NFL Power Rankings - Playoff teams looking to become contenders tier:
12. Seattle Seahawks
After the Russell Wilson trade and Geno Smith's career resurgence, the offseason is pretty simple for Seattle. They have to use their draft capital to continue building out their defense, much like the Lions actually from the previous tier. They'll also have to get cap compliant but there are not many contracts they need to dish out in free agency either, so they should be fine.
11. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have to make significant changes to their defense to be able to compete in the NFC and it's going to be difficult to re-shuffle the deck as they're almost $30 million over the cap right now. Also, what's the long-term future of Kirk Cousins going into his age-35 season? Justin Jefferson is also eligible for an extension now.
10. Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson. That's it. Baltimore has to figure out whether they're franchise-tagging him, extending him, or trading him. All three options produce radically different options for how their offseason plays out. Todd Monken can't really start developing that offense with John Harbaugh until the Ravens know what they're doing with their former MVP quarterback.
9. Miami Dolphins
If Miami could guarantee Tua Tagovailoa's health, they could realistically be an AFC contender. It's not terribly hard to imagine. But the reality is that Tagovailoa has at least three concussions that cost him to miss time in 2022 in pretty scary fashion. While the Dolphins claim he'll be "ready to go" in 2023, keeping him upright and healthy is going to be a major story going forward. The rest of the roster needs to get healthy as well.
8. Dallas Cowboys
With Kellen Moore mutually parting ways with Dallas to become Chargers' offensive coordinator, the Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy combination will determine the Cowboys' fate in 2023. Keeping Dan Quinn around to coach the defense for at least one more season is a huge win for them though and they should be able to compete in a weaker NFC outside of the Eagles and Niners.
The decision on what to do with free agent Tony Pollard will be absolutely pivotal.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
I probably would've had the Chargers a little bit lower on this list prior to the hiring of Moore as offensive coordinator. There's some key decisions to make in the offseason of course as wide receiver Keenan Allen's status hangs in the balance in addition to the other possible ways the Chargers can become cap compliant at $23 million over right now.
The Chargers' biggest offseason questions:
As far as offseason questions, the biggest story nationally will be Justin Herbert's possible extension. Himself, Jalen Hurts, and Joe Burrow are in line for massive paydays.
For the Chargers it's mostly about getting healthy plus their draft additions this offseason considering they won't be active in free agency, given the spending splurge last year. Building up the depth on the roster will be critical though. Los Angeles has to become a stronger trench team past their top guys on the respective offensive and defensive lines. As an example: if Joey Bosa or Khalil Mack need to miss time next year, Chris Rumph cannot be the viable fill-in.
This offseason is sink or swim for Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco. Big decisions loom after the 27-0 meltdown.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have the easiest path of possibly leaping from the playoff teams tier to the contenders tier as I see it. Doug Pederson has Duval headed in the right direction. If Trevor Lawrence takes another step forward towards more consistent top five level play like we saw at times in 2022, the Jags can be a threat in the AFC.
Calvin Ridley will be added to their receiving group that already contains Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram (who they hope to re-sign). If Jacksonville's defense plays like it did over the course of the back half of the season as a cohesive unit, they'll be dangerous.