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NFL 2023 Season Recap


After one of the more weird seasons in recent memory, we're here to close out the 2023 NFL season. There was no clear-cut MVP, a galore of backup QBs asked to carry loaded and not-so-loaded teams, and the defensive landscape drastically changed from a schematic standpoint. Even after all of that, Mahomes and the Chiefs emerged victorious once again, hoisting their third Lombardi in five seasons. There were plenty of great moments throughout the season, so let's dive into them into his abnormal year of football.


Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

Yearly Awards


AFC Offensive MVP: Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens

AFC Defensive MVP: Myles Garrett - Cleveland Browns

AFC Trench Tyrant: Laremy Tunsil - Houston Texans

AFC Relentless Rookie: CJ Stroud - Houston Texans

AFC Special Teams MVP: AJ Cole - Las Vegas Raiders


NFC Offensive MVP: Christian McCaffrey - San Francisco 49ers

NFC Defensive MVP: Micah Parsons - Dallas Cowboys

NFC Trench Tyrant: Penei Sewell - Detroit Lions

NFC Relentless Rookie: Puka Nacua - Los Angeles Rams

NFC Special Teams MVP: Brandon Aubrey - Dallas Cowboys


AFC Player to Note - Laremy Tunsil


No AFC offensive lineman was a clear winner for this award, but Tunsil definitely made his case to win it this year. He faced some ridiculous pass rushers in Myles Garrett, Bryce Huff, Josh Allen, Trey Hendrickson, and Brian Burns. Despite this, he allowed a lowly 3.60% pressure rate, helping keep rookie sensation, CJ Stroud, stay clean in the pocket. Run blocking wasn't top tier, but there were few AFC linemen that exceled in both the run and pass game.


NFC Player to Note - Micah Parsons


Micah had another stellar season for the Cowboys, and kept the defense from falling apart until the very end. He led the NFL in pressures with 103, and posted a pressure rate of 20.08%, which is just insane for the volume he played. He also was a menace in the run game, recording 33 stops while only missing 5 total tackles. The 24 year old hopes to add a DPOY to his resume next season.


Photo: Smiley N. Pool/Dallas Morning News


Top Games


#3 Week 12 Bills vs Eagles


At the time of this game, the Eagles had reached the end of their enduring stretch, where they faced the Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, and now the Bills in a matter of five weeks. The game was filled with good QB play, including 9 total TDs combined between Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts, as well as top end rushing attacks, where both teams totaled over 170 yards each. Sprinkle in some nice defensive plays, and this game had it all.


#2 NFC Championship Lions vs 49ers


We got to see two of the best offensive minds face off, and it did not disappoint. After the Lions went up big 24-7 at the half, the 49ers surged back, capitalizing on crucial 4th down stops, leaning on Christian McCaffrey's legs, and trusting their diverse receiving core to attack all levels of the defense. The San Fran D toughened up for as long as they needed to, resulting in a 34-31 victory and a Super Bowl berth for the Niners.


#1 Week 14 Rams vs Ravens


Despite what the passing numbers may show, we got to witness an absolute QB duel in this game. Stafford and Lamar looked at their absolute best, and the defenses were still able to capitalize on offensive mistakes. The game capped off with an insane punt return TD in overtime by Tylan Wallace, and all but locked up the 1-seed for Baltimore.


Top Plays


#3 Tee Higgins Twisting TD vs Vikings


This may seem like a weird choice, but the optics of the play alone are worth putting it here. Browning threw up a duck, Higgins, who was ahead of his defender, worked all the way back to the ball, won a jump-ball contested catch, then turned away from where he was falling to stick the ball over the endzone. This ended up tying the game and eventually led to a Bengals win in OT.



#2 Kyle Hamilton Pick 6 vs Browns


Easily the most athletic play of the year. Hamilton came off the edge on a blitz, got his hands up, tipped the pass to himself and snagged it, then jogged into the end zone on the second play of the game. This play put his name in the DPOY conversation and showed just how undervalued he was in the draft process in 2022.



#1 Drew Lock Game Winning TD vs Eagles


Everything about this play was amazing. Drew Lock stepped in for an injured Geno Smith, and led a wonderful game winning drive capped off with one of the best throws of the season. On a 3rd & 10, with the pocket collapsing, he threw a dime to Jaxon Smith-Njigba's outside shoulder right along the side of the endzone. The throw, the catch, and the celebration between him and Geno was cold. Absolutely immaculate vibes.



Top Offseason Moves


#3 Detroit's Unorthodox Draft Approach


Over the past few years, the running back and linebacker positions have become less valued for NFL teams, with more offenses moving to a committee backfield, and most defenses using two linebackers at maximum. So what did the Lions do? They used their first two draft picks, one of which being a top-10 pick, on a running back and linebacker in Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell. This turned a lot of heads at first, but they turned around in the 2nd round, selecting Brian Branch and Sam LaPorta, two of the best players at their positions across the entire NFL in 2023. Gibbs saw more utilization as the season went on, and Campbell contributed steadily throughout the year. The Lions foundation is incredibly strong for the next several seasons due to these four.


#2 Bears Trade for DJ Moore and Multiple Draft Picks


In a stunning move, the Bears traded the first overall pick for the dynamic DJ Moore, while also acquiring the Panthers 2023 and 2024 first round picks, as well as their 2023 and 2025 second round picks. The Bears turned the 2023 selections into Darnell Wright and Tyrique Stevenson, after trading back one spot with the Eagles for 10th overall, and trading up with the Jaguars for 56th overall. The Bears currently hold the first overall pick for 2024, and will most likely take Caleb Williams, the hopeful future for their franchise.


#1 Lamar Jackson Signs Extension with Ravens


After months of speculation, the Ravens finally got a long-term deal done with Lamar, and it paid off with an MVP-level season from one of the best players in the league. It started with the Ravens exercising the non-exclusive franchise tag on him, which allowed other teams to offer him a deal that the Ravens would need to match in order to keep him. Despite interest from multiple teams needing a QB, no one bit and offered anything. Alas, the Ravens inked Lamar 5 year, $260 million deal, and there are plenty of franchises regretting not at least sending an offer out to him.

 

Photo: Tommy Gilligan/Reuters

 

Final Notes:


It was a down year offensively to say the least, but it allowed defenses to become more complex, versatile, and aggressive. We also got to see some new faces shine in places they haven't before. Next season should be more entertaining, as we welcome a loaded rookie class and franchise QBs get healthy.



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