Every major item of the 2023 NFL offseason has now been checked off: free agency, the draft, and schedule release. Everyone has a fairly clear view of what their favorite team will look like entering the 2023 season, barring a few roster cuts and veteran pick-ups in August just before another year begins. All that's left for the football world is to wait and dream about what could unfold in 2023. With that in mind, here's a look at all 32 teams' most anticipated matchup of the upcoming season. Teams are listed in alphabetical order with stakes varying from revenge games to playoff seeding implications as well as good old fashioned bragging rights.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 17 at Philadelphia Eagles
Between face-of-the-franchise quarterback Kyler Murray likely after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus and their top defensive leader, safety Budda Baker, in the event the Cardinals don't make him the highest paid player at his position, there isn't exactly a ton of excitement for their upcoming season. It's a clear rebuild with a new head coach in Jonathan Gannon and a new general manager in Monti Ossenfort in charge, but the tail end of their season could a little more entertaining.
Since Murray could be out for as long as the first half of the season, that limits the options for their most anticipated game to the back-end of their slate. Their journey to the East Coast to face Gannon's former employer, the defending NFC Champion Eagles, in their penultimate game of the season will serve as a nice measuring stick for how far the Cardinals have to go to get back to contention. A delicious subplot is Gannon being back in front of the Philadelphia media, a group he left somefor on his way out west.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 12 vs. New Orleans Saints
The Falcons and the Saints have one of the most petty rivalries in the entire NFL, constantly trading barbs back and forth over social media. Saints defensive lineman Cameron Jordan even when Falcons legend Matt Ryan left to join the Indianapolis Colts a year ago because that meant Jordan couldn't sack him anymore.
Week 12 serves as these rivals' first crack at each other in 2023, and an additional layer was added when Atlanta hired the Saints' co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen to be their new DC. New Saints quarterback Derek Carr and new Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson also insert additional intrigue as potential difference makers who could tilt the wide open NFC South in their respective team's favor.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 2 at Cincinnati Bengals
With MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson back in the fold for the Ravens after they made him the Zay Flowers 22nd overall) to elevate the passing game., excitement can resume for this franchise. The Ravens haven't always prioritized pass-catchers or passing entirely in their offense, but they went out of their way to change that this offseason. The team hired a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken, a coach with NFL OC experience who spent the last two years calling players for the back-to-back national champion Georgia Bulldogs, and they allocated some significant resources in free agency (signing ) and the draft (selecting Boston College wide receiver
Given that pivot in a different direction, the anticipation will be high to see how those additions affect Baltimore's offense early on. Week 1 against the Houston Texans is a nice tune-up before they play their first of two matchups against the back-to-back AFC North champion Bengals. Seeing what the Ravens' new-look offense can do against the class of their division will be a thrilling early-season showdown.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 9 at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday Night Football)
The Bills have been one of the NFL's most dominant teams across the last three regular seasons, leading the league in points per game (29.4) and points allowed per game (19.4) in that span. However, they have also continually bumped their head on a golden ceiling in the postseason, losing to the two teams to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl across the last three years in the Chiefs and Bengals. The Bengals were their latest wall as the Bills fell 27-10 at home in the AFC divisional round to end their promising 2022 campaign.
Their offense completely fizzled out when they needed it most, so Buffalo prioritized upgrades to help quarterback Josh Allen in the 2023 NFL Draft, selecting Utah tight end 25th overall (first round) and Florida guard O'Cyrus Torrence 59th (second round) early. Testing out their upgraded offense against the Bengals' retooled defense will serve as a pivotal game in the race for the AFC's top playoff seed.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 1 at Atlanta Falcons
Nearly everything about the Panthers is new in 2023 with the exception of their defensive starting lineup. Frank Reich is in town as the Panthers head coach, and the Panthers traded up from the ninth overall pick to the first overall pick to secure Alabama quarterbackin the 2023 NFL Draft. His entire supporting cast besides 2021 second-round pick receiver Terrace Marshall are fresh faces in Carolina after the team brought back a new running back ( ), two new wide receivers ( and ), and a new tight end ( ) from the free agency market.
Even though general manager Scott Fitterer said veteran quarterback signee Andy Dalton over Young, odds are the guy they sent a haul of picks plus wide receiver DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears in exchange for will be their starting quarterback. This makes their first game of the season must-see TV because the NFL world, not just Panthers fans, will be intrigued to see how the diminutive first overall pick fares to begin his pro career. In an NFC South where any of the four teams could win with Tom Brady now retired, this divisional clash could play a large factor into who ends up atop their standings at the end of the season.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 17 at Kansas City Chiefs
This has been the AFC Championship Game matchup in each of the last two seasons with the Bengals winning in the 2021 seasons and the Chiefs winning this past season. 2022 NFL and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and Bengals Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow both lead offenses with some of the best playmakers in the league.
The NFL doesn't need to do much promotion for this one because Bengals-Chiefs could end up as perhaps the best game of the regular season as well as the AFC Championship Game matchup for the third straight year.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 1 vs. Green Bay Packers
The Bears have more hope entering the 2023 NFL season than they have entering any year since 2019. They overhauled their last-ranked scoring defense (27.2 points per game) with the signings of linebackers Justin Fields: D.J. Moore. The 26-year-old wideout came over as part of the return package for Chicago giving the Panthers the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2023 draft.and , and they finally acquired a No. 1 receiver for quarterback
Another reason for the Bears' renewed optimism is their "owner" Aaron Rodgers is no longer a Packer, so they won't have to face the quarterback who went 25-5 against them twice a year anymore. However, if they allow new Green Bay starter Jordan Love to walk out of Soldier Field victorious in his first game as the Packers' full-time quarterback, that excitement could dwindle quickly.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 1 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Browns, for whatever odd reason, have dominated Joe Burrow in his Bengals' career, winning four of five matchups. However, the one loss was Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson's first game in the Battle of Ohio, a 23-10 defeat in Week 14 last season. Watson was noticeably rusty after about a year-and-a-half off from playing in the NFL because of his legal issues centered around allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
Expectations are high for the passer the Browns handed a five-year, $230 million fully-guaranteed contract, and Cleveland's splintered fanbase could become even more negative in a hurry if Watson doesn't put up a good show against the back-to-back AFC North champions.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 2 vs. New York Jets
In case you weren't aware, Cowboys' bogeyman Aaron Rodgers is now the quarterback of the New York Jets. His move from the Packers to the Jets creates another matchup between the four-time NFL MVP and the Cowboys that wouldn't have happened in 2023 were he still a Packer. Instead, the Silver and Blue get to face a quarterback who has won eight of his 10 starts against the franchise while throwing 18 touchdowns to only two interceptions in those games. It will be a significant early-season test for Dan Quinn's defense, going from facing Daniel Jones in Week 1 to Rodgers in Week 2.
He led the Packers to a 31-28 overtime victory in Week 10 last season after trailing 28-14 entering the fourth quarter, with a broken thumb on his throwing hand. This marked the first time in Cowboys franchise history (since 1960) that Dallas suffered defeat when they possessed a lead of 14 or more points entering the fourth quarter. Rodgers completed 14 of his 20 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns, dropping Dallas' record to 195-1 in such situations.
Rodgers is also responsible for ending two of the Cowboys' best seasons of the 21st century in the playoffs, the 2014 and 2016 campaigns. There's nothing Dallas' fans and head coach Mike McCarthy -- once Rodgers' play-caller, confidant, and head coach while in Green Bay -- would enjoy more in the regular season then toppling Rodgers in what will likely be their final matchup with the future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 6 at Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday Night Football)
The Broncos pulled Sean Payton out of the Fox Sports television studios and onto their sideline in 2023 for one reason: to fix Russell Wilson. The nine-time Pro Bowler posted career-lows in completion percentage (60.5%), passing touchdowns (15) and passer rating (84.4) in his first season in Denver while the Seattle Seahawks reached the postseason with his former backup Geno Smith playing like a top-five quarterback. No one could have anticipated that being the Year 1 outcome after the blockbuster trade to make him a Bronco.
With a return to health for multiple playmakers, wide receiver Tim Patrick and running back Javonte Williams (both recovering from torn ACLs), and Payton providing Wilson with some much-needed guidance, this season could be his last chance to prove he's the long-term answer in Denver. The Broncos signed backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham to a two-year, $10 million contract, a hefty deal for a No. 2 quarterback. Wilson needs to show the franchise can be a contender with him at the controls, and no better way to do that than to go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs in prime time.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 1 at Kansas City Chiefs (Season Kickoff Game)
The Lions are the 2023 offseason's "it" team. They are currently the odds-on favorite to win the NFC North (+120) via Caesars Sportsbook, and their +2500 odds to win the Super Bowl are their second-shortest preseason odds in the last 25 years. The NFL even included them in the 2023 season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs!
Detroit won eight of its final 10 games in 2022, which included eliminating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers from playoff contention in the final game of the regular season on "Sunday Night Football." Quarterback Jared Goff's resurgence helped power a top-five scoring offense (26.6 points per game, fifth-best in NFL) as he led the entire league in touchdown to interception ratio, 29 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. Goff closed out the season on fire, throwing 15 touchdowns and no interceptions in the Lions' final nine games. His 324 consecutive passes without an interception mark the longest such streak in franchise history. A win or strong showing with the whole football world watching could set the tone for the Lions' best season of the 21st century.
Green Bay Packers
Most anticipated matchup: Week 17 at Minnesota Vikings (Sunday Night Football)
Jordan Love's time as thehas arrived, creating plenty of anticipation and the excitement that comes of the mystery box of a sparingly-played 24-year-old, former first-round pick passer. While seeing him in Week 1 against the Bears will be intriguing since it's his first game running the show, it's not the Packers most-anticipated game. Head coach Matt LaFleur is a perfect 8-0 against the Bears since becoming Green Bay's head coach in 2019.
The Packers top rival in the NFC North these days is the Vikings, the 2022 division champions. The two teams split their matchups last season with the home team winning each time rather easily. Their second of two games in 2023 stands as the Packers' best game because Love will have gone through the bulk of his first regular season as the starter, and both teams could be fighting for postseason spots. A more experienced Love in prime time to close out the 2023 calendar year against a hated rival, this is Green Bay's most anticipated game.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 2 vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Texans appear to have a plan for the first time in a while. Their hiring of San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator and former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans to be their new head coach in addition to drafting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud second overall and Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. third overall in the 2023 NFL Draft displays a clear direction of the vision they have for the team going forward.
Their first game of the season against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens likely won't be a fair fight given Baltimore was a playoff team even without Jackson at the end of the year in 2022 while Houston went 3-13-1. Week 2 will be their first true opportunity to prove they made the right choices early on in their rebuilding process when they face their division rival Colts. The juxtaposition between the two franchises will be one to keep an eye for years to come as Houston chose the more polished Stroud over the more physically-gifted Anthony Richardson, whom the Colts selected fourth overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Stroud versus Richardson could be a quarterback matchup that could define the AFC South for years to come.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 1 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Speaking of Anthony Richardson, his NFL debut will be much-anticipated, especially since it comes against the reigning AFC South champion Jaguars. His cannon of an arm and dynamic dual-threat abilities could revitalize an offense that allowed running back Jonathan Taylor to lead the league in rushing back in 2021. If Richardson and the Colts can take care of the football and Taylor gets back to dominating opposing front seven's again, this game could be the start of an explosive rookie year for the 2023 NFL Draft's .
Most anticipated matchup: Week 2 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The Jaguars made the incredible leap from having consecutive first overall draft picks to making the playoffs as AFC South champions in 2022. They even overcame a historic 27-0 deficit against the Los Angeles Chargers to win their first playoff game since the 2017 season. Now comes the really hard part: making the leap from a team that regularly reaches the postseason to an AFC contender.
There's no better measuring stick of course than the 2022 NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, their Week 2 opponent. The two teams played a competitive playoff game in the AFC divisional round playoff game last season with a late fumble by wide receiver Jamal Agnew dooming Jacksonville to a 27-20 defeat. Another crack at the champs will be the Jaguars most exciting game on their 2023 slate.
Kansas City Chiefs
Most anticipated matchup: Week 4 at New York Jets (Sunday Night Football)
A year ago, some in the NFL media world were throwing dirt on the Chiefs, saying the rest of their AFC West competition (the Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Broncos) improved enough to overtake them while they regressed after losing in the AFC Championship Game to the Bengals and All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill departing to the Miami Dolphins. No one is making that mistake again this offseason, but the addition of Aaron Rodgers to the Jets created another potential road block for Kansas City in the AFC.
Patrick Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP, has stated multiple times throughout his career that Rodgers was his football idol, and this game represents the first time they will be playing against each other in a game. Mahomes missed the first opportunity in 2019 with an injury while Rodgers missed the second chance in 2021 when he tested positive for COVID-19. A battle between the Jets' top-five defense and Mahomes while Rodgers showcases how high he can lift New York's young playmakers is one of the best games on the league's 2023 slate.
Las Vegas Raiders
Most anticipated matchup: Week 16 at Kansas City Chiefs (Christmas Day)
The Super Bowl champion Chiefs are the seven-time defending AFC West champions. Every other AFC West team's most anticipated game is bound to be them until they're knocked off. Week 16 is the second of two regular season matchups, and it comes with much of the country watching on Christmas Day. With their first battle coming a month earlier in Week 12, it will be fascinating to see what late-season adjustments the two rivals can come up with in that short time.
If the Jimmy Garoppolo-led Raiders could come away with a win here, their final two games at the Colts and home against the Broncos could position them for a run at the postseason.
Los Angeles Chargers
Most anticipated matchup: Week 18 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Both games between the Chargers and the Chiefs last season were three-point, edge-of-your-seat thrillers. Both were won by the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs. This game serves as both teams' regular season finale, and this game could hold plenty of playoff implications.
Justin Herbert versus Patrick Mahomes is also must-see TV, and with this game right before the playoffs, get your popcorn ready.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 3 at Cincinnati Bengals (Monday Night Football)
It's a Super Bowl LVI rematch! The Rams triumphed in a back-and-forth 23-20, last-gasp victory to conclude the 2021 season, but since then they've struggled mightily. Their 5-12 record in 2022 was the worst ever by a defending Super Bowl champion, but the good news is a lot of last season had to due with injuries that will be healed by Week 1 for their top contributors: quarterback Matthew Stafford (neck/concussion, missed eight games), wide receiver Cooper Kupp (ankle, missed eight games), and defensive lineman Aaron Donald (ankle, missed six games).
This game marks a strong, early-season test of whether or not 2022 was a blip or a sign of more doom and gloom to come.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 9 vs. Kansas City Chiefs (in Frankfurt, Germany)
The Tyreek Hill revenge game is finally here! The All-Pro wide receiver spent the entire 2022 offseason talking trash about how Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was " " after Hill won a Super Bowl and put up humongous numbers with Patrick Mahomes. Both players had career-highs without the other in 2022 with Hill's 1,710 receiving yards (the second-most in the NFL behind Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson) and Mahomes' league-leading 5,250 passing yards.
If Tagovailoa can remain upright and healthy entering this matchup afterthis offseason to help with his concussions issue, this could be one of the best games of the 2023 season.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 2 at Philadelphia Eagles (Thursday Night Football)
The Vikings got embarrassed last season in prime time in this situation, on the road at the Eagles, losing 24-7. Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, and Justin Jefferson was held to under 50 yards (six receptions for 48 yards) for the first of only six times. After their deflating opening round home playoff loss against the New York Giants, this prime-time clash with the defending NFC champions presents them the early opportunity to show they can punch above their weight class early in Year 2 under head coach Kevin O'Connell.
How Cousins performs in this game could also be a nice data point for the Vikings as he enters a contract year.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 3 at New York Jets
The Jets will be another nice litmus test for the Patriots after opening with the NFC champion Eagles and the division rival Dolphins. After a couple games, quarterback Mac Jones entering Week 3 against Robert Saleh and the Jets' top-five scoring defense (18.6 points per game allowed, fourth-best in NFL last season) will provide new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien the opportunity to put a lot on his quarterback's plate against 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner and 2022 First-Team All-Pro Quinnen Williams.
On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers now being the one throwing to Garrett Wilson and handing off to Breece Hall presents a brand new calculus for head coach Bill Belichick and his defense that allowed a combined 20 points against New York's offense in their two meetings last season. Rodgers and Bill Belichick have split their four battles with Rodgers winning the last one in Week 4 in 2022, a 27-24 overtime victory for the Packers at Lambeau Field. Per CBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan, Rodgers has a completion percentage of 57% against Belichick's Patriots defenses, the second-lowest for Rodgers against any team in his Hall of Fame career. This game could mark the start of some regular, fun back-and-forth between two of the best at what they do in NFL history between Belichick and Rodgers.
New Orleans Saints
Most anticipated matchup: Week 12 at Atlanta Falcons
As mentioned earlier, the Saints and Falcons have one of the most petty rivalries in the entire NFL, constantly trading barbs back and forth over social media, and Week 12 serves as these rivals' first crack at each other in 2023.
The rivalry runs so deep that the same game is the most anticipated one on each team's schedule. We'll see if new Saints quarterback Derek Carr and new Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson can be difference-makers in the NFC South race.
New York Giants
Most anticipated matchup: Week 16 at Philadelphia Eagles (Christmas Day)
Week 16 is the first of two matchups between the Giants and Eagles, a team that stomped the G-Men in prime time 38-7 in the NFC divisional round last season. The Giants have improved their offense with the additions of center John Michael Schmitz, their second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, the 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner who was their third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller.
However the big question remains: can Daniel Jones be the guy to lift them past the Eagles to greater heights? The four-year, $160 million contract general manager Joe Schoen gave the quarterback this offseason means the Giants certainly think so. This game provides a nice opportunity to see how far New York has come in this regard.
New York Jets
Most anticipated matchup: Week 1 vs. Buffalo Bills (Monday Night Football)
All season long in 2022, the Jets were left thinking: what would this team look like if we had a capable quarterback paired with our young offense and top-five scoring defense? Week 1 provides this answer in Aaron Rodgers' Jets debut on "Monday Night Football" against Josh Allen and the three-time defending AFC East champions.
After spending months salivating over the idea of Rodgers as a Jet, this game represents the immense joy Gang Green fans will feel when Rodgers runs out of the tunnel at MetLife Stadium in prime time as their starting quarterback. Going up against the class of their division right away will reveal how much time New York needs to come together on offense after importing not only Rodgers but also former Packers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb plus former Kansas City Chief wideout Mecole Hardman. This game will be a night Jets fans will remember for years to come.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 11 at Kansas City Chiefs (Monday Night Football)
Super Bowl LVII between Philadelphia and Kansas City was an instant classic as Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs did just enough to hold off NFL MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts' Eagles in a 38-35 nail-biter. A matchup of the league's top two MVP finishers from the previous season leading two of the best rosters in the NFL? It doesn't get much better than that, especially for an Eagles team thirsty for revenge.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 18 at Baltimore Ravens
The Steelers were in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt until the very end last season in quarterback Kenny Pickett's rookie year, and given head coach Mike Tomlin's track record, there's no reason why that wouldn't be the case in 2023. The Steelers have patched up their biggest weakness, the offensive line, with the signing of former Eagles guard Isaac Seumalo and the first-round selection of Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones 14th overall.
Both Pickett and the Ravens' Lamar Jackson have improved supporting casts in 2023, so this battle for one of the AFC's seven playoff spots will be a thrilling way to close out the 2023 season.
San Francisco 49ers
Most anticipated matchup: Week 13 at Philadelphia Eagles
The 49ers have maintained all offseason that they would have toppled the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last season if Brock Purdy didn't suffer a first-half elbow injury. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk called Philadelphia " " and wide receiver Deebo Samuel if Purdy didn't get hurt. Fast forward to Week 13 of the 2023 season, the 49ers hopefully have the opportunity to back their claims up with health at the quarterback position. This game has likely been circled on everyone's calendars in the 49ers' franchise since the schedule was revealed. Another layer to this rivalry was added when San Francisco swiped former Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave on a four-year, $84 million contract.
The amount of trash-talking and high-level play between the two 2022 NFC finalists will be a sight to behold.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 12 vs San Francisco 49ers (Thanksgiving Day)
The 49ers are the team standing in the Seahawks' way in terms of climbing up the NFC standings and making noise in the playoffs. Seattle dropped all three games against the 49ers last season including a deflating 41-23 season-ending defeat in the NFC wild-card round.
The Seahawks were able to stockpile some nice talent in the draft, coming away with Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon (fifth overall pick) and Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (20th overall pick) in Round 1 while reinforcing their backfield behind Kenneth Walker III with UCLA's Zach Charbonnet (52nd overall pick) in Round 2. Defensively, they had enough cap space to get tougher up front with the signings of Broncos defensive end Dre'Mont Jones (three years, $51 million) and defensive tackle Jarran Reed (two years, $9 million) thanks to quarterback Geno Smith to a three-year, $75 million deal, well below the going rate for NFL starters at the position these days.
Week 12 marks their first matchup in a three-week span in 2023, and the prime-time showdown will reveal if the NFC West hierarchy is set to change in 2023.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 3 vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Monday Night Football)
The Buccaneers are a team primed to fall in Year 1 of Tom Brady's real retirement. They averaged 76.9 rushing yards per game in 2022, the fewest in the entire league, causing their one-dimensional offense to average 18.4 points per game (25th in the NFL). That was with Tom Brady at quarterback. In 2023, Tampa Bay enters with a quarterback competition between Baker Mayfield and 2021 second round pick Kyle Trask, who has played in one NFL game, and former Rams backup John Wolford. Top pass rusher Shaq Barrett is coming off a torn Achilles and may experience some rust in his return to football. The Buccaneers are a team primed to struggle after not having much cap room to add reinforcements in free agency.
However, when analyzing their schedule, Week 3 against the Eagles stands out as their marquee game. Monday Night Football in a rematch of the 2021 NFC wild-card round. That day the Buccaneers quickly dispatched of the run-heavy, pre-A.J. Brown Eagles 31-15. Now, the tables are turned with Brady retired, and the Eagles entering the game as NFC Champions. This game will interesting in that it could mark one of the last times Baker Mayfield enters a game as an NFL team's starting quarterback, should the 2023 season go south.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 18 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel almost always has his team in contention for a spot in the playoffs with the exception of last year's cratering after injuries to their offensive line and quarterback Ryan Tannehill were too much to overcome. While their pass-catching group still leaves much to be desired, the Titans did a nice job patching up their offensive line after signing former Eagles first-round pick offensive tackle in free agency and selecting Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski 11th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
They also came away with a nice complementary runner alongside Derrick Henry in Tulane's Tyjae Spears, a third round pick. With a better offensive line, a healthier Tannehill, and a backfield with some depth, Tennessee could easily be in the playoff mix at the end of the year with the Colts and Texans starting over at quarterback. That makes this game between the last two AFC South champions one to highlight. Oh and on the off chance the Titans are out of it in Week 18, there's a good chance second-round pick Will Levis, who was once thought to be a top-five pick, will be getting some of his first NFL game reps.
Most anticipated matchup: Week 12 at Dallas Cowboys (Thanksgiving Day)
The Commanders split their two meetings with the Cowboys a year ago with each team winning by double-digits at home. Washington's 26-6 win in Week 18 was the solid NFL debut for 2022 fifth-round pick quarterback Sam Howell. He completed 11-of-19 passes for 169 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The 2023 edition of the Commanders should be improved with former second-overall draft pick Chase Young shaking off the rust from a torn ACL, Howell having more experience, the shoring up of their secondary by selecting Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (first round) and Illinois cornerback Jartavius Martin (second round) with their first two draft picks, and the hiring of former Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as their new OC and associate head coach. Their first matchup against the Cowboys, one of the NFC's top three teams from a year ago, will be telling about the direction the franchise is headed in Year 1 post-Daniel Snyder.