It won't be easy, but with four games left in the season, it's time to start making NFC South predictions for 2023. This may be the worst division in the NFL but it may also offer the most compelling division race in the NFL. Heading into Week 15, the NFC South standings are as tight as can be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons tied at 6-7.
Who will win the NFC South?
Honestly, no one deserves to win this division, but NFL rules dictate that someone has to, leaving the other two teams to fight for a spot in the Wild Card. Let's take a look at each team's current status and their remaining schedules to see who will win the NFC South this season.
It's been ugly, but the Buccaneers have won their last two games — both against Division I opponents — to reach 6-7. Tampa has a mediocre defense and one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. But Baker Mayfield at least brings some experience to the quarterback position. Additionally, they still have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
More importantly, the Bucs are 3-1 inside the NFC South, giving them an important playoff berth if two or three of those teams end up tied at the end of the season. Of course, they still have to face the Saints again, where a Week 17 matchup could decide the division. Just keep in mind that the Bucs also have to visit the Packers and host the Jaguars before that game. Tampa needs to win at least one of these two games to remain in control of its destiny.
The Saints were the pre-season favorites in this division but performed poorly. A lopsided win over the Panthers in Week 14 snapped a three-game losing streak and put New Orleans on equal footing with other teams in the division. But it's been a struggle for the Saints against quality opponents this year. Outside of the two wins over Carolina, their wins have come against the Giants, Patriots, Colts, and Bears.
In other words, New Orleans lost head-to-head games against both the Bucs and Falcons. This puts them at a huge disadvantage despite facing each of those teams again. The Saints also have to host the stubborn Giants and surging Rams before Christmas, so their schedule isn't exactly a fit.
Atlanta's season had some difficult moments and some heartbreaking endings. The Falcons went 6-7 after losing four of their last six games. All four of those losses came by five points or less, so they were agonizingly close to turning some of those losses into wins. Obviously, this doesn't speak well of Atlanta's ability to perform late in games. However, it indicates that the Falcons are competitive and have a chance to win every game.
Late in the season, the Falcons will have to prove they can win on the road, as three of their last four games have been on the road. Two of those road games are against the Panthers and Bears, and both are winnable. There's also a home date with the Colts before a trip to New Orleans to close things out in Week 18. The opportunity is there for Atlanta, though the Falcons need to seize this opportunity, something they've struggled to do all season. .
As for our 2023 NFC South predictions, we're rooting for the Buccaneers to finish at the top of the worst division in football, just like they did last year.
As mentioned, Tampa's record within the division could ultimately be the difference maker. Playing the Panthers again and hosting the Saints in Week 17 gives the Bucs an advantage as well. The NFC South looks to be an ugly but competitive battle to the end, but the Buccaneers will come out on top.
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