When the rest of the roster is healthy and quarterback Brock Purdy doesn’t have to be Superman, this team can beat any team in the league. They need injury luck on their side the rest of the way, but they are obviously in a winning window, as evidenced by the trade for Chase Young at the trade deadline.

Seattle Seahawks: Win the division

Record: 6-4
Current draft pick: 22
Chance of making the playoffs: 70%

The Seahawks are only one game back from the Niners at the top of the division. Beating the Rams would have helped, but they still have a good shot to win that division and host a playoff game. We thought the post-Russell Wilson rebuild in Seattle would take some time, but hats off to Pete Carroll and the rest of that front office for some fantastic draft picks and a quick turnaround to keep them in a winning window.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Focus on the draft

Record: 4-6
Current draft pick: 10
Chance of making the playoffs: 32%

It’s funny because the Buccaneers are 4-6, and you can argue that they could win any of their seven remaining games. However, I believe Tampa Bay is in a tricky spot. They’re only one game out from the division lead, but this roster feels more mediocre than that of a true contender. I think a division title would be fool's gold and might not yield the changes necessary for them to become a legit contender in the next year or so.

The worst place you can be is in purgatory in the middle of the draft order. But we all know quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Todd Bowles won’t be throwing in the towel this year, no matter the record or outlook.

Tennessee Titans: Start scouting offensive linemen

Record: 3-7
Current draft pick: 6
Chance of making the playoffs: 2%

The Titans are not good enough in the trenches. They did the right thing by drafting Peter Skoronski in the first round last year and need to continue prioritizing that area of the roster moving forward. Quarterback Will Levis has shown promise, but they’ll never truly know what he can be without a better offensive line.

Washington Commanders: Make Sure they Know whether Sam Howell Is The Guy

Record: 4-7
Current draft pick: 7
Chance of making the playoffs: 3%

The Commanders sit at 4-7 and could be in for major changes in the front office and coaching staff this offseason. What matters for that franchise moving forward is whether they want to invest another year in Sam Howell as their starting quarterback. He has shown promise at times but has that been enough, especially when stacked against a potential first-round quarterback choice? Currently holding a top-10 pick, the answer to that question will be paramount for how they operate this offseason and draft.


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