As 2022 comes to a close, everyone is preparing a list of New Year’s Resolutions that will eventually fade by the end of January. However, NFL teams are heading into the new year with certain goals and expectations. Some teams have more work cut out for them than others. Hopefully these teams can find what they are looking for to make some noise in 2023. Here is every AFC team’s New Year’s Resolution:
New England Patriots
Find a new offensive coordinator. Matt Patricia is NOT it (shocker). Mac Jones clearly took a step back during his sophomore season. The Patriots will ultimately ruin their franchise quarterback if they continue to surround him with incompetent coaches. Bill Belichick needs to figure it out and cut bait on his henchmen. This needs to be one of their top New Year’s Resolutions heading into 2023.
Make the Super Bowl. This team is too talented to not make a Super Bowl appearance. With Josh Allen in his prime, the Bills need to exorcise their demons (Kansas City Chiefs) in the playoffs. They can certainly accomplish their goal this season. You got to think they’ll take that next step within the next year or so. They are a fun team to watch, and they will have a great chance this season if the AFC runs through Buffalo.
Make the playoffs. The Dolphins got out to a hot start this season, but they have simmered down to an 8-7 record with two weeks left. They are currently hanging onto the 7 seed, but it could easily slip away from them. If they fail to make the playoffs this year, the pressure will increase. Tua Tagovailoa has entered concussion protocol twice already this season. His career is in jeopardy, but he needs to be available for Miami to have any chance of making the postseason this year or next.
New York Jets
Find a franchise QB. Zach Wilson clearly is not the answer for the Jets. Head coach Robert Saleh is sticking by Wilson in the meantime, but Wilson has not made those encouraging strides in Year 2. Mike White, although he has been a nice story, is not the long-term solution either. The Jets will be in the QB market this offseason. Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr would be solid veteran options, or they can just take their chances in the draft. The Jets are almost there. They just need a serviceable to above average QB.
Don’t be a one-and-done. Their run to the Super Bowl last season was certainly magical, but they have cemented themselves as supposed AFC contenders. With Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase & Co., they can and should make it back to the Super Bowl in the near future. The Bengals are still fighting for the division heading into 2023, so it is encouraging to see them in the playoff picture. Cincinnati needs to at least make the AFC Championship game this season or next.
Get Deshaun Watson back to form. Watson’s first season in Cleveland carried so much baggage and distractions. He clearly looked off coming back. That is what happens when you don’t play football for a whole year and a half. Watson needs to come back next season looking like his old self. The Browns are certainly banking on it. They do not want to regret making the trade to acquire Watson. If Watson settles in next season, the Browns can absolutely make a run at the AFC North title.
Fix the offensive line. The Steelers need to figure out what they have in Kenny Pickett. The rookie has shown flashes, but he needs to be protected behind an improved O-line. They currently have one of the worst O-lines in the league. Pittsburgh should take a page out of Cincinnati’s book and load up in the offseason. They can also allocate their early first round pick towards offensive line. These new additions would not only help Pickett’s development, but also potentially revitalize Najee Harris after a suspect Year 2.
Pay Lamar Jackson. The temperature is rising in Baltimore. They have yet to come to terms on a new contract with Jackson. Jackson’s services would be welcomed many other places if the Ravens cannot ink him long-term. Jackson’s future with Baltimore is truly up in the air right now. Baltimore needs Lamar. Resigning him would need to be the first of several offseason moves in order to be a threat in the playoffs. They have already clinched a playoff spot with a 10-5 record, but it does not seem like this is their year. The offseason will be telling to see which direction Baltimore wants to go in.
Win the AFC South. The Jaguars have taken a massive step up since having the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Conversely, the rest of the teams in their division have taken a massive step down. Jacksonville can absolutely win their division this season and in the years to come. They still have roster holes to fill this offseason, but we might be witnessing the emergence of a new reign in the AFC South. Jacksonville needs to win the division this season or next to show some real progress. The parity of the NFL should allow them to do so.
Build around Malik Willis. The rookie has not thrown for over 100 yards in each of this three starts this season. He was just benched for Josh Dobbs on Thursday night. However, Willis has plenty of upside and untapped potential. It might be the right time to move on from Ryan Tannehill. Tennessee’s window is quickly closing, and they need to figure it out soon. They do not have to go into rebuild mode. With another offseason, Willis can develop into a potential franchise QB for the Titans to stay afloat in their division. This needs to be one of their top New Year’s Resolutions heading into 2023.
Draft Bryce Young. Houston will most likely have the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They will most likely (and should) fire head coach Lovie Smith. The Texans need to start fresh and begin a new era in Houston. Get a long-term head coach and draft a long-term quarterback. This starts with taking a franchise QB first overall in the draft. It’s a no-brainer pick right here. Young has some size concerns, but he will elevate the Texans offense and hopefully give them new life heading into next season. In a conference full of young QB talent, Houston needs to be apart of that.
Stop the QB carousel. The Colts have started seven different QBs since Andrew Luck retired. In the past two seasons, they tried trading for veterans in the hopes they would take the Colts to the next level. Both attempts failed miserably. Indianapolis may have a top 10 pick in the draft, which they could use on a long-term QB. They could go after a veteran, but they cannot afford another whiff. Colts fans deserve better, as they have a roster that’s capable of winning the division. QB play has hurt this team in back-to-back seasons. This should be one of their top New Year’s Resolutions heading into 2023.
Find a head coach that can fix Russell Wilson. This season was a disaster for Denver. Russell Wilson never played at the level Denver’s fans and front office thought he would be at. They had to fire Nathaniel Hackett because of their struggles. Can Wilson be fixed? Sure. Denver’s future is riding on that blockbuster trade. They need to do everything and anything in their power to rejuvenate Wilson and help him get back to form. Sean Payton may be the answer, or potentially someone who has worked with Wilson before. Denver will have to give a blank check, because the Denver job does not look too appealing right now.
Los Angeles Chargers
Win the AFC West. They showed signs of progress this season by locking up a Wild Card spot. Regardless of how this season goes, they are clearly the second best team in the division. They have the best chance of dethroning Kansas City in the West. The Chargers have been battered and bruised all season. When they get healthy, they will give KC a run for their money. Justin Herbert is one of the best young QBs in the league, and he needs to be in the playoffs year in and year out. No more hovering the Wild Card. LA needs to prove they are true division and playoff contenders.
Kansas City Chiefs
Win the Super Bowl/Keep doing what you’re doing. There really is not much to say for Kansas City. We know and they know their expectations and aspirations. They can win the Super Bowl every year if they wanted. The Chiefs have already proven to be the NFL’s next dynasty team. They’ve won the AFC West title in each of the last seven seasons. They’ve hosted the AFC Championship game four years in a row. Kansas City will always be there in late January/early February. They just need to finish the job. Simple as that.
Las Vegas Raiders
Don’t lose the locker room. Josh McDaniels’s decision to bench Derek Carr did not settle too well with the locker room. Especially Davante Adams, who wanted to play for the Raiders because of Carr, who was his teammate in college. It seems as though the Raiders will move on from Carr this offseason. They will need to find the next long-term solution without losing the locker room. McDaniels has had a disappointing year in his first season as head coach for Vegas. It is possible for the Raiders to have a smooth transition without going into a rebuild, that’s if the team embraces the transition in the first place. Hopefully things don’t spiral out of control, as they have a semi-competitive roster that should be in the Wild Card hunt next season.
Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports