Bill Belichick Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NFL Teams Set Up for a Disastrous Start to the 2023 Season

Alex Ballentine

It doesn't take long for pressure to start mounting in the NFL. Most teams probably feel good about their roster right now but when Week 1 is over half the league will be 0-1.

From there, the pressure is on because every loss brings compounding pressure.

As training camp starts, it's every team's objective to be as prepared for the beginning of the season as possible. For some teams, that's more difficult than others.

Teams who are adjusting to major coaching changes, a lot of roster turnover, suspensions and injuries or just have a brutal early schedule are going to have a hard time finding their footing at the beginning of the season.

With those factors in mind, these teams have some tough sledding ahead of them.

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The 2022 Arizona Cardinals were 3-8 in games that Kyler Murray started. In other words, they were bad.

Then Murray tore his ACL and they went from bad to something worse. They went 1-5 in their final six games with a combination of Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley and David Blough starting.

The late-season collapse was enough to get Kliff Kingsbury fired. Now the Cardinals will go about rebuilding with a defensive-minded coach at the helm. Jonathan Gannon parlayed his success as the Eagles defensive coordinator into the head coaching gig.

It's going to be hard for the team to show much improvement in Gannon's first season.

Murray is still recovering from the torn ACL. Though he's reportedly chomping at the bit to get on the field, there isn't a clear timetable for his return. That leaves either Colt McCoy or rookie Clayton Tune as the likely early-season starters.

Even when he does get back, he's going to have the challenge of getting up to speed in the middle of the season while playing in a new offense. He talked about a similar challenge last season.

"Having to deal with all that stuff and trying to focus on football, and then I got Covid in camp, I hurt my wrist in camp so I missed a lot of reps, and having to play catch up in the season, starting with the Chiefs, it was kind of a compilation of (expletive)-up things going on," he said, per Darren Urban of the team's website.

It's going to be evident early on that this is a rebuilding year for the Cardinals.

Las Vegas Raiders

AP Photo/John Locher

In theory, the Raiders should be more prepared for the beginning of the season than they were last season. They are now in Year 2 with Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham so there's more continuity.

Except, there's been turnover at several key positions that make it fair to wonder just how much that's going to help.

On offense, Jimmy Garoppolo is taking over for Derek Carr. Jimmy G has proven to be an efficient starter when healthy, but he has a different skill set than his predecessor and brings questions about his health.

Garoppolo had to have foot surgery this offseason and former GM Michael Lombardi noted the Raiders knew the quarterback wouldn't be available for the offseason program due to a foot injury in an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.

On defense, the front should be able to progress in Graham's system but the secondary has been overhauled. They could have three new starters including safety Marcus Epps and cornerbacks Duke Shelley and Brandon Facyson.

There are a lot of unknowns and new faces that are going to need to be ready right away. They are on the road in each of their first four games and aren't favored until Week 5 when they host the Packers on Monday Night Football.

A potential 0-4 start before a game on national TV is a recipe for McDaniels to be on the hot seat.

Los Angeles Rams

Sean McVay and Cooper Kupp AP Photo/Kyusung Gong

Expectations aren't super high for the Los Angles Rams. Their win total is set at 6.5 over at DraftKings Sportsbook.

They are in a middle ground where they still have the biggest stars from the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald are all speculative trade chips for a team that has otherwise blown up the roster.

General manager Les Snead has even addressed that speculation, indicating they won't be trading those players. But the din of trade buzz is only going to get louder if the Rams get off to a slow start with the trade deadline approaching.

They start off on the road against a Seahawks team that went to the playoffs last season. Then they get back-to-back Super Bowl contenders in the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals.

They get a winnable game against the Colts but then it's followed up by a matchup with the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

A 1-4 record heading into mid-October might have the front office questioning their current roadmap to becoming a contender again.

New England Patriots

Mac Jones AP Photo/Steven Senne

The pressure might already be mounting in New England and it's only going to get more intense once games start.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported that friends of Bill Belichick believe the coach could be on the hot seat in 2023. As Volin notes, Kraft expects the Pats to win a playoff game for the first time in five years and has already paid Jerod Mayo well to keep him in New England as a potential coach-in-waiting.

Those kinds of reports and rumors could only grow as the Pats have their work cut out for them early in the season.

The kick the season off with the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles, then they get the Miami Dolphins who are coming off a playoff berth before traveling to the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys.

The Jets are a bit of a mystery with Aaron Rodgers at the helm but there's a lot of talent on their roster and the Cowboys won 12 games last season.

The Pats will also be breaking in new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. He'll have to get Mac Jones playing at a really high level just to get to a 2-2 start with those four games to start.

New York Giants

Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Last year, Brian Daboll earned instant credibility as the Giants' new head coach as the team jumped out to a 6-1 start to the season. It was an impressive feat for a team that won four games the previous year.

Daboll certainly improved the team, but they also go an assist from the schedule. The first four wins were one-score games against the Titans, Panthers, Bears and Packers. All four of those teams ended up with losing records.

This year, they are going to need to come out in even better form because the opening stretch of the schedule is much tougher.

They start off at home against the Dallas Cowboys, a team that beat them twice last season. Then they hit the road in four of the next five games. While they shouldn't have a difficult time beating an Arizona Cardinals team that may not have Kyler Murray, the rest of the games are going to be challenging.

They have the 49ers, Seahawks, Dolphins and Bills over the next four weeks. All four teams were in the playoffs last season.

To be fair, the Giants were a playoff team too. But they largely earned that berth from their early-season run before finishing the season 3-5-1 after their bye week.

We'll find out soon if the Giants are ready to go from one good season under a new coach to consistent playoff contender in the NFC.

New York Jets

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The Jets have been one of the biggest stories of the offseason. They have a fun young core that includes potential stars in Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson, they just inked Quinnen Williams to a four-year, $96 million contract extension and, of course, they added four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers to bring it all together.

It all means they'll be under the microscope as the season gets underway. Being the subject of Hard Knocks during training camp isn't going to help either. Rodgers has already let it be known he's not happy about that one.

The 39-year-old already has some built-in familiarity with his new team. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb will be joining him as well as former offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett who will reprise the role in New York.

However, they are going to have everything and everyone in sync early. They are an underdog in four of their first six games on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Granted, all of the lines are close. They are getting less than a field goal against the Bills (Week 1), Cowboys (Week 2), Chiefs (Week 4) and Eagles (Week 6). They are 4.5-point favorites against the New England Patriots in Week 3 and one-point favorites against the Broncos in Week 5.

Still, that's four teams with conference champion aspirations in the first six weeks. If things break exactly as the odds say the Jets could be sitting at 2-4 through the first six games.

Surely no one would overreact to that kind of start in New York.


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