The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The NFL’s Top Contenders Ahead of the 2023 Season

Seth Wenig/AP

The 2023 NFL season is set to begin on Thursday, Sept. 7 when the Detroit Lions will square off against the reigning champions, the Chiefs, in Kansas City. In anticipation of the race for Super Bowl LVIII, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas for the first time this upcoming February, here is a preview of some of the teams from each conference that look to be serious competitors in the upcoming season. 


Kansas City retained much of its championship core over the offseason, including future Hall-of-Fame inductees at quarterback, tight end and even head coach. Patrick Mahomes remains the league’s premier talent at the quarterback position and is protected by a solid offensive line that features two All-Pros in Creed Humphrey and Joe Thuney. Travis Kelce seems to still be near the top of his game even as he begins to go into his mid-30s. The defense, led by All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, had fifty-five sacks last year, good for second in the NFL and looks promising for the upcoming season. The Chiefs don’t have a fantastic group of wide receivers, but the young squad they have at the position, including Kadarius Toney and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, could see some growth this season. The Chiefs dynasty is underway in Kansas City – after hosting five straight AFC Championships, only a fool would bet against Mahomes and company. 

The Cincinnati Bengals will be looking to make a return to the Super Bowl after losing to Matthew Stafford’s Rams in early 2022. If quarterback Joe Burrow has all of his weapons, including former Pro-Bowlers Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Mixon, the sky’s the limit for this squad. Cincinnati, not normally a major spender on free agents, improved the offensive line immensely by signing proven left tackle Orlando Brown to a four-year, sixty-four million dollar contract to protect Burrow’s blind side. The Bengals’ defensive line and relatively weak pass rush was perhaps its most pressing issue last year, ranking twenty-ninth in total sacks despite the best efforts of Pro Bowl defensive end Trey Hendrickson. Even so, their overall defense is very solid and features an above-average group of both linebackers and safeties. 

Buffalo is favored to win the AFC East for the fourth straight season and was favored to win Super Bowl LVII this time last year. It’s easy to see why, with few glaring weaknesses and a perennial MVP candidate starting at quarterback, their great season could only be stopped by the Damar Hamlin (a lock-in for Comeback Player of the Year) freak accident. They clearly weren’t quite the same team after week eighteen, but the rejuvenated squad will look to bounce back this season. Going into this year, the offensive line seems to be a weakness and Allen, who led the league in turnovers last year, will need to take better care of the ball. The pressure is on for Buffalo to make a dent in the playoffs. Despite recent success, they still have yet to make a Super Bowl appearance in thirty years. Could this be the year when they break through?

The New York Jets are another team with immense pressure to succeed, following the offseason in which they acquired four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. Young star receiver Garrett Wilson promises to have a monster season after managing to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, despite league-worst quarterback play. The Jets’ greatest strength, however, is on the other side of the ball. Their defense remains one of the NFL’s best behind All-Pro tackle Quinnen Williams, and their secondary is perhaps the NFL’s best, led by lockdown cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed. While the Jets’ defensive backfield is set up for success, question marks surrounding the offensive line remain, and it also remains to be seen whether the 39-year-old Rodgers can have a bounce-back year. While they might not be expected to wrest the division crown from Buffalo, they look to have a strong chance at attaining a Wild Card berth to get into the playoffs for the first time since they lost the AFC Championship in 2010. 


Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance in which he rushed for three touchdowns (tied for the most ever in a single Super Bowl appearance) and a regular season in which he made a compelling case for MVP honors and established himself as one of the league’s best dual-threat quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts will look to lead this core back on a deep playoff run. The Eagles feature strong offensive and defensive lines – their defense ended the 2022 regular season with the third-most sacks made in NFL history, and Hurts is protected by a group that includes All-Pros Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. However, the Birds are set to play one of the NFL’s toughest schedules (their opponents had a collective .566 winning percentage last season, putting them first among all NFL teams) and will face some tough in-division competition from the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, both of whom are projected to have a strong chance to achieve a Wild Card berth, if not threaten to win the NFC East outright. 

Brock Purdy will have the reins of the San Francisco 49ers outright come week one of the season for the first time, after both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garrapollo departed over the summer. He’ll look to sustain the momentum he built up prior to tearing his UCL in last year’s NFC Championship game against the Eagles. He has no shortage of offensive power surrounding him – in his backfield, he has premier rushing/catching threat Christian McCaffrey and seven-time Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk (yes, fullbacks still exist), and he can throw it to star receiver Deebo Samuel or All-Pro tight end George Kittle. The team is one of the most complete in the NFL, with reigning Defensive Player of the Year and star defensive end Nick Bosa set to try and equal his league-leading 18.5 sacks last year, as well as linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw backing him up. If they can manage to stay healthy, the Niners could be a legitimate threat come February.

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