Skip to main content
New York Giants Website

Giants News | New York Giants –

Cover 4

Presented by

Cover 4: What the 2023 NFL season can tell us about 2024


In the wake of Super Bowl LVIII, the crew discusses big-picture takeaways from the 2023 NFL season:

John Schmeelk: As I watched the Super Bowl (and the NFL postseason as a whole), two distinct but interconnected things struck me. It is incredibly hard to win a Super Bowl because of the way a team has to be able to put the big and small things together in the most important moments in order to hold the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year. The Chiefs did so many small things right, but they wouldn't have mattered if the big things weren't in place to put them in the position to be playing in a game like this.

The macro part of this usually begins with the front office, which has to put the right head coach (who puts in the right staff) and quarterback in place to make the team competitive. Then there has to be enough players around them to be able to make special plays and win 1-on-1. We saw that with Travis Kelce on offense, and players like Chris Jones and Trent McDuffie on defense in Super Bowl LVIII. Special players make special plays against superior competition to win titles. These things are non-negotiable. Without them a team isn't winning a Super Bowl. Without Kelce beating Fred Warner 1-on-1 on that key crossing pattern or Jones constantly pressuring Brock Purdy so he missed open receivers, the Chiefs do not win that game and probably don't even get there.

The micro stuff is trickier, and these are the things that often hold back the teams like the 49ers that have the requisite talent to win a Super Bowl from hoisting that trophy. Do players elevate their game in big spots? Patrick Mahomes constantly does and so did Eli Manning. Does the team avoid critical mistakes in all three phases, such as fumbles on punts and in the red zone? The Giants rarely turned it over during their Super Bowl runs. Can a team stay healthy and avoid injuries like the 49ers suffered with Dre Greenlaw and Deebo Samuel? Does the head coach make the correct game management decisions late in games? Does a team avoid critical penalties?

Once a team has the talent to be in these games, can they execute the little things that allows them to win critical games against other teams with similar talent? The 49ers failed some of those criteria, some of which were just grounded in luck, in the Super Bowl. There isn't a huge gulf separating those two teams, just some levels of execution, and more importantly the presence of a special player like Mahomes to tip the scales just enough towards Kansas City.

Dan Salomone: Football is simple, but it is hard. Hold onto the ball. Make an extra point. Everyone be aware of postseason overtime rules. The signature of the Patriots dynasty was situational football, and now the Chiefs have taken the baton. Like Schmeelk said, you need the cornerstone pieces to put yourself in position, but winning it all comes down to doing the small things. Another characteristic of New England's run was adaptability. The best offense ever assembled in the history of football didn't even the title – thanks to a certain team. It's about playing to your strengths week to week and season to season.

"People [are] going to talk about the offense [because] we had those last few drives, [but] the defense is what kept us in that game," Patrick Mahomes said after Super Bowl LVIII. "That's our entire season. They're going to give us chances, and we're going to make it happen when it counts."

NFL Honors is a primetime awards special that recognizes the NFL's best players, performances and plays from the season. It also features the announcement of the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award leading up to the Super Bowl.

Lance Medow: The Kansas City Chiefs have reached the Super Bowl four times in the last five seasons and won three Lombardi Trophies. In the salary cap era, that's unheard of because there's only one other franchise that can boast the same achievement and that's the Patriots. So how does a team that has to deal with the same financial challenges as the 31 other franchises maintain a level of consistency? The easy answer is having a dynamic franchise quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, but there's several other layers to examine starting with the overall evolution of the team.

The Chiefs' offense averaged just over 29 points per game in 2022. That number dipped to just over 21 in 2023. That's a difference of more than a touchdown. Not exactly a subtle change. Kansas City wasn't nearly as explosive as it was a year ago, and the team led the NFL in dropped passes. When you take those two developments into consideration, the fact that Andy Reid and company even reached the big game is impressive. The offense was much more methodical this season and not nearly as aggressive. That approach helped them offset the lack of consistent big bombs down the field.

Another element in play is the strength of other facets. Steve Spagnuolo's unit finished with the No. 2 scoring defense in the league, allowing just over 17 points per game. Including the postseason (21 total games), Kansas City opponents only surpassed 25 points once in 2023 (Packers reached 27 in Week 13) and none reached 30. Based on that track record, Reid was able to hang his hat on the defense and didn't have to be ultra-aggressive on offense because he knew, more often than not, the other side of the ball would come through. Case in point, in four playoff games, the Chiefs surrendered only 22 second-half points. Add in kicker Harrison Butker drilling 44 of his 46 field goal attempts (96%), including all seven from 50+ yards out between the regular season and playoffs, and you have a balanced team.

Having Patrick Mahomes is a great luxury, but you can't tell the Chiefs' 2023 story without that defense and special teams unit.

Matt Citak: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have established themselves as the next dynasty after Tom Brady's Patriots, which is not something we see often in the NFL. Instead, I'm going to focus on an area that the three teams that came closest to taking down the Chiefs all have in common. When looking at the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions in 2023, all three teams found success running the football. The Ravens led the league in rushing with 156.5 yards per game, while the 49ers finished third and Lions ranked fifth. In fact, among the eight teams that led the league in rushing this past season, six of them qualified for the playoffs. The numbers become even more eye-opening when looking at the top 15 rushing teams this past year, as 11 of the 15 made the postseason. While the Chiefs were one of the three playoff teams to not finish in the top 15 in rushing, they likely would have had it not been for starting running back Isiah Pacheco missing three games due to an injury. And again, it's easy to offset a weaker rushing attack when you have a quarterback like Mahomes under center.

The point that I'm getting at is a strong run game helps open up the entire offense, which leads to more overall success for the unit. Look no further than the Giants' 2022 campaign as evidence of this argument. The Giants finished fourth in rushing that season in addition to fourth in rushing touchdowns and fifth in rushing yards per attempt. The result was a trip to the playoffs and the franchise's first postseason victory since Super Bowl XLVI. This past season, the Giants fell to 16th in rushing and their record dropped to 6-11.

While a strong rushing attack does not cure everything, it certainly goes a long way in helping lift the entire team. Being able to run the ball with success not only helps an offense sustain long drives, but it also gives your own defense more time to rest on the sideline, and in turn keeps your opponents' star offensive players off the field. Christian McCaffrey had just two total rush attempts in the third quarter as Mahomes helped the Chiefs turn a 10-3 deficit into a 13-10 lead. Now a successful team obviously must do more than only run the football well, but getting that area solidified first provides a strong foundation to build upon.


2024 Season Tickets Now Available

Related Content