2023 NFL Season Preview Part Two: NFC

A review of the past season and offseason for each NFC team and a preview for their upcoming seasons.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

With Week One solidly in the rearview mirror… the NFL is back. With the year already off with a bang, from injuries to comebacks to upsets, this year looks to be as exciting as ever. And with the summer offseason—which included blockbuster trades, key free agent signings, and much drama—a distant memory, all 32 teams have their eye on the ultimate goal: to become the 2024 Super Bowl Champions. Here is The Spectator’s 2023 NFL preview Part Two—NFC Edition:


The NFC East was one of the toughest divisions last season, the only division in the entire league to send three teams into the playoffs. While the Philadelphia Eagles were the number one seed in the NFC and eventual NFC Champions, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants weren’t far behind, the latter finishing with a miraculous 9-7-1 record. Even the worst team in the division, the Washington Commanders, managed to end with a respectable 8-8-1.

In the offseason, the NFC East was very active, with each team making moves to address their holes from last year. The Eagles secured their franchise quarterback in Jalen Hurts. They also traded for running back D’Andre Swift and drafted an exciting defensive tackle in Jalen Carter. The Giants secured both the quarterback and running back positions, giving quarterback Daniel Jones a massive contract worth $160 million and, after some drama, running back Saquon Barkley a one-year $11 million contract. The Cowboys, by comparison, had a quieter offseason but still added key players in wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore to give them a well-rounded squad. For the Commanders, with only a couple of minor offensive additions, it will be exciting to watch them look to improve this season.

In Week 1, the Cowboys blew out the Giants 40-0 in what will likely be one of the most one-sided games of the year, and in recent history. The Cowboys now look to build on that momentum, while the Giants hope their performance was a fluke and not the norm. With the Eagles starting the year with a 2-0 record, a Super Bowl reappearance could be on the agenda. And while the Commanders are the weakest in the division, with a 1-0 start, they shouldn’t be counted out.


The NFC West sent two teams to the playoffs, while the other two ended with a sub .300 record. The San Francisco 49ers were clearly the strongest team, finishing 13-4 and ending the regular season on a 10-game winning streak. After a final-week scare, the Seattle Seahawks made it into the playoffs at the expense of the Lions, breaking expectations when many expected it to be a rebuilding year for them after the blockbuster trade involving quarterback Russell Wilson. On the other hand, the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams were both disappointing, with problems emerging over the season on all different fronts.

During the offseason, the Seahawks and Rams were very active, especially in the draft, while the 49ers and Cardinals had a relatively quiet offseason. The Seahawks drafted wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and cornerback Devon Witherspoon, arguably the best players in their class at their respective positions, to make their strong positions even stronger. The Rams picked up an impressive 14 rookies in the draft, with many more undrafted free agents, building up a young squad where 40 out of 90 players on the roster are rookies. The 49ers made a strong move by picking up defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who had a great year with the Eagles last season at 11 sacks. The Cardinals, on the other hand, downgraded over the offseason, losing key players on both sides of the ball.

The 49ers have picked up last season’s momentum, with a 30-7 demolition of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Arizona experienced a predictable loss, but it was closer than most expected. On an unexpected note, however, the Seahawks and Rams matchup was a startling mismatch in favor of the Rams, who dominated the game on both sides of the ball, showing that they may in fact be a playoff contender. The division looks to Weeks Two and Three to see how much the division dynamic has changed from last year. 


The NFC North was competitive last year, with the Minnesota Vikings the clear division winners but the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers both competing for a Wild Card spot. While neither team made the playoffs, they finished with decent 9-8 and 8-9 records, respectively. The Chicago Bears were clearly the worst in the division, ending 3-14 with one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the NFC.

The offseason in this division was very lopsided, with the Lions at the root of most of the major activity in the division. Impressively, Detroit drafted running back Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama and strengthened their secondary by signing cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley, and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The Vikings, on the other hand, lost many key playmakers, with wide receiver Adam Thielen leaving in free agency and running back Dalvin Cook getting cut for salary cap purposes. Green Bay similarly lost more players than they gained, most importantly losing franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Bears made some moves, especially on defense, adding linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive end DeMarcus Walker from free agency, and drafting cornerback Tyrique Stevenson.

This division sees a drastically changed landscape from last year, with many important players having left the top-performing teams in the division. With an extremely impressive win against defending Super Bowl Champions the Kansas City Chiefs, the Lions look primed for a playoff run, hoping to end their postseason drought, having last won a playoff game in 1991. The Vikings, who have started out 0-2, have plenty to fight for this year. And even though the Packers seemed to have a tough rebuilding year ahead of them, as per usual, they were able to get the better of the Bears, who had hoped to bounce back for the year. 


The NFC South last season was a weak division, the only one to have a champion with a losing record. Led by star quarterback Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scraped into the playoffs as division winners with a measly 8-9 record while the other three teams finished with a disappointing 7-10 record.

All four teams made moves during the offseason, hoping to improve on the low success from last year. For the New Orleans Saints, the acquisition of quarterback Derek Carr holds promise to fill the hole that hasn’t been conclusively filled since the days of Drew Brees. The Saints also added running back Jamaal Williams, who accounted for an impressive 17 touchdowns for the Lions last year. The Carolina Panthers also hope to have filled the quarterback position with their franchise-hopeful Bryce Young. With fellow rookie and wide receiver Jonathan Mingo, and offseason-addition running back Miles Sanders, the Panthers could have a greatly improved offense. The Atlanta Falcons improved their run-heavy offense by drafting running back Bijan Robinson, while also gaining a slew of players at many positions on defense. Tampa Bay also signed a new quarterback, Baker Mayfield, who they hope will cover up for Tom Brady’s retirement.

Seeing that all teams have relatively new quarterbacks, it will be interesting to see which will best fit into their team’s scheme. With very little to discern between the teams from last season’s results, it will be up to their offseason moves to decide the stronger and weaker teams. While the Saints are the favorites to win the division, a nervy 16-15 win against the Titans should give them a wake-up call. In Week One, only the Panthers had a loss, against the division-rival Falcons. Thus the Panthers, with their potentially exciting offense, the Falcons, with their improved defense, and the Bucs, with their D-line and receiving core strength, all have the ability to contest the Saints’ weak grip on the division. 

With the season underway and Week One behind, the NFC has already seen some very unexpected results. The conference landscape has changed since last year, with only a couple of teams retaining dominance in their division. While nothing has been fully indicative of how this season will go, these Week One performances can prove to be the difference between a playoff contender and a mediocre finish. Early winners can be inspired to use their momentum to build this season into a successful year, while the losers must strive to cancel the negative momentum going against them and recover quickly. Regardless, with eager hopes for a successful year, fans can buckle up for a season offering unforgettable moments, drama, and triumphs.