Lamar Jackson feels like he should be much more accomplished during his NFL career. During 2019, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback led Baltimore to a 13-2 record and won the league’s MVP award. While the Ravens lost to Buffalo as the No. 1 seed, the future appeared bright for Jackson.
But injuries have stymied Jackson’s progress. The 2023 season was the first time Jackson was healthy enough to play in 16 games. He likely would have been able to suit up for the last regular season game again, but Baltimore held him out because the Ravens had already clinched the top seed.
Black sports news shows Jackson’s opponent in the AFC Championship game Sunday, Patrick Mahomes, hasn’t had durability issues. Mahomes quickly turned himself into one of the top players in the NFL after only suiting up once as a rookie. Since taking over as the full-time starter in 2018, Mahomes has led the league in passing touchdowns twice, compiled 28,424 yards through the air, and led Kansas City to two Super Bowl championships.
This will be the first meeting between Jackson and Mahomes in the playoffs. For the NFC Championship game, two quarterbacks who were overlooked during their careers, Jared Goff and Brock Purdy, will try to lead the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.
The 49ers have been to the Super Bowl twice in the last 20 years but haven’t won a title since they beat San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX. Detroit has never made an appearance in the Super Bowl. The Lions are in the middle of perhaps their best season in the Super Bowl era and don’t want the ride to come to an end so soon.
Jackson’s Redemption in Baltimore Nearly Didn’t Happen
Jackson is unique among superstars in the NFL. He doesn’t have an agent. Jackson and his mother have done all the work negotiating contracts for his entire career.
That is part of the reason there was a long, protracted dispute with Baltimore over his contract last season. The Ravens weren’t sure they would be able to meet Jackson’s demands. Jackson wanted more guaranteed money than the team was willing to pay.
Baltimore was willing to try to let Jackson go to a restricted free agency so the Ravens could match any offer on the open market. But Baltimore didn’t make the cost cheap for potential suitors. The Ravens put a non-exclusive tag on Jackson, which meant any team that wanted to sign Jackson would have to give Baltimore two first-round picks. No one matched, and Baltimore signed Jackson for a five-year, $260 million deal with $185 million guaranteed.
Jackson responded by going 13-3 in his starts and throwing for 3,478 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Mahomes Pulls Chiefs Along With Him
Mahomes still looked like a player capable of helping Kansas City defend its Super Bowl title this season. But things didn’t look easy for the Chiefs. Kansas City hadn’t poured many resources into getting top receivers for Mahomes.
The Chiefs got what they paid for from their wide receivers. Kansas City leads the league with 44 dropped passes from wide receivers. That unit also led the NFL by dropping 6.9 percent of Mahomes’ 597 pass attempts.
Despite that, Kansas City won the AFC West Division for the eighth straight year. Against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, Mahomes was in total command of the offense. He moved the ball up and down the field effectively.
If Mahomes were to lead this Kansas City team to the franchise’s third championship in the past five years, this would be a crowning achievement among the many things Mahomes has accomplished.
Mr. Irrelevant Has Much to Prove
Purdy looked like a second-year player last week. Battling the rain in Santa Clara, the 49ers’ quarterback wasn’t sharp in a narrow win over seventh-seeded Green Bay. But when it mattered most, Purdy was able to come through with a game-winning drive.
San Francisco won’t want to fall behind Detroit. While the Lions’ defense may be suspect at times, Detroit’s offense is able to move the ball quickly and effectively. Purdy wasn’t healthy for last season’s postseason run, so it’s hard to know if he can handle the moment.
If San Francisco can run the ball well and Purdy can make enough plays to keep Detroit off balance, the 49ers may finally be able to kick down the door and return to the Super Bowl. Things may not get much easier for San Francisco’s offense in the NFC Championship game.
Star wide receiver Deebo Samuel is 50-50 to play in the game due to a fractured shoulder, according to recent sports updates. Christian McCaffrey and Purdy will have to carry the load for the 49ers.
Goff Would Like A Chance to Shine
Super Bowl LII was supposed to be Goff’s crowning achievement. But, instead, it turned out to be a total disaster. While Goff didn’t make many major mistakes, he didn’t make enough plays to help the Los Angeles Rams beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The Rams only scored three points in the loss. How Los Angeles’ offense performed ultimately ended up helping drive Goff to Detroit. When the Rams made the Super Bowl again three years later, Los Angeles won with former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Detroit is 24-23-1 with Goff as starter. However, the Lions were rebuilding during Goff’s first few seasons. This year, the Lions and Goff took a big step forward. Detroit has been making history consistently through the playoffs.
The Lions won their division and a playoff game for the first time in 30 years. Detroit is now playing in the NFC Championship game for the first time since 1991. Current sports news shows this is an opportunity for redemption for the Lions and for Goff to write a strong redemption story.
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