The 2023 NFL season is well underway at this point, and after five gameweeks the usual suspects are rising to the fore. The reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs currently have the best record in the AFC, racking up four victories against just one defeat so far this term. They came from behind at Super Bowl LVII back in February to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles and claim their second Lombardi in four seasons.

In recent years, the AFC has been the conference to be feared. The aforementioned Chiefs as well as the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals have all become powerhouses in recent campaigns. However, this term, it looks as though the NFC may well have turned the tide.

Top Heavy NFC

The recently vanquished Eagles are already 5-0 in 2023 and a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance looks likely. However, the San Francisco 49ers are also a perfect 5-0 this term and they are without the quarterback problems which curtailed their hopes last season. Former Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy has firmly established himself as one of the finest quarterbacks in the league and if the Levi’s Stadium outfit can keep him fit and firing, they may very well meet the Eagles in the NFC Championship game for the second consecutive campaign.

The bookies have certainly taken note of both teams’ impressive start to the new season. Their impressive start to the campaign has triggered websites that provide NFL lines online to install the 49ers as the +325 favorites for the Lombardi this season. They are closely followed by the Chiefs (+500) and the Eagles (+750).

But while those three heavyweights are firing on all cylinders, numerous protagonists in recent years are faltering. Let’s take a look at some of the most surprising results so far this season.

The Fall of the Bengals

In recent years, the Cincinnati Bengals have been regular staples in the parlays of punters across the country. They have reached back-to-back AFC Conference Championship games, winning the first of them and going on to feature in their first Super Bowl in 33 years in the process. Joe Burrow has established himself as perhaps the second-best quarterback in the league behind Patrick Mahomes and the Ohio-based outfit was expected to impress once more this term.

Unfortunately for punters loading up on Cincy though, they have had a disastrous start to the new season. The first shocking result came on the opening day of the season when they were thumped by the lowly Cleveland Browns 24-3. The Browns are one of the weakest teams in the entire league and have reached the playoffs just twice since 1994 however, they managed to restrict Burrow to just 82 throwing yards en route to a shocking upset.

It looked as though the Bengals had recovered somewhat when they picked up their first victory of the season at home to the Los Angeles Rams on gameweek three. They then headed to the Tennessee Titans and were once again heavily favored for victory. However, they were also once again routed at the hands of their unheralded opponents, succumbing to a stunning 27-3 defeat.

Bills Fail to Defeat Jets Despite A-Rod Injury

Throughout the close season, the talk of the entire league was Aaron Rodgers and his blockbuster trade from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets. Many had expected him to catapult the MetLife Stadium outfit into genuine championship contenders however, his season ended just six minutes into his debut against the Buffalo Bills. That left them ripe for the picking and in Josh Allen, the Bills had just the quarterback to take full advantage.

As the game progressed, however, it became clear that the visitors were misfiring despite the absent A-Rod. Incoming quarterback Zack Wilson was hardly impressive however, he did just enough to keep his side in the contest, and eventually, they ended up prevailing 22-16. The owners of this bar in Wisconsin were happy anyway, they were offering to pay everyone’s tabs had the Bills won. At least someone was.

Texans Stun Jaguars in Jacksonville

The Houston Texans stole the show at this year’s NFL draft. They brought in a new franchise quarterback in the form of CJ Stroud, drafting him second overall. They then made headlines as they negotiated a trade with the Arizona Cardinals to secure the third overall pick as well, using it to bring in linebacker Will Anderson Jr. But their new draftees struggled to gel.

Last term, the Texans picked up just three wins all season, tied for worst in the league alongside the Chicago Bears. They continued in the same vein this season as they lost at the Baltimore Ravens and at home to a weak Indianapolis Colts side. They headed to a Jacksonville Jaguars side on gameweek three that won the AFC South last season and is heavily favored to repeat the feat once more this term.

As such, it was unsurprising that the hosts were -270 favorites to handily defeat their opponents. But much to the shock of everyone, it was the visitors who dominated proceedings and their new franchise quarterback showing exactly what he could offer. Stroud threw for 280 yards including two touchdowns, while former Bills running back Devin Singletary also racked up 41 yards from nine carries on the ground in a 37-17 victory.