The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Recapping the 2023 NFL Season Week by Week

From the start of the season on Sep. 7, 2023 to the Super Bowl on Feb. 11, 2024, Sports Editor Jackson Gillies looks back on the ups and downs of a wild season
Lucy Liu
The 2024 Super Bowl concluded at 25 to 22, with wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. scoring the winning touchdown.

Just a few weeks ago, with the conclusion of Super Bowl LVIII, the 2023 season in the National Football League (NFL) came to an end. With a long offseason ahead, and fanbases already gearing up for next season, let’s take a look at how we got here, going week by week as we reminisce on some of the most memorable moments of this past year in football.


Week 1:

As always, the new season began with past juggernauts looking to improve upon the success of last season clashing with on the rise hopefuls determined to join the ranks of the top teams in the league. This was no more apparent than in the opening matchup of the season, as the defending super champion Kansas City Chiefs played host to the Detroit Lions. After years of misery, the Lions came into 2023 with some of the highest hopes their franchise has had in recent memory, and the fans were there for it, as the sea of red in Kansas City was frequently peppered with the crisp blue gear of Lions fans coming out to support their team. They were not disappointed, as the Lions toppled the defending champs 21-20 in a thrilling start to the season that left the Chiefs reeling and Detroit’s spirits soaring. Come Sunday, even more telling action was in store. The first Sunday of the season was punctuated by championship favorites making their marks with statement wins. The San Francisco 49ers dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-7, the Baltimore Ravens had an impressive 25-9 victory over the Houston Texans (though suffered a tough blow by losing running back J.K. Dobbins for the season to injury), and the Dallas Cowboys defense put on an excellent performance, shutting out the New York Giants 40-0. While some thrived, others struggled. The Cincinnati Bengals had high hopes for the season, coming off of two straight American Football Conference (AFC) Championship game appearances, but suffered a rude awakening at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, being dismantled 24-3. The loss was perhaps payback for star Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase referring to the Browns as “elves” before the game. In other news, Week 1 offered some thrilling finishes. Disgraced former number one overall pick Baker Mayfield was beginning a new chapter of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and started it off well with a 20-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Former Saints coach Sean Payton came out of retirement to coach the Denver Broncos, but his return was spoiled by a tight 17-16 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Fresh off of a super bowl appearance, the Philadelphia Eagles began 2023 among the favorites to get there again, but had to battle for a tough first win against the New England Patriots, though they did escape with a 25-20 victory. Undoubtedly the best game of the day came from Los Angeles, where the Chargers squared off against the Miami Dolphins in a high powered offensive matchup. Ultimately, Miami got the upper hand, as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s 466 passing yards helped them obtain a 36-34 win. Finally, the week wrapped up with a Monday night matchup in the AFC East division. The New York Jets had some of the highest intrigue of any team in the league after acquiring legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the offseason. While many fans showed up to their game against the Buffalo Bills with super bowl dreams, they were soon snuffed out, as Rodgers suffered a torn achilles on one of the first plays of the game. While fans didn’t know it at the time, the injury would keep Rodgers sidelined for the rest of the year. However, the Jets didn’t go away. Some costly interceptions from Bills quarterback Josh Allen kept New York in the game, and backup quarterback Zach Wilson managed to lead the game into overtime, where rookie Xavier Gipson ran back a punt 65 yards for the walk off touchdown in a stunning 22-16 victory, signaling an end to a satisfying start to the new season. 


Week 2:

Week 2 began with two playoff teams from a year ago squaring off, as the Eagles played host to the Vikings. Philadelphia was able to capitalize off of numerous mistakes and turnovers by the Vikings to seal a 34-28 victory, dropping Minnesota to a troubling 0-2 start. Speaking of playoff teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars played host to the Chiefs on Sunday in a rematch of their AFC Divisional playoff bout last year. Despite Jacksonville’s best efforts, Kansas City reigned supreme with a 17-9 victory. Meanwhile, the Bills were able to rebound from their shocking opening week loss with a convincing 38-10 victory over the Raiders. However, the Bengals weren’t as fortunate, dropping to 0-2 after a narrow 27-24 defeat against their division rivals in the Ravens. It was a week punctuated by walk off field goals, with numerous games being decided by them. In the Peach State, Younghoe Koo nailed the winning kick as his Atlanta Falcons toppled the Green Bay Packers 25-24, and the Chargers suffered their second straight defeat after Nick Folk buried his field goal in overtime to give the Tennessee Titans a 27-24 victory. However, the biggest of these kicks came from Graham Gano, who’s late field goal capped off a 21 point comeback victory for the Giants over the Arizona Cardinals, rallying from a 28-7 3rd quarter deficit to win 31-28. Week 2 was indeed home to some fantastic finishes. In a game many predicted to be high scoring, the Seattle Seahawks found themselves locked into a tight battle with the Lions in Detroit. After the Lions tied the game late it was headed to overtime, where Seattle got the ball first, and last, as Tyler Lockett reached across the pylon for his second touchdown of the game and the winning score. The 37-31 victory brought both team’s records to 1-1. Later that day, the Washington Commanders won an entertaining battle, beating the Broncos 35-33 in a heart stopping finish. Up by 8 with 3 seconds left, Washington looked certain to be victorious. But as quarterback Russell Wilson’s miracle 50 yard throw to Brandon Johnson was caught for a touchdown as time expired, things got a lot more interesting. However, Denver still needed the two point conversion, and the Commanders were able to make one more stop to keep the ball out of the end zone on the conversion attempt and win the game. The week wrapped up with a doubleheader of games on Monday night. First, the Carolina Panthers and their rookie quarterback Bryce Young hosted the New Orleans Saints. The #1 pick in this past draft, Young came into the season with high hopes behind him, but struggled through two weeks as the Panthers lost their second straight, dropping this one to the Saints 20-17. Lastly, the Steelers looked to rebound from their tough first loss against their rivals the Browns. In a game riddled with mishaps and turnovers, the Steelers sealed their win with a fumble return touchdown to defeat Cleveland 26-22. On top of the loss, the Browns took a huge hit by losing Pro-Bowl running back Nick Chubb for the season after a brutal knee injury, ending the week off on a melancholy note.


Week 3:

While Week 2 was home to walk off wins and dramatic endings, Week 3 was full of one sided victories. In a historic performance, the Dolphins picked up their third straight win in mind blowing fashion, crushing the Broncos 70-20. Their offensive total is the most points scored in an NFL game since 1966. While no other team did it on the scale that Miami did, there were more blowout wins to be found. The Browns rebounded nicely from their Week 2 loss with a 27-3 win over the Titans, helped by two touchdown passes from Deshaun Watson. The Bills seemingly began finding their stride, as they mercilessly defeated the Commanders 37-3. Another theme of the week was teams projected to be bottom feeders knocking off championship contenders. After a breakout season and playoff appearance last season, the Jaguars had high hopes for a deep run this year, but a rough 37-17 loss to the Texans was a foreboding sign. Despite being picked by many as the worst team in the league before the season, the Cardinals were hanging in games at the beginning of the season, and finally got a win with a stunning 28-16 defeat of the Cowboys, who many had started lauding as championship favorites. Despite the number of blowouts this week there were still some entertaining games. The Indianapolis Colts battled with the Ravens in Baltimore, and got a 22-19 victory in overtime off of a field goal from Matt Gay. The Colts were without their promising rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who left their Week 2 game with a concussion, but backup Gardner Minshew was able to get the job done and pull off the upset win. The Chargers vs Vikings game we were treated to had unprecedented early season playoff implications. Both teams were unexpectedly winless, and the historic statistics for teams making the playoffs after starting 0-3 is pretty discouraging. The matchup didn’t disappoint, as a late interception in the end zone sealed a 28-24 victory for the Chargers after a close game. Packers quarterback Jordan Love also got his first home start at historic Lambeau Field, and led his team to a close 18-17 win over the Saints. The week came to a close again with a Monday Night doubleheader, and the second of the two matches was a big one for the Bengals. Unexpectedly 0-2, and with star quarterback Joe Burrow battling a calf injury, Cincinnati needed a win. They managed to pull it off, taking down the Rams 19-16 in a rematch of the Super Bowl from two years prior, saving themselves from the dreaded 0-3 start.


Week 4:

So far, the Lions had been playing up to expectations, going into Week 4 with a 2-1 record and some great performances under their belt. They got another one on Thursday night of this week, defeating the Packers 34-20 in a game in which they led 27-3 at halftime. Come Sunday, the NFL went international for the first time this season, as the Falcons squared off with the Jaguars in London. Jacksonville rebounded from their tough loss to win 23-7, bringing both teams’ records to 2-2. In one of the most highly anticipated games of the week, the two top teams in the AFC East division squared off. Both the Bills and Dolphins were looking like Super Bowl contenders through three weeks, but this game was all Buffalo. Quarterback Josh Allen threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns as the Bills dominated 48-20. The Broncos rebounded from their embarrassing 70-20 loss with a close 31-28 victory over the winless Chicago Bears, for their first victory of the year. Week 4 also saw two games go to overtime. After their close win last week, the Colts found themselves in another overtime contest, this time against the Rams. However, they were on the losing end this time around, as rookie receiver Puka Nacua, a 5th round draft pick who came out of nowhere to shatter rookie receiving records, hauled in the game winning touchdown for LA in their 29-23 win. The Eagles were 3-0, but ended up in a tight battle with their divisional opponents the Commanders. Ultimately, Philadelphia remained undefeated with a 34-31 overtime victory. After getting their first win a week ago, the Bengals again struggled, and handily lost to the Titans 27-3. Without their starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Browns were forced to start 5th round rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who put up a valiant effort but could not do enough to beat the Ravens. Baltimore easily got the win 28-3. Finally, the Sunday of Week 4 wrapped up with some intrigue in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Despite dropping their last two games and struggling without Aaron Rodgers the Jets were still fighting hard. This was evident in their Sunday night matchup against the Chiefs. Some uncharacteristic mistakes by Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes made an anticipated blowout a close game, but a 4th quarter field goal gave the Chiefs a 23-20 win, though one that was certainly too close for comfort for Kansas City fans. 


Week 5: 

Going into Week 5, only two teams remained winless, and one of them got their first victory in this week’s Thursday night game. Powered by a monster game from wide receiver DJ Moore, who racked up 230 receiving yards and three touchdowns, the Bears got in the win column for the first time this season with a 40-20 victory over Washington. With the Panthers losing 42-24 to the Lions on Sunday, they now stood as the only team without a win. The Jaguars spent a second week playing in London and kept up their momentum from last week in a close 25-20 win over the Bills. After losing a week ago, the Falcons rebounded, squeaking past the Texans 21-19 via a last second field goal. This week had more exciting endings to offer, as the Steelers stunned the Ravens 17-10, winning on a late score from receiver George Pickens. As far as milestones go, Saints running back Alvin Kamara became the franchise’s all time touchdown leader in a 24-0 blowout win over the Patriots, dropping New England to a lowly 1-4 record. This week was also a prime time for squads to establish themselves as a team to beat. The Eagles remained undefeated after a 23-14 road victory against the Rams, yet again appearing as front runners in the National Football Conference (NFC). The Chiefs, who faced them in the Super Bowl last year, were looking good as well, winning their fourth straight game 27-20 over the struggling Vikings. Probably the most highly anticipated matchup of the week was the Sunday night contest between the Cowboys and 49ers, with both teams looking like Super Bowl hopefuls through the first quarter of the season. However, Dallas couldn’t even make it competitive, as the Niners dominated on all fronts to win 42-10, remaining undefeated at 5-0 and asserting their dominance in the top tier of the NFC. The week closed with a 17-13 Raiders victory over the Packers, as Vegas’s defense came up with three interceptions to secure a close win to send of Week 5,


Week 6:

Philadelphia and San Francisco stood as the only two undefeated teams remaining in the league going into this week, but that soon changed, as both squads fell for the first time. The Eagles went on the road confident they could beat a struggling Jets team, but had a rude awakening after falling in a close game 20-14. The 49ers also had a road game that they expected to win, but instead found themselves needing a game winning field goal late against the Browns. Unfortunately for them, kicker Jake Moody could not hit the go-ahead kick, and Cleveland hung on behind new backup quarterback P.J. Walker to hand San Francisco their first defeat, 19-17. In other news, the NFL continued their international series with a matchup between the Ravens and Titans in London, which Baltimore won 24-16. The Bengals managed to get a narrow win against the Seahawks 17-13, improving their record to 3-3 and giving them hope for turning the season around. Two more teams became 3-3, as the Texans took care of business against the Saints 20-13, and the Raiders managed a 21-17 victory against a rock bottom Patriots team. The primetime games this week also had some thrilling late action that had our eyes glued to the screen. The Giants were playing shorthanded without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, and against a tough opponent in the Bills. However, behind the leadership of veteran backup Tyrod Taylor, New York managed to keep it close, and came up just short of a miraculous victory, as a dropped pass in the endzone sealed a 14-9 Buffalo win. The next day, the Cowboys and Chargers had an exciting battle on Monday night, with Dallas rallying in the fourth quarter for a 20-17 victory as a nice bounceback from their embarrassing loss a week ago, ending off their week on a hopeful note. 


Week 7: 

This week kicked off with a closely contested game down south, as the Jaguars took on the Saints in New Orleans. Despite dealing with a sprained knee, quarterback Trevor Lawrence managed to lead his team to victory in the Thursday night matchup, 31-24. Come Sunday, Week 7 soon became home to a plethora of close games. Despite their dysfunctional quarterback situation, the Browns kept finding ways to win, this week edging past the Colts 39-38 in a back and forth game. After a miserable 1-5 start to the season, the Patriots found life again this week, rolling to a surprise 29-25 upset of the Bills. The victory was the 300th win for legendary New England coach Bill Belichick, as he became only the third head coach in history to reach the milestone. In an NFC South divisional matchup, the Falcons overcame mistake prone play from their young quarterback Desmond Ridder to defeat the Buccaneers 19-16 after a game winning 51 yard field goal from Younghoe Koo. However, the struggles from Ridder shed doubt upon an already unstable quarterback situation in Atlanta. In a game of two teams with subpar records, the Broncos got the best of the Packers 19-17 despite almost losing the lead in the second half. In addition to these close games, this week also offered some highly anticipated games between top teams in the league, even if the results were a bit more underwhelming than perhaps anticipated. The Ravens played host to the Lions in a matchup between two of the most exciting young teams in the NFL, though when it was all said and done, Baltimore walked away with a resounding 38-6 victory, putting themselves on the map as legitimate title contenders. The day wrapped up with another headlining matchup, as the Dolphins and Eagles faced off. To Miami’s dismay, Philadelphia seemed right back on track after their unexpected loss a week ago, and cruised to a fairly one sided 31-17 Sunday night win. The 49ers had similar hopes to recover from their first defeat, but unfortunately the struggles continued on Monday night against the Vikings, who got the upper hand 22-17, wrapping the week up with plenty of question marks for the Niners.


Week 8:

After their upset loss to New England last week, the Bills went into Week 8 needing a confidence boost, and got it with a 24-18 win at home over the Buccaneers, all while quarterback Josh Allen battled through a shoulder injury to get the win. While Allen has been in the league now since 2018, this week was also a big one for his rookie counterparts. Titans second round pick Will Levis made his first professional start after an injury to starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and he did not disappoint. In a game where Levis threw for over 200 yards and 4 touchdowns, the Titans defeated Atlanta 28-23 to improve to 3-4, with perhaps a newfound hope for the rest of the season. We also saw two even higher profile rookie quarterbacks square off, as number one pick Bryce Young of the Panthers faced number two pick C.J. Stroud of the Texans. Carolina was sitting dead last in the NFL as the only remaining team without a win, but Panthers fans had a pleasant surprise this week as their team won 15-13 for their first victory of the season. Despite the battle of New York teams always being a fun storyline, this year the matchup seemed destined to be underwhelming, as both the Jets and Giants were having mediocre campaigns up to this point. Indeed, the game was an ugly one for both sides, as the Jets got a 13-10 win in overtime to push themselves to a winning record at 4-3, despite still being without Aaron Rodgers. Just a year removed from an unexpected playoff appearance, things were not looking good for the 2-6 Giants. The Eagles, however, seemed destined to return to the postseason, as they improved their record to 7-1 after a 38-31 win over the Commanders, albeit one that was closer than anticipated. Just a few weeks after injuring his knee, quarterback Jalen Hurts seemed on point in spite of it, throwing for 4 touchdowns and over 300 yards in the Philadelphia victory, stride for stride with Washington starter Sam Howell’s similar stat line. This week also saw a streak of one kind prolonged, and a streak of another kind snapped. The Bengals won yet again, seemingly finding their rhythm behind Joe Burrow’s three touchdown passes, and this week it was 31-17 over the sputtering 49ers, who lost their third straight after starting 5-0. This opened the door for the Seahawks to leap up to the top of the division with their narrow 24-20 win over the Browns, the loss interrupting a 2 game win streak for Cleveland. Speaking of streaks, one of an even larger scale was broken this week as well, as the Broncos’ 24-9 upset of the Chiefs was Denver’s first win over Kansas City since 2015, and prolonged their current win streak this season to three games. 


Week 9:

After his dream debut last week for the Titans, things came crashing back down to earth pretty quickly for Will Levis, as Tennessee fell to Pittsburgh 20-16 on Thursday night. The win was a big one for the Steelers, as it moved their record to 5-3, keeping them near the top of their competitive division. On Sunday morning, the NFL’s international showcases moved over to Germany, as the Dolphins took on the Chiefs in Frankfurt. Kansas City rebounded from their embarrassing loss a week ago with a 21-14 victory over a top competitor in the AFC. Week 9 also marks the halfway point of the regular season, meaning teams and players are still becoming reacclimated after the intrigue of the trade deadline that occurred just earlier in the week. Maybe no player more so than Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs, who was for the second time this season, starting on short notice. Dobbs became the Cardinals starter before he even knew the names of all of his teammates, after being signed just before the start of the season. But with Minnesota starter Kirk Cousins going down for the season last week with a torn achilles, the Vikings traded for Dobbs at the deadline to provide some more depth at the position. However, just five days after unceremoniously moving teams, Dobbs unexpectedly saw the field, as Minnesota’s initial backup Jaren Hall exited early with a concussion. Incredibly, Dobbs managed to lead his team to victory, a close 31-28 win over the Falcons, despite yet again barely having time to learn the playbook.

In other news, the top tier teams in the league continued rolling this week. The Ravens dominated the Seahawks 37-3, yet again demonstrating their championship potential, and the Eagles got the upper hand on the Cowboys 28-23, a big win against their bitter rivals as Dallas was clearly the biggest threat to their standing on top of the division. Despite an up and down performance from quarterback Sam Howell, the Commanders got a close win over the Patriots 20-17, and the Texans recovered from their shocking loss to Carolina with an absolutely thrilling win over the Buccaneers 39-37, with quarterback C.J. Stroud setting the rookie record for passing yards in a game (470) and tallying five touchdown passes in the process. This Sunday wrapped up with a rematch of a playoff game from last year, as the Bengals hosted the Bills. Cincinnati won their fourth straight in a 24-18 win, seemingly getting their stride back as the Bills continued to look confusingly inconsistent.


Week 10:

The week began with a Thursday night matchup between two of the league’s bottom feeders, the 2-7 Bears and the 1-7 Panthers. As Carolina missed their late attempt at a game tying field goal, the Bears got the 16-13 win alongside another victory: improving their potential draft position. When the Panthers traded up for the number one draft pick last year, they gave Chicago the rights to their first round pick this year, a fact the Bears were very much aware of, making their victory even sweeter. The NFL had action in Frankfurt yet again, as the Colts took down the Patriots in a low scoring 10-6 affair, but fans back in the U.S. were treated to several entertaining matchups. C.J. Stroud continued his clutch play as he led Houston to another game winning drive, this time for a 30-27 win over the red hot Bengals. The Texans were now 5-4, and looking surprisingly competitive in a season where everyone had written them off as a low end team. After returning from injury for a win last week, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson showed more of the same, as Cleveland pulled off a nail biting 33-31 win over the Ravens to pull closer in the division race, in a game where they trailed by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter. Another quarterback returning from injury, Arizona’s Kyler Murray, led his team to victory, as the Cardinals topped Atlanta 25-23. It was Murray’s first game since mid last season when he suffered a brutal knee injury that required surgery. The most highly anticipated game of the week ended up being an extremely one sided affair however, as the 49ers dominated the Jaguars to halt Jacksonville’s winning streak and snap a three loss skid. Despite this blowout, Week 10 offered even more close games and thrilling finishes, such as the Seahawks 29-26 victory over the Commanders by way of a walk off field goal. However, by far the most exciting game of the week took place in the Golden State of California, as the Chargers and Lions engaged in a shootout. In the end, a last second field goal from Riley Patterson gave Detroit a 41-38 win in one of the most exciting games of the year, improving their record to 7-2 and dropping the Chargers to 4-5, continuing Los Angeles’ frustrating season. However, the league wasn’t done offering heart stopping endings. In Buffalo’s Monday night matchup with the Broncos, the Bills yet again found themselves in an unexpectedly close game. While Denver’s kicker Will Lutz missed his first attempt at a game winning field goal, Buffalo still heartbreakingly lost after a penalty on the kick gave Lutz another try, which he buried for the 24-22 win. The loss brought Buffalo’s record to a foreboding 5-5, and continued Denver’s surprise win streak.


Week 11: 

The week kicked off with grim news for the Bengals. While as of late they had seemingly been figuring things out, this Thursday they not only lost to Baltimore 34-20, but Burrow exited with a wrist injury, leading to devastating news that their star quarterback would in fact not return to the field again this season. The Bengals’ playoff hopes were looking extremely compromised. Meanwhile, the Browns were also again dealing with quarterback trouble. Just two weeks after returning to play, an injured shoulder took out Deshaun Watson for good, forcing Cleveland to again start inexperienced rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson. However, the Browns still managed to pull through with a 13-10 victory over Pittsburgh. In Detroit, the hometown Lions had a scare, finding themselves down 12 in the second half to the lowly Bears. However, the Lions kept fighting, and ultimately came back to win 31-26. Their NFC North counterparts in Green Bay also pulled off a narrow win, as a late touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan Love gave the Packers a 23-20 win over the Chargers. After their one sided defeat to San Francisco last week, the Jaguars got back on track with a convincing 34-14 win over the Titans, and the Bills got a much needed 32-6 victory over the Jets to put themselves back in the win column after a rough couple of weeks. The Rams similarly recovered from a losing streak, as Los Angeles rallied to overcome a deficit and defeat the Seahawks for the second time this season, by a score of 17-16. After an 0-3 start to the season, the Vikings had been red hot in recent weeks, winners of five straight going into their Sunday night matchup against the Broncos. However, Denver had their own win streak to maintain, and did so in a nail biting 21-20 win over Minnesota. Finally, the marquee matchup of the week came on Monday night, as the Eagles headed to Kansas City for a Super Bowl rematch with the Chiefs. With Philadelphia having lost only one game this season, and Kansas City only two, this could very well have been a preview for this year’s Super Bowl as well. However, the Eagles managed to get their revenge in this one, winning 21-17 after trailing in the second half. The win made Philly 9-1, as they stood alone as the team with the best record in the whole league.


Week 12:

While those who celebrate Thanksgiving do so with a number of traditions, a staple of the day for many is tuning into some NFL action. Per usual, the league offered up a tripleheader of Thanksgiving football, and per tradition, the Lions and Cowboys both had home games scheduled. However, the day would produce very different results for the two teams. Despite their 8-3 record, which was the best in the NFC North division, Detroit struggled against their division rival Packers, and three touchdown passes from quarterback Jordan Love propelled Green Bay to a 29-23 upset win (briefly interrupted by an infamously ridiculed halftime show from rapper Jack Harlow). Meanwhile in Texas, the Cowboys feasted on the Commanders defense en route to a 45-10 victory, with a side of NFL history, as Dallas defensive back DaRon Bland had his fifth interception returned for a touchdown this season, an NFL record. The third matchup of the day featured a battle of NFC West rivals, in which the 49ers cruised to a 31-13 win over the Seahawks, solidifying their position atop the division. In a first for the NFL, this week also featured a Black Friday matchup, in which the Dolphins dominated the Jets 34-13, punctuated by a 99 yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Jevon Holland just before halftime. This week’s slate of Sunday games were also home to plenty of intrigue. Playing without Joe Burrow, the Bengals instead turned to backup Jake Browning, but despite his best efforts Cincinnati fell to Pittsburgh 16-13. With the Texans having a surprisingly strong season, this week’s matchup with the Jaguars was a critical one for both divisional rivals. Despite losing in their first meeting, Jacksonville managed to get a close win this week, as a missed Houston field goal secured a 24-21 win for the Jags. In other news, the Broncos were putting themselves on the map as a team with playoff hopes, winning their fifth straight game in a 29-12 victory over Cleveland. Similarly, two heavyweights from each conference went head to head in the City of Brotherly Love, as the Bills and Eagles traded blows all game long, leading the game into overtime. In the end, Philadelphia prevailed, as quarterback Jalen Hurts won it himself with a game winning rushing touchdown to secure the 37-34 victory. The week wrapped up this Monday with a bit of a rude awakening for Minnesota quarterback Josh Dobbs, who threw four interceptions in a 12-10 loss to Chicago. Dobbs had been having a surprisingly solid season up to this point, but after this loss dropped the Vikings to 6-6, the questions about their stability as quarterback grew ever more scrutinizing. 


Week 13:

Week 13 kicked off with a thrilling Thursday night matchup between the Seahawks and Cowboys. While both teams were looking to make a late season playoff push, Dallas got the upper hand in this one 41-35. The loss dropped Seattle to 6-6, and after a strong start to the season, their playoff hopes were becoming murky. Meanwhile, Indianapolis had quietly been sliding into the playoff conversation. Not only did many come into the season with zero expectations for the Colts’ success, things looked even more bleak after promising rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered a season ending injury early on. However, behind the confident play of backup Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis found themselves 7-5 after a 31-28 overtime win in Tennessee, with legitimate visions of a postseason appearance. Meanwhile, yet another team this week suffered a quarterback loss on top of a lost game, as the Steelers’ Kenny Pickett exited their 24-10 defeat to the Cardinals with an ankle injury. In New Orleans, the Saints saw their own quarterback Derek Carr injured in a 33-28 loss to Detroit, as the Lions bounced back from their tough Thanksgiving loss. The Broncos saw their winning streak snapped this week, as Denver fell 22-17 to Houston, dropping their record to 6-6. Additionally, another AFC team broke a streak, but one they’re much more happy about. With their 45-10 defeat of the Commanders, Miami became 9-3 for the first time since the 2001 season, giving them great optimism for the playoff appearance likely ahead for them. While the Dolphins had no trouble scoring points, for the Chargers and Patriots, it was a struggle. Los Angeles won their matchup in New England by the measly score of 6-0, making the Patriots the first team since 1938 to allow less than 10 points and still lose. This week though, all eyes were on the 49ers vs Eagles matchup, a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game. While this game had potential to be a thrilling matchup between title contenders, the result was a dominant 42-19 San Francisco win, delivering Philadelphia their first loss in five games. The week closed with two upset wins, as the Packers took down the Chiefs on Sunday night, and the Bengals slipped past Jacksonville on Monday. In Kansas City, Green Bay was fueled by another strong Jordan Love performance, en route to an unexpected 27-19 win. In the Sunshine State, Bengals backup Jake Browning rebounded from his lackluster first start for a monster game, racking up 354 passing yards and leading his team to a narrow 34-31 overtime win. The Jaguars suffered another loss on the night too, becoming the latest team to lose their starting quarterback. With Trevor Lawrence exiting with an ankle injury and no set timetable for return, things were starting to get worrisome for Jacksonville.  


Week 14:

The week began with a game very few were excited for. With the Patriots playing more poorly than we’ve seen them play in a long time and with the Steelers starting without quarterback Kenny Pickett, the two’s matchup on Thursday night was projected to be one of the lowest scoring games in recent memory. To the surprise of most, the Patriots managed a 21-18 victory, delivering another blow to Pittsburgh’s playoff chances. Outside of their own tightly locked division, the next closest division in the league, the NFC South, was competitive for all the wrong reasons. In fact, every team in the division had looked so mediocre to this point in the season, that many speculated the eventual winner may not even have a winning record. This week, two teams looked to take control of this division squared off, as the Buccaneers improved their chances at first place with a 29-25 win in Atlanta, scoring the go ahead touchdown in the final minute. The division’s AFC counterpart was also seeing some intrigue at the top. Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like the Jaguars were to easily walk away with the AFC South title, but a surprisingly competitive play from Houston and Indianapolis was starting to shake things up. Though Trevor Lawrence played through his injury this week, it was clearly still bothering him, and Jacksonville fell 31-27 to the Browns, further damaging their security at the top. Looking around the rest of the league, Justin Fields and the Bears managed a 28-13 upset of the Lions, the 49ers yet again bested Seattle 28-16 and the Vikings defeated the Raiders in the lowest scoring NFL game in 16 years by an abysmal score of 3-0. While this game was a slog, fans were also treated to one of the most exciting games of the year this week, as the Rams and Ravens played in Baltimore. After a tie by the end of the fourth quarter, this matchup went into overtime, where Baltimore walked it off on a punt return touchdown from Tylan Wallace, sealing Baltimore’s 37-31 victory in a thrilling ending. This week also featured two games between top tier teams in the league. While the Bills only narrowly beat the Chiefs, as a field goal late gave them the 20-17 win, the Cowboys had no trouble taking down the Eagles, as the 33-13 win was a big one for Dallas as they tied Philadelphia for the number one spot in the division. This week’s Monday offered a doubleheader to close the week out. In the first of two games Miami took a shocking 28-27 loss to Will Levis and the Titans in a game most expected them to handily win, and later that day the Giants topped Green Bay 24-22, led by undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito’s late drive, capping off one of the more interesting weeks of the season. 


Week 15:

2023 had been a frustrating season for the Chargers, and their struggles continued with a miserable Thursday night performance, resulting in a 63-21 loss to the Raiders. This Saturday, the NFL offered up three games, the most exciting of which being Cincinnati’s 27-24 comeback victory against the Vikings, as the Bengals kept their playoff hopes alive despite being still without their star quarterback. When Sunday rolled around, we saw one of the most unexpected playoff contenders this season continue playing at a high level. Now on their fourth quarterback of the season, the Browns had not lost a step, as they beat the Bears 20-17 behind 374 passing yards from veteran Joe Flacco, who had joined the team just a few weeks prior. Another unexpected playoff contender, the Texans, got yet another win this week, albeit a close one, defeating the Titans 19-16 in overtime. The NFC South race became even more muddled this week too, as a rare Panthers win (just their second of the year) ended up being against the Falcons. The 9-7 loss knocked Atlanta out of first place in the division. Late in the season, it was time for teams to give their 100% for this final stretch, and two teams this week took one more step forward in their push to the playoffs. The Rams improved to 7-7 in a 28-20 victory over Washington, improving their postseason chances, and the Bills found themselves glad to be back in the swing of things, with a convincing 31-10 win over the Cowboys. This week also saw two other teams officially secure their spot in the playoffs. With their 45-29 win in Arizona, the 49ers clinched the number one position in the NFC West division, guaranteeing themselves a playoff spot for the third straight season. While they did not secure their own division, the Ravens did clinch themselves a playoff spot one way or another, defeating Jacksonville 23-7 on Sunday night. The last game of the week was one of the closest, as the Eagles and Seahawks went down to the wire on a rainy Monday night in Seattle. In the end, the Seahawks pulled off an upset, as Drew Lock connected with rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba for the game winning score to keep their playoff hopes alive. The 20-17 loss was the Eagles’ third straight, as they continued their skid down the playoff standings. 


Week 16:

With just three weeks to go in the season, it was time for teams to give it their all. This week saw a number of teams improve their playoff standing, while for others, the postseason became even more of distant fantasy. On Thursday, the Rams continued their playoff push with a 30-22 win over the Saints, giving them a winning record of 8-7 and providing New Orleans with another setback in their chase for the NFC South title. Come Saturday, another two games were played with implications toward the playoff picture. In a key AFC North divisional game, the Steelers snapped their three game losing streak with a 34-11 win over the Bengals, as both teams now held an 8-7 record. On the flip side, the Bills continued their own streak, winning their third consecutive game in a close 24-22 contest against the Chargers. On Sunday, Christmas Eve, the playoff picture continued becoming even clearer. With a 33-30 win over the Panthers, Green Bay moved to 7-8 to keep their hopes alive. The Seahawks too pulled off a big win in a close game, as their 20-17 defeat of Tennessee yet again established them as legitimate postseason contenders.  For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their 30-12 landslide win this week gave them sole leadership of the NFC South and a great shot for them to clinch the division in the coming weeks. The result was also just as impactful for the team on the losing end of that deficit, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who continued to collapse with their fourth straight loss. However, Houston’s 36-22 loss against Cleveland meant that the Jags would maintain the division lead…for now. For Lions fans, Week 16 came with confirmation that their magical season would be prolonged into the playoffs, as Detroit’s 30-24 win in Minnesota clinched the first division title for the long-suffering franchise since 1993. For other fan bases however, hopes were beginning to dwindle. Despite their best efforts, the loss of Aaron Rodgers was too much for the Jets to overcome, as they were not even in the playoff conversation at this point in the year. New York did win this week, a 30-28 win over the Commanders, but with a record of 6-9, it seemed too little too late. Similarly, the Broncos seemingly now needed a Christmas miracle after their 26-23 loss to New England, as despite their torrid hot run near the middle of the season it seemed that the playoffs were not to be this year for Denver. This week also saw many of the top tier teams in the league take the field and achieve mixed results. In a star studded matchup, the Dolphins narrowly edged out the Cowboys 22-20, clinching a playoff spot after hitting a game winning field goal in the final minute. Come Christmas day, it was a sloppy performance from the Chiefs that led to them losing 20-14 to the Raiders, while the Eagles looked back on top of things in a 33-25 win over the Giants. The week was capped off by perhaps the most highly anticipated matchup of the year up to this point, as the Ravens squared off with the 49ers. In a battle of the top teams in each conference, Baltimore yet again showed that they’re for real. Led by another strong performance from quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens won 33-19 in a statement win to wrap up this latest week in the NFL.


Week 17:

As the penultimate week of the regular season rolled around, tensions were rising around the league, and some big results this week would shake things up even further. The week began with happy news in Cleveland, as the Browns beat the Jets 37-20 to clinch a playoff appearance. Despite their numerous quarterback injuries, Cleveland had seemingly found their star player in Joe Flacco, a former Super Bowl winner from over a decade ago who was reviving his career with some great performances. In the NFL’s Saturday showcase, Dallas controversially defeated the Lions 20-19, after Detroit’s game winning 2 point conversion attempts were called back by questionable penalties. The victory was the Cowboys’ 16th straight at home. Sunday is when things really started getting interesting. With a 27-21 Bills win over the Patriots, combined with the Dolphins 56-19 blowout loss to Baltimore, the stage was set for a division deciding game between the two next week. All three AFC South contenders won this week: the Colts 23-20 over Las Vegas, the Jaguars 26-0 over Carolina, and the Texans 26-3 over Tennessee. All three teams were now tied with a record of 9-7, setting up a must win final week for all. The Steelers beat Seattle 30-23 to improve their own hopes, while the loss was a tough blow for the Seahawks, who were now leapfrogged by the Rams for a playoff spot (Los Angeles clinched a postseason spot with their 26-25 win over the Giants). Maybe the most unexpected of teams, the Arizona Cardinals, ended up playing a huge role this week, as they stunned the Eagles 35-31, denying Philadelphia their chance at the top position in the conference and putting their division title hopes in jeopardy. While Kansas City secured their position at the top of the division with a 25-21 win over Cincinnati, a 23-13 Saints victory over Tampa Bay made things even more tight in their own, as New Orleans and the Buccaneers were now tied with a record of 8-8. A Falcons loss to Chicago (37-17) was a big blow to their own hopes and now they required a win plus a Tampa Bay loss in the coming week to advance into the postseason. The week came to a close with a commanding 33-10 win for the Packers against the Vikings, all but ending Minnesota’s playoff aspirations and putting Green Bay in control of their own destiny next week. 


Week 18:

As the final week of the season rolled around, there was still a lot to be decided. A good amount of teams were still mathematically alive in the playoff race, and they needed to capitalize on every opportunity they’d get in order to have a shot. With their playoff spot secure, Baltimore opted to rest their starters this week, a leg up that their opponents Pittsburgh took full advantage of. The Steelers got a 17-10 win, keeping them alive, and now all they could do is watch and wait, hoping for a loss from either Jacksonville or Buffalo to send them to the postseason. The same night, another AFC playoff spot was to be determined. The Colts hosted the Texans this Saturday with the stakes being simple: win and you’re in. It was a close game all the way through, but down four in the final minutes, Indianapolis needed a touchdown. The Colts put together a good drive, but a wide open dropped pass on fourth down secured their fate, as the Texans held on to win 23-19 and clinch one of the most unexpected playoff berths of the season. The next morning, almost all eyes in the AFC however, including Houston’s own, were glued to the Jaguars versus Titans game. If the Jaguars were to be upset, the loss would secure playoff berths for the Steelers and Bills, and give the Texans the AFC South title. In a heart stopping finish, Jacksonville found themselves unexpectedly down and needing a score. But after a few key offensive mistakes and a failed stop on defense it was over. Jacksonville’s 28-20 loss capped off a mind-blowing collapse of a season, an 8-3 record turning into a 9-8 one before their eyes, and the defeated Jags would be watching the playoffs from home. With the playoff teams now set in the AFC, all eyes turned to the NFC. The Buccaneers needed just to win to clinch the NFC South title, and they were able to get the job done, defeating Carolina 9-0 to propel themselves into the playoffs. The Packers were in a similar spot, needing a win to send themselves to the postseason, and they delivered. Green Bay’s 17-9 victory over the Bears locked them into that final wild card spot, officially eliminating hopefuls such as Seattle and Minnesota. Needing a Cowboys loss to even consider winning the NFC East, the Eagles were unable to even win themselves, losing to the Giants 27-10, and losing star quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver A.J. Brown to injuries in the process. For what it’s worth, Dallas had no intention of losing anyway, dominating the Commanders 38-10. And now, there was only one more thing still to be decided: the AFC East crown. With the Jaguars’ loss earlier, Buffalo ensured a playoff spot either way, but the Bills still wanted more. As the final game of the NFL regular season kicked off, both the Dolphins and Bills knew the stakes: a win gets you the division. At first things were looking promising for Miami, as the Dolphins jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first half. However, Bills quarterback Josh Allen was not done, leading the Bills to two unanswered touchdowns for the lead. After Miami’s own quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw a game clinching interception on the Dolphins’ final drive, the Bills would officially win 21-14, taking the division title and going into the playoffs dubbed as the hottest team in football.


Playoffs, Wild Card Round:

Now that the field was set, the remaining 14 teams and their fans were ready for the most exciting and high stakes time of the NFL year: the playoffs. The options for every team were simple. Win and advance, or lose and go home, the latter of which no squad was about to do lightly. The 2023 NFL playoffs were kicked off this year by a matchup in Houston, as the Texans played host to the Browns. While neither team had been brought up by many at all in preseason playoff predictions, both had shown they were legitimate contenders. Sporting their star rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, Houston faced off against the journeyman veteran Joe Flacco and Cleveland in a game many predicted to be fairly evenly matched. However, that did not turn out to be the case. While the Browns took down Houston in their regular season meeting, the Texans were prepared this time around. Their defense was on point, forcing numerous turnovers and even returning two interceptions for scores, and Stroud’s three touchdown passes led the way on offense as Houston won 45-14 in a blowout, making Stroud the youngest quarterback to ever win a playoff game. Later that day, there were two more AFC teams square off. The Dolphins and Chiefs both ended the season going through rough patches after hot starts, and the teams needed to be at the top of their games for this matchup. Kansas City got the better of them in their regular season matchup, and nothing much changed in this game. Tua Tagovailoa continued their struggles in the cold weather, as the Chiefs secured a 26-7 win in the frigid cold conditions to advance, keeping their hopes to be repeat champions alive. The next day, it was the NFC’s turn. First, the Cowboys played host to the Packers. Dallas was coming into the postseason with Super Bowl aspirations, but they and their fans were in for an unpleasant surprise. Right out the gate, Green Bay came out firing, stunning Dallas with how competitive they were. The Packers led 27-7 at halftime and never looked back, winning 48-32 in a shocking upset, led by three rushing touchdowns by Aaron Jones. In Detroit however, the hometown fans had something to cheer about. It was a highly anticipated matchup between them and the Rams, as Detroit’s Jared Goff and Los Angeles’s Matthew Stafford were both playing their former teams. The game didn’t disappoint, coming down to the wire, but in the end the Lions prevailed, as the 24-23 victory became their first playoff win in 32 years. The first round wrapped up on Monday, firstly with the Bills taking on the Steelers. Furious snowstorms in Buffalo led to the game being postponed from its originally scheduled date, but when the snow cleared the Bills were able to go in and get a 31-17 win, setting up a matchup with Kansas City. Lastly, the NFC South’s champions, theBuccaneers, played host to the defending conference champion Eagles. With Philadelphia reeling after finishing the regular season on a 1-5 streak, Tampa Bay capitalized on the opportunity. Going down early, the Eagles were never able to recover, losing 32-9 to complete a puzzling late season collapse.


Playoffs, Divisional Playoff:

The field of teams had now narrowed to eight, and each squad remaining was feeling good about their chances. However, some executed on the field noticeably better than others. In Baltimore, the Ravens began their playoff run against the upstart Texans. It didn’t take long though before they asserted their dominance, rolling to a 34-10 defeat of Houston. The win would send them to their first Conference Championship game since 2012. That same day, a team in the NFC would punch their own ticket to the next round. Fresh off of their upset win in Dallas, Green Bay was confident despite being big underdogs again against San Francisco. To the 49ers dismay, the Packers were able to keep this game close. However, a late touchdown from Christain McCaffrey put the Niners up for good, and an interception on Green Bay’s final drive sealed things. San Francisco won 24-21, and were headed back to the NFC Conference Championship for the third straight year. On Sunday, their opponents would be decided. Both the Lions and Buccaneers were coming into their matchups with a lot of momentum, and it showed. The teams were trading scores all game, but in the end, Jared Goff’s two touchdown passes were enough to secure another win for Detroit in front of their home fans. The 31-23 win sent the Lions to the Conference Championship for just the second time in franchise history. Then, the round concluded with perhaps the most anticipated game of the four. The Bills and Chiefs were familiar opponents at this point, having faced off in several thrilling playoff games over recent years. Fans were hoping for more of the same. While this game marked the first road playoff match ever for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, it did not seem to make him lose a step at all. Kansas City and Buffalo kept pace with each other the whole game, but a missed field goal in the fourth quarter that would’ve tied the game flipped things on its head for the Bills. When it was all said and done, the dynamic duo of Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce (two touchdowns in the game) could not be outmatched. The Chiefs won 27-24, returning to the Conference Championship for the sixth straight season.


Playoffs, Conference Championships:


And then, there were four. These two games would determine who was headed to Vegas to compete in Super Bowl LVIII, and every competing team was dreaming of the possibility of a Super Bowl win. For the Lions, it would be their first ever. For the 49ers, their first since the 90’s. For the Ravens, their first in over a decade. And for the Chiefs, they were trying to make it two in a row. But first, the world champion hopefuls had to get there. First off, the AFC finalists took the field. Kansas City got out to a hot start, leading 17-7 at halftime. However, a slow second half for them offensively gave the Ravens the chance they needed. Still down 10 in the fourth, Baltimore was marching down the field but suffered a backbreaking fumble by Zay Flowers as he was diving for the score, just feet from the endzone. The Ravens never recovered, Lamar Jackson’s late interception sealing things, and with the 17-10 win, the Chiefs were headed back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years. The only remaining question: who were they to play? In the NFC Championship game, it was to be decided. Fueled by the chance of reaching the big game for the first time ever, the Lions came out the gates hot. All of a sudden, Detroit led 24-7 at halftime, and it looked like they could pull off a victory. But the 49ers didn’t go away. Taking advantage of mistakes, San Francisco fought all the way back to take the lead, and when Detroit’s efforts to get back in control fell short, the Niners took a knee to seal a 34-31 win and a return to the Super Bowl. Now the only thing in their way from immortality was a familiar foe: the Chiefs. 


Super Bowl LVIII:

The 49ers and Chiefs were no strangers to each other. They had faced off in this same scenario just five seasons prior, in 2019’s Super Bowl LIV, a game in which the Chiefs won to give Patrick Mahomes his first title. The Niners were thirsty for a comeback. After a long two week wait, the two squads met at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on February 11, 2024, to decide once and for all who would reign supreme this season. The 49ers began the game with a statement drive, but a fumble in enemy territory by Christian McCaffery turned around the momentum quickly. However, this would not be the only mistake in the first half. Both teams struggled to put points on the board, and missed opportunities happened left and right. The only touchdown of the first half came late in the second quarter, as Christian McCaffrey scored on a trick play throw from wide receiver Jauan Jennings, and San Francisco led 10-3 at the break. One Usher halftime show later, the game resumed and both teams were determined to clean up their sloppy first half play. Kansas City jumped into their first lead of the game off of a touchdown pass to Marques Valdes-Scantling in the third, and they led 13-10 going into the final quarter. The Niners soon responded, as quarterback Brock Purdy, only the third player picked last in the draft to appear in a Super Bowl, connected with Jennings for a touchdown. However, a blocked extra point kept it a three point game. After the teams traded field goals, Kansas City found themselves down 19-16 in the final minutes, needing a score to stay alive. Working his magic, Mahomes took his offense all the way down the field. Although San Francisco was able to keep them out of the endzone, Kansas City still got a field goal in as the clock ticked towards triple zeroes, sending the Super Bowl to overtime for just the second time ever. Under the new overtime rules for the playoffs, both teams would get a chance to score a touchdown, but San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan made the controversial decision to get the ball first. Purdy and the offense were only able to get three points, and the rest is history. Picking the defense apart on an impressive drive that included a clutch fourth down conversion, Mahomes eventually connected with Mecole Hardman for the three yard touchdown, and with the 25-22 victory, the Chiefs were the world champions yet again. As confetti rained down on now three time champion and MVP Mahomes, and his team, the back to back champions reveled in their victory. Another incredible NFL season had ended with a thrilling Super Bowl victory.


But what will happen next year? Will Kansas City pull off a three-peat? Or will the 49ers or some other team rise up to get their revenge? Whatever happens, the road to get there is sure to be as entertaining and intriguing as the one we saw this time around.

Story continues below advertisement
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Jackson Gillies
Jackson Gillies, Sports Editor
Hi everyone, I’m Jackson, and this year I’ll be Sports Editor for the Golden Arrow! I’m so excited for what will be my third year in the journalism program, and will continue to be a writer alongside my editor responsibilities. I look forward to using my articles to spotlight communities from all around campus and give everyone an opportunity to share their talents and stories with us all. Can’t wait to get started!
Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu, Features B Editor
Hey Warriors! My name is Lucy Liu and I'm really excited to serve as the Features B editor and staff illustrator. This is my third and last year in Golden Arrow, and I hope to wrap it up with more professional stories and creative illustrations. In my free time, I also love painting, video production, running, and competing in MUN. I hope you can enjoy our stories and find your voices represented in our issues.