Another year, another calendar filled with thrills, spills and a whole lot of touchdowns.
The arrival of September means one thing: the NFL is back.
The next generation of college athletes has found new professional homes through the annual player draft, with each team aiming for the perfect mix of youth and experience. The preseason is over; it’s time for the games that matter to begin.
And we’re in for a thrilling ride.
How to watch
The 2023 NFL season begins on Thursday, September 7, with the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Detroit Lions.
Kick-off for the opening game of the season begins at 8:20 p.m. ET from Arrowhead Stadium.
In the United States, coverage of games all season will be shown on the NFL’s ‘NFL+’ platform, with games also being shown on ESPN, FOX, NBC and CBS across the year.
Fans outside of the US can also follow the action via the NFL’s Game Pass on DAZN.
After an offseason of trades, signings and the draft, some teams look a lot different than they did 12 months ago.
Not only have the best teams tried to cement their place at the top, but those below have made strides to try and catch up.
When it comes to looking at the teams in contention, the list begins with the reigning champions, the Chiefs.
Coming off a second Super Bowl victory in four seasons, Kansas City will once again prove a tough opponent to crack behind the combination of creative head coach Andy Reid and an elite offense led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.
While the team has lost some key contributors from their championship-winning team – most notably tackle Orlando Brown Jr., defensive end Frank Clark and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy – another title push looks likely from Mahomes and company as they seek to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.
The Chiefs’ opponents in Super Bowl LVII, the Philadelphia Eagles, will be favored this season too.
Despite also suffering key losses to their depth, some savvy pick ups in the draft – most notably, Georgia star Jalen Carter – and the continued growth of Jalen Hurts is what Philadelphia fans hope will springboard them to success once again.
Elsewhere in the National Football Conference (NFC), last season’s revelation Brock Purdy – drafted with the final pick of the 2022 draft before leading the San Francisco 49ers to the brink of the Super Bowl – has made an incredible rise in his short career, going from being dubbed ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ as the last pick of the draft to being named the team’s starting quarterback.
Purdy beat out competition from 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance to earn his starting position with Lance eventually being traded to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys themselves look strong once again, but face stiff competition in their division alongside the Eagles, the New York Giants and the Washington Commanders.
In the American Football Conference (AFC), there are a host of superstar teams waiting to capitalize on any slip ups from the Chiefs.
The Buffalo Bills – with safety Damar Hamlin set to make an emotional return to regular season NFL football after suffering cardiac arrest in January during a game – the Aaron Rodgers-led New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers all have aspirations of deep playoff runs.
On the topic of Rodgers, the veteran was the subject of the biggest move this offseason. The NFL’s four-time most valuable player was traded away from the Green Bay Packers, the team which drafted him 18 years ago, to the Jets and will be hoping to shine after heading to pastures new.
First year on the big stage
Outside of the established stars in the NFL, there is a class of rookies all looking to make a name for themselves in the pinnacle of the sport as they make the step up to the big leagues.
Three quarterbacks were drafted in the first four picks of this year’s draft – No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young by the Carolina Panthers, CJ Stroud by the Houston Texans and Anthony Richardson by the Indianapolis Colts – and all have been named their respective squad’s starter.
While all three of their teams have low ambitions this year, any potential glimpse of growth during their rookie seasons will fill their fans and coaches with anticipation and hope for the years to come.
Outside of the quarterbacks, arguably the prospect with the highest bar in many people’s eyes is University of Texas star Bijan Robinson who was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the eighth overall pick.
The running back has been tipped to be an all-time great in the years to come and, with a team which was already successful at running the ball last year, could be in line for an excellent debut NFL season.
On the defensive side of the ball, Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson, Devon Witherspoon, Lukas Van Ness and the aforementioned Jalen Carter, were all drafted high in the first round and could be in line to have immediate impacts.
With 18 weeks of the regular season to come, fans will have plenty to talk about, plays to marvel over and dreams of lifting the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy on February 11, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Who do you have winning it all in Super Bowl LVIII?