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2023 NFL Season – A Look Back

Thomas Snodgrass

Updated: Feb 16, 2024

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Dreams realized and nightmares endured.

Dream: The Kansas City Chiefs dynasty continues to dominate.

Nightmare: New York Jets’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers played just four snaps before his ankle snapped.

Dream: The Detroit Lions won their division for the first time since 1993.

Nightmare: The New England Patriots finished in the AFC East basement for the first time since 2000.

Dream: No. 2-overall draft pick, quarterback C.J. Stroud led the Houston Texans to an AFC South title.

Nightmare: No. 1-overall draft pick, quarterback Bryce Young led the Carolina Panthers to the worst record in the NFL.

With the 2023 NFL season coming to a close, from Week 1 through Super Bowl 58, the twists and turns revealed a series of surprises, all the while boosting bettors bankrolls, or draining them.

Was anyone in the NFL-viewing public surprised to see Kansas City’s holy triumvirate of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and coach Andy Reid hoist the Lombardi Trophy once again?

Probably not.

Was anyone taken aback to see Houston’s rookie combo of head coach DeMeco Ryans and quarterback C.J. Stroud lead the Texans to the playoffs?

Probably.

Was anyone bewildered by the Carolina Panthers’ wild ineptitude, finishing with a league-worst 2-15 record?

No, because Carolina is flat-out awful.

The 2023 NFL season was a raucous ride, for both the franchises involved and NFL bettors alike.

Let’s take a look back at the NFL season that was.

2023 NFL Playoff Teams

Here’s a look at the 14 teams that made the NFL Playoffs this season with their preseason odds to make the playoffs, courtesy of Caesars:

2023-24 NFL Playoff TeamsOdds To Make Playoffs -Preseason
NFC
San Francisco 49ers*-460
Dallas Cowboys-210
Detroit Lions-170
Tampa Bay Buccaneers+400
Philadelphia Eagles-440
Green Bay Packers+170
AFC
Baltimore Ravens*-160
Buffalo Bills-250
Kansas City Chiefs-450
Houston Texans+650
Cleveland Browns+100
Miami Dolphins-115
Pittsburgh Steelers+130

The two teams that entered the season with the shortest odds to make the playoffs, the Chiefs and 49ers, just so happened to be the two representative teams in Super Bowl 58.

While KC and San Fran were no playoff surprise, the Texans and Buccaneers certainly were.

Not only did Houston and Tampa Bay receive a playoff berth, they did it in style, both winning their respective divisions.

The Texans started their season cold, losing the first two games of the season, which is always an early season punch to the gut.

From 1990 through 2022, only 11% percent of 265 teams to start the season 0-2 have made the playoffs, so it was a difficult hole to climb out of for DeMeco Ryans’ crew.

Houston was among nine teams to start the season 0-2 in 2023, but the only one to make it to the playoffs.

Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had steep odds to make the playoffs this season, they finished with a record of 9-8 to win the NFC South division.

Tampa Bay came into the season with Baker Mayfield as the man to replace the legendary Tom Brady under center, and Mayfield held his own, throwing for 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns.

The Bucs’ had an up-and-down season, going 3-1 in their first four games, then going 1-6 in their next seven, then going 5-1 in the final six contests for the playoff push.

There were a few other teams to make the big dance that came into the season at even money or higher.

Despite losing future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers looked strong in Year 1 of the Jordan Love Era.

In his first full season as Green Bay’s QB1, Love threw for 4,159 yards and 32 touchdowns (2nd-most in NFL).

Like Tampa Bay, Green Bay made a late season playoff push, winning their final three games of the regular season.

The Pack even picked up an impressive 48-32 playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round.

Now with a franchise quarterback in place, the Packers can move forward with building out the rest of their young team.

The Cleveland Browns made the playoffs for just the third time since their return to the NFL in 1999, led by Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett and their stingy defense.

It was the return of quarterback Joe Flacco that vaulted the Browns to a 4-1 finish in their final five games.

Flacco produced four 300+ yard passing games and threw 13 touchdowns in his five starts with Cleveland, ultimately winning Comeback Player of the Year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also made the playoffs, but just by the skin of their teeth.

With three wins in a row to close out the regular season, the Steelers squeezed into the playoffs but failed to make it past the Wild Card round; something they haven’t accomplished since 2017.

Pittsburgh’s head coach Mike Tomlin has yet to have a losing season, and he has now made the playoffs in 11 of his 17 seasons at the helm.

MVP – Lamar Jackson

Before the 2023 season began, there appeared to be some turmoil between Baltimore and Jackson as the quarterback dipped his toes into the free agency waters.

There was a fog of mystery surrounding which club would sign the speedy QB in the offseason, mainly because Jackson’s agent was . . . Lamar Jackson. Interesting.

Ultimately, the 2019 NFL MVP returned to the Beltway, signing a contract with the Ravens. Jackson would later become the 2023 NFL MVP.

Here were the players with the shortest odds to win the NFL MVP Award prior to the season kicking off, with odds courtesy of Caesars.

PlayerNFL MVP Odds – Preseason
Patrick Mahomes – QB, KC+600
Joe Burrow – QB, CIN+700
Josh Allen – QB, BUF+750
Jalen Hurts – QB, PHI+900
Justin Herbert – QB, LAC+950
Lamar Jackson – QB, BAL+1400
Aaron Rodgers – QB, NYJ+1500
Trevor Lawrence – QB, JAX+1800
Tua Tagovialoa – QB, MIA+2200
Justin Fields – QB, CHI+2500
Dak Prescott – QB, DAL+2500

Jackson started the season with the sixth-shortest odds, and after leading the Ravens to a 13-4 record and throwing for 3,678 yards, 24 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, while rushing for 821 yards and five touchdowns, he was voted MVP.

In my opinion, Christian McCaffrey was the real MVP, but I digress.

2023 was the seventh consecutive season a QB for a team that received the No. 1 seed in the playoffs has won MVP.

If not for yet another early exit in the playoffs, MVP voters may have considered Prescott’s MVP candidacy a little harder.

Here’s a quick comparison between Prescott’s and Jackson’s 2023 campaigns.

QBComp%Pass YdsPass TDINTRatingRush YdsRush TD
Prescott69.5%4,516369105.92422
Jackson67.23,678247102.78215

At +2500, Dak Prescott made a very strong case, finishing as the runner-up in voting.

Prescott led the Dallas Cowboys to a record of 12-5 and produced a career high in passer rating (105.9) and threw for a league-leading 36 touchdown passes.

A few players on the betting boards struggled to stay on the field, specifically Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers got hurt so early, and did so little with the Jets, I still picture him in a Packers jersey.

It’s interesting to see Justin Fields entering the 2023 season with identical odds to Prescott.

Fields still showed strong dual threat abilities as the Chicago Bears’ signal caller this season, but with Chicago receiving the first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, all signs point to fields playing elsewhere soon.

Against The Spread

The best team against the spread in 2023 was the Detroit Lions, going 14-6 ATS (including the playoffs) which is a cover rate of 70%.

Were a bettor to place a wager on the Lions to cover the spread in all 20 of their games, they would have finished up approximately 6.75 units; meaning a $100 bettor would have finished up about $675.

The worst team against the spread was the Carolina Panthers, going just 4-11-2 ATS, a cover rate of just a measly 26.7%.

Taking the Panthers to cover the spread in 2023 was ill advised, but taking their opponent was always a solid wager.

Here’s a look at the top five teams against the spread in 2023:

TeamATS RecordCover Rate
Detroit Lions14-670%
Kansas City Chiefs13-7-165%
Los Angeles Rams11-6-164.7%
Baltimore Ravens12-763.2%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers12-763.2%

And the four worst:

TeamATS RecordCover Rate
Los Angeles Chargers6-1135.3%
New England Patriots5-11-131.3%
Atlanta Falcons5-1229.4%
Carolina Panthers4-11-226.7%

Over/Under

The highest percentage of overs (66.7%) belonged to the Cleveland Browns in 2023.

Cleveland’s defense was projected to be one of the NFL’s best and the books may have overcorrected their game point totals as a result.

The Browns played in seven games where the total reached 50 or more points, which matches the amount of 50+ point games for the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL’s highest scoring offense (30.1 ppg).

The highest percentage of unders belonged to the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers at 70.6%.

For the Chargers, it was a disappointing season. Starting quarterback Justin Herbert missed the final four games and head coach Brandon Staley was fired after a 63-21 loss to their AFC West rival Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15.

What more can you say about the Panthers?

Almost everything went wrong for Carolina in 2023, but there’s nowhere to go but up, hopefully.

Here are the four teams with the highest over percentage in 2023:

TeamOver RecordOver Percentage
Cleveland Browns12-666.7%
Detroit Lions13-765%
Indianapolis Colts11-664.7%
San Francisco 49ers12-860%

And the three teams with the highest under percentage in 2023:

TeamUnder RecordUnder Percentage
Kansas City14-766.7%
Los Angeles Chargers5-1270.6%
Carolina Panthers5-1270.6%

Super Bowl LVIII

The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl 58, defeating the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22.

It was the Chiefs’ third Super Bowl title in five seasons.

The Detroit Lions actually received the highest number of tickets and handle on most sportsbooks to win Super Bowl 58 prior to the season kicking off, essentially becoming ‘America’s Team’, at least in terms of the betting public.

Here’s a look at the 10 teams with the shortest odds to win Super Bowl 58 prior to Week 1, odds courtesy of Caesars:

TeamSuper Bowl 58 Odds – Preseason
Kansas City Chiefs+600
Philadelphia Eagles+750
San Francisco 49ers+900
Buffalo Bills+900
Cincinnati Bengals+1000
Dallas Cowboys+1500
New York Jets+1600
Baltimore Ravens+2000
Detroit Lions+2200
Miami Dolphins+2500

The Lions and Ravens both made it to their respective conferences championship games, so Super Bowl 58 could have been very friendly to bettors that looked further down the Super Bowl odds before the season started.

Two teams with odds of 20-1 or higher would have been a win for the betting public, considering the large number of tickets and handle on Detroit and Baltimore.

After entering the season with the second-shortest odds to win Super Bowl 58, the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl chances dwindled fast after Week 12.

From Week 13 through the end of the regular season, Philadelphia went 1-5, with their only win coming against the lowly New York Giants in Week 16; but, even the final score of 33-25 felt like a loss.

Philly got trounced in the Wild Card round by the Buccaneers, 32-9, so expectations may have been set too high on the Eagles at +750.

At +1600, the New York Jets seemed like an intriguing Super Bowl 58 wager prior to Week 1, but their season ended in Week 1 when Aaron Rodgers went down.

The Jets won the offseason, in terms of interest and media conversation, but there’s nothing to put in the trophy case for that.

With the lowest odds of winning Super Bowl 58, the Houston Texans came in at 200-1.

The Texans certainly surprised this season, winning their division and making it to the Divisional round of the playoffs, jumpstarting the heart of any bettor that threw that 200-1 dart on Houston.

The Carolina Panthers had odds of 70-1, and after how their season unfolded, bettors were ripping that ticket early.

I know I have said a lot of negative things about Carolina here, but for any dreamers out there, the Panthers’ Super Bowl 59 odds are currently +25000 on FanDuel.

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About the author

A fan of both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, which is rare! Thomas provides sports betting content with the intent to educate and enter...

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