September is over and the rust is… still here? What’s going on with these quarterbacks? Can the Chiefs do it again? And is Rodgers actually coming back this year!?!? Find out!
We’re 4 games into the 2023 season, and as per usual, it’s impossible to get a grasp on things. Before we hand out some awards, let’s see the few things I’m looking right on, and the plethora of things I will be wrong about!
Things I got Right…
The Browns Would be Good!...
Yes I know they looked horrible in week 4. But they were without Watson & Chubb! Watson certainly hasn’t played like his Houston self, but it’s pretty clear that when he’s on the field they’re a much better team. Here’s to hoping he can ignite this offense when he comes back so him getting my Kirk Cousins “You Like That!?” Award in the preseason ages well! And with that defense, this team can compete in the AFC.
Justin Fields Stinks…
For everyone who thought this guy was going to be an MVP candidate… I strongly suggest medical attention immediately. What were you watching!? This guy cannot throw the football. I’m not sure he would be the best throwing running back in the league (pretty sure Derrick Henry has as many touchdown passes this season as Fields. Don’t check me on that just go with it). Fields stinks. Their Dr. Seuss character of a coach Matt Eberflus stinks. Everything about this team stinks. But fret not, Bears fans! Caleb is coming. Just hold on a few more months.
The Giants Would Come Crashing Down…
I have numerous Giants fans in my life, so this one hurts. But they had to see this coming, didn’t they? Giving the 23rd best quarterback in the league (and that is GENEROUS) $160 million was not the best personnel decision I’ve ever seen. Hopefully they can get off of Jones in the next, I don’t know, 3 years? As an Eagles fan, it’s no fun to kick their ass when they’re so bad.
Now For the Fun Part!
Things I Regret…
Being Skeptical of the Lions…
I mean they’re the Lions! They haven’t been good since Dorothy left Oz. I wasn’t sure this team could handle expectations and if Jared Goff could string together consecutive productive seasons. Turns out they can, and he is! I apologize Lions fans, I was being too skeptical. They look legit, and should easily cruise to the NFC North crown.
The Bills Would Take a Step Back…
The Bills look awesome. Full stop. Every year there’s a team that misses the playoffs that shocks everyone, and I gambled that it would be the Bills. Welp. If Josh Allen would stop using his body as a battering ram and cut down on turnovers, they might just win the whole damn thing!
What the hell is happening to quarterbacks? Is ANYONE good? Mahomes has been subpar (for his standards, to be clear. We could cut off his left arm and he would still be better than Justin Fields. Maybe both arms. Fields stinks, man). Herbert and Lawrence have been sluggish out of the gates. Burrow has legitimately been a bottom-5 quarterback this season (sure he’s injured, but he’s healthy enough to play). And all the young guys, other than Stroud, seem to be regressing hard; Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, Desmond Ridder, they’ve all stunk! Something is going on with quarterbacks, but hopefully it stops soon. Because I want to see these guys lighting it up, not getting booed off the field.
Now let’s take our final predictions at who will be bringing home some hardware in awards season:
MVP: Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers)
As I just talked about, most of the quarterback play we’ve seen has stunk. So let’s have some fun and give this to a running back! CMac has dominated this season, scoring 1-2-3-4 (!!) touchdowns last week. If a non-quarterback is going to win this award ever again, it needs to be someone who can run for touchdowns, catch touchdowns, and maybe even occasionally throw them. CMac fits all that criteria, so for right now I’ll give it to him. But Josh Allen is a close second!
Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys)
I feel like the only evidence I need here is opening night against the Giants. Pretty sure he just sacked Daniel Jones again as I typed this.
Coach of the Year: Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions)
Coach Creatine himself! The balls on this man to call a fake punt deep in his own territory in the first half on the road at the reigning mini-dynasty on ring night is incredible. That play alone puts him in the top 5, and the fact that the Lions look like a top NFC contender, he gets Coach of the Year at the quarter poll.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Puka Nacua (Los Angeles Rams)
Puka! What a story! McVay has transformed this guy into Cooper Kupp 2.0 before our very eyes and is shredding up the record books. While Stroud has been awesome and Robinson is a walking highlight reel, Puka is the winner. Plus, he has the most fun name.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Christian Gonzalez (New England Patriots)
This has been a miserable season for Pats fans (oh shut up, you’re due), but Gonzalez has looked fast and ferocious this season. Unfortunately he’s now injured so it appears he’ll only be a placeholder for this award, but for now he’s HIM!
Nat Hackett Worst Coaching Award: Sean Payton (Denver Broncos)
I mean… he trashed Nat Hackett in the offseason for maybe the worst coaching job ever in 2022 (admittedly so did we… but hey we didn’t give up 70 2 weeks ago!), and now he has a WORSE record than Hackett did through 4 games! And he gave up SEVENTY in a game! I think Payton is a brilliant coach, but dog gonnit this is embarrassing. Plus, isn’t it funny to give the newly-minted Nat Hackett Worst Coaching Award to the guy that took his job? Some early Showtime Lakers shit right there!
Kirk Cousins You Like That!? Award: Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Everyone said Baker was washed and guess what! He is not. When he leads the Bucs to the playoffs, he’ll be asking everyone; You like that!?
Tim Tebow Award: Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Lawrence was my preseason MVP pick. Yikes! However, a sluggish start only means that he’ll head into the playoffs for the second straight year scalding-hot like Tebow did once upon a time and win this (lesser) award.
Mark Sanchez Butt Fumble Award: Derek Carr (New Orleans Saints)
Looking like a winner here! Picked Carr in the preseason and have seen nothing from him to persuade me to change things up. The Saints should win the NFC South easily, and yet it feels likely that they’ll finish 3rd.
Randy Moss Transaction Award: Calvin Ridley (Jacksonville Jaguars)
RIP to Aaron Roders’ achilles. He would easily win this award if his injury hadn’t happened (he's not coming back this season, stop it. STOP IT!), and as it turns out there weren’t a ton of free agents that have made big impacts. Ridley has been decent so far this season, but this award is a bit of a projection; Ridley will hopefully provide Lawrence a true #1 target, which could transform that team from good to great (please, for the sake of my Super Bowl pick!)
Now let’s make some revised playoff predictions!
AFC Wildcard Round:
1 Kansas City Chiefs
2 Buffalo Bills def 7 Los Angeles Chargers
6 Cleveland Browns def 3 Baltimore Ravens
5 Miami Dolphins def 4 Jacksonville Jaguars
It sickens me that I’m putting the Chargers in the playoffs, but the bottom has seemingly fallen out of the AFC, and Herbert is the best of the borderline-playoff team quarterbacks (not counting Burrow, who is injured and I don’t see the Bengals being in the conversation). The Bills will smash this team.
Upset! I am all-in on this Browns team. I think the Ravens will have a better regular season, but Lamar is not to be trusted in the playoffs so I’ll take the better defense in Cleveland.
Sad face. My preseason AFC champion pick is bowing out in the first round at HOME! But the Dolphins look great, and I just can’t see them not winning a playoff game this season.
NFC Wildcard Round:
1 San Francisco 49ers
2 Dallas Cowboys def 7 Green Bay Packers
3 Detroit Lions def 6 Seattle Seahawks
5 Philadelphia Eagles def 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite the Eagles being 4-0 (and my favorite team), I do think this Cowboys team has a chance to win the division and get some home playoff games. And once they get to the playoffs, they’re going to smash Green Bay. It came down to the Packers and the Saints for the last playoff spot, but the Packers won head-to-head so they get the honor of a quick exit.
Lions-Seahawks will easily be the most fun game of Wild Card Weekend. In a rematch of an early-season game, but this time Goff and Coach Creatine will get the win.
God bless Baker Mayfield, but the Eagles are going to throttle them.
AFC Divisional Round:
1 Kansas City Chiefs def 6 Cleveland Browns
2 Buffalo Bills def 5 Miami Dolphins
My love for this Browns team does in fact know bounds; and those bounds are Arrowhead and the Kansas City Chiefs. A lot has been made of the passing game woes for the Chiefs this season, but I’m going out on a limb and saying that if the biggest question mark with the Chiefs is Mahomes and the passing? They’ll be just fine. As long as the receivers have a pulse, that dude will figure things out.
Bills-Dolphins could be an epic showdown. Two great offenses going at it, but I’m going with the home team in what could be extremely cold (and snowy???) conditions.
NFC Divisional Round:
1 San Francisco 49ers def 5 Philadelphia Eagles
2 Dallas Cowboys def 3 Detroit Lions
In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game, Brock Purdy keeps his elbow intact and the 49ers will take out my Super Bowl pick. Oops.
The Cowboys playing the Lions for a spot in the NFC Championship game feels like an SNL sketch. “Jerry World” will be like the Haunted Mansion; a home for ghosts of franchise past. The Cowboys defense will be the determining factor in Dallas getting by Detroit.
AFC Championship Game:
1 Kansas City Chiefs def 2 Buffalo Bills
This won’t be as electrifying as their playoff game a few years ago in the “13 Seconds Game”, but it still could be great. Allen and the Bills will put up a great fight and the defense will hold Mahomes *relatively* in check. But the Chiefs (and Tay-Tay) will find a way to get it done and go to yet another Super Bowl.
NFC Championship Game:
1 San Francisco 49ers def 2 Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott will throw a critical interception at some point in this game and cost the Cowboys a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time since before I was conceived.
1 San Francisco 49ers def 1 Kansas City Chiefs
(Super Bowl MVP: Deebo Samuel)
The Chiefs are great, but they aren’t going to win the Super Bowl every season. The 49ers have gone all-in to win with this group right now, and as long as they can stay healthy they will do just that.
There you have it! All of my 1st quarter poll observations from the 2023 NFL season. Make sure to check back in near the beginning of November for my 2nd Quarter Polls!