When Week 9 concludes, the NFL will reach its 2023 season midpoint.
Two of the top teams in the AFC will square off in Europe, and the Philadelphia Eagles hope to gain a bigger advantage in the NFC playoff race as they host the rival Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon.
There are plenty of two-loss and three-loss teams that need a victory to improve their hopes of making the postseason too.
Read below for the interesting notes going into the weekend.
All eyes on Germany
There is a lot of intrigue in the matchup between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Aside from the teams being among the best in the NFL, Tyreek Hill goes up against his former team with which he won his first Super Bowl ring.
It’s also the second time the NFL has hosted a game in Germany. While some players may not like traveling to and from the East Coast and Europe, fans will flock to Frankfurt Stadium and pack the house for the showdown. The game will kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET and can be seen on NFL Network.
More history for KC
The Chiefs are playing to win, but there will be more on the line when the two teams play.
Patrick Mahomes could move up the list for most games with at least two touchdown passes by a player in his first seven NFL seasons should he toss two touchdowns. Mahomes would tie Peyton Manning for accomplishing that feat in 64 games. Dan Marino has the record at 65 games.
Mahomes and Travis Kelce could tie Drew Bree and Jimmy Graham for third-most regular-season touchdowns by a quarterback and tight end combo. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have the record with 90.
Winning means everything
There are 13 teams entering Week 9 with two or three losses on the season. Three of the teams are on bye weeks, which means 10 will be vying for big wins. NFL Research broke down the possibility of teams with two or three losses making the playoffs through the ninth week of the season.
About 84% of teams with two losses through Week 9 made the playoffs since 1990. About 63% of teams made the playoffs with three wins through Week 9. Those who pick up the fourth loss of the season through Week 9 only have a 33% of making the playoffs.
It is a crucial week for a lot of teams.
Damar Hamlin returns to Cincy
The Buffalo Bills will play the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night in what will be an emotional return for everyone. Damar Hamlin is expected to be with the Bills as they head to Cincinnati.
It will be his first time back to the stadium since his cardiac arrest in January at the end of the 2022 season.
“I don’t know what to expect,” he acknowledged this week, according the New York Post. “You know, this is unique to me as well. All I know is I’m walking in with courage, I’m walking in with strength and I’m walking in with my brothers. You know, and I’m walking in with my mom, my dad, my family. And I’m walking into, you know, an environment of people that supported me the entire time.
“It’s a lot of love. I can’t wait to receive it and give it and show my gratitude, but ultimately we’re going up there to get a win.”
Will L-Jax’s dominance continue?
Lamar Jackson winced at the notion he was 17-1 against NFC opponents in his career.
“It’s not about NFC or AFC,” Jackson told reporters. “I’m trying to win regardless. I don’t even want to put that in my head or let you finish that question. We’re good.”
Baltimore hosts the Seattle Seahawks this weekend. Both teams are on top of their respective divisions. But it definitely won’t be an easy game for Jackson. Seattle is 11th in points allowed and 16th in yards allowed. The team also acquired Leonard Williams from the New York Giants before the trade deadline.
It will be interesting to see whether Jackson will be able to continue his dominance over the NFC.
Vikings find a silver lining
It’s been a tough season for the Minnesota Vikings as they look to navigate the road ahead without Kirk Cousins. Justin Jefferson is also out, which means — at least in Week 9 — the offense will run through Jaran Hall and Jordan Addison.
Addison has been a great complement to Jefferson and his numbers show it. He has 36 catches for 482 yards and seven touchdowns. With a touchdown catch Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, Addison will become the first player since 1982 to record at least eight touchdown catches in his first nine games.
NFL Research says he would be the seventh player in history to do it.
Rookie turns heads
Puka Nacua came on strong in the beginning of the year with the Los Angeles Rams. While some of the attention may have dipped, he’s still moving up the rankings among first-year players.
Nacua could surpass Saquon Barkley for the most receptions by a player in his first nine games in the NFL and potentially surpass Marques Colston for the most receiving yards by a player in his first nine games.
Nacua enters Week 9 with 61 catches for 795 yards. He is one catch behind Barkley and 74 yards behind Colston.
There are four teams who have a bye week this week — the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars.