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Predicting NFL playoff bracket and Super Bowl 2024 winner

Super Bowl 2023: The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII for their third NFL championship in the Super Bowl era. Can Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes do what they couldn’t accomplish in 2020 and repeat as champions? That’s only one of the major talking points as we head into a new year.

While we have our typical Super Bowl favorites and long shots, there are several roster moves that will have massive implications throughout the offseason, which will surely impact the playoff picture. Still, down below, we dive into our early playoff predictions for the 2023-24 football season, going division by division, complete with our predicted Super Bowl outcome.

Who will be the Super Bowl 2024 winner? Check out Sportsnaut’s predictions, which are updated each week during the regular season and playoffs, as well as all offseason.

Related: A $15,000 Mahomes Super Bowl worn jersey, a $25,000 49ers signed football used in 81… You won’t believe the most expensive Super Bowl merch today!

Predicting Super Bowl 2024 winner, playoff teams

AFC West champions: Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Winning the AFC West division every year since 2016, we don’t see the Kansas City Chiefs suddenly falling flat in 2023. Despite rumors of Andy Reid possibly walking away after his Super Bowl LVII victory, we’ve heard nothing on that front so far. But even so, Patrick Mahomes isn’t going anywhere, and he’ll still be just 28 this season, meaning he’s not about to lose any velocity on his fastball.

Behind the Chiefs, we like the Los Angeles Chargers to maintain their momentum from reaching the postseason a year ago. Justin Herbert is already one of the best young quarterbacks in football, and he’s only now embarking on his fourth season. With Kellen Moore taking over duties as the offensive coordinator and play-caller, expect the Chargers’ 13th-ranked scoring offense to improve.

We’re also living with a short memory and are once again buying into the Denver Broncos despite last year’s disaster. Pairing Sean Payton with Russell Wilson teams up two future Hall of Famers, and we’re betting the veteran duo turns this dead-last scoring offense around. Do that, and the defense should naturally improve even further, with less being asked of them.

In what’s expected to be a very competitive division, we predict the Las Vegas Raiders to finish in last place. They’ve already made the internal decision to move on from Derek Carr, but what is their plan to improve at QB? While there are several winning pieces already on the roster, with Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and Maxx Crosby, they won’t go anywhere without a proven QB.

AFC West prediction

  • Kansas City Chiefs – Division winners
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders

Related: NFL Top 100 players in 2023

AFC North champions: Cincinnati Bengals

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft completely altered the Cincinnati Bengals’ direction as a franchise. Joe Burrow has led his team to two consecutive AFC Championships, and the trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd is an explosive mix few can slow down. If the Bengals can retain defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, their sixth-ranked defense should return to being a tough unit to crack.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens should always be viewed as a threat in the AFC North. The biggest question here is Lamar Jackson – both his pending free agency and ability to stay healthy. Yet, we also don’t envision the Ravens will let their franchise QB walk without a fight or a massive trade haul. If Jackson returns, the Ravens will be in the postseason again, at least as a Wild Card team.

The Cleveland Browns could either become one of the better teams in the NFL or an all-out disaster. Deshaun Watson will have a full season ahead of him, but the former Pro Bowl QB was so rusty in 2022 it’s hard to be sold until we see him return to top form, which is no guarantee. Yet, the presence of Myles Garrett, along with an efficient rushing attack, should at least keep the Browns in the mix all season long.

Here we get to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are never terrible under Mike Tomlin, with zero losing seasons in 16 years. With Kenny Pickett entering his second season, having Najee Harris and George Pickens at his disposal, this is an extremely unpredictable team. While we don’t expect the Steelers to be a bad team unless Pickett is truly special, it’s also hard to view them catapulting past the Bengals or Ravens, and we still have some belief in Watson flashing his talent too. This leaves the Steelers in last place, almost by default.

AFC North prediction

  • Cincinnati Bengals – Division winners
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers

Related: 2023 NFL Power Rankings

AFC South champions: Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Jacksonville Jaguars have stolen the AFC South division crown, Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson are here to stay. The Jags not only reached the playoffs a season ago, but they also got their first playoff win since 2017. We expect that effort to continue in 2023 as Lawrence enters his third season. With a roster loaded with youth, don’t be surprised if the Jaguars once again improve upon their nine wins from a season ago.

The Tennessee Titans could very well reclaim their division lead next season, as key contributors such as Derrick Henry and Jeffery Simmons are set to return. But they may need to find a way to improve at the QB position to become legitimate contenders. Ryan Tannehill can get you to the playoffs, but how much further? Is Malik Willis the solution? Based on a very small sample size, we’re not convinced.

Like several other teams, the Indianapolis Colts are currently without a quarterback, which makes their 2023 season outlook incredibly difficult to predict. There are strong foundational pieces on the roster, but even Jonathan Taylor and Darius Leonard have some question marks heading into next season. Just like in 2022, the Colts are a team that could go either way.

The AFC South is expected to be the worst division in the NFL in 2023. Yet, the Houston Texans could have a direct impact on the results. If they find a way to land a franchise-changing quarterback, there’s always the chance at a quick turnaround under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans, but with how bad the Texans have been, we’re expecting some growing pains.

AFC South prediction

  • Jacksonville Jaguars – Division winners
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Houston Texans

AFC East champions: Buffalo Bills

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

While the Buffalo Bills once again fell short of their Super Bowl hopes, it only serves as more fuel for Josh Allen to improve in 2023. But Sean McDermott’s team won’t suddenly fall off the map, as having a core consisting of elite talents like Stefon Diggs, Matt Milano, and Von Miller will ensure this group stays in the mix.

We’re also banking on Mike McDaniel and Tua Tagovailoa‘s high-powered scoring attack to pick up where they left off when the Miami Dolphins were sailing smoothly in 2022. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are an electric duo that has proven difficult to slow down. Defensively, Christian Wilkins and Jaelan Phillips, plus Bradley Chubb, will wreak havoc in the trenches. Expect the Dolphins to be a strong unit on both sides of the ball in 2023.

Meanwhile, the New York Jets have a playoff roster but no quarterback. Unless Zach Wilson takes an unexpected leap, the Jets will be turning over every stone to find a franchise solution this offseason. But we like their chances to recruit a proven QB, thanks to a rising core featuring Breece Hall and the 2023 Rookie of the Year winners Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner. Once a QB is on board, we see this team fighting for a Wild Card spot, at the very least.

We may be foolish to ignore the greatest coach of all time, or doubt his ability to improve upon a third-place finish in the AFC East, but this is a division featuring a lot of talent. While having a great coach is important, talent trumps coaching. We’re just not sure the Patriots have enough blue-chip athletes to finish anywhere but third or last place.

AFC East prediction

  • Buffalo Bills – Division winners
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New York Jets
  • New England Patriots

Related: Updated NFL defense rankings

AFC Wild Card spots: Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If Lamar Jackson stays in Baltimore, they’re a playoff team. If he’s gone, they’re not. It’s that simple. We’re operating under the assumption that the Ravens won’t let the 2019 NFL MVP leave this year.

The same goes for the Dolphins, who were looking like one of the best teams in football when Tagovailoa was at his best. Injuries are unpredictable, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t return to the Pro Bowl form we saw in 2022, which would also likely make the Dolphins a playoff team once again.

We could see any team from the AFC West, and likely a few teams from the East as well, landing in the final Wild Card spot, but we’re sticking with Herbert and the Chargers. With their offense expected to improve after a coordinator change, if Brandon Staley can put his defensive expertise to good use, why can’t the ‘Bolts take a step forward?

Related: Super Bowl odds: Every team’s championship futures for 2022-23 NFL season

NFC West champions: San Francisco 49ers

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have a playoff roster, we saw that in 2022, no matter who was at QB. That’s the biggest question heading into 2023. Who will be the starter, Trey Lance, Brock Purdy, or someone else? Steve Wilks has taken over DeMeco Ryans’ defense, and while we don’t anticipate a large drop-off, nothing is guaranteed. Boasting perhaps the best skill position group in football, we’re taking the 49ers as repeat winners of the NFC West.

It’s also hard to ignore the group of elite players returning for the Los Angeles Rams. Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey are all top-five players at their positions, and if Matthew Stafford can stay healthy too, why can’t the 2022 Super Bowl winners become a contender again? What could set them back is if their rushing attack fails to gain traction again, not to mention the strength of their division.

We saw the results Pete Carroll got from his draft class in 2022. They have two first-round picks in April, meaning we could see a nine-win team improve again in 2023. With Geno Smith likely to return along with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on offense, unless there’s regression at QB, this should be a potent offense again. The Seahawks still have work to do defensively to become division winners.

Kyler Murray had surgery on his torn ACL in early January, meaning he’s extremely unlikely to be healthy in time for Week 1. Being that they were just 3-8 with him last season, we can’t justify placing the Cardinals anywhere but in last place of the NFC West. Not to mention, the likely losses of J.J. Watt (retirement) and DeAndre Hopkins (trade) won’t help matters either.

NFC Wast prediction

  • San Francisco 49ers – Division winners
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Arizona Cardinals

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NFC North champions: Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Winning 13 games a season ago in Kevin O’Connell’s first season coaching the Minnesota Vikings, it’s only natural to expect some regression in 2023. How much could largely depend on how a Brian Flores-led defense can quickly turn around a unit that allowed the second-most passing yards, and fifth-most points per game in 2022. A tight cap crunch could lead to a few veterans departing in the offseason too, but Justin Jefferson keeps them as repeat division winners.

Dan Campbell is putting his stamp on the Detroit Lions, and they went from three wins to nine from 2021 to 2022. What can a group that gets Jameson Williams on the field in 2023, plus Aidan Hutchinson and two more top 20 first-round picks added into the mix this season? We see the Lions becoming a ferocious force next season on both sides of the ball as long as the defense can take a leap.

Boasting the most cap space in the NFL heading into the offseason, plus the No. 1 overall pick, there’s no way the Chicago Bears don’t improve the roster in a major way. Justin Fields flashed his talent a season ago, and we’re expecting a much better offensive line and skill position group to join his effort heading into his third season.

We don’t know what to expect from the Green Bay Packers in 2023. Will Aaron Rodgers return, or is it Jordan Love‘s time to shine? Either way, who’s stepping up at receiver aside from Christian Watson? There are a lot of questions to answer in Lombardi-land, but if a four-time MVP couldn’t bring the Pack to the playoffs in 2022, why should we buy in now?

NFC North prediction

  • Minnesota Vikings – Division winners
  • Detroit Lions
  • Chicago Bears
  • Green Bay Packers

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NFC South champions: Carolina Panthers

NFL: Carolina Panthers Head Coach-Frank Reich-Press Conference
Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

Here we have the most unpredictable division in football with the NFC South. No one has a quarterback, which only adds to the chaos. But Frank Reich is a head coach who’s never had much to work with at QB anyway. Now he gets another chance, this time with a franchise that will spare no expense in their pursuit of becoming a contender. With the rest of the division lacking clarity, we’re taking a shot on the Panthers.

While we don’t know who’s set to quarterback Dennis Allen’s New Orleans Saints in 2023, we do know they’ll likely have a top-10 defensive unit for the fourth consecutive season. That alone gives the Saints a high floor. If a proven quarterback can come into an offense featuring Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave, this could be a vastly improved team after the offseason.

Tom Brady has moved on from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and there isn’t a ready-made replacement on the roster. That’s a big problem for a team already over the cap heading into the offseason. Yet, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Vita Vea, and Devin White should prevent this ship from sinking.

Barring a massive blockbuster trade, the Atlanta Falcons could have a tough time finding their franchise quarterback this offseason. Who knows, maybe he’s already on the roster with Desmond Ridder. If the Falcons continue leaning into their top-five rushing attack, maybe their seven-win season can be built upon, but improving the defense and adding another weapon offensively is crucial.

NFC South prediction

  • Carolina Panthers – Division winners
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Atlanta Falcons

Related: Updated NFL MVP odds 2022-23

NFC East champions: Philadelphia Eagles

NFL: Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A division that was far better than expected a season ago should return to being a feisty competition in 2023. The Philadelphia Eagles could lose a few veteran free agents, but key contributors like Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown will be back and only heading into their second seasons together. We like the Eagles to take the NFC East again.

The Dallas Cowboys expect excellence every year, but they don’t always deliver. Dak Prescott will have to overcome his sudden interception habit, and perhaps the Cowboys try to get him more help in the pass-catcher department, but how the team adapts to Mike McCarthy now calling plays could be interesting. Micah Parsons’ presence should keep opponents up at night, even in the offseason.

Brian Daboll worked wonders with the New York Giants in 2022, and if Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley return, we like the team to remain in the mix. But finding the QB a reliable receiver should be a top priority heading into the offseason, and adding depth to the cornerback group probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

The Washington Commanders are hard to buy into. They’re telling us that 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell is the starter at QB, but does anyone think that will lead to more success? We wouldn’t bet on it, but we would expect the defense to improve as long as Chase Young can get back to his dominant self.

NFC East prediction

  • Philadelphia Eagles – Division winners
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • New York Giants
  • Washington Commanders

NFC Wild Card predictions: Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned above, we like the Rams to return with a focused mindset in 2023. Not only do they already know what it takes to win a Lombardi Trophy, most of their impact players from their championship team will also be part of their effort to return to the playoffs this year.

The Cowboys should have an offense capable of scoring 30 points each week, thanks to Prescott and an effective rushing attack. A potent pass rush could cause issues on any given Sunday as well. That’s not even factoring in Trevon Diggs’ tendency to cause turnovers, which can also lead to big mistakes, but in all, the Cowboys are a talented bunch.

We saw the Lions show their teeth in 2022. Who’s to say their claws won’t become sharper in coach Campbell’s third season? They have a youthful core that has completely bought into the program, and we could see a Lion-sized leap once again. The Giants would be our next choice should any of these three falter.

Who will win Super Bowl 2024?

Who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVIII? We look at our predictions for the NFL Playoff bracket.

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Let’s project the path to Super Bowl LVIII.

NFL playoff bracket: Full postseason predictions for AFC and NFC

AFC Playoffs

  1. Chiefs
  2. Bengals
  3. Bills
  4. Jaguars
  5. Ravens
  6. Dolphins
  7. Chargers
  • Wild card round: Bengals over Chargers, Bills over Dolphins, Ravens over Jaguars
  • Divisional round: Ravens over Chiefs, Bills over Bengals
  • AFC Championship Game: Bills over Ravens

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NFC Playoffs

  1. Eagles
  2. 49ers
  3. Vikings
  4. Panthers
  5. Rams
  6. Cowboys
  7. Lions
  • Wild card round: 49ers over Lions, Vikings over Cowboys, Rams over Panthers
  • Divisional round: Rams over Eagles, 49ers over Vikings
  • NFC Championship Game: 49ers over Rams

Sportsnaut predicts that the San Francisco 49ers will defeat the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, while the Buffalo Bills top the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.

It will set the stage for an interesting Super Bowl LVIII between two teams who have much different histories in the championship game. The 49ers have five Super Bowl wins, but the Bills, despite having four appearances, have never won the big game.

We see that changing next February when Josh Allen can show no moment is too big for the superstar QB. But first, they have to get there, which didn’t work out so well in 2023.

  • Super Bowl 2024: Buffalo Bills 27, San Francisco 49ers 21