Heading into Week 5 of the 2023 NFL season there still isn’t a team that’s jumped out ahead of the pack as the clear-cut favorite being head and shoulders above the rest. We always hear the word parity, and we see it even at the top with the best teams. Nobody looks like a world-beater who could reel off eight or nine wins to start the season.
After four weeks, two undefeated teams remain in the league: The Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, who are both 4-0 entering Week 5. However, it’s hard to say either team has been dominant to start the year. Like last season, the Niners have been a much better second-half team thus far. Over the last three games, San Francisco hasn’t allowed more than six second-half points. They’ve been a slow starter, allowing points in the first half and then clamping down after halftime.
It’s been more of a struggle for the Eagles to stay undefeated. In Week 1, Philly escaped Foxboro, beating the Patriots by five points. The following week, they slid past Minnesota with a subpar performance from Jalen Hurts, beating the Vikings 34-28. They were able to handle Tampa Bay fairly easily, although the Eagles did not look incredible in that game, either. Then the Eagles narrowly escaped Washington last week, 34-31. Clearly, it hasn’t been an easy path for the defending NFC Champs.
In the AFC, it’s one big cluster with four 3-1 franchises and seven teams sitting at 2-2. This includes the entire AFC South. The Miami Dolphins were looking dominant offensively until they ran into Buffalo last week and were held to 20 points. That came one week removed from dropping 70 on the Denver Broncos. While the Dolphins are 3-1 and off to a great start, it feels like some of the wind was taken out of their sails in that loss to the Bills.
The Kansas City Chiefs have even looked shaky at times, but after losing to the Detroit Lions on opening night, they have bounced back to win three in a row. Despite not looking like their usual explosive selves in every game thus far, KC still has a target on their backs as defending Super Bowl champions. It’s hard to trust the Bills, especially in January, and the Bengals — Joe Burrow had been dealing with an injured calf — have not looked good this season, sitting at 1-3. Baltimore looks good at 3-1, but they also have a bad loss to Indianapolis on their resume.
In the AFC, it appears the playoff race will be wide-open all season. Over in the NFC, it’s a four-team race (for now) between Philly, SF, Detroit, and Dallas. The Cowboys and Niners face off this week, which could determine a lot moving forward regarding who’s real and who isn’t. Simply put, the Cowboys need to beat the 49ers to be considered true Super Bowl contenders. The Seahawks and Buccaneers also look pretty good early on, but the jury is still out on them for the long run. But Baker Mayfield has been much better than most people (especially me) expected.
Only two teams have yet to join the win column through four weeks: Chicago and Carolina. The Bears are not good. Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” Even for winless teams, there are levels. Chicago looks like the worst team in the NFL by far. It’s not even that close. Folks are already looking ahead to the 2024 draft a month into the season. It’s that bad for the Bears.
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