It seems like only yesterday that the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions got the 2023 NFL season off to a flying start, yet here we are heading into Week 8 in what has been a superb campaign so far. The Detroit Lions causing a 21-20 upset on Week 1 seems to have set the tone for the rest of the season, with several significant upsets happening on a seemingly weekly basis. Of course, the Kansas City Chiefs (6-1) and Philadelphia Eagles (6-1) are blowing away the opposition as expected. Still, there are a few surprise packages that are either over or underperforming as the halfway stage approaches.
3 Huge Surprises So Far in the 2023 NFL Season
The Buffalo Bills For All The Wrong Reasons
Buffalo Bills fans believed 2023 was the season they would see their beloved team march on to Super Bowl glory. After topping the AFC East three times in a row, only to falter in the playoffs, Bills fans were hopeful that Sean McDermott and his coaching staff would finally get things right. How wrong those supporters were.
The Buffalo Bills were one of the favorites with the best Super Bowl betting sites, but there are now six teams ahead of them in the pecking order, which shows the inconsistency of this Bills team. The Bills look like genuine Super Bowl contenders one week but chumps the next, and there tends to be nothing between those extremes.
The @BuffaloBills offense has a flaw that teams know they can attack. Know they can manipulate. Know they can use to their advantage.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 24, 2023
The opening-night defeat against a New York Jets team demoralized by Aaron Rodgers’ early exit should never have happened. Neither should the shock 29-25 loss to the New England Patriots on Week 7, especially as the Patriots entered the game 1-5. Even the 14-9 victory over the New York Giants on Week 6 was unconvincing at best, mainly as the Giants were playing with a backup quarterback on the field.
Yet the Bills looked incredible against the resurgent Miami Dolphins in Week 4, brushing them aside 48-20, a win that is up there with the best results of the season to date. McDermott has a monumental task on his hands to turn around his Bills’ flagging fortunes, especially as the Bills face the Eagles, Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys in Week 12-15.
Mike McDaniel is Working Wonders with the Miami Dolphins
Mike McDaniel guided the Miami Dolphins to a 9-8 record in 2022 during his first season in charge. Last season’s Dolphins showed glimpses of their capabilities, starting the campaign 3-0 and putting together a five-game winning streak. However, losing often maligned quarterback Tua Tagovailoa twice to concussion-related injuries put the brakes on the Dolphins’ run, and their first foray into the playoffs for five seasons ended in the Wild Card round.
After defeating the Carolina Panthers in Week 6, the Dolphins started 5-1 for the first time since 2002. The Dolphins smashed the Denver Broncos 70-20 in one of the NFL’s highest-ever scoring games, and they dominated the Giants in a 31-16 win.
Tagovailoa is in the form of his life and has already amassed 2,092 yards from seven games, averaging 9.1 passing yards. The man from Hawaii is on 15 touchdowns for the season and has a 110.4 rating.
Rookie running back De’Von Achane has been a revelation. The third-round 84th overall pick had been averaging an unsustainable 12.1 yards per carry until sustaining a knee injury that will likely keep him on the injured reserve list until Week 11.
Although the Dolphins look like a team that could cause an upset and navigate their way to the Super Bowl, something that they have not managed since 1984, there have been a couple of worrying signs. They have lost against the two teams most likely to feature in the Super Bowl. The Dolphins weren’t in the game when they lost 20-48 to the inconsistent Bills, and they were recently halted in their tracks by the Eagles in a 17-31 defeat. The Eagles limited the Dolphins to a mere 45 rushing yards, and the Dolphins looked void of ideas. However, McDaniel is known for thinking outside the box and should be able to solve this problem.
Lemar Jackson is Inspiring the Baltimore Ravens
After finishing 8-9 in 2021 and 10-7 last season, the Baltimore Ravens have started the 2023 campaign like a house on fire. The Ravens are 5-2 going into Week 8, facing a faltering Arizona Cardinals (1-6) team.
When the Ravens emerge victoriously, they tend to do so convincingly. One only needs to look at the 25-9 win over the Houston Texans, the 28-3 victory against the Cleveland Browns, and this week’s 38-6 dismantling of the Detroit Lions for evidence. The two games the Ravens have lost have been closely-fought affairs. A 19-22 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts and a 10-17 defeat at the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only blips on the Ravens’ record so far.
Quarterback Lemar Jackson looks back to his brilliant best. You may recall Jackson was named the NFL MVP in 2019, his first season as a starter. The former Louisville Cardinals star has completed 71.0% of his passes and is on course for a career-best passing yards haul, as he is already on 1,610 yards for the regular season. Jackson makes the Ravens tick; they are 50-18 with Jackson under center, so keeping him fit is vital for the Ravens.
Who Looks The Most Likely Super Bowl Contenders?
There is still a lot of football to be played in the 2023 NFL regular season. As for the current favorites for Super Bowl LVIII, the standings could look vastly different in a couple of weeks. That said, everything, at the moment, points to a rematch of Super Bowl LVII because the Chiefs and the Eagles look unstoppable at times.
Aside from a shock opening-game defeat against the Detroit Lions, the Chiefs have been incredible. The same can be said for last year’s losing finalists, the Eagles. We will get a preview of the possible Super Bowl LVIII match of the Bills versus the Eagles on November 20 when the two Goliaths of football go head-to-head at the Arrowhead Stadium.