NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Circulating the Sports Sphere: Spring 2024

Circulating+the+Sports+Sphere%3A+Spring+2024

Vol. C | Spring | Issue X

Why the Jets Are Going to Fail with Aaron Rodgers

Football fans have recently been thinking that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is going to take the New York Jets to the playoffs and that there is a possibility that they will win the championship. New York media members play a significant role in tricking many fans, as several analysts like Stephen Smith, Mike Greenberg, and Dan Orlovsky have gone on to talk about how great the Jets will be with Rodgers.  

Well, the ‘Bad Man’ is no longer that great, and people need to realize he is playing for one of the bottom five franchises of all time. Rodgers does not have the longevity of many other quarterbacks like Tom Brady, who was historically more talented than him. Let’s not forget that Rodgers has only one Super Bowl for the greatest franchise ever, and his toxic attitude does not help.  

Unlike Brady, who is willing to help young receivers break in, we saw an example of how Rodgers treats his young wide receivers. The Green Bay Packers had one of the best head coaches in the league, a good run game, and a solid defense, but they still missed the playoffs because Rodgers could not build ‘rapport’ with his pass catchers. He just sat there and complained, while Brady was able to make the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for three years in a row even though numerous players were in and out of the lineup.  

Additionally, the reputation of the Jets’ organization has been bad, despite a few outliers like wide receiver Garrett Wilson and corner back Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. People need to accept that Joe Douglas is a terrible general manager who has made some horrible picks, including first and second rounders like the atrocity himself, Zach Wilson, over Justin Fields.  

Players like Mac Jones and Mekhi Becton were selected when other great linemen like Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills Jr., Andrew Thomas, Joe Runyan, Tyler Biadasz, and Jonah Jackson were on the boards. Last but not least, wide receiver Elijah Moore’s career was ruined by the Jets administration. Moore had so much talent coming out of the 2021 draft, and now many people will see his real potential with the Cleveland Browns after many personal issues with the Jets front office.  

Deshaun Watson, current Browns quarterback, also talked about how much Douglas troubled Moore and made him uncomfortable in the uniform. Going back to the 2020 NFL draft, Douglas was the reason that quarterback Sam Darnold was failed by the Jets, as they did not get him a pass-catching threat like receivers Justin Jefferson, Michael Pittman Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., or many other guys left on the board. Many people thought he could recover if he made a good enough trade for Rodgers, but the reality is that the Jets overpaid for an incredibly old quarterback who cannot play anymore, especially like he did during his prime from 2010–2021.  

Even this year’s pick that the Jets took 15th overall was unbelievably bad, as the new kid from Iowa State, William McDonald IV, was a projected late second to the middle of the third round pick. The Jets missed so many other linemen as well as Wilson’s former teammate, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. As I had suggested in the mock draft, I thought the Jets should have drafted a quarterback that was NFL-ready like Hendon Hooker or even Stetson Bennett IV.  

Now that the front office and drafts are out of the way, let’s talk about the Jets’ schedule this year. All six division games are going to be extremely hard for them, and I think they will lose all of those because the other teams have great young quarterbacks and are two steps ahead.  

Now let’s move on to the rest of the teams that they will play, including: the Kansas City Chiefs, who will run over them, the Los Angeles Chargers, who will beat them, the Philadelphia Eagles, who are most likely going to win the Super Bowl with their defense, the Giants, who have always owned New York, the young explosive Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons teams, and the rejuvenated Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos.  

Another mistake the Jets made was to hire coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was a disaster as a head coach and made quarterback Russell Wilson look like a trashy player. Accounting for all these things with the fact that Rodgers is planning to retire soon, the Jets will not be able to make the playoffs and will finish with an 8-9 record at best. It will be time to reset this franchise again; all the decisions they have made over the last three years are like the ones that have put them in a position where they have not won the Super Bowl in over 60 years. 


 Vol. C | Spring | Issue VIII

The Delhi Capitals Are the Biggest Sleepers in the Upcoming IPL Season, and Here’s Why 

Heading into the 16th year of the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, many great franchises have won well-deserved championships. With the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians having won five each, they are the most-awarded teams of all time in the league, with the Kolkata Knight Riders following just behind.  

One upcoming team, which has been on the brink of the championship in three of the previous five seasons, is the Delhi Capitals, who play in the capital of India: New Delhi. Never having won a championship or even making it to the finals till the 2020 season, the Capitals have always been the laughingstock of the IPL until recently.  

With that said, things could potentially change this season. The Capitals, who finished in second-to-last place a year before because their captain Rishabh Pant had an accident, are now inching back to form with their superstar wicketkeeper back in the lineup. The issue with having Pant out was that the team not only lost a batsman, but also a great leader.  

Do not get me wrong — batter David Warner is an amazing player and one of the best in the game, but last season’s captaincy reign did not prove that. The team added batter Abishek Porel as Pant’s replacement, which was a major issue. After hitting 20 runs in his first match, the 21-year-old from Durgapur, West Bengal only had an average of 4.33 runs per match in the following three matches.  

Once Porel was benched for poor performances, Warner replaced him with batsman Phil Salt, who hit 218 runs in nine matches and two half-centuries. The major issue with this, though, was that the Capitals’ win-to-loss record was 0-5 before this move. Even though they finished with a 5-4 win-to-loss record, the judgment wasn’t made at the correct time.  

Now with Pant back, the Capitals not only have an excellent catch taker, but someone who has scored 340 runs in fourteen matches during the 2022 season. Pant will also speed uo the intensity with a faster strike, which will also allow Warner to bat comfortably at his 131-strike rate.  

The other important consideration is that Pant understands the timing of when to bench batter Prithvi Shaw, the opener of the Capitals. When Pant realized this in a match against the Knight Riders, and Shaw got a duck out and then scored five against the Lucknow Super Giants, Pant immediately got benched. During the next three matches, there was so much flexibility in the opening order, with players Mandeep Singh and Srikar Bharat getting chances. The same issue occurred last season, but Warner took much longer to address the situation at the end of it.  

Finally, unlike Pant, Warner did not use his bowlers properly, as he kept mixing Khalil Ahmad, Ishant Sharma, and Mukesh Kumar around instead of letting all of them start together. Pant prioritized his Australian teammate, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who has not been known for his bowling but rather his batting.  

The other problem was that this reduced the role of the team’s best all-rounder, Axar Patel, who not only moved two spots down in batting, but also lost his shot in important positions to bowler Anrich Nortje from South Africa. The only regular starters were Kuldeep Yadav and Patel, who still ended up getting his four-over in every match last season.  

Pant has a lot of work to do to fix this lineup, as he will be giving more time to the bowlers mentioned previously. On top of that, now that he has Shai Hope as a batter, he may try to implement the West Indies stud with Warner to create massive partnerships at the beginning of the batting innings. 

Now that Delhi got him back as the wicketkeeper, they also kept another young wicketkeeper as an option if anything goes south in Kumar Kushagra. Harry Brook is another opening batter option that Pant will use to replace Shaw if struggles continue, or Yash Dhull could get his shot too.  

With these pieces coming together, it is extremely easy to trust Pant, as he was able to do a similar thing in 2019; Delhi finished in last place the season before. The amount of potential he will bring to this team is unbelievable, and words cannot even describe how far they could end up going if he is available for all 16 matches. Now that there is hope in Delhi again, this must be the year it wins a title! 


Vol. C | Spring | Issue VII

Shubman Gill, Batsman 

As a 24-year-old from Patiala, Gill has shown a lot of promise and potential with his 12 half-centuries and six centuries in 44 One Day International (ODI) matches, along with over 2,200 runs on a 61.4 average. Despite not having the greatest of performances in recent matches against South Africa and Australia, he will really pick his game up again with the Gujarat Titans of the Indian Premier League (IPL); he hit 890 runs and three centuries for them last season. Gill just needs to work on his determination skills, as there were times during the World Cup, especially against Australia, when he got out for four runs. Nevertheless, he will continue to be one of the biggest assets India will have over the next decade.  

Mohammed Siraj, Bowler 

A 29-year-old bowler from Hyderabad, Siraj has one of the most iconic stories of all time, having started the game of cricket at 19 years old. However, ever since he picked up the leather ball and started bowling seamers, he has never looked back, picking up 68 wickets in his first 41 matches, with an economy rate of just 5.09 per over. Siraj will be going into this IPL season with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, trying to build off an amazing year in ODI cricket with some clutch performances for India to take the country to the finals. 

Yashasvi Jaiswal, Batsman 

As a young superstar batter, Jaiswal has proven to be one of the best batters in the world in all formats, as he does not have much ODI experience yet but will play once either Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma retires in the next two to three years. Jaiswal has proven his worth after hitting four centuries in a singular IPL season as the opening batter for the Rajasthan Royals, and even scored 971 runs in just 15 test innings. His classical shots and rhythm to hit sixes will be a game changer, as India really needs a new batsman with a star batter from the last decade, Sharma, losing a lot of power.  

Hardik Pandya, All-Rounder 

Ever since changing his lifestyle and becoming completely sober, Hardik Pandya has completely shifted his game around by being the leader that India needed in a couple of years. Picking up 84 wickets in 86 matches, while hitting 11 half-centuries for India, Pandya has become one of the most-well known all-rounders around the world and led his former team, the Gujarat Titans, to a finals victory in his first season as a captain. Coming from a very humble background, he is someone who has continued to build his life and turn into one of the best Indian cricketers of all time while also adding a different flair to his game. Now that he has also learned how to be more patient as a batter, India knows that it has the right man in charge for the near future, especially in ODI matches. 


Vol. C | Spring | Issue VI

My Indian Premier League Predictions  

Here are my cricket season predictions for the TATA Indian Premier League 2024: 

  1. Chennai Super Kings: 12-4
  2. Gujarat Titans: 11-5
  3. Kolkata Knight Riders: 10-6
  4. Royal Challengers Bangalore: 10-6
  5. Lucknow Super Giants: 9-7
  6. Rajasthan Royals: 8-8
  7. Mumbai Indians: 8-8
  8. Delhi Capitals: 7-9
  9. Sunrisers Hyderabad: 7-9
  10. Punjab Kings: 5-11

Championship: Royal Challengers Bangalore beats Gujarat Titans  

Most Valuable Player: Rachin Ravindra, Chennai Super Kings 

Orange Cap (Leading Batsman): Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rajasthan Royals 

Rebuilding an NFL Team Part One: Carolina Panthers 

As the worst-performing National Football League team last season, with an unsatisfactory record of 2-15, the Carolina Panthers have a lot of building up to do in order to become as dominant as their former quarterback Cam Newton and help their young quarterback Bryce Young develop. Here is my advice for them:  

During free agency, the Panthers should attempt to target a wide receiver like Mike Evans, Michael Pittman Jr., or Odell Beckham Jr. to be a top-tier wide receiver two, or, at best, moving into tier one.  On top of that, they could either sign former player Curtis Samuel as their third pass catcher or take on wide receivers Troy Franklin from Oregon or Keon Coleman from Florida State. This will end up moving the other wide receivers that the Panthers could trade for picks, including Terrace Marshall Jr., who has been underwhelming for a second-round pick, Laviska Shenault Jr., and one-year wonder D.J. Chark Jr. 

Finally, to start building on the offensive line that was ranked dead last in the 2023-2024 season, the Panthers should sign center Brian Allen, who started for six seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and won a Super Bowl, while also attempting a shot at former Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith. On defense, they will be losing defensive end Brian Burns, but have two wonderful players in the front seven, including defensive tackle Derrick Brown and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, whom they should either re-sign or franchise tag. To add more strength to the front seven, they could get cheaper options like defensive end Dorance Armstrong from the Cowboys, inside linebacker Bobby Wagner from Seattle, and a defensive tackle like Bilal Nichols from the Raiders.  

On top of that, some expensive players that could be installed in the defense could include defensive end Danielle Hunter and outside linebackers Leonard Floyd or Josh Allen based on the team’s finances. Finally, on defense, the Panthers could use athletic corners like Emmanuel Moseley or C.J. Gardner-Johnson through cheaper deals to pair with safety Jeremy Chinn and corner Jaycee Horn to round out the defense.  

As the Panthers have five picks in this draft, here is my mock draft for them: 

Round 1: Troy Franklin, wide receiver, University of Oregon
Round 2: Blake Corum, running back, University of Michigan
Round 3: Max Melton, cornerback, Rutgers University
Round 4: Roger Rosengarten, offensive tackle, University of Washington
Round 5: Luke McCaffrey, wide receiver, Rice University
Round 6: Kingsley Eguakun, interior offensive line, University of Florida 

Before the season begins, the Panthers could make a couple more big-time moves to improve the structure of their team. Here are some players they should try to sign right before the season starts: 

Running back Derrick Henry
Defensive end Leonard Williams
Defensive tackle Chris Jones
Free safety Budda Baker 

Therefore, it will be exciting to see how the 2024-2025 season of the Panthers will go after hiring head coach Dave Canales and an upcoming offseason with lots of cap room. This should include many trials and tribulations, but it will be interesting to witness the Panthers trying to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2017. 


Vol. C | Spring | Issue V

The Yashasvi Jaiswal Dominance Continues 

The young 22-year-old Indian batter, Yashasvi Jaiswal, has been one of the best things that has happened to India in the last 10 years after winning the 2011 International Cricket Council World Cup. In 17 matches in T20 International, Jaiswal has already hit 4 fifties and has a batting average of 33.5, officially top 15 in the world.  

People have even claimed that he should take 24-year-old batter Shubman Gill’s position after recent struggles because Jaiswal has been playing in tests. It is truly spectacular, as he has an average of 71.8 in tests, which is currently number one in the world with 3 hundreds and 2 fifties.  

But why bring him up now specifically? Well, India’s batting was rattling against England in this past series until Jaiswal came in and broke the record with 214 runs at Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham, England. Many others like batters Rohit Sharma and Rajat Patidar got out, but Jaiswal gave this team the stability he needed. He did it alongside the amazing debut of Sarfaraz Khan who hit a half-century in his first batting action ever for the squad in any format.  

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was also a huge contributor with his century in the first innings, but Jaiswal took control in the second innings and kept his spot on the team by playing some wonderful shots. What is even crazier is that just last year at this time, many coaches never believed Jaiswal would ever play for India, but after a masterful Indian Premier League for the Rajasthan Royals in which he hit 625 runs and 5 fifties, his life completely changed around.  

It is going be something to watch for the next decade or so, as Jaiswal should be one of the key players on this young India roster including Shubman Gill, batter Dhruv Jurel, batter Sarfaraz Khan, and bowler Prasidh Krishna.  

Top Five Teams Heading into Indian Premier League 2024 

  1. Team Name: Chennai Super Kings
    Best Players: MS Dhoni — Wicket Keeper, India; Rachin Ravindra — All-rounder, New Zealand; Mitchell Santer — All-rounder, New Zealand; Ravindra Jadeja — All-rounder, India; Devon Conway — Batsman, New Zealand 
    Surprise Player Heading into Season: Daryl Mitchell — All-rounder; New Zealand  
  2. Team Name: Gujarat Titans
    Best Players: Shubman Gill — Batsman, India; Mohammed Shami — Bowler, India; Kane Williamson — Batsman, New Zealand; David Miller — Batsman, India
    Surprise Player Heading into Season: Mohit Sharma — Bowler, India 
  3. Team Name: Kolkata Knight Riders
    Best Players: Radumullah Gurbaz — Batsman, Afghanistan; Rinku Singh — Batsman, India; Andre Russell — All-rounder, West Indies; Venkatesh Iyer-All-rounder, India
    Surprise Player Heading into Season: Dushmantha Chameera — Bowler, Sri Lanka 
  4. Team Name: Lucknow Super Giants
    Best Players: KL Rahul — Batsman, India; Quinton De Kock — Wicket Keeper, South Africa; Kyle Mayers — All-rounder, West Indies; Mark Wood — Bowler, England; Ravi Bishnoi — Bowler, India
    Surprise Player Heading into Season: Ayush Badoni — All-rounder, India 
  5. Team Name: Royal Challengers Bengaluru
    Best Players: Faf Du Plessis — Batsman, South Africa; Virat Kohli — Batsman, India; Cameron Green — All-rounder, Australia; Glenn Maxwell — All-rounder, Australia; Mohammed Siraj — Bowler, India
    Surprise Player Heading into Season: Lockie Ferguson — Bowler, New Zealand   

Vol. C | Spring | Issue IV

West Indies Finally Wins a Match Against Australia 

It finally happened — West Indies beat Australia for the first time in three weeks when bowler Shamar Joseph had the seven-wicket miracle. This time, it was not a test match; it was a T20 International, which is a format in which Australia is ranked four spots above West Indies. Going into this match, a lot of shade had been thrown at the West Indies team for its lack of effort in the first two T20 matches which they had convincingly lost in the series.  

But now, this victory has changed the perception, as many people think this team is back because they did it without Joseph and on the back of an amazing performance from all-rounder Andre Russell. He hit a career-best 71 runs off 29 balls, which helped the West Indies score over 220 runs in 20 overs, while the other all-rounder Sherfane Rutherford added 67 runs.  

All-rounder Roston Chase continued with his consistency, as he scored 37 more runs and has been one of the biggest players for the West Indies since 2016. The bowling woke up as well, with both Chase and Rutherford having two wickets each and Akeal Hossein picking up a wicket too. They were not able to keep Australia’s batter David Warner in check, with his 81 runs and another half-century, but held all-rounder Mitchell Marsh to 17 as Australia’s third high scorer.  

Batter Tim David had an amazing score line at the end, but it did not matter because Australia was already out of the match from the tenth over onwards. Glenn Maxwell, who has been Australia’s best fielder and batter for the last year, went out for 12 runs, and batter Josh Inglis went for one run. This was massive, as he was another Australian who was getting in form with Marcus Labuschagne and Steve Smith out.  

It has given hope to all the islands in the West Indies, as they have been waiting since the 1980s to dominate on the cricket pitch and will be very interesting to see where they end up going from here.  

NFL Mock Draft Part 2 

Here is the second part of my Mock Draft 1.0 after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl for the 2024 NFL Season:   

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cooper DeJean, cornerback, Iowa
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Troy Fatanu, offensive tackle, Washington
19. Los Angeles Rams: Nate Wiggins, cornerback, Clemson
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Penix Jr, quarterback, Washington
21. Miami Dolphins: Terrion Arnold, cornerback, Alabama
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kamari Lassiter, cornerback, Georgia
23. Houston Texans: Demeioun Robinson, edge rusher, Penn State
24. Dallas Cowboys: Graham Barton, offensive interior line, Duke
25. Green Bay Packers: Balen Trice, edge rusher, Washington
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jordan Morgan, offensive tackle, Arizona
27. Arizona Cardinals: Quinyon Mitchell, cornerback, Toledo
28. Buffalo Bills: Kamren Kitchens, safety, Miami
29. Detroit Lions: Byron Murphy, defensive line, Texas
30. Baltimore Ravens: Keon Coleman, wide receiver, Florida State
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Brian Thomas Jr., wide receiver, Louisiana State
32. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Guyton, offensive tackle, Oklahoma


Vol. C | Spring | Issue III

The Rachin Ravindra Show Continues 

The New Zealand cricket batter, Rachin Ravindra, has been playing some top-class cricket since June 2023, and there is no chance of stopping him. Just recently, he hit 240 runs in a test match against South Africa while creating a partnership with captain Kane Williamson for over 200 runs.  

Even though New Zealand’s other star batter Devon Conway got out at one run, Ravindra’s twenty-six fours and three sixes helped bolster his squad to a total of 511 runs. He has already started dominating in the One Day International (ODI) format by hitting three 50s and 100s for a 41.0 average, but once he gets rolling in Twenty20 (T20) matches, New Zealand has found its new opening batters after legend Martin Guptill’s retirement. Getting to his 7,346 ODI and 3,531 T20 runs will be a tough ask for Ravindra, but at just the age of 24, he still has a lot of time to cruise past those marks. 

Shamar Joseph Brings Back West Indies Cricket  

On the other side, West Indies cricket is officially back like it was 20 years ago and bowler Shamar Joseph is a key reason. The issue for the West Indies was that many of the players did not care about the national team since the pay was much less and instead opted for richer areas of the world to earn more money.  

Even when they were called up to the West Indies, a lot of them did not put in much effort, which led to them not even qualifying for the 2022 International Cricket Council World Cup over teams they were better than including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Netherlands.  

However, Joseph has seemed to change things around there as he caused a massive Test match to upset the world’s best team, Australia. The country was super confident in that match with just a target below 260 to chase, but that was all erased with Joseph’s seven wickets for just 68 runs by getting many major batters out. Joseph not only took out World Cup hero Glenn Maxwell, but also captain Steve Smith, vice-captain Pat Cummins, and many more.  

After the match was over, he also announced that he was not playing for money but for his country, so he had to fight the hardest and is committed to continue playing for them, no matter how much he gets paid. This is an exceptional story for a young adult who just six years ago was working on a farm, but now is a hero to all Caribbean Islands and will be for years to come.  

My Super Bowl Predictions 

The Kansas City Chiefs will beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-27. 

Patrick Mahomes will be given the Most Valuable Player Award, with 280 yards, two touchdowns, one interception. 


Vol. C | Spring | Issue II
Patrick Mahomes Domination Continues
 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has done it again — he has made it to his fourth Super Bowl in the last five years and is looking to win a third. No matter the controversies around him this season, including tight end Travis Kelce’s relationship with singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, defensive end Chris Jones’s lengthy contract, and wide receiver Kadarius Toney’s drops, Mahomes has been able to win three playoff games in a row and do something only Tom Brady has ever achieved.  

Looking at the Baltimore Ravens’ game this week, although there was an exceptionally good shot that they could have lost that game, the team was able to knock off star quarterback Lamar Jackson. On top of that, the Chiefs did an amazing job defensively in their 17-7 victory, forcing three turnovers to a team that rarely ever turns the ball away.  

L’Jarius Sneed, a cornerback, had a massive, forced fumble against wide receiver Zay Flowers at the end of the third quarter. Safety Deon Bush finally sealed in the fourth quarter with an interception intended for standout tight end Isaiah Likely. Defensive end George Karlaftis had four tackles, alongside safety Justin Reid.  

This was a very shocking game to watch, as Super Bowl favorites the Baltimore Ravens lost all their momentum throughout the game and started committing inexcusable penalties. Now that the Ravens have been eliminated, the stage is set for the Super Bowl, as Mahomes and the Chiefs will look to dominate the San Francisco 49ers.   

NFL Mock Draft 1.0 

Here are my top ten picks for the upcoming NFL Draft:

  1. Atlanta Falcons trade up with Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, quarterback, University of Southern California
  2. Washington Commanders: Drake Maye, quarterback, University of North Carolina
  3. New England Patriots: Jayden Daniels, quarterback, Louisiana State University
  4. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., wide receiver, Ohio State University
  5. Los Angeles Chargers: Brock Bowers, tight end, University of Georgia
  6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers, wide receiver, Louisiana State University
  7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, offensive tackle, University of Notre Dame
  8. Chicago Bears trade from Falcons Down: Dallas Turner, edge receiver, Alabama
  9. Chicago Bears: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, offensive tackle, Pennsylania State University
  10. New York Jets: JC Latham, offensive tackle, University of Alabama 
  11. Minnesota Vikings: Laiatu Latu, edge rusher, UCLA
  12. Denver Broncos: Kool-Aid McKinstry, cornerback, University of Alabama 
  13. Las Vegas Raiders: Taliese Fuaga, offensive tackle, Oregon State University
  14. New Orleans Saints: Amarius Mims, offensive tackle, University of Georgia 
  15. Indianapolis Colts: Rome Odunze, wide receiver, University of Washington

Vol. C | Spring | Issue I

The Detroit Lions Have Made History 

With the National Football League (NFL) playoffs underway a few weeks ago, all viewers had the same question: how would the Detroit Lions fare in the postseason after only securing two playoff victories since 1957? The query has been answered, as a football city entrenched in despair and affliction finally has hope for the first time in over 30 years. 

The last time the Lions won a playoff game before this season was in 1991, and that season marked both of their victories in the last 65 NFL seasons. Back then, the once-great running back Barry Sanders carried the team, clinching five of the franchise’s 15 playoff appearances in the last century. After that period, many skilled players, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Reggie Bush, defensive tackle Ziggy Ansah, cornerbacks Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay, and safety Glover Quinn, came and went without any team success. 

However, there was something different about this team’s direction ever since former NFL tight end Dan Campbell was hired by the Lions in 2021. Using various motivational phrases, including ‘biting kneecaps,’ this franchise was destined to head in a different direction. After starting with a 1-7 loss last season, they rebounded to a 9-8 record and eliminated their abhorred rivals, the Green Bay Packers. 

This season was filled with many more expectations, as the Lions built very well around eight-year quarterback Jared Goff, and the team knocked out all of their opponents, including beating the previous season’s Super Bowl Champions, the Chiefs. Clinching the first division title in 30 years was another massive accomplishment, as no sports team in Detroit had won a division title since the early 2000s. Some key contributors to these important victories were wide receiver Amon Ra St. Brown, who made 119 catches in 1,515 yards, running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, who recorded more than 2,500 all-purpose yards and 25 touchdowns combined, while newcomer tight end Sam Laporta made 86 grabs for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

For Goff, the wild card win was a meaningful win for both the Lions and his legacy. Having been dumped by the Los Angeles Rams for not being skilled enough to win a Super Bowl, he was able to outplay their defense and Stafford for a massive victory and then repeat that performance against the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past weekend.  

Just as Goff’s drive shows, so does the rest of the team’s — they will be going to the National Football Conference Championship Game this week. It will be interesting to see if the Lions can beat the San Francisco 49ers and make a run at their first-ever Super Bowl.  

Why the Ravens will Win the Super Bowl 

The Baltimore Ravens have been the clear favorite to win the Super Bowl for the entire 2023-24 season, and there is a good reason. The team is led by Lamar Jackson, the second-best quarterback behind Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, who is about to run away with his Most Valuable Player award and prove that his doubters, like sports analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Max Kellerman, were wrong in 2018. Running for over 800 yards and tossing the ball 3,600 yards in total, Jackson has helped his team progress into an offensive juggernaut and dominate some of the best teams in the league.  

Unlike 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, who is a system quarterback, Jackson can play well anytime and anywhere. He beat the Lions 38-6, the Miami Dolphins 56-19, the Cincinnati Bengals 34-20, the Seattle Seahawks 37-3, the Cleveland Browns 28-3, the Houston Texans twice — once in the playoffs last week — and the Rams 37-31. Most of these are skilled playoff teams, and he accomplished this with some help from wide receivers including rookie Zay Flowers, former Giants star Odell Beckham Jr, and Eagles legend Nelson Agholor.  

The running backs Keaton Mitchell and Gus Edwards had a lot of running room because of the threat of Lamar taking the ball himself for a run. The emergence of tight end Isaiah Likely was impressive, but we cannot talk about this year’s Ravens without giving the defense its due credit. The best linebacker duo in the league, with middle linebacker Roquan Smith and outside linebacker Patrick Queen, have joined forces for over 280 tackles and nine sacks.  

These incidences have made fans reminisce about Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs being the star linebackers in Baltimore. In addition, defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney and Justin Madubuike have combined for over 20 sacks. This lineup gets even better with safety Kyle Hamilton, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and free safety Marcus Williams, who have been elite and locked down some of the premier wide receivers and tight ends. 

 The only name missing from this list is the third-year cornerback from Iowa, Geno Stone, who has racked up a league-high seven interceptions. This defense is a very tough unit and a championship-level defense from top to bottom, which will make Mahomes’ life difficult on Sunday for the American Football Conference Championship. As the runaway favorites, the Ravens will easily cruise their way to a Super Bowl unless someone figures out how to stop them in the ensuing two playoff weeks. 

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