So many bad quarterbacks! So many New York prime-time games! And so much Taylor Swift! Check out our 2023 NFL 2nd Quarter Polls here!
What the heck is going on with the quarterbacks right now? It’s like we’re watching the NFL’s version of Space Jam playing out in real time! But before we dive into awards and playoff predictions (my preseason Super Bowl picks are combined 14-3 right now, just saying), let’s take a look at what I got right and what I got wrong!
Three Things I got Right…
The Jaguars are Contenders...
I took quite a wild swing, didn’t I? A Super Bowl winning coach, a team that won a playoff game a year ago and nearly beat the Chiefs in Kansas City, a young defense with some real talent, and a quarterback on an MVP trajectory would be good… Crazy! This team is going to be in contention for the #1 seed, and will be real contenders to make the Super Bowl. LIKE I SAID.
The Bills Would Miss the Playoffs…
Last quarter I had the Bills in the Wrong section because they once again had a phenomenal September. But now that Halloween has come and gone, the Bills are in real trouble of missing the playoffs. They have a tough schedule coming up, so if Allen can’t be better my prediction will age like a fine wine.
The Eagles are the Class of the NFC…
Boy the 49ers gave me a scare there! But the cream has risen to the top, and the Eagles, who have not really played anywhere near their best this season, are sitting at 8-1 with wins over the Cowboys and the Dolphins. We have one of the (very) few elite quarterbacks, elite pass catchers, an elite pass rush and an elite home field advantage. Someone else better step up and grab that #1 seed, or the Eagles will be flying to the Super Bowl again this season.
Now For the Fun Part!
Three Things I Got Wrong…
Just… everything with them. I can’t point to one specific thing I was wrong about, but I just feel like I’m wrong.
The Packers Would Still be Competent…
Silly me! I thought the Packers were a stable organization that had enough institutional fortitude to not completely suck after Rodgers. Nope! They suck. You had 30 years of great quarterback play, but now it looks like you’re headed for the quarterback hamster wheel for the foreseeable future.
Teams Would Tank for Caleb Williams...
I expected teams to start positioning themselves for the #1 pick by now, but that hasn’t been the case. Arizona is going to Kyler Murray, so they will likely start winning a little more. Vegas seems rejuvenated and out of the sweepstakes. Denver is trying to compete for some reason. The only 3 teams that look like they’re throwing in the towel are the Giants, Patriots and Panthers, and the Panthers don’t have their pick so that isn’t them tanking as much as them just sucking. Can anyone challenge New England and New York? I thought more contenders would emerge, but so fat I’ve been dead wrong.
Now let’s take our final predictions at who will be bringing home some hardware in awards season:
MVP: Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
Mahomes just hasn’t been himself this year, so he’s out. Tua is lingering but fading. I wanted to go with Hurts, but Lamar has the Ravens absolutely rolling really good teams, so I’m going to give him some love here. I’ve been very skeptical of him in the past, and still don’t trust him in the playoffs, but so far he’s my MVP.
Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett (Cleveland Browns)
My preseason pick! The best player on the (arguably) best defense in the league takes home the award. Parsons, if you want to win this award you’re going to have to make a big play in a big game and be dominant after October 1st.
Coach of the Year: “Man” Dan Campbell
The easiest choice of all! “Man” Dan Campbell has the Lions looking like a real threat in the NFC.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: CJ Stroud (Houston Texans)
Another easy choice. Stroud has blown me away with how he’s taken care of the ball and carried a talent-deprived roster into the playoff conversation.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Carter (Philadelphia Eagles)
BABY RHINO!!! God I love him. It’s not often the best player in a draft (sorry Stroud, read the paragraph above!) falls to #9, but we’ll take it! He’s abusing offensive lines and bolstering an already elite pass rush.
Nat Hackett Worst Coaching Award: Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders)
I really don’t think he’s that bad of a coach but it’s hard to not give this award to the first coach fired 8 games in. Them’s the brakes.
Kirk Cousins You Like That!? Award: Josh Dobbs (Minnesota Vikings)
This guy has been incredible! A career backup who has taken the league by storm and showed up in Minnesota 5 minutes before kickoff and led them to victory. I don’t know if he’s truly a long-term starter, but right now he’s proving me and everyone who didn’t think he was a starter wrong.
Tim Tebow Playoff Push Award: Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
I will NOT quit Baker. Ever. In that division, and quite frankly that conference, the Bucs are going to be in it until the end. Give me Baker and the Bucs getting hot in December and snagging either the #4/#7 seed.
Mark Sanchez Butt Fumble Award: Mac Jones (New England Patriots)
Mac had a really good rookie season. Then, Belichick in his infinite wisdom, gave him a defensive coach for an offensive coordinator and completely stunted his growth. But now the Patriots brought in Bill O’Brien, and Jones is running out of excuses. He had a chance to re-establish his place as the face of the franchise, but instead is likely headed for LinkedIn this winter to see which teams are hiring clipboard holders for 2024.
Randy Moss Transaction Award: DeAndre Swift (Philadelphia Eagles)
Not a lot of great options here since Rodgers isn’t playing (for now), so I’ll go with the guy making big plays for the best team in the league.
Now let’s make some revised playoff predictions!
AFC Wildcard Round:
1 Kansas City Chiefs
2 Jacksonville Jaguars def 7 Los Angeles Chargers
3 Baltimore Ravens def 6 Cleveland Browns
5 Cincinnati Bengals def 4 Miami Dolphins
The rematch of last year where Trevor Lawrence seemingly broke the brain of Justin Herbert and Brandon Staley. This one won’t be nearly as close or dramatic, as the Jags will roll ‘em.
This game could be ugly. I see the Ravens winning in the 13-10 range. But hey, a win is a win!
I so badly want to pick the Dolphins to win a playoff game, but going up against a roaring Burrow and the Bengals, I don’t see it happening. Give me the Bengals.
NFC Wildcard Round:
1 Philadelphia Eagles
2 Detroit Lions def 7 Minnesota Vikings
3 San Francisco 49ers def 6 Seattle Seahawks
5 Dallas Cowboys def 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Go Lions! Those poor fans have suffered enough, it’s time for them to get to celebrate a playoff win.
As bad as the 49ers have looked lately, I just can’t see them losing in the Wild Card round. Sorry Seattle.
The more things change the more they stay the same. For the second straight season, an underwhelming Buccaneers team will get their doors blown off at home in the playoffs against the Cowboys.
AFC Divisional Round:
1 Kansas City Chiefs def 5 Cincinnati Bengals
2 Jacksonville Jaguars def 3 Baltimore Ravens
This is where the Bengals September struggles will come back to haunt them. I know they went into Arrowhead that one time and won a playoff game in literally the worst game of Mahomes’ career, but I’m not banking on that again.
If this game was in Baltimore, I would likely pick the Ravens. But because the AFC North is so tough and will cannibalize each other, the game will be in Jacksonville. Give me the Jags!
NFC Divisional Round:
1 Philadelphia Eagles def 5 Dallas Cowboys
3 San Francisco 49ers def 2 Detroit Lions
We just saw this game play out; Eagles jump out early, Cowboys battle back, Dak makes mistake, Eagles win. Death, taxes, and all that stuff I just said.
Well I hope Lions fans celebrated like it was 1999! Because the 49ers are going to win. The indoor stadium will hurt the Lions here; if you play in the north, you gotta play outside! Use the elements to your advantage. If this game was in the snow, the Lions would have a much better shot.
AFC Championship Game:
1 Kansas City Chiefs def 2 Jacksonville Jaguars
God I want to pick the Jaguars. They were my preseason pick, I love Lawrence, I love them. But if you’re telling me Patrick Mahomes is getting a top-5 defense, then I just can’t justify picking against them here.
NFC Championship Game:
1 Philadelphia Eagles def 3 San Francisco 49ers
Two truly great teams going at it again, and hopefully this time Purdy can keep both elbows intact. Even so, I like the Eagles to win again and fly high to the Super Bowl!
1 Philadelphia Eagles def 1 Kansas City Chiefs
(Super Bowl MVP: DeVonta Smith)
Very rare that you get a Super Bowl rematch, but I think we’re seeing a new model of team-building that will allow for this to be more common; relying on young, cheap players, building a great defense and having an elite quarterback. Seems like a good recipe. In another classic game, I like my Eagles to win another Super Bowl!
There you have it! All of my 2nd quarter poll observations from the 2023 NFL season. Make sure to check back in near the beginning of December for my 3rd Quarter Polls!