NFL Early Season Report

Joseph Richuitti, Sports Writer

The 2022 NFL season is well underway as the league heads into Week 6 of 18. Injuries have been trending throughout the league as we look back on the first five weeks of gameplay. 

Six weeks into the season, the five best teams in the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC) divisions have become apparent. At the top of the AFC division are the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, currently holding a 4-1 record, followed by the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, and Tennessee Titans, all with records of 3-2. In the NFC division, the Philadelphia Eagles remain the only undefeated team in the league, with a record of 5-0. The New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, and the Dallas Cowboys also have strong starts, holding a 4-1 record, and to the surprise of many, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have a 3-2 record. 

On the opposite end, five teams in both divisions have been struggling for wins. In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders hold 1-4 records, the Houston Texans a record of 1-3-1, and the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos have records of 2-3. As for the NFC, the Washington Commanders, Detroit Lions, and Carolina Panthers have 1-4 records. The Atlanta Falcons have a record of 2-3.

While the season is only a third of the way through, injuries continue to cause setbacks for teams in both divisions, especially among star players. In the AFC, notable absences include Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde, who is out for the season with a neck injury, and Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, who is out due to a distal bicep injury, although he has a chance to return later in the season. Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tugovailoa sustained a concussion in Week 4 during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Though Tugovailoa has the chance to return later this season, the scary moment during the Sept. 29 game left many fans wondering if he will be the same player upon his return. 

Other AFC injuries include: Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan, out for the season with a right knee injury, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt out with a pectoral injury and the chance to return late in the season, and Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams who tore his ACL, thus ending his season.

As for the NFC, star wide-receiver for the New York Giants Sterling Shepard tore his left ACL and is out for the rest of the season. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance suffered a fibula fracture and a ligament disruption, leaving the 22-year-old athlete out for the rest of the season. In fact, injuries have become rampant on the San Francisco 49ers, with offensive-tackle Trent Williams out with a high-ankle sprain, although he is likely to come back in about a month. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had a right thumb injury that needed surgery to repair but is scheduled to return to the field in a few weeks.

With only 13 weeks left before playoffs begin and the unpredictability of factors such as injuries, it is impossible to tell what team standings will look like. However, it seems this football season in the NFL will have plenty of action for football fans to look forward to.