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NFL Week 1: Injuries impact many AFC playoff contenders

Aaron Rodgers is believed to have torn his Achilles as the latest major AFC injury

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Danielle Parhizkaran / / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK

When the 2023 NFL offseason finally stopped spinning, the talent balance between the AFC and the NFC seemed to be stark. Most would identify just two Super Bowl contenders from the NFC (Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers) but a myriad of AFC contenders made that same list.

For the Cleveland Browns, being good was assumed to not be good enough given the depth of the AFC North and the conference as a whole.

It would be quicker, but less informative, to list the AFC teams that were not identified as realistic playoff contenders before the start of the season. The one that were, listed by division, is a vast majority:

While there are tiers to that group, only seven of those teams could actually make the playoffs.

Injuries in Week 1, highlighted by Jets QB Aaron Rodgers likely being out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, have impacted a number of those teams:

  • Jets - Rodgers
  • Browns - Lost RT Jack Conklin for the season
  • Ravens - Lost RB JK Dobbins for the year, safety Marcus Williams “for a while” with a pec injury, OL Ronnie Stanley (knee) and OL Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) could miss a couple of games
  • Steelers - DL Cam Heyward will miss several games with a groin injury. A number of other players left their Week 1 game but we don’t have more information on just yet: Starting offensive linemen Chuks Okorafor (concussion protocol) and James Daniels (undisclosed, in walking boot), DL DeMarvin Leal (triceps), WR Diontae Johnson (hamstring) TE Pat Preiermuth (chest), WR Miles Boyken (undisclosed, in walking boot)


  • Chargers - RB Austin Ekeler has an injured ankle, severity unknown

Obviously, the season-long injuries to Rodgers, Conklin and Dobbins are the biggest stories but the sheer number of injuries for the Ravens and Steelers is also highly impactful.

Not included on the list is Bengals QB Joe Burrow who did not get injured or reinjured according to any reports but we saw his calf getting stretched and worked on while on the sidelines Sunday.

Every year the NFL provides surprises that no one expected. Every year injuries play a huge role in the outcome of seasons.

Already in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season, we have surprises and injuries that could dramatically impact the AFC North competition and AFC playoff race. Who knows what Week 2 will bring?

Besides Rodgers’, what Week 1 injury do you think will have the biggest impact on the AFC playoff race?