Predicting the last-place team in each NFL division for 2023 season: Bill Belichick, Patriots bound for cellar

It’s the third full week of July, which means there are only a few days standing between now and the start of training camps across the NFL. Many stories predicting what may come in the 2023 season trend positive because it’s a fresh start. Teams have new players from free agency and the draft, many injured players begin healthy and ready to roll for Week 1, so there are generally good vibes to go around. Not here. The task at hand is to figure out each team that will finish in their division’s basement. 

Every division had one in 2022 except for the NFC South in which the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons all finished with identical 7-10 records, one back game of the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9). That division, along with the AFC North, were two of the harder ones to figure out in terms of how the bottom will shake out, but here are the most educated projections across the league. Five of the eight teams selected to finish last were bottom feeders in 2022, while the other three are a fresh crop of potential stumbling squads. One of the three new cellar dwellers was a division winner as recently as last season. 

2022 season finish: 8-9 (third place, no postseason)

The Patriots aren’t a bad team. Their defense is elite: head coach Bill Belichick’s bunch had 30 takeaways, tied for the second-most in the league last season with the 49ers, trailing only the Cowboys’ NFL-best 33, and they were a top-10 total defense in 2022, allowing the eighth-fewest total yards per game (322.0). However, their offense is a gigantic question mark entering 2023 after the dysfunctional tire fire that was Matt Patricia’s 2022 offense. 

Mac Jones became only the 10th rookie quarterback in league history to throw for over 3,500 yards (3,801) and 20 or more touchdowns (22) in 2021, leading to a runner-up Offensive Rookie of the Year finish to his first season. Then, he dramatically…


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