The 2023 NFL Playoffs get underway in mid-January, and we have a ways to go before the playoff field is settled. Teams will start to clinch playoff berths soon, but the full field won’t be settled until January. Before then, we’ll get a better handle on who is NOT going to be playing in the NFL’s postseason tournament.
Some teams were not expected to contend from day one, while others are going to be surprising. We’ll update this list over the coming weeks. Each team will include an explanation of how the team was eliminated and what went wrong, resulting in their elimination.
Green Bay Packers, 8-9
How eliminated: Lost to the Lions in Week 18.
What went wrong: Green Bay couldn’t finish in a must-win game against the Detroit Lions, who had already beaten them once this season. The Packers hit some skids this season, at one point losing five games in a row. They controlled their own destiny, but the Seahawks will be heading to the playoffs instead after a 20-16 loss.
Detroit Lions, 9-8
How eliminated: Seahawks beat the Rams in Week 18.
What went wrong: The Lions put together a strong campaign, but were relying on too many outside pieces to fall into place when it came down to the end. They won eight of the last 10 games of the season and have plenty of talent and team chemistry to build on in 2023.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-8
How eliminated: Dolphins beat the Jets in Week 18
What went wrong: Despite a furious comeback to put themselves in postseason contention by winning six of the last seven, the Steelers ran into too many injuries to get back to the postseason. You’ll have to go back to the 2016 postseason to find the last time Pittsburgh won a Playoff game, but the future seems bright for a young and rebuilding team.
New England Patriots, 8-9
How eliminated: Bills beat the Patriots in Week 18
What went wrong: A 35-23 loss at the No. 1 overall seed Buffalo Bills was the kicker, but it was plenty of late game mistakes and penalties that normally haven’t been a part of the Pats dynasty under Bill Belichick. A younger team is still in a rebuild mode, and the model franchise of the 21st Century will miss the postseason for just the fourth time this millennium.
Tennessee Titans, 7-11
How eliminated: Jaguars beat the Titans in Week 18
What went wrong: Ryan Tannehill regressed in 2022 and also dealt with injuries that led to him missing five games this season. They weren’t actually that much worse in their offensive and defensive analytics. However, a year ago they finished 7-2 in one-score games and this season they were 5-6. Malik Willis did not pan out in limited work and the question now is whether they stick with Ryan Tannehill or look for an upgrade.
Washington Commanders, 7-8-1
How eliminated: Packers beat the Vikings in Week 17
What went wrong: The Commanders were inconsistent at the quarterback position, and in the end it is what doomed them. They will need to find a quarterback who can play more consistently, which means avoiding turnovers while being able to elevate his game in the fourth quarter.
Las Vegas Raiders, 6-10
How eliminated: Loss to the 49ers in Week 17
What went wrong: The Raiders were able to move the ball most of the season with Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams both putting together tremendous statistical seasons. Unfortunately, the wis weren’t there. Coaching, defense and QB play can all be blamed, but close but not good enough has been the Raiders M.O. for a while and it continues to today.
New York Jets, 7-9
How eliminated: Loss to the Seahawks in Week 17
What went wrong: The Jets don’t have a capable quarterback at this point. Mike White showed some guts, but doesn’t have the requisite skills, while Zach Wilson looked awful all season. The defense is there, but the team will need to find a quarterback for next season.
New Orleans Saints, 7-9
How eliminated: Packers beat the Vikings in Week 17
What went wrong: The Saints continue to miss Drew Brees and will need to find a capable replacement if they want a chance to go deep in the playoffs again. They still have a good defense and an above-average quarterback could give them a boost to compete.
Carolina Panthers, 6-10
How eliminated: Loss to the Buccaneers in Week 17
What went wrong: The Matt Rhule and Baker Mayfield experiment ended horribly, as both were ushered out of town. Interim head coach Steve Wilks did a good job to rally the troops in a bad division, but in the end there just isn’t enough talent for the Panthers yet.
Atlanta Falcons, 5-10
How eliminated: Loss to the Ravens in Week 16 coupled with Panthers and Saints wins.
What went wrong: The Falcons never really had a chance this season, but managed to stay in the playoff hunt for a while due to a weak division and a positive run game. But this team lacks talent on defense and at quarterback. Rookie Desmond Ridder didn’t get a shot until last week, so we’ll get to see if he can has much to give the team in these last couple games. He did improve from his initial start at the very least.
Cleveland Browns, 5-10
How eliminated: Loss to the Saints in Week 16.
What went wrong: Their franchise QB was suspended for most of the season. That fact should give fans hope for next year, but this year never really had much of a chance.
Indianapolis Colts, 4-9-1
How eliminated: The Jaguars beat the Jets, which pushed the Colts out of contention.
What went wrong: Coming into the season there were high hopes for a Colts team that had talent, but no stable presence behind center. The acquisition of Matt Ryan was looked at as a solid move, but Ryan played poorly all season, getting benched twice. By the time owner Jim Irsay fired Frank Reich and brought in his pal Jeff Saturday, everything was too far gone, but it sure didn’t help, as the Colts continued to look bad and even gave up the biggest lead ever in a heartbreaking loss to the Vikings.
Los Angeles Rams, 4-10
How eliminated: Loss to Packers in Week 15.
What went wrong: The Super Bowl champions might have had the dreaded Super Bowl hangover, but age, injuries and offensive line problems were at the heart of their down year. Matthew Stafford was also not at his best, which wasn’t helped by a lingering elbow injury. Free agent addition Allen Robinson wasn’t the player he used to be and Cooper Kupp’s ankle injury completely killed the offenses chances in the second half of the season.
Arizona Cardinals, 4-10
How eliminated: Loss to Broncos in Week 15.
What went wrong: Let’s see, you can pin this mediocre season for the Cardinals on a variety of reasons. The offense significantly underperformed compared to preseason exception. Injuries to key players like Kyler Murray, James Conner, and Zach Ertz kneecapped any momentum. DeAndre Hopkins missed the first six weeks of the season due to a suspension. Murray did not make a huge impact when healthy as questions over his maturity continue to persist. And to top it off, head coach Kliff Kingsbury may have been figured out and he may very well be on his way out the door following the conclusion of the season. All around bad vibes in Phoenix this year.
Denver Broncos, 3-10
How eliminated: Loss to Chiefs in Week 14.
What went wrong: What went wrong? Well, everything. New head coach Nathaniel Hackett and new franchise quarterback Russell Wilson were mostly terrible at their jobs. They could get no offense going all season despite putting out a defense that played well. Expectations were huge for Wilson, as they should have been, and he didn’t come close to living up to them. They aren’t going to get rid of Wilson, but Hackett needs to go. The two of them together is a bad mix.
Houston Texans, 1-10-1
How eliminated: Loss to Browns in Week 13.
What went wrong: The Texans had plenty go wrong over the last few seasons and there wasn’t much doubt they’d have trouble winning games with Davis Mills at quarterback this year. Yes, there is always some hope, but Mills was never going to be the guy. That means the team needed a good draft pick to take a QB early and that’s exactly what they’re going to get. Congratulations Texans!
Chicago Bears, 3-10
How eliminated: Loss to Packers in Week 13.
What went wrong: The Bears got some really good news this season, as they learned that rational coaching could help unlock Justin Fields as an offensive weapon. It took them too long to figure that out and their defense gave up the fourth-most points per game while they did. Adding receivers, offensive line and a host of defensive players is needed this offseason.