NFL Season Recap and Playoff Preview

  QB’s Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes look to lead their teams to the Super Bowl ( Kevin Sabitus, Associated Press)

A Drama Filled Season

December 11th, 2022– The NFL season is coming to a close, and it was not short on drama. Whether it be primetime upsets, crazy comebacks, or last-second thrillers, this NFL season has been an exciting one. As the season comes to a close, contenders will begin to separate themselves, but only one team will enter the off-season satisfied with their performance.

Key Storylines

Entering the season, the Denver Broncos were the most hyped team in the NFL. They already had a uber-talented roster boasting flashy receivers with an elite defense. The only thing missing was competent QB play. It seemed like they had finally solved that conundrum when they orchestrated a blockbuster trade for Russell Wilson. He was universally recognized as a top-ten quarterback and won a Superbowl in 2013. However, the Russell Wilson experiment has been disastrous for the Broncos. The offense, which Wilson was supposed to fix, has been historically bad. Despite their defense still being one of the best in the league, the Broncos sit at 3-9 and are last in the AFC West behind the Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers.

Two more disappointing teams have been the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers. Both teams boast legendary quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers at the tail end of their careers. However, each team looks lifeless. The Bucs and Packers were supposed to be super-bowl contenders; however, the Bucs are hovering at .500, and the Packers sitting at the basement of their division. The Packers do have a promising young QB in Jordan Love, and this bad spell may provide the team with an excuse to play him more. 

On the flip side, teams such as the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Jets have exceeded expectations. Both New York teams have been winning based on their defense and run game, with the Jets featuring stand-out rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, and the Giants possessing super-star running back Saquon Barkley. For the Eagles, quarterback Jalen Hurts looks like an MVP candidate, new addition AJ Brown has completely transformed the offense, and the defense boasts top tier talent, including Darius Slay and Fletcher Cox. All of this has culminated in the Eagles sitting atop the NFC at 11-1.

Award Predictions

MVP: Jalen Hurts

Just six months ago, there was talk of the Eagles being in on the Russell Wilson sweepstakes. Now, Jalen Hurts has not only eclipsed Wilson, but he has also placed himself in the top quarterbacks’ conversation. His accuracy has improved astronomically from last season, and, coupled with his elite running ability, Hurts cements himself as the Eagles franchise QB and wins MVP.

OPOY: Derrick Henry

There are three sure things in life: Death, Taxes, and Derrick Henry carrying the Tennessee Titans. Last season, Henry was well on his way to winning OPOY before his untimely foot injury. There is no reason as of the season so far that suggests he can’t do that this season. He is by far the most physical runner in the league, and is hoping to lead the Titans to the playoffs once again.

DPOY: Micah Parsons

When you look up swiss-army knife in the dictionary, a picture of Micah Parsons shows up. He is third in the league in sacks, trailing only Nick Bosa and Mathew Judon. What makes this more impressive is that Parsons is not a full time edge rusher, as he also plays snaps as the Cowboy’s off-ball linebacker and excels at it. Parsons takes his first of many DPOYs.

DROY: Aiden Hutchinsen

This is a controversial pick, as Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner has been playing excellently. However, Hutchinson has the same amount of interceptions as Gardner while leading all rookies in sacks. His variety of pass-rush moves are well ahead of his years, and he has helped the Lions look semi-competent this year.

OROY: Chris Olave

There were low expectations for Chris Olave heading into the year, as the Saints already had Michael Thomas and had just added Jarvis Landry. However, Michael Thomas’s injury opened up opportunities for Olave and he has not looked back. He leads all rookies in receptions, possessing an impressive route tree in his arsenal.

Playoff Predictions

NFC Championship Game: Eagles vs Cowboys

Two historic rivals face off with a chance to win the Super Bowl. The Cowboys have one of the best defenses in the league, commanded by their elite pass-rushing tandem of Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence. However, they face up against a high-octane offense led by Jalen Hurts, AJ Brown, and Devonta Smith. In the end, the key matchup will be the Cowboy’s offense vs the Eagles defense. Both units have been very boom or bust thus far, flashing potential while showing significant weaknesses. In the end, the Cowboy’s defense stifles Jalen Hurts, and Tony Pollard runs through the Eagle’s defense. The Cowboys win 31-21.

AFC Championship Game: Chiefs vs Dolphins

It seems like the AFC Championship game has turned into the Patrick Mahomes invite game, and I see no reason why that should change. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have been a pleasant surprise this season. New coach Mike McDaniel is taking advantage of the plethora of talent he has at his disposal, with the Dolphin’s offense looking borderline unstoppable in moments. However, their defense has been suspect all season, and Patrick Mahomes should easily move the ball on them. In the end, the Chiefs win a shootout 42-37.

Super Bowl Predictions

Super Bowl: Chiefs vs Cowboys

A top tier offense vs a top tier defense. The history of the super bowl shows that the defense generally wins out; hence, the famous quote “Offense sells tickets but defense wins championships.” However, Patrick Mahomes has not conformed to historical expectations. We have already seen that with his revolutionary quarterbacking style and his first Super Bowl coming with him beating an elite defense (2019 49ers). This game ends up being no different. The Dallas defense does their best, but Mahomes makes the winning plays when he needs to and Dak is unable to rise to the challenge. Chiefs win their second superbowl in 4 years 24-17.