The first hours of the new year in the NFL landscape were marred by great elation, spectacular despair, clinching victories and sealing defeats, and, suddenly, great crisis to spectators and individuals alike. In the inaugural weekend of the new year, professional football shattered the inner conscious of all with a display of what horror and violence are present in in this arena competition: Damar Hamlin’s injury, resuscitation, and hospitalization at the beginning of Monday Night Football. Hamlin’s injury was severe, shocking, and so and devastating that it warranted indefinite postponement of an NFL game, something that’s been far off the minds of most, waiting for updates on Hamlin’s health.
As of writing, January 4th, Damar Hamlin is sedated on a ventilator, and is making “promising signs of progress” after suffering cardiac arrest mid-game.
Damar Hamlin’s family releases a statement:— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 3, 2023
“Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us. Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them.” pic.twitter.com/wGNwUEY35T
After the injury, a wellspring of support and thoughts and prayers for Hamlin were aired from enclaves around the sporting world, from Patrick Mahomes to LeBron James, to individuals and spectators across the country. Hamlin’s own GoFundMe page for a toy drive he and Chasing M’s Foundation is organizing in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, has risen to over $6 million worth of donations.
Praying hard.. please be okay man.— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) January 3, 2023
"The safety of players in all sports is always the most important." LeBron James on Damar Hamlin. pic.twitter.com/JUIBIUCHRF— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 3, 2023
If you’d like to donate to Damar’s GoFundMe page personally, you can visit his page here.
While we await further information on Damar Hamlin’s status, the football populace ponders in a piercing silence.
Here’s my personal power rankings entering Week 18 of the NFL Season:
- Buffalo Bills (12-3) (Last Week: 1) - Due to Damar Hamlin’s injury postponing their game versus Cincinnati, Buffalo cannot change position from last week’s rankings.
- San Francisco 49ers (12-4) (Last Week: 4) - Brock Purdy, miraculously, steals the show again in a victory against the Raiders he had to play exceptionally for. At this point, the 49ers are inevitable.
- Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) (Last Week: 3) - Due to Damar Hamlin’s injury postponing their game versus Buffalo, Cincinnati cannot change their position from last week’s rankings.
- Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) (Last Week) - Wouldn’t have expected a scare from Russell Wilson under these circumstances, but the Chiefs proved their mettle and survived the upset, maintaining their race for the #1 seed.
- Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) (Last Week: 2) - Now undergoing their first losing streak of the season, the Gardner Minshew hype popped like a balloon on Sunday after an ugly showing against the Saints.
- Dallas Cowboys (12-4) (Last Week: 6) - The Cowboys victory over…Josh Dobbs…may not come as a surprise, but their season-long dominance on defense now being routinely complimented with a flurry of touchdowns from the hands of Dak Prescott have wiped away all of last year’s harsh sentiments held after a wildcard exit.
- Los Angeles Chargers (10-6) (Last Week: 8) - The Chargers have gotten through the dredges of their schedule with a playoff berth, now victory against their L.A. rival is just desserts.
- Minnesota Vikings (12-4) (Last Week: 7) - Even in a year of profound luck and serendipity for the Vikings, a putrid loss to the Green Bay Packers can make dreams so reachable feel miles away.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) (Last Week: 10) - Jacksonville is all about reinventing themselves this season, which they capped off with a 31-3 dismantling of the Houston Texans, their first victory versus Houston since 2017. While it was a worse showing for Houston than it was a great showing for Jacksonville, it’s the kind of the victory their fans were looking for as they prepare for their winner-take-all matchup against Tennessee next week.
- Detroit Lions (8-8) (Last Week: 12) - While Detroit is still feeling burned from their loss versus Carolina last week, a strong victory against the Bears will put them in good spirits entering their finale versus 8-8 Green Bay. This game could end up deciding the final wildcard spot in the NFC, and Detroit will need ton conquer their demons on defense in they aim to continue their season.
- Baltimore Ravens (10-6) (Last Week: 9) - The Ravens can run the ball, but with Tyler Huntley, scoring become much harder. Wasn’t Lamar Jackson expected to be back, by now?
- New York Giants (9-6-1) (Last Week: 13) - The Giants have had some up and downs to finish this season, but an impressive showing versus Minnesota last week and a strong victory against Indianapolis on Sunday gives them some real juice in preparation for their wildcard game. Good defense and success running the football is paramount to their success, but these past few weeks have showed it’s not exactly easy slowing down the two-headed monster of Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones.
- Green Bay Packers (8-8) (Last Week: 14) - Green Bay has had a disastrous season by their standards, but can still squeeze into the playoffs with a victory over Detroit at Lambeau and some help. Great rushing, blocking, and turnovers have earmarked their comeback, and a 41-17 crushing of Minnesota has the Packers currently looking more like a 12-4 team rather than an 8-8 team.
- Seattle Seahawks (8-8) (Last Week: 16) - Seattle has been on a death spiral for awhile, now, but the Jets have been on a worse one! With the return of Kenneth Walker, Seattle’s offense is now humming at the perfect time. One final victory against the Los Angeles Rams - which won’t be easy - and Geno Smith will officially be a starting quarterback for a playoff team.
- Miami Dolphins (8-8) (Last Week: 11) - It’s full panic time in Miami. What is going on with the offense? The Dolphins have relied on basically chucking the ball up to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle 40+ yards down the field for most of the season, which has worked. To see it flounder so spectacularly due to Tua’s decaying passer rating and the offensive line’s collapse is truly stunning after their abrupt rise to the top of the league. After that big victory over Houston, everything has gone downhill. Coincidence????????
- New England Patriots (8-8) (Last Week: 22) - What a win for New England! The Patriots have looked outright terrible for the past month, but caught a bad Miami team right in time to save their playoff hopes. A victory against Buffalo in the finale is a tall order, but something they certainly appear more capable of after shutting down Miami’s passing offense.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) (Last Week: 17) - Kenny Pickett has already won the hearts of Steelers’ fans everywhere after these dramatic, incomparable, back-to-back last second victories over the Raiders and Ravens, but this Cinderella story still aches to have a few more pages written before the book is closed.
- Las Vegas Raiders (6-10) (Last Week: 19) - I don’t think I would have ever expected one of the best games of the season to be led by Brock Purdy and Jarrett Stidham putting up otherworldly numbers, but here we are. Jarrett Stidham might be the only good thing going for the Raiders, right now, but the offseason may end up working out for them if value can be found in the draft. However, the stage will not be set until the Derek Carr question is answered. Moving on from such a quarterback would be preposterous, but wheeling and dealing is in vogue these days!
- New Orleans Saints (7-9) (Last Week: 21) - New Orleans has been weird all year, but I don’t think we could have ever expected a strong victory against the juggernaut Eagles. The curse of Gardner Minshew returns!
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) (Last Week: 24) - Ew. I know I’m supposed to be excited about the Buccaneers finding their stride just barely enough to win this crappy division, but I would’ve strongly preferred the Carolina Panthers in the playoffs over Tom Brady. Who wouldn’t want Sam Darnold over Tom Brady?
- Carolina Panthers (6-10) (Last Week: 20) - What would’ve been one the most miraculous and unexpected in-season comebacks in recent NFL history comes just barely short as the Panthers couldn’t hold on to another early lead versus Tom Brady. The Panthers have been a fantastic rushing offense for the latter half of the season, and it’ll be very interesting to see how they tackle the offseason questions of quarterbacking.
- New York Jets (7-9) (Last Week: 15) - The Jets pinned all of their hopes on Mike White saving the season, and even though he made valiant efforts in previous weeks, the party finally came crashing down in Seattle. Miami, crumbling in similar fashion, become the perfect opponent for a Jets team encountering turbulence, frantic in their search for clearer skies.
- Cleveland Browns (7-9) (Last Week: 27) - The Browns seem to finally be finding their stride at the bitter end of a disappointing season. Eliminating Washington in such an offensive flurry was quite the surprise, especially for Cleveland fans.
- Washington Commanders (7-8-1) (Last Week: 18) - A disastrous return of Carson Wentz destroys Washington’s chances of making the playoffs. Great defense and season-defining victories amount to nothing as the offense lays up a dud against the eliminated Browns. It felt like Washington was waiting all season to blow it, and they finally did.
- Atlanta Falcons (6-10) (Last Week: 25) - Desmond Ridder gets his first victory in an ugly game of field goals against the Davis ahem David Blough Cardinals. The Falcons were borderline playoff contenders for much of the season, but hit the ground hard in November and never rebounded. Another opportunity to rebuild on a stronger-than-expected foundation, but 2023 will be the year of judgement for Arthur Smith. The door that opens to Free Agency 2023 glistens in a hallway that seemed to grow longer and longer as the season drew to a close.
- Tennessee Titans (7-9) (Last Week: 23) - Can you believe this collapse? Tennessee has appeared like fool’s gold for most of the season, but Derrick Henry and their defense have provided enough security that being a playoff contender was universally assumed at the beginning of the season. After a comfortable victory against Green Bay on Thursday night to go 7-3, that looked all but guaranteed again. But, 6 games into a losing streak later, and they look farther away from a playoff spot as any team still in the running. If there were ever a moment to spoil Jacksonville’s glee, this would be it.
- Los Angeles Rams (5-11) (Last Week: 26) - Even though they’ve been playing better to finish the season, they’re still more than capable of leaving up stinkers against great competition. Is this the year the other L.A. team climbs to the highest point in the sport? Cam Akers’ resurgence offers a glimpse into another star-studded cast for McVay’s rushing offense, this time with guards and tackles headlining the 2023 season newcomers.
- Chicago Bears (3-13) (Last Week: 28) - The Chicago Bears are really bad on defense, and their success next year will rely primarily on their actions in the offseason to improve that side of the ball. Without Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith, their ability to defend the first 10 yards past the line of scrimmage cratered. Finding their next long-term linebackers and pass-rushers this upcoming offseason will make them one of the most interesting teams to follow in the first half of 2023.
- Denver Broncos (4-12) (Last Week: 32) - Arguably Russell Wilson’s first “good” game for the Broncos gets them over the 20-point mark for the third time in four games. But, with new ownership looking for a new coaching staff and potentially even hitting the reset button, how much does this late-season improvement really mean?
- Arizona Cardinals (4-12) (Last Week: 31) - Arizona, along with Denver, are two of the most viscerally disappointing teams of the 2022 season. Both entered with Super Bowl aspirations, but ended the season with less than 5 wins. Both Arizona and Denver are likely to make big changes this offseason, but most of which will likely entail an even worse season in 2023.
- Indianapolis Colts (4-11-1) (Last Week: 29) - Even though the Cardinals and Broncos have been terrible, the Colts have been a unique, spectacular kind of horrible that you could only expect from the likes of Jim Irsay. The Jeff Saturday experiment is now officially one of the most ridiculous in NFL history, and the Colts will finally be pushed to draft a quarterback with their top 5 pick in the next draft.
- Houston Texans (2-13-1) (Last Week: 30) - Here we are, back at the bottom again! Lovie Smith definitely had some mojo going there for a few weeks with near upset versus Dallas and Kansas City, and then a victory in Tennessee. For nearly a month, Houston finally looked like a decent team. But against Jacksonville, one of the two teams Houston beat this year, everything fell apart once again. C.J. Stroud, here we come!
Next week, the Houston Texans finish their season by flying to Indianapolis to take on the mighty Jeff Saturday Colts. Indianapolis, in the midst of its own terrible, record-breaking losing streak, represent an opponent Houston can handle in their finale. But, with just one loss away from guaranteeing the first overall pick, is it worth it to beat the Colts? Probably!