The National Football League (NFL) is the most-watched sports league in the United States. Part of the reason for its enjoyment is because of the tradition, fanbase and most importantly, the suspense that comes with it. Every preseason comes with predictions of polls and rankings for every team and player, but most of the time these predictions disintegrate after week one.
Every season, there is a team that unexpectedly starts off hot, and this season, it has been the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles won their first eight games and suffered their first loss against a divisional opponent, the Washington Commanders, in week nine by a score of 32-21.
“The Eagles played the Commanders earlier in the season, against former quarterback Carson Wentz, and beat them,” said freshman Leila Gary. “But after their 8-0 record, they couldn’t seem to pull off the win against them for the second time.”
Fans are blaming the referees for the Eagles’ loss because of numerous missed calls that went in the Commanders favor.
“They missed an obvious face mask call while reviewing a play for a turnover on [Eagles TE] Dallas Goedert,” said junior Jason Shragher.
Refereeing in the league this year has been a controversial topic, as referees can almost single-handedly determine the outcome of a game and impact a team’s future.
“They are very quick to call defensive pass interference in crucial moments of games, and it affects the games more than it seems,” said Shragher.
One-handed catches are starting to become more prevalent and impressive in the 2022 season. Odell Beckham Jr. had the first iconic one-handed catch in NFL history back in 2014; however, Justin Jefferson had a one-handed catch that some say topped that famous catch from eight years ago.
In week 10, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Buffalo Bills in overtime, all thanks to Jefferson’s imaginative catch that set them up for success. On 4th and 18 with his team staring at a loss, Jefferson made a remarkable one-handed catch over Buffalo defensive back Cam Lewis that earned a first down for his team and saved the game. This matchup on Nov. 13 is already being determined as the “Game of the Year” by many analysts.
The quarterback is perhaps the most important player on any football team, as they start every offensive play and are the presumed leader of their team.
Accomplished quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Tom Brady of the Buccaneers have had a shaky start to their seasons. As of week 12, the Packers’ record is 4-8 and the Buccaneers’ is 5-6.
During the offseason, QB Russell Wilson was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos for Drew Lock, Shelby Harris and Noah Fant, Denver’s first- and second-rounders in each of the next two drafts as well as a 2022 fifth-rounder. Wilson has struggled mightily in Denver, with his team sitting at 3-8.
Geno Smith took over as the starter for the Seahawks and has been turning heads with his impressive ability to throw an accurate ball and pull off victories. The Seahawks are strong contenders for the playoffs with Smith as a leader as their record sits at 6-5.
In the past few seasons, the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) East divisions have been known to be a sleeper. However, this year they have been the most competitive divisions top to bottom in the NFL.
The NFC East has a 31-13 combined record, and the AFC East has a combined 29-15 record, making these two divisions have the best combined record in the league.
Both Gary and Shragher believe that the Eagles are going to win the NFC East and the Bills are going to win the AFC East.
The AFC and NFC winners play each other in the Super Bowl, which will be played on Feb. 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.