With 32 teams in the NFL, there are inevitably varying levels of talent and ever-changing achievement each season. There are certain teams that seem to have the roster on paper and are close to clearing a big hurdle-whether that be a pesky division rival or even getting that bye in the playoffs. Below, I discuss three teams that I believe can make another leap this upcoming football season.
Three NFL Teams That Will Get Over The Hump
Los Angeles Chargers
Obviously, it’s tough to make too much noise when the reigning Super Bowl champs are in your division; however, I wouldn’t declare the fate of the AFC West just yet. Fourth-year quarterback, Justin Herbert, has put the league on notice since his debut as a rookie in 2020. He has already thrown for over 14,000 yards and has a career passer rating of 96.2. Not to mention, Herbert has a hell of a supporting cast: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and rookie Quentin Johnston who should be extremely valuable to this offense.
Despite being plagued with injuries in the 2022 season, the Chargers still punched a ticket to the playoffs-albeit a quick exit would ensure. LA blew a 27-point lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a memorable NFL Wild Card matchup. Second-half miscues including suspect play-calling, penalties, and general mistakes dug an insurmountable hole.
Fast forward to the upcoming 2023 season and you still have a dangerous roster on your hands-especially when healthy. Getting rid of OC Joe Lombardi after some shaky game planning and replacing him with former Cowboys DC Kellen Moore should prime Herbert and company to thrive. Moore should bring a creative playbook to life and take advantage of the star QB. I really think this team has the ability to take the AFC West and soon enough we will see how it all starts to shake out.
“They wrote me off. I ain’t write back though.” We all know that was from the mouth of Quarterback Geno Smith who responded to his own critics in 2022. But I think the entire Seahawks organization could adopt this mantra. In a conference full of mediocrity, Seattle has a chance to disprove any skeptics. Similar to the Chargers being in a division with powerhouse Kansas City, this team has San Francisco in theirs.
This team, balanced with both youthful energy and veteran flair, is coming off of a rejuvenated 2022 season as Smith led this team to a (once) unexpected NFL Wild Card playoff appearance. When the blockbuster Wilson to Denver trade went down, no one saw this team staying relevant. Two back-to-back powerful drafts in 2022 and 2023 on top of a confident and steady Smith (not to mention, Pete Carroll’s experience and ability to build a culture) have really put the Seahawks back on the map.
Smith’s offense already included Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf downfield. Last year’s rookie ground stud, Kenneth Walker III, was a large part of reviving the action green and should continue to explode. Not only did the dual-threat back carve a name for himself, but fell inches short of receiving the OROY award.
On defense, there is confidence in their secondary while a glaring off-season focus was on the front lines. They dropped dough to grab Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed and even brought back veteran-and former Seahawk and OG Legion of Boom member Linebacker Bobby Wagner. Coupled with someday three defensive draft picks and I expect a much-improved unit up front.
I know that this was a playoff team in 2022 so how disregarded could they be? The Seahawks, I think this team competes for the NFC West this season.
Maybe I have some sympathy for this franchise being so close to home, but I am convinced that Washington is on the cusp of busting out of purgatory. This is not predicting that they will tear through the NFC or conquer the NFC East, but rather surprise us all and do just enough to get a shot in the postseason.
The Commanders have been the butt of jokes for decades as their track record of management from top to bottom has left many shaking their heads-often their own fanbase. Once part of one of the most heated rivalries in the league (Dallas), the franchise has struggled for years to fill up even half of its home stadium. With the recent exit of Dan Snyder and new ownership under the Harris group, things cannot get worse.
Sam Howell will be suiting up as the starting QB and we will get to see what sort of master plan former Chiefs OC Eric Bienemy brings to Washington. Given that the Commanders finished fourth in overall defense (WITHOUT Chase Young, mind you) and the offensive arsenal they have on hand, Howell simply needs to play smart and effective football.
Everyone needs to recall that each team’s “over the hump” looks different! What is a large hurdle for the Chargers or the Seahawks (say winning their division) looks different for a team like Washington who are just working toward a trip to the playoffs.
Are there other teams that foresee clearing a hurdle in the 2023 NFL season? Shout me out @MirdaSheWrote on Twitter!