The 2023 NFL Season begins on Thursday September 7th, with the reigning Super Bowl Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Detroit Lions. We have been waiting for months to return to the best time of the year. So grab some popcorn, your beverage of choice and get ready for the ride.
With that in mind, it is time for my annual complete review of the 2023 NFL season. I have predicted every game, all the way through the 2024 Super Bowl. I have highlighted my personal game of the week, and will break down how each division might end up this year. For more coverage of the entire 2023-24 NFL Season, check out all of the coverage from thirddownthursdays.com in the coming months.
(For division predictions and playoff highlights, skip all the way to the end)
Week 1: Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets, Monday September 11th at 8:20PM ET
Aaron Rodgers is a New York Jet and he will be facing off against his new division rival on Monday night football. Josh Allen rolls into New York to try and break down the hype surrounding Aaron Rodgers, Hard Knocks and the new look NY Jets. After years of discontent in Green Bay, it’s time for Rodgers to own his role as leader of a new team and start the year off right with a win. Unfortunately, the Bills are a better team and will dampen the honeymoon real quickly.
Week 2: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday September 17th at 1PM ET
The AFC North is going to be an absolute bloodbath this season. The Ravens and Bengals are the favorites for the division, led by Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow. Baltimore has made upgrades on offense and defense, while the Bengals roll out a very similar squad to their highly successful teams of the last two years. Early on in the season, Baltimore has the edge until Burrow and company get rolling.
Week 3: Denver Broncos vs. Miami Dolphins, Sunday September 24th at 1PM ET
Russell Wilson has a lot to prove. So do the Miami Dolphins and Mike McDaniels. Both teams have high profile players all over the field, and both are sitting behind powerhouse quarterbacks in their division. This Sunday afternoon affair will set the tone for the lower level of the AFC playoff picture and provide plenty of context for how dangerous both teams may be moving forward.
Week 4: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets, Sunday October 1 at 8:20PM ET
Aaron Rodgers is going to have plenty of prime time games in 2023, but this one may be the most important. Rodgers did not have success against the Chiefs while he was in Green Bay, so an early season matchup against Patrick Mahomes will be paramount for setting the tone in New York. The Chiefs absolutely have the advantage in this Sunday Night Football matchup, but the up and coming Jets defense has the pieces necessary to make life difficult for Mahomes. Look for a close game, edged out by the new sheriff in town, Patrick Mahomes.
Week 5: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers, Sunday October 8th at 8:20PM ET
Dallas and San Francisco are two of the biggest powerhouses in the NFC. While Dallas has Philadelphia to worry about throughout the season, San Francisco is expected to run away with the NFC West. Assuming all of the 49ers weapons are healthy, they have a massive advantage against the leaders of the Lone Star State. A win for the Cowboys would be incredible for their standing in the NFC playoff picture, even in Week 5.
Week 6: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets, Sunday October 15th at 4:20PM ET
You want a test for Aaron Rodgers? The Eagles, reigning Super Bowl attendees, are a perfect test for Super Bowl hopefuls. The Eagles defense was dominant at getting to the quarterback, and the Jets offensive line was questionable in preseason play. For the Jets to take down one of the best teams in the NFL, they will have to play mistake free football and keep Jalen Hurts and the Philly offense off kilter.
Week 7: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Rams, Sunday October 22nd at 4:05PM ET
Both the Steelers and the Rams have plenty to prove in 2023. Mike Tomlin is not in the business of having losing seasons, and the Rams have to see what Matthew Stafford has left in the tank. Sean McVay passed up big money to continue coaching in Los Angeles, which means winning is the only option. Making a statement early in the season against a respected coach would be huge for the morale of either franchise.
Week 8: Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Francisco 49ers, Sunday October 29th at 4:25PM ET
Two elite teams meet in the middle of the season. Grab your pumpkin spice latte, and enjoy one of the best games of the season. Joe Burrow faces an always ready 49ers defense that will be looking to set up Brock Purdy and Kyle Shanahan for success. Assuming Burrow, Chase and the Bengals are firing on all cylinders, this could quickly turn into a shootout. Enjoy the cat and mouse of an elite NFL game (and a possible Super Bowl matchup.)
Week 9: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday November 5th at 4:25PM ET
You want a midseason heavyweight fight? The NFC East has you covered. Not only could this Week 9 game end up having major NFC East implications, it will set the tone for the second half of the season for two of the most talented teams in the NFL. Dak Prescott will have to keep pace with Jalen Hurts and the high paced Eagles offense in order to have a fighting chance at home against the Cowboys.
Week 10: San Francisco 49ers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday November 12 at 1PM ET
I am a huge fan of the Jaguars chances for success in 2023. Trevor Lawrence was one of the best second half quarterbacks in 2022, and he will be adding a talented and hungry Calvin Ridley to his arsenal. If Lawrence and the Jags want a test, no better than the well coached 49ers in November. Beat the big dogs, and Lawrence may just make some noise in 2023.
Week 11: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Monday November 20th at 8:15PM
Super Bowl 57 rematch? Say no more.
Week 12: Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings, Monday November 27th at 8:15PM ET
The NFC North is going to be an absolute battle to win, and Chicago and Minnesota will be at the center of the battle. Both teams will be fighting for either a wild card spot or a divisional title, and the late season divisional matchup will set the tone for the last six weeks of the season.
Week 13: Los Angeles Chargers vs. New England Patriots, Sunday December 3rd at 1PM
The AFC playoff picture is going to be absolutely wild, and these two teams are going to be all up in the mix. Both teams play in difficult divisions, and both teams will need December wins to make their push. LA has the advantage with the QB play of Justin Herbert, but never count out a Bill Belichick coached team at home in colder weather.
Week 14: Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints, Sunday December 10th at 1PM ET
The NFC South is going to be…. interesting. The Panthers and the Saints are my two top choices for South Division champions, and I have absolutely no idea who it will be. Obviously I have my predictions, but this game will be paramount to deciding who gets the 4th seed in the NFC. It might not be pretty, but take note for the NFC playoff picture.
Week 15: Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills, Sunday December 17th at 4:25PM ET
Prescott vs. Allen. Bet the over, ladies and gentlemen.
Week 16: Seattle Seahawks vs. Tennessee Titans, Sunday December 24th at 1PM ET
Both the Seahawks and Titans have playoff hopes and plenty of struggle to go through. The Titans are in a very confusing AFC South division, and the NFC West historically beat up on each other. This game will rely on the running game, and good penalty free football. This may not be the most entertaining game on Christmas Eve, but football nerds will be in heaven.
Week 17: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday December 31st at 4:25PM
Likely either a AFC Divisional or Championship Round preview. Burrow vs. Mahomes. Sign. Me. Up
Week 18: All 16 NFL Games, Time TBD
I could try and paint a picture of some game that will be important, but it will take 17 weeks of action to figure out what games are important on this Sunday in January. So turn on your NFL RedZone or Sunday Ticket and settle in for the last full week of football you will have. Fantasy Football is over by now, and all you need to do is watch your favorite team scratch and claw their way to a playoff spot.
1: San Francisco
2: Green Bay
7: New York
1: Kansas City
2: New York
Wild Card Round Predictions
Packers over Giants
Eagles over Lions
Cowboys over Panthers
Jets over Steelers
Bengals over Bills
Ravens over Jaguars
Divisional Round Predictions
Eagles over Packers
49ers over Cowboys
Chiefs over Bengals
Jets over Ravens
Championship Round Predictions
49ers over Eagles
Chiefs over Jets
Super Bowl Prediction
Super Bowl LVIII: Chiefs vs. 49ers
Champion: Kansas City Chiefs