Which NFL Teams Will Have the Toughest Road to the Playoffs?

Using last season’s data, we can look at which NFL teams will likely have the toughest road to making the 2023/24 NFL season playoffs. While this isn’t rock-solid, and a lot can change between now and the playoffs coming around, we can use various factors to make an assessment backed by data and logic.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the NFL teams that we think will have the toughest chances of reaching the NFL playoffs for the 2023/24 season, looking at their previous form and their current standing to make the best possible NFL predictions.

Chicago Bears

If we’re being honest, the Chicago Bears were atrocious in 2022, losing 14 of their 17 regular season games. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but this record was the worst in the NFL. Hopes were high going into the season, their first season under new general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, and they were looking to build on their 6-11 record from the season prior.

However, Justin Fields, a second-year quarterback, was a shining light, and he looks like he’ll be a central cog in the Chicago Bears machine heading into this new season.

They’ve stuck with their current general manager and head coach, despite pressure to dismiss them following their dismal first season together, and must be hoping that a good sweep in the 2023 NFL Draft will help them reach the playoffs after a two-year absence.

Houston Texans

There’s no pretending that 2022 wasn’t a bad year for the Houston Texans. Without fan-favorite Deshaun Watson, who joined the Cleveland Browns, they looked rudderless, and their form clearly reflected that, going 3-13-1. To put this into context, they even went on a nine-game losing streak, their worst since 2013, so it didn’t really come as a shock to anyone when they parted ways with Lovie Smith, their recently appointed head coach.

This new season will be a struggle for Texans fans as they acclimatize to working under new head coach DeMeco Ryans. After going 3-13-1 in 2022, the only way is up, and fortunately for them, Ryans is a former player himself and knows what it’ll take to bring the team together and get the fans behind them. With the second pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, they could quickly change their fortunes if they choose wisely.

Arizona Cardinals

As the team with the third-worst win rate in the 2022/23 NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals would always make this list. In the fourth and final season under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, they did not impress, going 4-13, finishing 4th in the NFC West, and, of course, failing to qualify for the playoffs. The season went from bad to worse when the recent arrival and three-time DPOTY J.J. Watt announced his retirement.

Starting this new season without Watt will be a challenge, and while he wasn’t the player he once was, his experience and quality would still have been an asset for the Arizona Cardinals moving forward. To compound the challenges that they’re facing, they’ll also be starting the season under a new head coach as Jonathan Gannon joined the franchise after leaving his role as defensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are far from the team we know they can be. Going into the 2022/23 season, the Colts had bags of experience, with their general manager and head coach duo of Chris Ballard and Frank Reich, having been with the team for more than five years. That experience, however, only resulted in failure as they went 4-12-1, and Reich was fired midway through the season.

Things are looking brighter now, however, with the arrival of new head coach Shane Steichen, who was previously offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. As the new team starts to take shape, the Colts look like they could perform with this new blank slate, and they’ll be looking to end their eight-year AFC South title drought. That being said, many of the same issues from last season still exist. Of course, a lot depends on what QB they manage to land with their (at least) number 4 pick in the draft. It’ll be a long season in Indianapolis, but fans must back their new head coach and trust the process.

Denver Broncos

Having finished 7-10 in 2022, everyone expected the Denver Broncos to perform in 2022 and build on decent results. Despite this, they regressed and ended the 2022/23 season with a record of 5-12, resulting in the firing of head coach Nathaniel Hackett with two games to spare. Interim coach Jerry Rosburg did his best to salvage the season with a couple of games to go and ended with a personal record of 1-1, which was an improvement at least. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to win Rosburg the full-time gig, however, as the Denver Broncos moved to sign Super-Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton, who arrived in Denver after his successful time as head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 2013 until 2021. Going into this new season, there is a genuine concern that Payton may struggle to get the Denver Broncos into the playoffs, primarily because he has been out of the game for a little while, but he certainly has the pedigree to make a dramatic impact on the team going forward.

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