The new NFL season is right around the corner and anticipation as to what we may see in the upcoming term is already palpable. The campaign will officially get underway on September 7th when the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs take on an underdog Detroit Lions side that prevented the Green Bay Packers from reaching the playoffs last season with a stunning final-day victory at Lambeau Field. While Andy Reid’s Super Bowl holders will be heavy favorites when they welcome their visitors to Arrowhead Stadium, the Lions have shown that they are prone to shock the public, and they will be no pushovers.
Ahead of the new season, there are already plenty of interesting subplots. Future hall-of-famer Aaron Rodgers has left the Packers after 17 years, choosing to wind down his career with the New York Jets and hoping to restore them to contender status once more. Last season's strugglers the Houston Texans stole the show in the recent NFL Draft, and they will be hoping their new quarterback C. J. Stroud and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. - drafted second and third overall - can lead them into a prosperous future.
One of the most commonly used words in the glossary of football terms is ‘favorite’, and it will come as no surprise that the reigning champion Chiefs have been made the +600 favorite to retain the Lombardi next February. They have lifted the trophy twice in the last five seasons, and with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, it's clear to see why. He has stepped into the breach left by Tom Brady and secured his status as the finest QB on the planet in recent years, but could he be set for a record-breaking season next year?
The 2023 season marks a decade since Peyton Manning set the record for most passing yards made in a season. He threw 5,477 for the Denver Broncos back in 2013, but is that long-standing record set to be shattered next term? And if it does indeed fall, will one of these two superstars be the man responsible?
Ever since Patrick Mahomes was drafted as the tenth overall pick back in 2017, he has transformed the Kansas City Chiefs’ fortunes. Prior to his arrival at Arrowhead Stadium, the Missouri-based outfit had won just one playoff game in 24 years. Fast forward to 2023 and the Chiefs are approaching dynasty status, reaching at least the AFC Conference Championship game in each of the last five seasons.
Throughout the course of the last five years, the former Texas Tech standout has had several impressive seasons. He has twice thrown for more than 5,000 yards, firstly in 2018 and secondly, last season, where he came within 227 yards of breaking Manning’s record. In both of those campaigns however, he finished the season with a Super Bowl ring and the Lombardi in tow, and he will tell you that that is more important than any personal records he may or may not break.
It seems that all the Buffalo Bills have known over the years is heartache. They remain the only team in NFL history to reach four consecutive Super Bowls however, as we all remember, they went on to lose all four. The maiden Lombardi remains elusive at Highmark Stadium, but ever since Josh Allen came to the New York state-based franchise, the future has looked bright.
The 27-year-old was drafted seventh overall back in 2018, and he has proven worthy of his quarterback role on one of the league’s most famed teams. He is yet to post a 5,000 throwing-yard season however, he does have a 4,500-yard campaign under his belt. And if the Bills can head deeper into the postseason, he may well stand a chance of breaking Manning’s record.
Prior to Allen’s drafting, the Bills had reached the postseason just once this millennium. That came in 2017 when they went on to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wildcard round. During Allen’s maiden campaign with the team, they would miss the postseason however, from 2019 onwards, they have reached the playoffs every year.
Last year, they were the favorites for the Lombardi all season long. They headed into the playoffs with a record that would have matched the AFC top-seed Chiefs had they managed to complete all their fixtures, something they were unable to do due to DeAndre Hamlin’s horror injury. Regardless, had they reached the Conference Championship game, the NFL confirmed that the fixture would take place at a neutral venue.
However, Joe Burrow and his Cincinnati Bengals had something to say about that. With the league’s organizers already selling tickets to the proposed neutral venue showdown, Jackpot Joey inspired his side to a stunning 27-10 victory at Highmark Stadium in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, crushing any hopes of a mouth-watering Chiefs-Bengals battle. This season, Allen will be hoping to put that defeat behind him, and if he does, he may well find himself on course for a record-breaking season in the process.