As the offseason unfolds, we anticipate significant changes among prominent figures, marking the path to training camps. With free agency tapering down and the 2023 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, the core of team-building has been completed.
Some might argue that I’ve opted for a cautious approach by selecting nine playoff contenders from the previous season in my assessment of the most balanced NFL rosters at the moment. I fully embrace that choice. Despite giving thoughtful consideration to up-and-coming teams like the Earthy Colors, I couldn’t quite convince myself to elevate ascending teams such as the Lions or Dolphins to this prestigious list.
Although these three didn’t make the final cut, the following ten teams, in my view, possess the greatest talent, depth, and minimal lingering uncertainties. Until further notice, they epitomize excellence in every facet.
There’s no overt reason to doubt that the Hawks’ roster isn’t at least as good as it was a year ago, even if they fell short in Super Bowl LVII. Speaking of the Super Bowl, take a look at the latest betting odds and predictions for NFL playoff betting.
MVP runner-up A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert offer exceptional receiving options for the potent offense led by Jalen Hurts (though depth at tight end and wide receiver remains somewhat tenuous). The offensive line remains solid, especially with Jason Kelce’s return, and the right guard position, previously occupied by Isaac Seumalo, offers promising options.
After Miles Sanders’ departure, some may express concern about the running game, but I’m not overly worried. Kenneth Gainwell, Rashaad Penny, and D’Andre Swift can combine for nearly 2,000 scrimmage yards and 18 touchdowns, especially if the team intends to reduce Hurts’ role as a rusher. This shift is attributed to Sanders’ declining performance in the latter part of the season and Gainwell’s emergence.
The unambiguous strength lies in defense. Despite losing Javon Hargrave, the Eagles fortified the league’s top pass rush in 2022 by acquiring Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith. Although run defense could use some improvement, the ability to send waves of pass rushers at opponents remains a pivotal asset. Concerns arise in the back end of the defense, particularly at linebacker with Nakobe Dean and Nicholas Morrow as starting candidates, and safety where Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds vie for top spots.
While any team can overcome roster deficiencies or make a Super Bowl run with a healthy Patrick Mahomes, this Kansas City squad is more than a one-man show. Thanks to strong draft classes and astute free-agent signings, the organization has excelled in rebuilding from the ground up.
Even with the departures of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman, questions linger about the wide receiver corps. However, there’s optimism that the group can evolve. Marquez Valdes-Scantling offers a reliable presence, while Kadarius Toney, who played a versatile role in the offense last year, may be poised for a breakout season. Rashod Bateman is intriguing, and even Justyn Ross could make a compelling case.
The heart of the offensive attack remains Travis Kelce, who had an outstanding season last year, and Mahomes. The running back stable with Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire provides depth. With the addition of Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor, the Chiefs boast one of the league’s premier offensive lines, anchored by Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, and Trey Smith.
On defense, Chris Jones is a standout, and the Chiefs have quality depth across multiple positions. Edge rushers like Malik Herring, Mike Danna, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, George Karlaftis, Charles Omenihu, and Charles Karlaftis offer flexibility. Despite Khalen Saunders’ departure, Jones will take on an increased role inside, with Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton in support.
The Chiefs’ linebacking corps, led by Nick Bolton, Willie Gay, Drue Tranquill, and Leo Chenal, is solid. While the loss of Juan Thornhill may raise concerns, the secondary has been bolstered through the draft, featuring Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed as a formidable cornerback duo and Justin Reid and Bryan Cook at safety. With versatile depth in players like Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams, Mike Edwards, and Deon Bush, the secondary possesses quality and adaptability.
The most significant uncertainty facing the 49ers at present revolves around their quarterback situation. Following Brock Purdy’s elbow injury, the quarterback position remains somewhat in question, with an unclear timeline for his return. The 49ers would be in excellent shape if Purdy can return and replicate his late-season success.
If Purdy is unable to play in Week 1, Three-Pointer Spear still has a chance to start anew and regain his footing. Sam Darnold, with 55 NFL starts under his belt, provides another option as a reliable backup.
The roster doesn’t exhibit any glaring weaknesses, although there are challenges to address. Colton McKivitz is the favorite to replace Mike McGlinchey at right tackle, but there’s still room for validation. Depth in certain areas is a bit thin, relying on unproven prospects and projections.
While the Niners were susceptible to the run on several occasions, most notably in the NFC championship game, the interior of the defensive line should be a stronghold. Assuming high-profile free-agent addition Javon Hargrave performs up to expectations, and Arik Armstead bounces back from a subpar season, the run defense will likely improve. Nick Bosa, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, leads a formidable pass rush. Drake Jackson is a potential candidate to fill Charles Omenihu’s role.
The 49ers possess abundant playmaking talent on both sides of the ball, with a wealth of options in the backfield, out wide, and at tight end. Although San Francisco’s run/pass versatility, featuring Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk, and others, presents a formidable challenge for opponents, injuries have occasionally plagued this squad.
Cincinnati boasts a roster laden with talent, positioning them as strong contenders for a Super Bowl title, provided they remain injury-free. However, there are a few key areas of concern.
The Bengals decided not to bolster the running back and tight end positions, leaving them relatively thin. With Joe Mixon likely staying put after Samaje Perine’s departure, Chris Evans, Trayveon Williams, and rookie Chase Brown represent potential options. The tight end position may rely on Irv Smith Jr. and others, but additional depth would be beneficial.
The offensive line presents some uncertainties. While the addition of Orlando Brown Jr. at left tackle is a boost, the right tackle position remains in question. Depth, although seemingly solid, requires validation.
The primary defensive concern is safety. The departure of Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates, who accounted for over 98% of defensive snaps in 2022, leaves a void. The projected starting duo includes 2022 first-round picks Dax Hill and Nick Scott, along with 2023 third-round pick Jordan Battle. However, predicting the performance of a relatively unproven group remains uncertain.
In the event of a significant injury to the front seven, the Bengals could face challenges. The depth behind Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins leaves much to be desired.
Dallas boasts a wealth of defensive talent and the potential to field a top-five defense. The addition of first-round pick Mazi Smith at defensive tackle addresses a previously vulnerable position. Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence form a formidable pass-rushing duo, complemented by solid depth on the outside.
Both the secondary and linebacker positions are well-stocked. Depending on preseason developments, difficult decisions may be necessary among the back seven. Nevertheless, the unit possesses depth and versatility, particularly with the arrival of cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the emergence of linebacker Damone Clark and defensive back DaRon Boring.
Offensive depth, however, remains a concern. The Cowboys cannot afford to have Dak Prescott miss more games in 2023. Although Cooper Rush performed admirably in Prescott’s absence, the team may lack a top-tier backup quarterback.
The receiver group, despite the addition of Brandin Cooks to enhance the offense, is still searching for a clear leader. The running back situation is complicated by Ezekiel Elliott’s decline and Tony Pollard’s injuries, necessitating the emergence of a reliable option, potentially Deuce Vaughn.
With the arrival of second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker, the tight end position appears stable, but offensive line depth remains somewhat unproven. The Cowboys must also address the kicking game. Nevertheless, Dallas boasts one of the NFL’s most well-rounded rosters.
The Bills field a formidable, versatile team capable of competing at the highest level in the NFL.
It’s worth noting that the offense might pose more minor concerns than the defense. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs anchor an offense that has consistently ranked in the top five over the past three seasons. However, the unit encountered some challenges toward the end of the previous season. Is the supporting cast sufficient? Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid might help alleviate the slot receiver issue, and running backs Damien Harris and Latavius Murray should reduce the workload for James Cook. The depth at wide receiver, including Khalil Shakir, Deonte Harty, Trent Sherfield, and Justin Shorter, may lead to larger personnel packages featuring Kincaid and Dawson.
The offensive line, while respectable, is not the strongest. Most of the unit remains intact, and newcomers Connor McGovern and David Edwards, along with second-round pick O’Cyrus Torrence, provide valuable reinforcement.
The Bills possess depth across all three defensive levels. The injury status of Von Miller, who tore his ACL in November, will be closely monitored. Buffalo should be able to manage without him for a time, thanks to players like Shaq Lawson, Boogie Basham, A.J. Epenesa, Greg Rousseau, and others. The interior defensive line features a strong trio of Poona Ford, Ed Oliver, and DaQuan Jones.
The departure of Tremaine Edmunds creates a void at middle linebacker, but the Bills are confident in their options, including Terrel Bernard, Dorian Williams, A.J. Klein, and Tyrel Dodson, to start opposite Matt Milano.
The secondary may present challenges, yet it offers promise. Depth among cornerbacks Asante Samuel Jr., Michael Davis, and Ja’Sir Taylor, along with the presence of quality safeties in Derwin James Jr., JT Woods, and Alohi Gilman, should provide solid coverage. With Damar Hamlin’s gradual reintegration when ready, the addition of Taylor Rapp further strengthens the secondary.
The Ravens’ fortunes have significantly shifted with Lamar Jackson’s new contract. Coupled with Odell Beckham Jr.’s acquisition and a robust draft class, the Ravens appear poised for a promising season.
A new offensive coordinator, along with Jackson and an overhauled receiver corps, may reestablish the team’s focus on the offensive side. However, the success of the three major wide receiver signings (OBJ, Zay Flowers, and Nelson Agholor) or Rashod Bateman’s healthy return will determine the offensive progress.
The Ravens have faced depth concerns, notably due to recent injury issues, especially involving Jackson. Additional running back insurance may be required, considering the injury history of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill. The depth in other offensive positions appears solid to good, relying on offseason acquisitions and draft selections.
Defensively, the Ravens need to address a few aspects. Cornerback and safety positions demand attention. The lack of an established outside starter and questions surrounding the slot cornerback create uncertainties. While Rock Ya-Sin’s signing bolsters the secondary, further additions may be necessary.
The defensive tackle position, with Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Michael Pierce, and Travis Jones, appears well-rounded. Linebacker experienced changes with the departure of Troy Reeder and Drue Tranquill and the arrivals of Eric Kendricks and rookie Daiyan Henley.
The secondary’s outlook is potentially positive, with a combination of cornerbacks like Tariq Woolen, Devon Witherspoon, Coby Bryant, and Mike Jackson, along with safeties Derwin James Jr., JT Woods, and Alohi Gilman offering depth and versatility.
The acquisition of Aaron Rodgers, while not a long-term solution, represents a significant upgrade over the previous quarterback options. The Jets have ample competition on the offensive line, particularly at center and right tackle.
The wide receiver situation remains somewhat unresolved, but the additions of Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Mecole Hardman significantly altered the depth chart. The tight-end group also appears settled.
The running back group could benefit from an experienced addition, as Aaron Jones is coming off a ruptured ACL. Defensively, the Jets may need additional help on the defensive line and at linebacker. Despite addressing the position in free agency, further depth may be required on the defensive line.
Linebacker remains a concern, with Eric Kendricks returning to bolster the position. The secondary is relatively well-stocked at cornerback and safety, although the loss of J.C. Jackson’s rehabilitation and Nasir Adderley’s retirement have created voids.
In conclusion, general manager Joe Douglas has made significant strides in updating the Jets’ roster over recent years, and the addition of Rodgers may propel them forward.
The Seahawks’ defensive line, particularly on the back end, remains somewhat thin, with potential concerns in positions like defensive tackle. The return of Geno Smith offers hope, and recent draft classes have replenished talent in various positions, including running back offensive line, and secondary.
Justin Herbert enjoys a solid receiving corps, including DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The running back duo of Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet appears promising, and the offensive line is taking on a youthful and more capable form.
The defensive front is strengthened with the addition of Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, and rookie Cameron Young. Linebacker may have thin depth, but the return of Bobby Wagner bolsters the group.
The secondary presents potential concerns, with questions surrounding the cornerback and safety positions. The addition of J.C. Jackson is a positive development, but more work may be needed to fortify the unit.
The Chargers are chosen as the final team on this list, edging out other contenders. Justin Herbert, a strong pass rush, and a decent amount of elite talent contribute to their inclusion.
Herbert is equipped with a trio of top-notch wide receivers, including Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and first-round pick Quentin Johnston. The running back tandem is complemented by Damien Harris and Latavius Murray, providing depth in the backfield.
While the offensive line’s configuration is still uncertain, it has the potential to solidify over time. The pass-rush unit, led by Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, is a top-tier group. The defensive tackle group is solid and well-rounded, featuring Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Michael Pierce, and Travis Jones.
Linebacker depth may be a concern, but the return of Bobby Wagner adds strength to the group. The secondary, while needing further development, offers promise with the likes of Asante Samuel Jr., Michael Davis, Ja’Sir Taylor, Derwin James Jr., JT Woods, and Alohi Gilman.
Overall, the Chargers’ roster appears well-rounded and prepared for the upcoming season.
It’s important to note that these rankings are based on the analysis and opinions presented in the provided text. Each NFL season can bring surprises and changes, so the actual performance of teams during the 2023 season may vary from these predictions.