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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Circulating the Sports Sphere

The Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles can’t be stopped; the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are officially back

Everyone has wondered about the whereabouts of the last two Super Bowl-winning National Football Conference teams. They have officially returned, well to form, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting a 3-1 record of wins to losses, led by star quarterback Baker Mayfield. Meanwhile, although the Los Angeles Rams are 2-3, they have played the most challenging schedule in the league, playing teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Cincinnati Bengals.  

Now that former Rams star wide receiver Van Jefferson has left for the Atlanta Falcons, there is room for young wide receiver Tutu Atwell to thrive in the creative offense constructed by coach Sean McVay. Atwell, who had 24 catches in 279 yards and two touchdowns, will get more opportunities with the first-team team while showcasing his trademark speed, which he showed in his first National Football League season.  

This passing game, however, is not the only strong point of this offense, which is led by star quarterback Matthew Stafford; the running back, Kyren Williams, is also a rising star. The former Notre Dame Fighting Irish player took 77 carries for 300 yards and five touchdowns, as well as caught 13 passes. He single-handedly elevated the backfield for the Rams as soon as running back Cam Akers was traded to Minnesota Vikings.  

On the defensive side, some Rams names to look out for are linebacker Byron Young, safety John Johnson III, cornerback Jordan Fuller, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, cornerback Derion Kendrick, and cornerback Akhello Witherspoon, who is the team’s best defensive player by far.  

Buccaneers wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have both assisted him, as they have for every quarterback of the team, but two players in the spotlight are wide receivers Trey Palmer and Cade Otton. Not only has Otton been a tremendous blocking tight end, but he gets a good three to four crucial catches a game, while Palmer has had two game-winning touchdowns against formidable defenses.  

Hands down the best defender on the Buccaneers has been safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. who improves every year and currently leads the team with 31 tackles with two forced fumbles and four passes defended. Linebackers Joe Tryon, Lavonte David, and Devin White are also vital players in this dominating and game-changing defense.  

In other football news, the Miami Dolphins have an undefeatable quick-strike offense this season, with wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle still balling out. One big question was who would lead the Dolphins’ offense; with running back Devon Achane ruled out, commentators debated who their key player would be for several weeks. Well, that problem was solved with another speedster, running back Raheem Mostert, who ran for 115 yards against the Panthers, with two touchdowns and three catches out of the backfield. 

Backup players Salvon Ahmed and Chris Brooks, both running backs, had 51 combined yards and a touchdown to stabilize the run game. Through the air, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa dominated again with 262 yards and three touchdowns, while his lead wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, caught one of those touchdowns and ran 163 yards on seven catches. 

Meanwhile, their second star wide receiver, Jaylen Waddle, returned from injury and had seven catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. The defense sacked Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young four times, with defensive lineman Christian Wilkins responsible for two. This offensive line has continued to dominate week in and week out, averaging 40 points a game, and it will be interesting to see if they can sustain these moves, especially when the playoff chase begins in December.  

On the other hand, after Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was embarrassed by the Jets’ coordinated defense, there was a look on his face that showed that the Eagles would not lose another game this season. In general, history has proven that when Hurts fails, he has a Michael Jordan-type mentality of never quitting on anything, no matter the situation.  

Jalen Hurts was once benched behind Tagovailoa in a 2018 national championship game. Ever since that moment, Jalen Hurts has only lost 13 football games, including in the NFL, where most great college quarterbacks struggle for at least three years. Hurts, who threw over 3,900 yards last season and had over 30 touchdowns while leading the Eagles to a 15-2 win-loss record, is not someone to bet against. 

Hurts and his star wide receivers have combined forces for over 3,500 receiving yards in the last two full seasons, with a stacked running game featuring players D’Andre Swift, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell. Now, signing former star wide receiver Julio Jones will further increase this team’s confidence, as Jones is also trying to rejuvenate his career after having three bad seasons with the Tennessee Titans and Buccaneers.  

Their defense has studs all over the field, including pass rusher Jalen Carter, cornerbacks Darius Slay and Josh Jobe, safety Reed Blankenship, defensive ends Brandon Graham, Jordan Davis, and Fletcher Cox, and star linebackers Nakobe Dean and Hassan Reddick. This was a top-10-ranked defensive line last season, and they have become even better this year. Alongside a powerful offense on the other side, no one can stop the Eagles.

NBA Preseason Predictions 

As the NBA Season will begin this upcoming Tuesday, here are my top 10 teams for the 2023-24 season:

  1. Denver Nuggets
  2. Milwaukee Bucks
  3. Golden State Warriors
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Boston Celtics
  6. Philadelphia 76ers
  7. Los Angeles Clippers
  8. New Orleans Pelicans
  9. Phoenix Suns
  10. Memphis Grizzlies
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Neev Chopra, Staff Writer
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