The NFL is the US’s most popular sports league by a long shot—and it’s also home to the world’s most lucrative teams. Even though the NFL has notoriously failed to garner interest throughout North America, there’s still plenty of interest from domestic fans. In fact, close to 110 million US residents tune in live for the Super Bowl each year.
Like most other sports leagues, tons of speculation surrounds the teams projected to end up in the final championship game. Before the season starts, analysts and fantasy leaguers put together a list of favorites in the league’s two conferences: the NFC and the AFC. Then they comb through NFL betting odds to see how each team will stack up in their faceoffs.
Unlike other popular leagues like the NBA or the Premier League, the NFL has a limited number of games. Two years ago, the league expanded from a 16-game regular season to a 17-game format. With so few games on the docket, fans and analysts have to pay attention to even the tiniest details if they want to predict a winner months ahead of time.
And even after the season gets underway, the work has just begun. After all, just because a team starts their season strong, that doesn’t mean they can carry that momentum into the post-season. So, which teams are favorites to win the 2023 Super Bowl? And why are analysts zeroed in on them?
Buffalo Bills, AFC
The Buffalo Bills have two huge factors working in their favor heading into the 2022-23 season. First, they’ve got one of the NFL’s leading quarterbacks, Josh Allen. Like Patrick Mahomes in 2019-20, Allen looks to be at the top of his game. Second, the Bills are coming off a killer last season that ended with 11 wins and a heartbreaking end to their playoff run after losing to the Chiefs.
In other words, the Bills have the talent and skill to pull off another stellar regular season—and they’ve got a fire burning to make it to next year’s Super Bowl. Few combinations are as lethal in the NFL. In the least, the Bills are expected to end this next season as champions of the AFC East. However, they’ll need to shoulder past the Chiefs in the playoffs if they hope to make it to the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFC
There’s nothing like a dynasty—and it seems quarterback Tom Brady is working his hardest to flip his former multi-year success with the New England Patriots into another legendary run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After bringing home the Lombardi Trophy in 2021, the Buccs missed out on last year’s championship game.
However, there’s one caveat for the Brady-led team: they have one of the toughest schedules in the league. In the regular season, they’ll face other Super Bowl favorites in the Packers, 49ers, Rams, and Chiefs. This will either serve to hone the Buccs into another Super Bowl-caliber team or else it could weaken their roster through injuries and over-exertion as they head toward the post-season.
Kansas City Chiefs, AFC
Back in 2019-20, the Chiefs looked like they were prepared to become the NFL’s next multi-year dynastic team. Patrick Mahomes was unstoppable—especially with Tyreek Hill at his side. The team’s momentum was strong enough that the front office forked over a half-billion-dollar contract to Mahomes, making him the highest-paid athlete of all time. But the 2020-21 season saw the Chiefs fall to the Buccs in the Super Bowl.
And then came the 2021-22 season, which saw the Chiefs falter on both offense and defense. Heading into Week 1, the Chiefs won’t have Hill to rely on. And it looks like they’ll struggle in pass rushing once again this season. Still, even with uncertainty on offense, the Chiefs have one of the NFL’s most lethal rosters—and it could push them to another Super Bowl if they can make it past the Bills.
Los Angeles Rams, NFC
As reigning Super Bowl champions from 2021-22, the Rams face a few advantages and disadvantages this season. First, it’s incredibly difficult to repeat as Super Bowl champs. In the NFL’s 100-plus year history, only seven teams have managed the feat. And, at the same time, management in the Rams’ front office has fought hard to retain last year’s roster, which should put them in a strong position to repeat.
First and foremost, quarterback Matthew Stafford has an offensive partner in Cooper Kupp, which translates to scoring power. And on defense, the Rams have a solid lineup, which Von Miller will continue to lead. Throw in one of the NFL’s most promising up-and-coming coaches in Sean McVay and there’s plenty of potential for the Rams to be the first team to repeat Super Bowl wins since Brady led the Patriots in 2002-03.
Green Bay Packers, NFC
Unsurprisingly, the NFL’s top contenders for any Super Bowl come down to a leading quarterback. No franchise is complete without a visionary, collected, and accurate quarterback. And while the Green Bay Packers have been led by one of the league’s most prolific quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers, they only have one Super Bowl title to show for it. With time running out before Rodgers retires, all Packers fans are holding out for another Lombardi.
In reality, Packers fans have been holding out for this possibility—since Rodgers brought home the title back in 2010. So, what makes this year different? First and foremost, Rodgers seems to be hinting that this could be his last season in the NFL—and that he’d like to go out with a Lombardi Trophy. (In Tampa, Brady is likely thinking the same.)
But the Packers have more than a four-time MVP-winning quarterback on their roster. Heading into the 2022-23 season, the Packers also have a loaded defense and a star duo serving as running backs. Looking back at last season, injuries derailed the team before they could get their momentum going. This year, the squad is healthy—and they’re hungry for a win. But will it be enough this year?