NFL Predictions 2023: AFC teams that will make the playoffs (do the Steelers get in?)

Steelers, T.J. Watt
Steelers, T.J. Watt / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The circus is over. This is all business from here on out. As players showed up to Steelers training camp for a few brutal weeks of practice ahead of the 2023 season, they have their eyes on the prize. Their seriousness was evident in early media sessions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't the only team dead set on making the playoffs in the AFC this year. This conference is overcrowded with young, talented quarterbacks and explosive offenses. Kenny Pickett has a lot to prove in his second year if he is to lead his team to a playoff berth.

Nothing is going to be handed to them, and there will be some solid teams in the AFC who won't secure a spot in the post-season. This is sure to make every regular season game all the more important. The Steelers just missed the playoffs in 2022. Will that be the case again this year?

NFL predictions 2023: Can the Steelers make the playoffs in the AFC?

It's hard to make tangible predictions too far ahead in the NFL, as things can change at a moment's notice. However, based on what we know right now about these teams early in training camp, here are our predictions to secure each of the seven playoff seeds in the AFC.

AFC No. 1 seed: Kansas City Chiefs

Until they somehow take a noticable step back in the conference, it's hard to bet against the pairing of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. Many football fans thought the Chiefs would be worse in 2022 without Tyreek Hill, but it just didn't seem to matter at the end of the day. We expect plenty of success from this team in 2023, as Kansas City looks to solidify a 'dynasty' label.

AFC No. 2 seed: Buffalo Bills

Even with Aaron Rodgers added to the AFC East and the return of a healthy Tua Tagovailoa, there's not enough evidence to suggest the Bills won't be one of the top teams in the AFC. This could potentially tighten up the divisional race just a bit, but Josh Allen and Sean McDermott will rise to the occasion. If Allen can be a bit more consistent finally this year, a Super Bowl appearance isn't out of the question.

AFC No. 3 seed: Cincinnati Bengals

The AFC North had an entirely even split in divisional games in 2022, with each team finishing 3-3 in the North. Divisional games are always tight, but we are betting for a bit more success in this department by the Bengals this year. Right now, Joe Burrow might only be second to Patrick Mahomes in terms of his impact at the QB position. Cincinnati has a respectable defense and a very efficient passing offense. This could be the recipe for success in today's NFL.

AFC No. 4 seed: Jacksonville Jaguars

The final divisional winner seems likely to be the Jacksonville Jaguars. While it's not out of the question that the Titans or Colts could give them a run fo their money, Jacksonville was one of the hottest teams in the NFL down the stretch last season, and they could carry that momentum heading into 2023. Trevor Lawrence has all the talent to be the next star quarterback in the NFL, and the Jags are loaded with offensive playmakers. They have the potential of running away with their division title in the AFC South.

AFC No.5 seed: Baltimore Ravens

It's hard to envision a situation where the Baltimore Ravens don't make the playoffs following the 2023 season. A healthy (and well-paid) Lamar Jackson is returning to the lineup, and the Ravens gave him some shiny new toys to work with in Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers. When you add combine this with the fact that they already have a well-rounded roster and a rock-solid offensive line, you get a team that is playoff-bound. The regular season results are undeniable when Jackson is on the field, and it's hard to keep a good team down for long.

AFC No. 6 seed: Los Angeles Chargers

This is a quarterback-driven league, and Justin Herbert is now the highest-paid signal-caller in NFL history in terms of new annual earnings. The budding star won't let this go to his head, as he know he is in need of more post-season success in order to silence critics. Herbert has all the tools to make this happen as well as the weapons at his disposal. The AFC playoffs get another fun quarterback to watch following the regular season.

AFC No. 7 seed: Pittsburgh Steelers

While I contemplated giving this spot to the New York Jets, Aaron Rodgers isn't quite the same dominant player in his old age as he was a few years back. There could be a three-way fight for the final Wild Card spot that comes down to the wire, but I have the Pittsburgh Steelers winning out. Mike Tomlin knows that his team has not had enough playoff success over the past six years, and that needs to change immediately. Pittsburgh's roster should be stronger in 2023. Additionally, they have a healthy T.J. Watt and a breakout year from Kenny Pickett could be in the works.