NFL Predictions 2023: AFC teams that will make the playoffs (do the Chargers get in?)

The AFC is loaded with talent in 2023. Will the Chargers be able to make the playoffs?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Along with the rest of the league, the LA Chargers start training camp this week and will officially start the journey toward the first Super Bowl in franchise history. As talented as the Bolts are, it is going to be an incredibly tough journey to get there.

The AFC is loaded with talent this season with the discrepancy from the NFC being massive. The Chargers would be the second-best team in the NFC without a doubt and would have the best quarterback in the NFC as well. That is not the case in the star-studded AFC.

Making the playoffs last year was a grind for the Chargers with all the injuries that the team suffered. Will the Bolts be able to do it again? That is the question that every Chargers fan is asking.

NFL predictions 2023: Can the Chargers make the playoffs in the AFC?

Let's break down our seven predicted teams to make the NFL Playoffs in 2023. It will be fun to circle back and look at these predictions in late January to see how on the nose (or how off) we were.

AFC No. 1 seed: Baltimore Ravens (13-4)

Coming in with a shocker right off the bat. Are the Baltimore Ravens the most talented team in the AFC? Probably not. But after a killer offseason, they are certainly one of the three or four most talented teams in the division who have historically dominated the regular season (when healthy).

Baltimore also has a really easy schedule on paper that is going to really help the team put together an incredible regular-season run. Playing the Cincinnati Bengals twice isn't easy and both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers will give them tough games too. But outside of the division, their only "tough" games are against the Chargers, Jaguars 49ers, Dolphins and maybe the Lions and Seahawks.

If Baltimore goes 4-2 in those six "tough games" and also goes 4-2 in the division that gives us the four losses that they finish with alongside their 13 wins.

AFC No. 2 seed: Kansas City Chiefs (13-4)

Yes, we have the Kansas City Chiefs finishing with the same record as the Ravens but being the No. 2 seed. Most of the Chiefs' tough games this year are in the AFC while the Ravens may suffer one of their losses against the Seahawks or Lions. Either way, Baltimore has a better chance of having a better conference record.

Kansas City has some tough opponents on the schedule but until they turn in a disappointing season we cannot predict them to have one. They are the dragon that everyone is looking to slay and as much as Chargers fans want to see them fall, it probably won't happen just yet.

AFC No. 3 seed: Buffalo Bills (11-6)

The Buffalo Bills are in a much deeper AFC East and while a realistic case can be made for any team in the division, really, the Bills should still be considered the team to beat. There are massive question marks around Tua Tagovailoa's ability to play the entire season and while he is an improvement, Aaron Rodgers is a big variable for the New York Jets as well.

The AFC East gives off slight AFC West vibes from 2022. Just like the West, the team that was already at the top continues to be at the top while other teams in the division might end up disappointing.

AFC No. 4 seed: Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

The Jaguars get the easy draw of playing in the AFC South, which makes it much easier for the team to make the playoffs. The Jaguars are the fun "sleeper" pick that everyone has to make a deep run in the playoffs and while their win over the Chargers was huge, this team does still have some holes.

They are in a weird spot where they probably won't win many games against teams they are underdogs against but should take care of business against teams they are favored against. Maybe they get to 10 wins, but nine feels about right.

AFC No. 5 seed: Cincinnati Bengals (11-6)

The classic No. 1 wild card that has a better record than at least one division winner. The Bengals are everyone's pick to win the AFC North and while they are a really good football team, a harder schedule than the Ravens could make all the difference.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Bengals have 11 wins entering Week 18 against the Cleveland Browns but don't really have any playoff position to jockey for and rest the starters, leading the team to finish with an 11-6 record.

AFC No. 6 seed: LA Chargers (10-7)

We initially had the LA Chargers finishing with 11 wins in our first record prediction for the 2023 season but 10 wins seems more realistic. It is the Chargers, after all, they are bound to lose a game or two that they have no reason to lose.

Is there a world in which the Chargers stay 100% healthy and finish with more wins? Absolutely. This is a team that had 10 wins entering Week 18 last year despite all of the injuries that plagued the roster throughout the year.

However, the safer bet (based on history) is to assume there will still be 1-2 weeks where the Chargers are at a big disadvantage because of injuries and that shifts the entire outlook of the game. At the end of the day, they should still be a 10-win team and should make the playoffs.

AFC No. 7 seed: New York Jets (9-8)

It is in the New York Jets' nature to be disappointing and it feels teed up for the Jets to still disappoint fans in 2023. That being said, it is really hard to see how adding Aaron Rodgers, even if he struggled last year, isn't worth at least two wins to this team.

This final spot will likely come down between the Jets and Dolphins and while Miami is more proven, they also really stunk in the second half of last season and Tua is such a gamble at quarterback. With an established elite defense and a leader at the QB position, the Jets have the traits of a playoff team.

Will they win the division? Definitely not. Will they even go above their win total next season? No. But a 9-8 record with a tiebreaker advantage will be enough to get them into the NFL Playoffs.

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