The NFL season thus far has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. Just when you think you know how it’s going to go, a curveball is thrown. The season’s been filled with upsets, surprises, injuries, and head-coaching drama. Let’s delve into how the NFL season has unfolded thus far.
The power rankings have seen a significant shakeup this season. The Eagles, Ravens, and Dolphins have emerged as the top teams, impressing fans with their offensive abilities. The 49ers, once considered the league’s top team after their 5-0 start, have fallen from grace; they’ve lost three in a row and have been surpassed by the Seahawks in the NFC West. As for the defending champion Chiefs, the jury’s still out. Despite a promising 6-2 start to the year, their lack of playmakers outside of Travis Kelce has been on full display in their two losses, especially in Week 8 against the Broncos.
Perhaps the season’s biggest shocker took place this past week at frigid Empower Field at Mile High. Despite the Kansas City Chiefs odds showing them as more than a touchdown favorite, they suffered a crushing defeat on the road to the last-place Broncos. More alarming was the way they lost. The Chiefs, known for their high-powered offense and facing a defense that ranks among the worst in the league, failed to score a touchdown. While they still control their division, they share the AFC’s top spot with the Dolphins, Ravens, and Jaguars.
It wasn’t that long ago when the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions were vying for the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. In fact, in the 2022 draft, they owned the top two picks. Now, they’re both eyeing the Lombardi Trophy.
The Jaguars, who began the season 1-2, turned the tables around with a five-win October. Their victory over the Steelers, despite lacking style points, proves that they are a considerable force to be reckoned with. The Lions, meanwhile, impressed with a double-digit victory over Las Vegas on Monday night that led to the Raiders firing head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Like the Jaguars, the Lions are also 6-2. After starting the 2021 year 0-10, Dan Campbell has gone 18-13-1 since, a complete turnaround.
The New York Giants made the playoffs last year and had high hopes to challenge the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East, especially after adding Darren Waller in the offseason. But horrendous offensive line play and significant injuries have led to a woeful 2-6 start. The low point came last Sunday against the New York Jets when they missed a field goal that would have essentially iced the game. They then let the Jets go right down the field on them with 24 seconds left, tying the game; the Jets would eventually win in overtime.
The Jets, meanwhile, are keeping hopes alive for New York. Despite losing Aaron Rodgers on opening night, they have grinded out a 4-3 start with miracle wins against the Giants and Bills. Rodgers has hinted at a potential postseason return should the Jets find a way to make it there.
There are a lot of teams out there that have left us scratching our heads. The Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys, for example, have shown flashes of brilliance but have struggled to maintain consistency. The NFC South wants to crown a champion, but the Bucs, Saints, and Falcons all seem to not want it. And then there’s the Buffalo Bills; there are times they look like a Super Bowl contender, and then other times they fall flat, like against the Patriots two weeks ago.
Injuries have played a significant role in shaping the season, especially in the most important positions. Quarterbacks are going down at an unusually high rate. Anthony Richardson, Kirk Cousins, and Aaron Rodgers have all suffered potentially season-ending injuries, while Justin Fields, Daniel Jones, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Ryan Tannehill have all been sidelined with issues. Matthew Stafford and Kenny Pickett could also be facing missed time.
At 7-1, the Eagles have been one of the standout teams this season. Their victory over the Commanders, despite their struggles in the red zone, has solidified their position as perhaps the NFL’s best team. Their success can be attributed to the stellar performances of A.J. Brown and Jalen Hurts.
While the Eagles seem to have firm control in the NFC, the AFC has four teams at 6-2. The Dolphins have shined on offense, scoring a league-high 271 points, a number no team is even close to. The Ravens, meanwhile, are 6-2, standing out on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs and Jaguars are also right there, tied atop the AFC.
After a horrific start that left us all puzzled, the 4-3 Bengals have come back strong, evident in their victory over the 49ers. Joe Burrow is back to 100% health, a big factor in the Bengals looking like the team that has made the AFC Championship Game two seasons in a row.
The Bengals still have ground to make up to catch the Ravens atop the division. With the Steelers and Browns also at 4-3, the AFC North could be one of the best divisional races during the second half of the season.
The 2023 NFL season thus far has been a whirlwind of surprises, upsets, and thrilling performances. As we move forward, the unpredictability of the season only adds to the excitement. Whether it’s the rise of the underdogs or the fall of the giants, the season has proven that in the NFL, anything is possible.