The 2023 NFL season is in the books – quite memorable, indeed.

It started somewhat like it ended, with the Kansas City Chiefs involved in a low-scoring, but exciting matchup. On a season-opening Thursday night back in September, the Chiefs fell short against the Detroit Lions, but they fixed that in Super Bowl LVIII, where the San Francisco 49ers brought Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Co. to overtime before Mecole Hardman Jr. caught a short touchdown for the victory.

The Chiefs became the NFL’s first back-to-back Super Bowl champions in 19 years.


We’ve come a long way since September. Head coaches have come and gone, including Bill Belichick departing the New England Patriots after 24 seasons. Records have been broken and mouths left agasp. It leads into the always-important NFL offseason for a new set of storylines to replace the old ones.

But for now, here’s the story of the 2023 NFL season in 10 interesting facts (and don’t miss our NFL Advanced Stats Zone):

Rashee Rice to the Rescue

The Chiefs have managed to not just survive but thrive since trading Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in March 2022. Back in September after that loss to the Lions, the narrative was the Chiefs couldn’t repeat as Super Bowl champions, or come anywhere close, if their wide receivers continued to drop the ball.

It took a few weeks, but Rashee Rice, the 55th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, got hot and finished the season with some eye-popping numbers.

Including the playoffs prior to the Super Bowl, Rice had 99 receptions for 1,161 yards. That is the third-most receiving yards by a rookie entering the Super Bowl among rookies to play in football’s biggest game. Only Ja’Marr Chase (1,734 in 2021) and Terry Glenn (1,234 in 1996) had more.

Rice also wound up setting the rookie playoff receptions record with 26.

Ravens Continue to Rely on Lamar Jackson

The AFC was stacked this season with the Buffalo Bills, Dolphins, Chiefs and the sprightly Houston Texans vying for a spot in the Super Bowl, but the Baltimore Ravens emerged as the conference’s No. 1 playoff seed and one of the hot favorites thanks to an NFL MVP season from Lamar Jackson.

The sixth-year quarterback has led the Ravens in passing yards and rushing yards for five straight seasons. No other player has had more than four such seasons at any point in his career.

Jackson (3,678 passing yards and 821 rushing yards) also became the second player to pass for 3,500+ yards and rush for 800+ yards (Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals – 3,971 and 819 in 2020).

Texans Strike Gold with C.J. Stroud

While the Carolina Panthers struggled to a 2-15 season with 2023 No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young as their starter, the Texans made it to the AFC divisional round with their own rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud, the second overall draft pick. They were swiftly dispatched by the Ravens in that playoff game, but it was still a successful season for a team which few expected to win more than a handful of games.

Also first-round quarterbacks, Anthony Richardson (No. 4) got off to a hot start for the Indianapolis Colts before injury ruined his first year in the league and Will Levis took over the Tennessee Titans’ starting spot midway through the season.

But 2023 was the year of Stroud among rookies. He led the NFL in passing yards per game (273.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.60). In the last 50 years, only two other qualifying players have had such a season – Joe Montana in 1989 and Tom Brady in 2007. Montana’s 49ers won the Super Bowl that season, while Brady’s New England Patriots finished their 18-1 season with a Super Bowl loss.

In addition, Stroud (4,108) became the fifth rookie in NFL history with a 4,000+ yard passing season (also: Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston and Justin Herbert). At 22 years old, the Texan is the second-youngest QB to reach 4,000 yards in a season (Winston did it at 21, using ages at the end of the season).

Chiefs in Playoff-Mode

Coach Andy Reid didn’t seem to know, or care, what a sports dynasty meant when asked after his Chiefs winning back-to-back Super Bowls as well as claiming their third title in five years against the 49ers. They were written off during the regular season by many despite finishing 11-6. Many considered the AFC too competitive for the Chiefs, who never seemed to get going in the regular season.

That changed once playoff Pat appeared.

They ran the gauntlet, beating the Miami Dolphins, Bills, Ravens and the Christian McCaffrey- and Brock Purdy-led 49ers in the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs have now won at least one playoff game in each of the last six seasons, matching the Dallas Cowboys for the second-longest streak in NFL history (six from 1991-96). The only longer streak in NFL history is by the Patriots (eight from 2011-18).

A Steely Consistency

Through hail, rain and a lot of snow in Pittsburgh, coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season during his tenure with the franchise. And their consistency goes back to a time before Tomlin stalked the sidelines.

They might have a quarterback controversy brewing given how well Mason Rudolph played in Kenny Pickett’s place, but regardless of who is directing the Steelers offense in 2024, a losing season is not likely.

The Steelers have finished with a .500-or-better record in 20 consecutive seasons, the second-longest all-time (Dallas, 21 from 1965-85).

They finished 10-7 this season, good enough for just third place in the AFC North behind the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns (11-6), but it also wasn’t good enough to get them past the wild-card round.

We told you the AFC was stacked.

The Pack Are Building Something Special

Hot off Aaron Rodgers leaving Green Bay for the New York Jets, quarterback Jordan Love stepped into some exceptionally large shoes under center at Lambeau Field. They fit just right, and along with his surrounding cast, the Packers appear to be team on the rise again – having made it to the playoffs, annihilating the Cowboys in the wild-card round, and losing narrowly to the 49ers in the NFC divisional round.

The Packers had the youngest average roster age this season (among players to appear in at least one game). They are the seventh team in the Super Bowl era to make the postseason as the youngest team in the league, and the first since their franchise’s 2009 squad.


Touchdown City

Coach Dan Campbell and the Lions became the toast of the NFL this season, finishing 12-5 and winning the NFC North for the first time since Barry Sanders wore silver and blue (1993). They also ended one of the longest playoff droughts in NFL history with victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card round, then they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round.

The Lions did all of this thanks in part to an explosive offense. How explosive?

Led by running back David Montgomery’s 13, four different Detroit players scored 10 or more touchdowns – running back Jahmyr Gibbs, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and tight end Sam LaPorta were the others. The only other NFL team to have four or more players with 10 touchdowns in a season was the Denver Broncos with five in 2013.

Lightning Strikes in L.A.

Cooper Kupp struggled through injuries in the 2023 season, missing the Los Angeles’ first four games after a stint on injured reserve and the final game, too. The wide receiver and Super Bowl LVI MVP is 30, and it’s his second injury-ravaged season after missing eight games in 2022.

The Rams ended up losing to the Lions in the playoffs, but they might have found the future of their franchise in wide receiver Puka Nacua, a fifth-round rookie out of BYU, and running back Kyren Williams, a 2022 fifth-rounder.

They hit the ground running in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks and never looked back. Nacua ended the season with 1,575 scrimmage yards and Williams had 1,350 scrimmage yards.

It was the third time in NFL history a team had two players aged 23 and younger (at end of the regular season) gain 1,300 scrimmage yards. The others were the 2018 Steelers and 1985 Browns.

For Nacua, his 1,486 receiving yards on 105 receptions were both NFL rookie records.

Shove It!

The Philadelphia Eagles could not repeat their success from 2022, when they made it to the Super Bowl and almost beat the Chiefs in Phoenix. They lost 32-9 to the Buccaneers in the 2023 NFC wild-card round, but that didn’t stop them from generating one of the most-talked-about plays during the entire season: the Brotherly Shove, the Tush Push, whatever you want to call it, it was incredibly effective.

Mainly as a result of their own take on the quarterback sneak, the Eagles converted a league-high 73.1% (19 of 26) of their fourth-down attempts throughout the season, the highest single-season conversion rate by any team in the last 40 years (minimum 25 attempts).

Better Late Than Never

The Minnesota Vikings’ high-octane offense took some hits this season with injuries to quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Coach Josh McDaniels was fired by the Las Vegas Raiders after a 3-5 start, with Antonio Pierce named as his replacement.

Both teams have a lot of questions on offense to answer in the offseason. Their collective lack of firepower on that side of the ball provided one of the stranger stats of the 2023 NFL season.

The first points of the Vikings at Raiders game on Dec. 10 (Week 14) occurred with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter, marking the second-latest first score of a game during the Super Bowl era. Greg Joseph’s 36-yard field goal stood up as the Vikings won 3-0.

The only later first score happened in 2007, when Pittsburgh made a field goal with 17 seconds left to beat Miami 3-0.

What’s Next?

So, that’s the story of the NFL 2023 season.

What are the storylines we are following heading toward the 2024 season? Plenty.

Who is going to dethrone the Super Bowl champion Chiefs?

The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to rebound after going 9-8 one year after getting to the divisional round and two years removed from playing in the Super Bowl.

All eyes are on the Bears, who have a bounty of NFL Draft picks as they look to improve on a 5-12 record.

Rodgers will surely improve the Jets once his Achilles injury heals, and they hope the pieces fall into place for playoff contention.

The Atlanta Falcons should look different with Arthur Smith out and Raheem Morris in as the coach, and plenty of weapons to make a stir.

Will the Denver Broncos move on from quarterback Russell Wilson, as is widely expected?

Whatever happens, the 2024 season will be fun, and we’ll be right here with all the stats from Week 1 right through the Super Bowl.

US Data Insights Editor Brady Olson of Stats Perform contributed research to this article.

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