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2023 NFC Analysis, Odds & Picks: Eagles to Fly Away With the Conference?

Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles San Francisco 49ers
Jalen Hurts 1 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on January 29 2023 Tim NwachukwuGetty ImagesAFP

A Super Bowl rematch from the previous season has only happened one time in NFL history when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills both times in 1992 and 1993. But as we observed in the AFC where the Kansas City Chiefs are favored to repeat, the Philadelphia Eagles are also ahead of the pack in expecting to return to the big game.

The three best NFC teams last season were the Eagles, 49ers, and Cowboys, and the oddsmakers feel the same way going into the 2023 season if you look at the current NFC odds found at OddsTrader.

When Detroit and New Orleans are rounding out the top 5 in odds for the Super Bowl after missing the playoffs the last few years, you know you are looking at a top-heavy conference.

We are going to focus heavily on the NFC’s top teams, but below is a breakdown of the NFC race by division with our favorite picks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.


NFC East: Can the Eagles End the Drought?


It is hard to believe, but no one has won the NFC East in consecutive years since the Eagles last did so in 2004. Every other division in the NFL has had multiple repeat winners since. Before we even get to the Super Bowl, we will see if the Eagles can end that drought by repeating as division champs first.

Eagles Still the Best

Only 8 teams have ever returned to the Super Bowl the season after losing it, but the landscape of the NFC has changed so much, especially after Tom Brady retired and Aaron Rodgers was traded to the Jets. Going into the 2023 season, the Eagles are one of 10 NFC teams with a top quarterback asset no older than 28, but Jalen Hurts is easily the most accomplished player in that group after finishing as MVP runner-up and leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance.

As for the older quarterbacks in the NFC, Hurts just has to outdo the success of Jared Goff, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Geno Smith, Kirk Cousins, and Matthew Stafford. He gets a better team than all of them to do it with as the Eagles have great skill players led by A.J. Brown, still a strong offensive line, and a defense that had 70 sacks last year and added more pass-rushing talent in the first round in Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith.

Head coach Nick Sirianni will have to overcome the loss of his coordinators, but the Eagles are promoting people they are confident in for those positions. They still have arguably the best coach-quarterback combo in the NFC as long as Hurts stays healthy. His shoulder injury suffered in Week 15 threatened to derail the season for the Eagles, but he returned in time.

But that edge at quarterback and the success in building a complete team should carry the Eagles a long way once again in 2023. The odds at the top-rated sportsbooks are likely that some young quarterback breaks out soon in the NFC, either with a high draft pick (Bryce Young), a young talent (Justin Fields or Desmond Ridder), or maybe Brock Purdy was no fluke or Jordan Love continues the Hall of Fame lineage in Green Bay.

But until anything happens there, this is Hurts’ time to shine and rack up title game appearances. He just has to make sure the Eagles are not slamming him into the defense too many times and wearing him down physically in December and January.

The Dallas Dilemma

For the second year in a row, the Cowboys won 12 games and led the league with 33 takeaways, almost matching the total (34) in 2021. However, they also lost to the 49ers in the playoffs again with a questionable final drive strategy (to say the least).

Dallas is a talented team and we saw some impressive scoring runs in 2022 thanks to finally unleashing Tony Pollard at running back, but the Cowboys could also be their own worst enemy with turnovers, many of them coming on interceptions on deflected passes. The good news is something like this can easily regress to the mean next season and be less of a problem.

The bad news is turnover regression on defense is even more real, and the fact that the Cowboys avoided it in 2022 should not make you confident they can do it again under Dan Quinn in 2023. The defense, led by Micah Parsons, is still quite talented and should be one of the better units in the league. But turnovers are no guarantee, and Dallas ended the season with 1 takeaway in each of the final 3 games.

Dak Prescott hitting his peak in his age-30 season would not be unheard of, but it probably is the only way the Cowboys have the kind of season where they can finally get over the hump and get past the second round of the playoffs. Dallas has infamously not been to the NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season.

The Leftovers: Giants and Commanders

The Giants were a fun story last year in Brian Daboll winning Coach of the Year, and the team earned its first playoff win since Super Bowl 46, but barring any massive leap in Year 2 for the Daniel Jones-Daboll connection, this feels like a team that will regress and miss the playoffs. They already turned a 6-1 start last year built on close wins into a 9-7-1 finish, and the Vikings were literally the only team in the NFC playoff field the Giants were designed to beat. The Giants were 0-6 against the Eagles, Cowboys, and Seahawks.

The Commanders are fixing to start a relative unknown in quarterback Sam Howell, a 5th-round pick in 2022 with one start under his belt. If his defense can hold teams to 6 points every week, then he will be in great shape. Nevertheless, with the defense usually underperforming, and head coach Ron Rivera only posting a winning record in 3-of-12 seasons, this is not a team to buy into for a Super Bowl at all.

The Eagles could always drop a tough game to the Cowboys or 49ers, but this is still the team to beat in the NFC East and the whole NFC for that matter.

NFL Pick: NFC Winner – Philadelphia Eagles (+400) at BetMGM


NFC West: Can Anyone Play Quarterback in San Francisco?


At full health, the 49ers have the best roster on offense and defense in the division, but the quarterback position is still a bit of a mystery as we get closer to July.

San Francisco’s Redemption

For the second year in a row, the 49ers erased a slow start to go on a run to the NFC Championship Game, but they were again stopped just shy of the Super Bowl. This team looked better than the 2021 version thanks to the trade for running back Christian McCaffrey, and rookie Brock Purdy was doing an unbelievable job for the team after losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to injuries.

But an elbow injury just plays into the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia proved costly as the 49ers were out of throwing quarterbacks once Josh Johnson was knocked out with a concussion. Purdy could only hand off from there, a rare sight to see in an NFL game where a team is out of passers.

But a rule change has allowed for a designated emergency quarterback, so hopefully that does not pop up again for this team. The bigger question is who even starts the season at quarterback? Sam Darnold was added as a veteran with starting experience as Purdy recovers from surgery, and of course, the team heavily invested draft capital to acquire Lance and has not come close to getting a return there.

Some insiders are reporting that Darnold is being pushed over Lance on the depth chart, and Purdy could be the healthy No. 1 option in Week 1. He did some excellent things in Kyle Shanahan’s famous system, but we still have question marks about how legitimate Purdy is, and no one knows how he will perform after the elbow injury.

But when you have so many weapons in that offensive system, the quarterback position is not a deal-breaker for this team. The defense should still be good despite losing coordinator DeMeco Ryans to Houston.

However, if it comes down to another matchup with the Eagles, a team that can score and defend, then it might still be Philadelphia on top of the NFC.

Seattle Slump?

The Seahawks snuck into the playoffs with a 9-8 record behind a career year from Geno Smith, but they were 0-3 against the 49ers, including a wild-card playoff loss. Seattle had the kind of offseason that could be beneficial to riding things out with Smith this year, including a first-round draft pick spent on wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, thought by many to be the best receiver in this class.

But Smith-Njigba only needs to be the No. 3 wideout in Seattle this year with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf still there. If running back Kenneth Walker can stay healthy in his second season, then this could be a more formidable offense if Smith is for real, but there were significant declines in his numbers late in the season, and after averaging 264.1 passing yards in 12 games, Smith did not pass for 265 yards in any of his last 6 games. Seattle also never topped 24 points in any of those games to compensate for a below-average defense.

The Seahawks are a better pick for a team to decline and miss the playoffs instead of one that got stronger to go on a Super Bowl run.

The Basement: Rams and Cardinals

Helping the 49ers to a good record should be the teams at the bottom of this division as the Cardinals will be in the running for the worst record in the league. They have an uninspiring rookie head coach hire (Jonathan Gannon), and they may not have Kyler Murray until later in the season. They also are going without veterans like DeAndre Hopkins (free agent) and J.J. Watt (retired).

The Rams could be a surprise contender if they avoid the brutal injury bug from 2022, but years of trading away serious draft picks for proven talent have caught up with the long-term outlook for this team. They already set the record for the worst season (5-12) after a Super Bowl win. A team with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald, and coached by Sean McVay should still flirt with a .500 record if everything goes well, but the pieces for another Super Bowl run are gone.

The 49ers are hands down the best option to back from the NFC West in regards to reaching the Super Bowl.

NFL Pick: NFC Winner – San Francisco 49ers (+400) at BetRivers


NFC South: Up for Grabs


If we are just being honest, the NFC South and NFC North are far less likely to produce a Super Bowl team this year than the NFC East and NFC West. The division that was won with an 8-9 record by a lousy Tampa Bay team saw the three other teams finish 7-10. Thanks to an advantageous schedule of playing the AFC South and NFC North, the winner should finish above .500 this year.

Saints: Ride the Schedule

Again, the schedule is a huge reason to like the Saints as they will not have to face the Chiefs, Eagles, Bills, 49ers, Bengals, Cowboys, Jets, or Ravens – otherwise known as the top 8 odds-on favorites for winning the Super Bowl this year.

Instead, the Saints are set to play 7 games against the Panthers, Buccaneers, Texans, Titans, and Colts – all teams who are +10000 or worse to win the Super Bowl.

The Saints acquired Derek Carr, but this team’s middling game management under Dennis Allen does not inspire any confidence that they are ready to go on a Super Bowl run this year. Carr also has never won a playoff game in 9 seasons with the Raiders, and there is a decent chance the Saints could end up hosting the NFC East runner-up in the wild card round and lose that game.

But there is enough on offense and defense with this schedule to where a veteran quarterback should get a division title out of this opportunity.

Atlanta Leads Pack of Longshots

The Falcons have had some underwhelming 7-10 efforts under coach Arthur Smith, but they made an interesting draft decision to take running back Bijan Robinson despite already having a capable running offense. But for the team that wants to run more than anyone, the pick at least makes some sense. It also could add some extra punch to the offense, but a lot of this still depends on how quarterback Desmond Ridder pans out.

Ridder was mediocre at best in 4 starts as a rookie, and he was only a 3rd-round pick by the team. Crazier things have happened before with Kurt Warner (1999) or Tom Brady (2001) leading teams to a Super Bowl, but even after a tiny sample of 4 games, Ridder does not feel like someone on that trajectory.

As for the rest of the division, Carolina is going with a rookie quarterback (Bryce Young) and a new head coach (Frank Reich). This pairing might work out, but it will likely be a bumpy road in Year 1 together, and no rookie quarterback has ever started a Super Bowl in 57 seasons.

The Buccaneers were a 4-win team masquerading as an 8-9 division winner last year. Now take away Tom Brady’s voodoo luck and you are left with a broken team that is trying to get by with Baker Mayfield in 2023. There is no way that team goes on a run.

This is the Saints’ division to lose once again, but Derek Carr will have to get on some 2011 Eli Manning, 2012 Joe Flacco, or 2021 Matthew Stafford magic to turn this into a Super Bowl season.

NFL Pick: NFC Winner – New Orleans Saints (+1300) at BetRivers


NFC North: The Lions in Rare Position As Favorites


Does anyone remember 1992? That is probably the last time the Lions went into a season as a division favorite, and the last time we knew the Packers were opening the season without a Hall of Fame quarterback. Things may be changing, but we still have a familiar pick here.

Detroit: Restore the Roar?

Jared Goff is on a short list of quarterbacks who can say they have a Super Bowl start under their belt, but it feels really hard to trust a quarterback who had these splits last season:

  • Goff at home: 23 TD, 3 INT, 109.3 passer rating
  • Goff on the road: 6 TD, 4 INT, 87.4 passer rating

The Lions were also at the bottom on defense for much of 2022, and they blew a winnable game in Carolina late in the season that ultimately cost them the playoffs.

Detroit does seem fun offensively and talented enough to win 9 or 10 games in 2023, but picking the Lions to make the Super Bowl has literally never been a good bet. It is hard to see how that has changed in this NFC, and the team did itself no favors by spending high draft picks on a running back and off-ball linebacker.

Fade the Vikings and Bears

Practically everyone covering the NFL is predicting the Vikings, the 2022 division champs, to regress, and it is for good reason. Minnesota became the first team in NFL history to win more than 11 games despite being outscored on the season. The 2022 Vikings tied NFL records with 8 fourth-quarter comebacks and 8 game-winning drives, and it is not like Kirk Cousins has a deep history of consistently coming up in the clutch.

Minnesota’s season ended after Cousins checked down on a fourth-and-long play. The Vikings still have a stud in Justin Jefferson, but the defense was lacking last year, and it is hard to imagine they will not regress to near .500.

But the Chicago Bears are not a good pick to replace them as division champs. Justin Fields was the worst passer-by value in the league last season, and the Bears also allowed the most points in the NFL. They may be able to improve one of those facets in 2023, but it is unlikely they have done enough in free agency and the draft to completely turn around things on both sides of the ball. Fields must become better at throwing the ball for this team to compete for anything.

Fields is 5-20 as a starter, including a 1-19 record when the Bears allow more than 14 points. Fade the Bears and Vikings from the Super Bowl this year.

Green Bay a Good Bet?

Our final NFC team to cover is Green Bay, which will move on from the Aaron Rodgers era with Jordan Love set to take over for Matt LaFleur, who has won 71.2% of his games as a head coach.

This is a great opportunity for LaFleur to prove he is an elite coach. Love has some intriguing talent, and Christian Watson looked like he was developing as a No. 1 receiver last year. The Packers had a lot of receiver injuries, Rodgers was shockingly bad with throwing interceptions to get swept by Detroit, and the Packers still finished 8-9 despite it being Rodgers’ worst season.

First-year starting quarterbacks are always wild cards, but sometimes they are quite successful whether you are talking about Kordell Stewart (1997 Steelers), Chad Pennington (2002 Jets), or

It likely will not hit but taking a chance on the Packers at +2500 is one of the best values in the NFC right now. Love would have to have a breakout season for it to happen, so get it in now before he shows he can continue the lineage of Hall of Fame play at that position in Green Bay.

NFL Pick: NFC Winner – Green Bay Packers (+2500) at BetRivers


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