There shouldn’t be any major surprise that the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles are back on top of the conference’s standings halfway through the season. The Eagles retained their quarterback, Jalen Hurts, and many players who made last season a success. Philadelphia has also proven its willingness to find tactics that give them an edge.
While current sports news will show that the Eagles are most known for the “tush push” or “Brotherly Shove,” Philadelphia’s success has gone well beyond one play. The Eagles have also built the foundation of their recent run of success behind drafting well on the offensive and defensive lines. Building from the trenches out has made them a difficult team to handle.
But getting off to a strong start won’t guarantee anything for the Eagles. Philadelphia had a similar stretch last season but ran out of gas in the Super Bowl. Here’s a look at other top storylines as the NFL schedule turns over into the back half of the schedule.
Bengals Ready to Make AFC North A Tough Race
Cincinnati’s fans shouldn’t worry about the Bengals until three or four weeks into the season. Especially this season, where star quarterback Joe Burrow was injured a month before the season started, there would always be some road bumps for the Bengals. Opening the season with consecutive losses to Baltimore and Cincinnati wasn’t ideal.
However, the Bengals quickly figured things out. Cincinnati has now won five of its past six games and has fought into second place in the division. The Bengals will also still have an opportunity to play Baltimore and Cleveland again, in addition to having a pair of games with Pittsburgh.
There will be plenty of opportunities for Cincinnati to fight back into the standings. The Bengals also benefit from having dynamic players at the skill positions. Joe Burrow has thrown for 1,861 yards with 12 touchdowns. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase had 697 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Detroit in Line to Climb Back on Top
The Lions’ fans have waited patiently for success. Anyone bold enough to shoulder that much punishment deserves to be a part of the happiness Detroit’s revival this season can bring. The Lions are off to a 6-2 start and in position to win the NFC North Division crown.
Detroit hasn’t won the division since 1992, when the Lions were part of the NFC Central. The Lions have rallied behind Jared Goff, who was acquired a few seasons back in a trade with the Rams. Goff has passed for over 2,000 yards so far this season. Detroit has also backed up Goff with running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, who have both produced more than 380 rushing yards so far.
Bills, 49ers Seem to Have Lost Steam
Two highly-regarded teams, San Francisco and Buffalo, are in the playoff picture but have more work than initially thought ahead of them to win a title. The 49ers have lost three straight and have been hit hard by injuries. But to blame all of San Francisco’s bad luck on injuries would be disingenuous.
The 49ers’ second-year quarterback, Brock Purdy, has struggled to be as consistent with his passing. San Francisco will need to get consistent play under center to contend. While it may seem strange to think about now, the Bills may also have a quarterback problem.
Sure, top sports news today shows Buffalo’s quarterback Josh Allen puts up good numbers. However, the Bills have been crushed by turnovers, and Allen has displayed questionable decision-making. Buffalo can’t afford to continue giving away games by making mistakes.
The Bills have real competition from the Miami Dolphins this season. While the Bills blew out Miami in the team’s only meeting so far, the Dolphins have a much easier schedule than Buffalo.
Rookie Quarterbacks Show Their Worth
The 2023 NFL Draft quarterback class was supposed to be deep. Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud has already showcased his immense talent. Stroud’s impact is not just reflected in his excellent stats but also in Houston’s 4-4 start.
Few thought the Texans would be in the playoff race, but Stroud has them in the mix. What is impressive about Stroud is he doesn’t make killer mistakes. He has only thrown one interception this season while tossing 14 touchdown passes.
Indianapolis rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson flashed potential during a few early-season starts before being ruled out for the year due to injury. Tennessee rookie quarterback Will Levis has provided hope to Titans’ fans.
Levis won his first start and threw for 238 yards for four touchdowns against Atlanta. He followed that up with a solid effort in a loss to an aggressive Pittsburgh defense.
New Offensive Coordinator Makes Waves for Baltimore
The Ravens don’t want to waste their time with quarterback Lamar Jackson. They may have finally found an offense that could help him realize his full potential. Baltimore hired Todd Monken in the offseason to work with Jackson.
So far, Baltimore averages 26.5 points per game and sits in first place in a competitive AFC North Division. While Jackson still isn’t piling up large touchdown numbers, he is passing efficiently in the offense. Jackson has completed 71.5 percent of his passes for 1,954 yards this season.
Defending Champions Still Among AFC’s Elite
The Kansas City Chiefs have become a model of efficiency under coach Andy Reid. While most of the buzz around the Chiefs this season has come from who their star tight end Travis Kelce is dating, Kansas City continues to win football games. The Chiefs are off to a 7-2 start despite some issues.
Kansas City’s offense seems more vulnerable than in years past. The Chiefs are relying on many young receivers and a few guys who haven’t necessarily been faced with too many pressure situations yet. While the Chiefs hope they can grow over the season, they do have problems at wide receiver.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is still great, but he needs the other players to rise up and meet his level if Kansas City is going to win its second straight Super Bowl.
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