By: Matt Sanderson
Photo by: Adrian Curiel
When I used to flip the calendar to September I would get sad knowing Summer was on the way out and fall was around the corner.
However, as I got older it would no longer be sweater season....it would be Football season!
Welcome to the Straight to the Extra Point Blog, where I Matt Sanderson will be your narrator for the season. That's right Straight to the Extra Point will now come to you solely this year as a Blog. Each week I will give you my thoughts from the previous week and look at the week upcoming.
Without further or due let's get into it.
I think this NFL season will be filled with the most parody we have ever had in the league. Frankly as a football fan, that is exciting!
There is a lot to dive into this season...will the Kansas City Chiefs repeat as Super Bowl Champions? Will Aaron Rodgers have another MVP season as a Jet? Will Jordan Love have success in Titletown? So many questions and we want answers!
Here are three predictions of mine for the 2023 NFL Season:
1. The AFC EAST will be the Most Entertaining Division
With all of the changes in the NFL this season the AFC East jumps out to me as the most intriguing. I mean...why wouldn't it? Look at every other team this season, no other division has three of four starting QBs with the entertainment factor that Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa & Aaron Rodgers have. Josh Allen will be playing with determination this season. The team was surrounded by drama with Stefon Diggs which has seemed to have fizzled out. But I think this is a now or never scenario for Allen and the Bills, whose backfield has improved from the last few seasons. The Dolphins have arguably the best Wide Receiver tandem in the NFL. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are absolute juggernauts for Tua and with another year in the NFL if he can stay healthy they have a chance to really contest with Buffalo and the Jets. Aaron Rodgers has brought new life and expectations into the Jets organization. Rodgers has looked good in camp and he now has a plethora of weapons from Garrett Wilson, Alan Lazard, Randall Cobb Tyler Conklin and the backfield of Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall how could you not be intimidated by this squad? Their offensive line has a bit to be desired but they will make it an interesting three team battle.
Now you could look at the AFC North or AFC West but for me there are too many questions at the QB positions there. For example, AFC North, I think Dashaun Watson is washed up and too much of a distraction and Kenny Pickett is only going into his second year and we cannot in good conscience get a proper read on him. For the AFC West, Herbert and Mahomes are no-brainers but can we justify that Russell Wilson will get back to what we knew and loved from him in Seattle, for me it is a no. That's why the AFC East will easily be the most entertaining.
2. Packers will surprise a lot of teams
As a Green Bay Packers fan this topic is so intriguing to me. What could Jordan Love amount too? Who knows, honestly. From what I have seen so far there is a bit of excitement, but it is so hard to judge when you just have preseason games and two regular season games. I do have to say, the poise and the calmness he plays with impresses me, but it will be interesting to see what he can do when Love laces up against the Bears on Sunday afternoon.
Outside of Jordan Love there is optimism on multiple ends in Packer land. For starters, look at their running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Both guys can be 1000 yard rushers and are versatile in the pass game as well. They are two very different styles of backs but both hit as equally hard. Next is the receiving corp, it is a young squad but a lot of talent with 2nd year guys like Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, & Samori Toure while they're new additions of Jayden Reed, & Tight End Luke Musgraves have been turning heads and just make this offensive unit even deeper.
Las but not least the Defense, it will be make or break for the Pack this season. If they play to the caliber that they can, there's a strong chance the D could be a top 5 unit in the NFL...however, last season it took them 14 weeks to really get going. If they can start early, it will make things that much easier for young Jordan Love and the offence.
3. The 49ers need to show me more this year
What can be said about the San Francisco 49ers that hasn't already been said over the years. Realistically any team who is led by Kyle Shanahan is a team you can never count out. However, for me this team is a head scratcher. On paper sure, they have incredible talent, they can get through the regular season on the backs of their superstars, but I have always believed the most important position on the field is QB and I still have yet to see that from Brock Purdy. Don't get me wrong, he could be the real deal but can he continue his success from last season? That is the million dollar question going forward.
I think there will be a lot of pressure on Nick Bosa to perform and stay healthy for the year. He just inked a $170 million dollar extension, which immediately makes him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history. But with all that extra cash comes more expectations to continue to be great. Now he certainly can, but I feel the league has vastly improved and you can feel the shift every year so it will be more challenging for guys like Bosa to get into the backfield.
Onto the offensive line, it is my biggest question mark with the team. Will they be able to be solid all season and keep Brock Purdy healthy? The 49ers, have normally had a good offensive line but with some changes this year and the expectations of the team being the 2nd best team in the NFC behind the Eagles of course I think the pressure will mount, plus their schedule does not make it any easier for the season as well.
In retrospect, sure the 49ers have the ability to get to the big game but it will ultimately be on how well Purdy and the offence can handle the heat.
This year, Straight to the Extra Point is sponsored by Betstamp. Next week I will give you a prediction of mine for the betters out there to potentially roll with...however I will say the Chiefs will win 24-16 over the Lions tonight on Thursday Night Football to kick off the NFL season.
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