After a long NFL season, it is always interesting to look back on the outcomes that no one saw coming and the 2022-23 season did not disappoint. Here are 10 NFL results that make no sense in hindsight, listed in chronological order:
Week 2: Cowboys defeat Bengals, 20-17
Dallas trotted out Cooper Rush as the starting quarterback to replace an injured Dak Prescott in Week 2. Behind a strong rushing attack and wide receiver Noah Brown, the Cowboys jumped out to a 17-3 first half lead. Joe Burrow was tormented the first half as Micah Parsons took up residence in Cincinnati's backfield. The Bengals clawed back to tie the game before a Brett Maher 50-yard field goal secured the first of four consecutive victories in games started by Rush. If any of Cincinnati's three field goal drives to start the game had been converted into a touchdown, the outcome could have been different.
Week 3: Colts defeat Chiefs, 20-17
Hindsight requires a bit of perspective. At this stage of the season, most were expecting Matt Ryan to eventually knock off the rust with his new team. The Colts marched downfield on the first possession and scored the game's first touchdown. Kansas City responded and actually held a lead for most of the game. It was a series of unlikely events that would turn this game upside down for the Chiefs. On a 3rd-and-11 to begin the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes found wide receiver Justin Watson beyond the sticks for what would have been a first down, but it was dropped. Kansas City set up for a field goal on fourth down, but faked it and were stopped short. A missed 34-yard field goal attempt from Matt Ammendola proved to be the difference as Indianapolis tight end Jelani Woods hauled in his second touchdown of the game with 24 seconds remaining.
It's safe to say the Indianapolis franchise has changed a lot since this result.
Week 3: Broncos defeat 49ers, 10-11
San Francisco was its own worst enemy in this contest as unforced errors were costly. Jimmy Garoppolo had a fumbled snap under center and later threw an interception to Deebo Samuel off his back foot into triple coverage. The quarterback also ran out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety. Some vintage Russell Wilson plays were on display as he was able to make big ones.
Week 6: Falcons defeat 49ers, 28-14
Atlanta jumped out to a 14-0 lead over San Francisco on after a fumble by Jeff Wilson Jr. was returned for a touchdown -- though it actually looked like his knee was down. Early in the second half, Garoppolo targeted wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III with nothing but green grass in front of him. The pass was dropped and it remained a one-score game. The Falcons tacked on another touchdown late as Marcus Mariota completed his first 13 pass attempts in a conservative attack, as the 49ers entered the game with a laundry list of injuries.
Week 7: Bears defeat Patriots, 33-14
Chicago won two of its first three games and some were starting to question whether or not they had underestimated first-year head coach Matt Eberflus' squad. The matchup with New England is the last that the Bears would win this season.
The Patriots did not register a first down until late in the first quarter when Chicago was already ahead 10-0. Rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe was responsible for three turnovers. Chicago rushed for 243 yards on 45 carries; New England had no answer for the ground attack. The Bears actually fumbled five times but lost none of them, a sign luck was on their side.
Week 8: Browns defeat Bengals, 32-13
On Halloween night, Myles Garrett arrived at the stadium dressed as Vecna from the Netflix series 'Stranger Things.' He and the Browns pass rush proceeded to haunt Joe Burrow all night to the tune of five sacks.
The score was more surprising than the actual outcome. Coming into the game, Cleveland had won the last four against its division rival. Both teams struggled to score early but the Browns double-dipped on the final possession of the first half and the first possession of the second half to build an 18-point lead. Cincinnati was able to move the ball but the Browns defense would come up with a big defensive play, like an A.J. Green interception or a Sione Takitaki strip sack, to stop it short of the goal line. Each of Burrow's touchdown passes occurred in the fourth quarter when the game was already in hand. Meanwhile, Nick Chubb was leaping defenders and running 20 mph around the corner to produce big gains.
Week 9: Jets defeat Bills, 20-17
The Jets were feisty this season, particularly on defense, but when you hear that a team led by Zach Wilson defeated a team led by Josh Allen, that is considered surprising. Buffalo started on a high note with Allen finding Stefon Diggs for a big gain up the boundary. But Allen followed that up with one of the worst interceptions one will see this season. The Bills held a 14-3 lead more than halfway through the second quarter. It was an odd scene all around as a camera malfunction delayed the game.
A pass intended for C.J. Uzomah popped up into the air and miraculously the Jets were able to retain possession. Unforced errors were the issue all afternoon as Allen threw a second uncharacteristically bad interception to Sauce Gardner and Buffalo sent a kickoff out of bounds in the fourth quarter.
Week 11: Cowboys defeat Vikings, 40-3
On the surface, few would have been surprised that Dallas knocked off Minnesota despite the Vikings carrying an 8-1 record into this contest. The margin of victory is what caught attention. The Vikings have been criticized for having a 13-4 record AND a -3 point differential on the year. When there is a lopsided affair, like the one at U.S. Bank Stadium in November, that is going to skew the numbers unfavorably.
Minnesota had a chance to get momentum on their side early in the second quarter when Za'Darius Smith had Dak Prescott dead to rights in the shadow of their own goal line, but Prescott slipped free and actually gained yards on the play. Dallas had a fumble on the same drive but recovered and eventually kicked a field goal. Running back Tony Pollard delivered a few big plays and the defense sacked Kirk Cousins seven times as their lead continued to snowball. The Cowboys had 151 rushing yards and 115 of those came after initial contact.
Week 13: Lions defeat Jaguars, 40-14
These two teams were relatively even matched in terms of record but Detroit unleashed an offensive onslaught. They scored on each of their seven full possessions en route to delivering Jacksonville its 20th consecutive NFC loss. The Jaguars would eventually find themselves in the postseason while Detroit fell shy. Jared Goff was sensational during the second half of the season, potentially achieving enough to earn the starting job long-term.
Week 16: Rams defeat Broncos, 51-14
Los Angeles had an unexpected offensive outburst on Christmas Day led by quarterback Baker Mayfield, who had just four incompletions all game, and running back Cam Akers, who produced the Rams' first 100 rushing yard game of the season. Akers would actually do it three consecutive games to end the season.
Sean McVay's team averaged 280.5 offensive yards per game this season, which is the worst in the league. They were averaging 16.4 points per game prior to Week 16 but scored on each of their eight full offensive possessions.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner intercepted and sacked his former teammate of 10 years, Russell Wilson.