Saturday, March 2, 2024

2023 NFL season lookahead: Five offseason storylines, five teams to watch, early Super Bowl odds

Must read

The 2022 NFL season is now officially in the rear view. The Chiefs may still be celebrating their Super Bowl LVII victory over the Eagles, but all eyes have since turned to free agency. Signings and trades can be finalized Wednesday, March 15, though negotiations permitted in the legal tampering period can begin Monday, March 13.

With that said, it’s time to look deep into the 2023 offseason with an overview of key storylines, teams to watch going into next season, and early projections from oddsmakers:

Five key offseason storylines

Lamar Jackson

What’s next for Aaron Rodgers? Tom Brady has already retired, this time “for good.” Now we wait for another legend of the game to decide his future. The longtime Packers QB hasn’t indicated one way or another whether he’ll be back, but his recent meeting with Jets brass suggests a split from Green Bay is finally on the docket. The Packers are reportedly ready to turn the page to Jordan Love, and Rodgers sure seems to be headed for Jets-green pastures.

What happens with Lamar Jackson? The Ravens keep saying they want Jackson as their QB for the long haul, and they keep failing to actually meet the QB’s contract demands, or draw him back to the negotiating table. Baltimore controls his immediate rights after using the non-exclusive franchise tag on the former MVP, but other teams are permitted to make offers to Jackson once free agency begins. If the Ravens don’t match said prospective offers, the QB could be headed elsewhere.

Which of the other elite QBs gets extended? Four different 2020-drafted starting QBs are eligible for new deals: Joe Burrow (Bengals), Jalen Hurts (Eagles), Justin Herbert (Chargers) and Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins). Burrow could/should break the bank as maybe the NFL‘s most clutch signal-caller this side of Mahomes, while Hurts — now approaching a contract year as former second-rounder — has quickly earned his own mega-deal with an MVP candidacy and sterling Super Bowl showing. Tua, meanwhile, landed a fifth-year option as Miami pays its QB through 2024, though a long-term extension is always a possibility in the not-too-distant future.

Who drafts a QB early? QBs, QBs, QBs, we know. But that’s the name of the game, isn’t it? Just look at the best players on the best teams in Super Bowl LVII. Assuming the Bears stick with Justin Fields after trading down from the No. 1 pick, there are still seven teams picking in the top 10 of the 2023 NFL Draft that could reasonably target a signal-caller: the Panthers (No. 1), Texans (2), Colts (4), Seahawks (5), Lions (6), Raiders (7) and Falcons (8) may be fighting over three or four prospects, including Alabama’s Bryce Young.

How will Sean Payton restore the Broncos? Payton isn’t the only big-name coach back in biz; Frank Reich (Panthers) and DeMeco Ryans (Texans) are respected leaders now guiding young clubs. But the ex-Saints coach is easily the most accomplished of the new hires, and his blunt approach will make for a fascinating blend with QB Russell Wilson, who flopped under Nathaniel Hackett in 2021 and is probably in make-or-break territory after such a long, pristine run in Seattle.

Five teams to watch

Early odds

Patrick Mahomes
Getty Images

Yes, Super Bowl LVII just happened in February. But already the oddsmakers are forecasting the best of the best for the 2023 season, plus the 2024 playoffs, including Super Bowl LVIII, which will be broadcast on CBS from Paradise, Nevada.

Super Bowl LVIII odds

Here are the top 10 candidates to hoist next year’s Lombardi Trophy (odds via Caesars Sportsbook):

  1. Chiefs (+600)
  2. 49ers (+700)
  3. Bills (+800)
  4. Eagles (+850)
  5. Bengals (+1000)
  6. Jets (+1700)
  7. Cowboys (+1800)
  8. Chargers (+2200)
  9. Jaguars (+2500)
  10. Ravens (+2500)

Latest article