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2023 NFL Schedule: Process of Projecting Wins for Every Team

Anyone can create win totals, but having a solid process generally leads to more accurate predictions. This article walks you through the framework behind creating the win-loss predictions for all 32 NFL teams.

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>> READ: Win Total Predictions for Every Team

Working Through the Process

Step 1: Tiering and Ranking Every Team

Below, you’ll see how every team is ranked and tiered. Within each tier, moving left to right will go from the best to the worst team for that specific tier. The tiers are Conference/Division agnostic. The Titans are in Tier 6, yet they likely finish in second place in the AFC South. In most other divisions, the Titans probably finish in fourth place.

It’s important to keep the tiers and rankings agnostic from conference and division, or else you run into many issues. If the Saints, the current division favorites in the NFC South, were put into a higher tier because of “their division,” it would be tough to evaluate who wins on a neutral field between the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints. While the Dolphins may finish third in a loaded AFC East, they likely would be favored to beat the Saints — quite handily — on a neutral playing field.

Underneath this graphic is a summary for every team, outlining why there is optimism or pessimism surrounding it for 2023.

Tier 1 — Super Bowl is the Expectation

These are the four best teams as currently constructed on any Sunday. Three AFC teams cannot make the Super Bowl, but on a neutral playing field, these teams should be favored against every other NFL opponent.

Chiefs: The reigning Super Bowl champs have been excellent with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Andy Reid. They have won at least 12 games in five consecutive seasons, and the defense – led by defensive linemen Chris Jones and George Karlaftis – has real upside for 2023.

Eagles: No team can stop the Eagles' offense, as they have an elite quarterback in Jalen Hurts, an elite receiving core, and an elite offensive line. The defense lost some pieces in the offseason, but the Eagles replenished well in the draft. They are the clear team to beat in the NFC.

Bengals: Joe Burrow is as consistent as they come at quarterback, and this offense will be top-5 again. The defense lost some pieces in the secondary, but it’s still at least an average unit. 

Bills: QB Josh Allen should carry this team once again, and WR Gabe Davis, TEs Dalton Kincaid (scouting report) and Dawson Knox, and RB Damien Harris are a massive group to trot out in the red zone. There is also superstar WR Stefon Diggs. Teams will be over-matched once again by this team once they get into scoring range, and the defense has been among the league’s best for several seasons.

Tier 2 — Second Tier Contenders

It would not be surprising to see any of these teams win 12 games during the regular season and position themselves as Super Bowl frontrunners, but there are question marks with each of these teams that don’t exist with the Tier 1 teams.

49ers: This is the NFL’s best roster outside the quarterback position. Unfortunately, when an injured Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold and Trey Lance make up the quarterback room, you cannot be in Tier 1. It’s still a mystery who starts under center for this team in Week 1.

Jets: QB Aaron Rodgers is paired with a top-5 defense. The Jets nearly made the playoffs last season despite nine starts from Zach Wilson. The offensive line is a question mark, as tackle Mekhi Becton has only played in one game in the past two seasons.

Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott had led the No. 1 and No. 4 scoring offenses over the past two seasons. This is a dangerous defense. The issue is the loss of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to the Chargers and a general lack of faith in coach Mike McCarthy.

Chargers: On paper, the Chargers have a top-5 offense and top-10 defense. Year after year, this team has underperformed, but no team suffered worse injury luck than Los Angeles in 2022.

Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa led the NFL’s most efficient passing attack in 2022. The defense added CB Jalen Ramsey. Tua’s health is the big question mark, but this is an incredibly dangerous team when healthy.

Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence took a Herculean step forward last year, his first under head coach Doug Pederson. He likely will take another stride forward in 2023 and is a legitimate MVP candidate surrounded by a top-5 group of skill players. The defense has the pieces to be an average to slightly above-average unit.

Tier 3 — Long Shot Contenders

These three teams could easily rise into Tier 2 after a hot start to the 2023 season. All have question marks, but these are three very talented rosters.

Seahawks: QB Geno Smith again should succeed with a great running back duo, an elite wide receiver trio, and an emerging offensive line. The defense proved to be one of the NFL’s best at limiting WRs last season, and they added cornerback Devon Witherspoon (scouting report) with the No. 5 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Lions: This team has a competent quarterback, an elite offensive line, and a very strong group of skill position players — Detroit was fifth in 2022 in scoring and could be better in 2023. The defense should be improved, but this unit likely holds the Lions back from being a true Super Bowl contender in 2023.

Ravens: QB Lamar Jackson has been inconsistent since his MVP season in 2019, and while his receiving core has been upgraded, he’ll be learning a new offensive system. The Ravens secondary is thinner than in years past.

Tier 4 — Not Quite Contenders

These teams could make the playoffs, but all have major question marks.

Giants: QB Daniel Jones finally is surrounded by strong offensive weapons, and the defense has young, emerging pieces. This team is probably still a year away from truly contending, but 2024 could be the Giants' year.

Browns: Their success rests on QB Deshaun Watson. They are ranked too low if he is the quarterback who was previously on a Hall of Fame trajectory. If he is the same guy from six games last season, the Browns should drop at least one tier down.

Broncos: Coach Sean Payton should provide stability to QB Russell Wilson after Wilson dealt with a fired head coach, injuries to every wide receiver on the depth chart, an under-performing offensive line, and injuries at running back in his first year in Denver. The defense likely regresses to around league average, but this team should put up points every Sunday.

Tier 5 — Wild Card Possibilities

All these teams have a major flaw that likely prevents them from being taken seriously in 2023.

Vikings: The Vikings went 11-0 in one-score games last season, and only the Titans allowed more passing yards per game to opponents. Despite winning 13 games last season, this team was out-scored by its opponents and is in for a rude awakening in 2023. Their general manager has made multiple comments that this team was on the verge of being blown up, but it appears the band will be back together for 2023, the last year on Kirk Cousins’ deal.

Bears: QB Justin Fields will be surrounded by a competent offensive line and a good receiving core for the first time in his three NFL seasons. The defense still needs work, but most of the holes have been patched. They look like one of the NFL’s most improved teams for 2023.

Saints: Andy Dalton was quietly a top-10 quarterback via most efficiency metrics last year, so the move to Derek Carr isn’t really a boost. This is an aging defense.

Falcons: QB Desmond Ridder should hold back Bijan Robinson (scouting report), WR Drake London, TE Kyle Pitts and a good offensive line. The defense is much-improved. Their success hinges on Ridder, last year’s third-round pick.

Steelers: Kenny Pickett needs to take a big step forward in 2023. He will hold this team back, as eight of his 12 starts last year resulted in fewer than 200 passing yards. This team is improving, but the quarterback is still too much of a question mark.

Patriots: Mac Jones is again thrown into the fire without much weaponry surrounding him on offense. The defense is solid but unimpressive, and it’s tough to imagine this team making much noise in 2023.

Tier 6 — More Likely to Finish Last in the Division

In an average division, all these teams likely finish in third or fourth place. Every team has multiple major holes that need to be addressed.

Commanders: Sam Howell was taken in the fifth round of last year’s draft and will play behind a patchwork offensive line. The defense is good but unspectacular. It’s tough to envision this team scoring many points each Sunday.

Raiders: The Raiders went 6-11 last year and now have a quarterback downgrade: going from Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo. Davante Adams turns 31 in December. The pass defense is among the NFL’s worst.

Rams: This is an aging roster, and the Rams already have started to show signs of rebuilding, sending Ramsey to the Dolphins for a third-round pick. QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp have their work cut out behind a bad offensive line. This may be the NFL’s worst pass defense in 2023.

Titans: The Titans have a jumble of practice squad receivers after Treylon Burks and one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. The pass defense allowed more yards per game than any other team in 2022.

Panthers: Bryce Young (scouting report) should be the long-term answer at quarterback, and the Panthers were feisty at times down the stretch in 2022. However, this team’s WR1 is the soon-to-be 31 years old Adam Thielen. Rookie quarterbacks have won just 36 percent of their starts during the past decade.

Packers: This team was tough to watch for much of 2022, and now go from Rodgers to Jordan Love at quarterback. The offensive line hinges on the health of David Bakhtiari, and the defense was largely forgettable throughout 2022.

Tier 7 — Future is Bright, Present is Murky

Both these teams should be terrible in 2023 but they are building for the future. Each has a young, talented passer in-house.

Colts: Anthony Richardson (scouting report) only started one year in college and needs a lot of refinement as a passer. This is a rebuilding season for the Colts.

Texans: The Texans should improve on last season’s three wins, thanks to a very good quarterback prospect in C.J. Stroud (scouting report). Unfortunately, he played with the best wide receiver duo in college football last year (Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka), and the Texans have the worst wide receiver room in the NFL.

Tier 8 - Here Comes Caleb Williams

These two teams are the current favorites to pick first overall in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Buccaneers: Only the Rams scored fewer points than Tampa Bay last season, and they now go from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Several offseason moves hint at this team tanking in 2023.

Cardinals: This team has a mediocre defense and a poor offensive line and will trot out Colt McCoy at quarterback until Kyler Murray is recovered from his ACL injury. Only the Bears' defense allowed more points to opponents than the Cardinals last season.

Step 2: Creating a Schedule Matrix

This step was time-consuming but simple. A matrix was created (pictured below in Step 3), where every team matched up with their 2023 opponents. A distinction was made between home and away games.

Step 3: Assigning Win Probabilities to Every Game

The tiered rankings above were the basis for win probabilities for each game. Within a tier, teams should have a 40-60% chance of winning on any Sunday. Small adjustments were made for home-field advantage and divisional opponents. Win probabilities were either 10%, 25%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 75% or 90% for each game. Estimates were based on how betting markets would likely set each money line (the odds of a team winning that game). 

When facing a higher-tier opponent, win probabilities below 50% should be expected. When facing an opponent in a lower tier, win probabilities above 50% should be expected.

The probabilities for all 272 regular season games are in the tables below.

Home Games

Away Games

Step 4: Basic Math for Win Totals and Strength of Schedule

Win Totals

Calculating the New York Giants' win total will help illustrate this process. The Giants had zero games with a 90% win probability, one game with a 75% win probability, five games with a 60% win probability, three games with a 50% win probability, five games with a 40% win probability, three games with a 25% win probability and zero games with a 10% win probability.

The equation for their win total looks like so:

(0 * 0.9) + (1 * 0.75) + (5 * 0.6) + (3 * 0.5) + (5 * 0.4) + (3 * 0.25) + (0 * 0.1) = 8 wins

All win totals were rounded to the nearest whole number for final win predictions. However, the Bills were rounded up from 10.45. They were the closest team to being at the next highest win total, and when rounding, slightly more teams rounded down, so there were 271 wins accounted for. We rounded the Bills up to 11 wins to ensure all 272 games were represented in the team win predictions.

Strength of Schedule

Tier 1 opponents were assigned eight points, Tier 2 opponents were assigned seven points, and so on, down to Tier 8 opponents representing one point. Away games had a point added. If a team faces the Tier 2 Chargers at home and the Tier 4 Giants on the road, they would get credit for seven points for the Chargers game and six points for the Giants game since playing the five-point Giants would mean an additional point added as a road opponent.

From there, home and away point totals can be added together to create an overall strength of schedule, along with being able to separate home/away levels of difficulty.