Everyone loves a feel-good NFL underdog story, where a team quickly goes from zeroes to heroes in just one year. Last year, it was the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants who exceeded expectations.
If you’re having a tough time choosing your Cinderella team for 2023, fear not. We’ll make it that much easier here by explaining why these 10 teams have ZERO SHOT at qualifying for the 2023-24 NFL postseason.
News flash: The Cardinals are A LOT worse this year than they were in 2022.
Think about it. The 2022 squad had QB Kyler Murray for 11 games and Pro Bowl wideout DeAndre Hopkins for nine games. The roster also featured JJ Watt, Byron Murphy and Zach Allen on defense and another former Pro Bowl receiver in AJ Green on offense.
All except Murray remain. And the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NFL Draft is going to miss significant time in 2023 recovering from surgery on his torn ACL. And sorry, but Colt McCoy ain’t saving the day. Not even sure Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow or Josh Allen would do a whole lot with this roster right now.
Can’t blame GM Monti Ossenfort for opting to stockpile additional selections rather than draft players who could help them win right away here in 2023. The Cardinals are a longgggg way’s away from contending, after all.
Arizona is the overwhelming front-runner to win the first overall pick next year, that much is good news for their long-suffering fans. Swapping out Murray for Caleb Williams wouldn’t be the worst scenario in the world by any means.
This team won four games a season ago with a pretty darn good roster. They’ll be lucky to win that many in 2023. This group feels like the biggest lock to miss the postseason since the 2019 Miami Dolphins, who kinda-sorta were admittedly in tank mode that year.
Green Bay Packers
Just think logically for a minute. The Packers finished 8-and-9 a season ago with a four-time MVP in Aaron Rodgers leading the offense.
And now they’re going from Rodgers to unproven 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love. We’re not saying that Love will go down as a bust in Green Bay, but it’s hard to envision him succeeding right off the bat.
Green Bay watched top wideout Allen Lazard walk to free agency, where he joined the New York Jets. They didn’t add any notable names in free agency, and GM Brian Gutekunst had a questionable draft that saw Green Bay add zero players who will likely make much of an impact here in 2023.
The Packers’ only real strength is their two-headed monster at running back in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. But how much can those two move the needle, especially now that defenses no longer have to account for Rodgers?
Like last year, Green Bay is merely the third-best team in the NFC North. With questions on defense, at wideout and especially at the game’s most important position, we’d be shocked if they somehow repeated last year’s eight-win season, let alone make the playoffs.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams still don’t have a capable WR2 to complement Kupp. They don’t have a clear-cut answer at running back. Rookie Steve Avila, taken in round two, is the only notable addition to what was one of football’s WORST offensive lines a year ago.
Stafford, entering his age-35 season, has his work cut out for him. And who knows how he’ll perform from a season-ending back injury? Good luck with Kupp as your only game-changing player on offense.
Add it all up, and the Rams are destined to miss the playoffs in back-to-back years since 2015 and 2016, the last two seasons of the forgettable Jeff Fisher era.
The Commanders finished 8-8-1 a year ago and just missed out on a playoff berth. Quite impressive considering that each of their three NFC East rivals finished above .500 and all qualified for the postseason.
But it’s hard to envision Washington flirting with a .500 record and a playoff appearance again, given their QB situation. No, Taylor Heinicke wasn’t the long-term option at QB, but he did enough to give his club a chance.
Now the Commanders are asking either 2022 fifth-rounder Sam Howell or journeyman Jacoby Brissett to save the day behind center. That’s not happening.
Washington has the eighth-toughest strength of schedule for 2023: Having to play the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants twice apiece is just unfair for a team with Howell and Brissett atop their QB depth chart.
Yes, the Commanders had a top-five defense in 2022. And they own a solid set of weapons in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel, Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson. But you can’t realistically expect them to be a playoff contender with arguably football’s WORST quarterback depth chart.
Commanders fans should be happy if their team wins seven games in 2023. The playoffs are simply not gonna happen.
Make no mistake, the Texans are on the right track again with a franchise QB named CJ Stroud in place. Trading up for Will Anderson Jr at No. 3 overall was another tidy order of business, giving this organization its first cornerstone piece on D since JJ Watt.
And we loved the hiring of DeMeco Ryans as head coach. His defensive genius, passion and energy will be a breath of fresh air for a team that had four head coaches over its previous three years.
But let’s be real, Houston isn’t anywhere close to contending in the stacked AFC just yet. With Houston trading away Brandin Cooks, Stroud doesn’t have a proven WR1 to work with — and the Texans’ o-line is still a giant question mark outside of Laremy Tunsil.
Anderson Jr., Jalen Pitre, Derek Stingley Jr. and free agent pickup Jimmie Ward round out a promising nucleus on defense. But the rest of the unit – linebacker in particular — leaves a lot to be desired.
The Texans play in a division with the up-and-coming Jacksonville Jaguars, the always-competitive Tennessee Titans and an Indianapolis Colts team that could surprise many if Anthony Richardson comes as advertised.
Give Houston one or two more painful years before they make the jump to playoff contention. 2023 will be another year of growing pains and moral losses in H-town. But again, the long-term outlook for this team is finally promising again.
The Bears finished with football’s worst record at 3-and-14 a year ago — thanks, Lovie Smith! — but there’s too much young talent in place here for them to be that bad again. DOES NOT MEAN they’ll make the playoffs, however.
Getting Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright with the No. 10 pick was beautiful and all, but what about the rest of Chicago’s woeful o-line? There aren’t any sure-things from left tackle to right guard.
The front seven saw three new faces in Tremaine Edmunds, DeMarcus Walker and TJ Edwards, who all arrived in free agency. Nice work there by the front office, but the Bears still have a LONG way to go here.
Their defense was dead-last in scoring a year ago and will need time to gel — especially with a ton of new faces. Fields still has to prove he can win with his arm and not just his legs, and doing that is easier said than done with this o-line.
Aaron Rodgers may be gone, but the Bears remain the worst team in their division. They’re miles behind the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. The Packers at least have enough experienced veterans to gut avoid the basement. You can’t say the same about the Bears.
Honestly, Chicago fans should be happy if their team wins six or more games. This team is still a while away from realistically competing for a playoff berth.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers were lucky to play in football’s worst division a year ago. Even with the GOAT in Tom Brady captaining the offense, the Bucs barely limped to an 8-and-9 finish and NFC South division title.
The party was short-lived, however, with the Bucs getting thrashed by the Cowboys in the Wild Card Round. Brady subsequently announced his second retirement, leaving the Bucs in an awful situation heading into 2023.
Sorry, but Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask ain’t leading this team anywhere in 2023. The Bucs have too many ageing veteran talents that should have been traded for future assets. Instead, Tampa will try to make a run at the game’s worst division…even though they have the worst QB situation among the four NFC South clubs.
Aside from the QB issues, Tampa has a vulnerable front seven, a mediocre secondary, a leaky o-line and a rush game that ONLY finished dead-last a year ago. The Brady era was short and sweet, but Bucs fans need to brace themselves for another period of mediocrity.
At least they have a real shot at winning the Caleb Williams draft sweepstakes…
The Titans had the AFC South seemingly wrapped up with a 7-3 record through 10 games. Instead, they inexplicably collapsed and lost their final seven games — including a win-or-go-home game to the rival Jaguars in Week 18.
Tennessee could have commenced a rebuild by trading Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry in their contract years. Instead, they opted to stay the course and try to make another run with a weakened roster that lost Pro Bowl guard Taylor Lewan, pass-rushing standout DeMarcus Walker and lead receiver Robert Woods this offseason.
Tannehill has hit his peak and can’t be asked to save the day again with Treylon Burks as his only impactful wideout. How much more can a 29-year-old Henry carry the offense? The decline could come any day now.
The secondary is still a mess, and Jeffery Simmons can’t be the only constant playmaker in the front seven. The Texans and Colts have their issues, no doubt, but those teams won’t hand Tennessee a guaranteed four wins anymore.
Consider the Jaguars a shoo-in to win the AFC South. You really think Tennessee will snag a wild card spot over the many stacked and more-rounded teams in the AFC? No chance. This is gonna be a long year in Tennessee, one that will finally convince the organization sweeping changes are needed.
This entry may surprise some given the amount of talent on the Browns’ roster.
And as much as you may have enjoyed Deshaun Watson’s lackluster play in year one with the Browns, his on-field production can only improve from here.
Watson was rusty after being away from football for nearly two years, and he simply couldn’t get the grasp of Kevin Stefanski’s offense. Nonetheless, the Browns salvaged a 7-10 record despite an ugly 3-7 start.
So, why are we giving the Browns zero chance of making the playoffs? If they were in almost any other division, Stefanski’s group wouldn’t be on this list. But they’re the fourth-best team in the AFC’s toughest division, and that’s a problem.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are primed to break out in year two under Kenny Pickett, too. They’re a better-rounded and more well-coached team than the Browns, so we’d take Pittsburgh over Cleveland in a heartbeat.
That division is just going to be too much for the Browns to overcome. Even if Watson regains his star-like form, the Browns don’t have the depth nor enough playmakers on D outside of Myles Garrett to do much of anything here.
So pencil them down for another losing season and non-playoff berth.
Las Vegas Raiders
And now we’re supposed to think Jimmy Garoppolo — or whoever starts at QB for the Raiders next year — will move the needle more than Carr? News flash: Nope. Adams ain’t putting up those numbers again without Carr at QB — and Jacobs most certainly won’t repeat his career year.
The Raiders didn’t do much to address the many holes all over their defense. And laugh at the Denver Broncos’ 2022 failures all you want, but they have nowhere to go but up with Sean Payton now calling the shots on offense.
So the Raiders will be the worst team in their division by a country mile — and potentially the worst team in the AFC. The good news is if they end up being as bad as they look on paper, the silver and black will easily secure one of the top QB prospects in the 2024 draft.
What other NFL teams do you think have no chance at making the playoffs this year? Join us in the comments section below
WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.