Following Week 6 of the NFL season, there had been 74 games within a one-score margin (eight points) in the fourth quarter and 19 games that were won or tied by a team that trailed by 10-or-more points, making the early themes of the 2022-23 season parity and upsets.
With one game left to play in Week 7 when the Chicago Bears take on the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, those themes largely continued over the weekend with multiple games decided by a touchdown or less and a number of favorites, including the Buccaneers, Chargers and Packers, losing to big underdogs. Also, another theme that certainly ties into the previous two seemed to crystalize: the NFL mostly stinks.
Ahead of MNF between the 3-3 Patriots and 2-4 Bears, 19 of the NFL’s 32 teams are at .500 or below on the season. Of those 19, 16 are below .500, including the entire NFC South (Bucs, Saints, Falcons and Panthers). Framed another way, only 13 NFL teams have a winning record. (If the favored Pats knock off Chicago on MNF, the number of NFL teams with winning records will move to 14.)
As a product thus far this season, NFL football appears to have deteriorated compared to prior seasons as there are only seven teams (Bills, Jets, Chiefs, Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Vikings) that have won at least five games and only one that is still undefeated (Philadelphia). That could be looked at as a negative development for the league, and it probably is. But, viewed from the perspective of individual teams, the decreased state of play in the NFL is actually a good thing because it means that it is really still anyone’s game. Even the one-win Lions and Texans still have a shot of sniffing a playoff spot.
There is perhaps no team more representative of the new normal in the NFL than the Seahawks, who were projected to finish last in the NFC West after swapping star quarterback Russell Wilson for Geno Smith this offseason. Instead, after pushing their record to 4-3 with Sunday’s 37-23 win over the Chargers, Seattle is the only team in the division with a winning record.
“Nobody told me that before we started the meetings in there. I would have been going nuts about that,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said when he was informed the team was in first place during his postgame press conference. “That’s fun, too. That’s good. Seven weeks in and look where we are. Who would have thunk it?”
Certainly not us.