Welcome back NFL fans, we’re now 10 weeks into the 2023 season (please slow down!) and we are seeing the overall playoff picture starting to shake out. We have some surprising teams making a push to be in the playoffs, Vikings and Texans, and some teams on the outside looking in that would shock you if you said so before the season started, Bengals, Bills & Packers, but that is the fun of the NFL! Anyone can make the dance!
Teams on Bye
Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins & Philadelphia Eagles
Thursday Night Football
Chicago Bears 16 – Carolina Panthers 13
Bryce Young continues his up and down rookie season, once again showing flashes of brilliance but too late in the game to make a difference. Frank Reich’s decision to kick a field goal when down by three rather than going for it backfired as the field goal attempt missed. While keeping the ball out of the rookie’s hands in favour of a field goal may make analytical sense, when you have a rookie who can flash brilliance, you have to give them a chance, give them that shot of confidence.
Bagent’s Bears come out on top in this contest and Bagent, the undrafted rookie, has more career wins than Bryce Young does! The Bears also own the Panthers 1st round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft so they gained a little more than just a win by pushing the Panthers to 1-8 and the worst record in football. The addition of Montez Sweat has greatly improved the Bears pass rush and their front seven smothered the Panthers run game, the Bears have quietly built a scary defence once again.
Sunday Early Window
Indianapolis Colts 10 – New England Patriots 6
The final game in the NFL 2023 international series was a disappointedly low scoring affair for all those in attendance. Despite only scoring 10 points, a season low, the Colts squeezed out the win and are back to .500 and Minshew did not look comfortable the entire game however he connected with Michael Pittman Jr. to extend several drives and keep the momentum alive for the Colts. The Colts defence are the real MVPs in this game as they kept Mac Jones off balance the entire game, their constant pressure prevented Jones from risking pushing the ball down field.
The Patriots have a problem at quarterback and Belichick’s patience is wearing thin. Benching Jones once again, after a horrible interception, in favour of Zappe to try and drive down the field for the win who himself threw an interception ending the game. The Patriots had a successful rushing attack with Stevenson and Elliott, all they needed was a competent quarterback and they would have sealed the win. The question going forward now is who is the Patriots quarterback of the future?
Cleveland Browns 33 – Baltimore Ravens 31
This one looked over before it even began as the Ravens jumped out to a 17-3 lead at the end of the 1st and with the way the Ravens have been blowing out teams lately, this looked like a long day for the Browns. However, the Ravens are no stranger to 4th quarter collapses and they fell victim to one against the Browns on Sunday, as their defence seemed to slow down as the 4th quarter hit, allowing the Browns back into the game and they never stopped fighting once they were given a chance.
The Browns fought and clawed their way back from a slow start to eventually beat the Ravens. DeShaun Watson finally gives Browns fans a performance worthy of the $230+ million price tag, battling through injury and a strong performance from the Cleveland backfield helped the Browns rally and pick up the win. AFC North football is different to every other division. After the game Watson was in a walking boot, which doesn’t bode well for their next divisional matchup against the Steelers!
Houston Texans 30 – Cincinnati Bengals 27
The next NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, future Offensive Player of the Year and future MVP, C.J. Stroud continues to stun defences across the league with his next level performance, rarely looking like a rookie while on the field. Even throwing an ugly interception while trying to ice the game, Stroud bounced back leading a lightning quick drive down the field for the game winning field goal. Upsetting the Bengals and putting the NFL on notice as the Texans win puts them currently as the 7th Seed in the AFC Playoff picture, the Texans are a contender with Stroud under centre!
The Bengals struggled in the second and third quarters to find any offensive momentum after finding success early. Tyler Boyd dropping a gimme game winning touchdown and the Bengals defence unable to hold Stroud’s final drive at bay cost the Bengals dearly in this match up. They will have to regroup and focus as they head into the short week against another AFC North team reeling from a close loss, as they face the Ravens on TNF.
San Francisco 49ers 34 – Jacksonville Jaguars 3
The 49ers right the ship and Brock Purdy looks like he’s back on point after the decisive win over the Jaguars. Not turning over the ball was a huge improvement for Purdy against a Jaguars team that is known for their takeaways and with the recent addition of Chase Young the 49ers defence made the day long for the Jaguars. Bosa and Young totalled 2 sacks between them on the day and created a ton of pressure on Trevor Lawrence, the 49ers look like they are back in the hunt in the NFC!
The Jaguars turned in a game filled with turnovers, Trevor Lawrence throwing two interceptions and lost a fumble and then Christian Kirk also fumbled the back inside the red zone. For only the second time this season the Jaguars had zero takeaways and as a whole they were completely outplayed by the resuring 49ers team.
Minnesota Vikings 27 – New Orleans Saints 19
Josh Dobbs continues his amazing journey as the ultimate journeyman quarterback. With more time to practise, and learn his team mates names, Dobbs led the Vikings to another win. He not only used his legs to extend plays (and score) but he stayed focused down field and carved up the Saints defence all day long. While the offense grinded to a halt in the 3rd quarter, Dobbs is keeping the Vikings alive in the NFC Playoff picture.
Derek Carr left the game injured but before that he wasn’t generating much in terms of yardage, being outplayed by Dobbs. Jameis Winston came in in relief of Carr and while he did offer a spark to the offense, with some huge plays including two touchdowns, he could not overcome the Vikings defence who generated an insane amount of pressure all game long, forcing the Saints to fail in their comeback attempt.
Pittsburgh Steelers 23 – Green Bay Packers 19
The Steelers went old school against the Packers, ground and pound with the combination of Harris and Warren both who scored a touchdown each and combined for a total of 205 yards by the end of the game. The Steelers rookie tackle Broderick Jones had a couple of huge blocks and released Harris/Warren for big runs, showing he’s earned his starting spot. Pickett had a quiet day, embracing the role of game manager and allowing the rushing game to dominate the Packers. The Steelers defence came up big when it needed, picking off Jordan Love twice, even with Levi Wallace being burned on every second play, Kazee and Neal both came up with big interceptions to prevent comeback scores.
Early in the contest, Jordan Love looked good, he was comfortable in the pocket which is difficult when you have Watt and Highsmith across from you and made some big time 3rd down completions to keep the offense going. The 4th quarter was a different story as Love seemed to regress to the Love of the early season, failing to keep drives going and throwing not one but two interceptions on scoring drives to ensure the Packers had no chance to cause the upset.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 – Tennessee Titans 6
Will Levis is quickly finding out that the NFL can be a brutal place for a rookie quarterback as he threw a costly interception and couldn’t make the connection with DeAndre Hopkins for a second week. The Titans offense as a whole struggled all day as even Derek Henry struggled to find any success on the ground. Levis however did handle the constant pressure brought by the Buccaneers better than most rookies but without a successful running game there was nothing he could do to move the ball down field.
The Buccaneers end a four game skid, with an impressive win over the Titans. Mayfield carried the team on his back as the Buccaneers once again found themselves with next to no running game. The Mayfield to Evans connection kept this game out of reach of the Titans all game long and the Titans could not stop Evans, the Buccaneers need a running game but as long as Mayfield and Evans continue to link up, the Bucs have a shot!
Sunday Late Window
Arizona Cardinals 25 – Atlanta Falcons 23
Kyler Murray has finally seen the field in 2023, showing no negative effects from his surgically repaired knee as he was able to make plays with his legs like nothing happened! Considering Murray has been out for quite a while due to injury he has amazing chemistry with Trey McBride his tight end, as he was Murray’s go to target against the Falcons. The return of James Conner helped the Cardinals running game and showing that with key pieces in place the Cardinals can win games. Kyler lead them to their second win of the season with a drive that included vintage scrambling that lead to a chip shot field goal and the win!
The Falcons quarterback situation is a rotating door of despair, Heinicke couldn’t get the offense moving and left the game in the 4th quarter due to a hamstring to be replaced by Ridder who didn’t perform close to or as well as Heinicke. Bijan Robinson finally seen heavy usage after multiple questions around why he wasn’t getting touches but a running back alone cannot win a game as the Falcons fell in a close contest with the Cardinals.
Detroit Lions 41 – Los Angeles Chargers 38
The two headed beast of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs caused the Chargers defence nothing but headaches all game. The Lion’s roared to an impressive victory and they showed how aggressive they were willing to be by going for it on 4th down twice in the first quarter alone and successfully converting them. This 4th down aggressiveness is what helped the Lions beat the Chargers as they look like a real contender and a dark horse in the NFC Playoff picture.
The Chargers defence let them down against the Lions, unable to handle both the Lion’s rushing attack or stop them on multiple 4th down attempts, they put their offense in a situation where they couldn’t compete. Giving up 533 total yards, 200 of those to the Lions running backs, the Chargers defence will lose them games going forward with numbers like those. At 4-5 in a tight AFC Playoff race, the Chargers might not make it to the dance this season.
Dallas Cowboys 49 – New York Giants 17
The Cowboys started off on the wrong foot, turning the ball over (interception) and on downs too before they finally found their rhythm. They continue their dominating home defence by beating down the Giants and trying to keep pace with the Eagles in the NFC. Prescott balled out after throwing his interception and made the Giants look like a high school team at times as they put a statement win up on Sunday.
The Giants are not looking like a team that has any chemistry, communication or belief in themselves. With zero luck on their sides, Tommy DeVito under centre and the defence that has totally regressed ever since the Raiders dominated them. Blue Big is done, Giant’s fans need to invest in paper bags (ask Lions or Browns fans where they got theirs in the past) and look towards the 2024 NFL Draft.
Seattle Seahawks 29 – Washington Commanders 26
Sam Howell gave the Commanders a chance to win, his impressive three touchdown performance kept the Commanders close in this contest and Howell is starting to look like a legitimate #1 quarterback. While he still makes mistakes, this is his first full season as QB1, he is keeping his team competitive and dropping some beautiful touchdown passes. The Commanders have what it takes to upset most NFC teams.
Geno Smith wins it for the Seahawks, with 52 seconds on the clock and the score tied, Smith leads the team down the field to allow them to kick the game winning field goal. The Seahawks are keeping themselves competitive in the NFC Playoff picture and Geno Smith looks to be the quarterback who can bring them there but also upset another NFC Playoff team or two in the process!
Sunday Night Football
Las Vegas Raiders 16 – New York Jets 12
Robert Spillane is playing his best football since leaving Pittsburgh, racking up another interception and one that sealed the game for the Raiders, Spillane is looking like a leader and dominating force in the Raiders linebacker room. Aidan O’Connell continues to impress as a starter and with the help of the defence the Raiders are 2-0 under new interim head coach Antonio Pierce, the former linebackers coach, is showing that the Raiders can win games!
Zach Wilson is not him, the Jets quarterback might be struggling under the Aaron Rodgers system but Wilson cannot find the end zone, currently suffering a 36 straight drive without a touchdown drought, when do you change the quarterback? Robert Saleh continues to double down on Zach Wilson as the starter, at what point do you lose the locker room when everyone can see he’s not the answer!
Monday Night Football
Denver Broncos 24 – Buffalo Bills 22
Broncos, LETS RIDE! On Prime Time, the Broncos put up a fight! All game long Wilson found ways to get the ball down the field and keep the Broncos in this game, putting together an almost vintage Wilson performance, rolling out, scrambling and throwing some amazing passes, especially down the sideline to Sutton. The Broncos, with the game on the line, got Wil Lutz into field goal range to kick the winner, but he missed! Game right right? Wrong! The Bills had 12 men on the field, the Broncos got to rekick closer and kicked the game winner!
The Bills once again stumble and fall and their own mistakes cost them to the win on Monday Night. They gave up four total turnovers and Josh Allen threw two of them, putting the Bills on the back foot and keeping the Broncos alive. The Bills were pegged to be Super Bowl contenders before the season started and as the season goes on, this is looking less likely. Buffalo needs to get out of their own way if they want to make a push into the AFC Playoff picture of which they currently are 10th seed!
That’s 10 weeks in the books and we can now look forward to Playoff scenarios and talks of seeding and who will realistically make it to the Super Bowl from here on out! See ya next week!