The Wolverine

February 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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62 THE WOLVERINE ❱ FEBRUARY 2024 BY CLAYTON SAYFIE A Michigan Wolverine could be on a winning Super Bowl team for a 10th consecutive year, with seven Wol- verines still remaining in the NFL play- offs through Jan. 21. The Detroit Lions (offensive lineman Graham Glasgow, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones) will take on the San Francisco 49ers (wide receiver Ronnie Bell, kicker Jake Moody and cornerback Ambry Thomas) in the NFC championship game, while the Kansas City Chiefs (Michael Danna) will battle with the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC crown. The Lions have turned around their fortunes, making the postseason for the first time since 2016 and winning a playoff game for the first time since the 1991 campaign, when they made their last appearance in the NFC champion- ship game. Hutchinson has helped lead the way, and he's increased his production down the stretch this season. In the final two regular-season games and the playoff wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Hutchinson has combined for 8 sacks. He now has 3 ca- reer postseason sacks, tied with Ezekiel Ansah for the most in franchise history. A Plymouth, Mich., native, Hutchin- son has been proud to help spark excite- ment near his hometown. "It's hard to put into words," Hutchin- son told NBC. "It's amazing, and this city deserves it — and we're going to keep plugging away." Bell, Moody, Thomas and their top- seeded 49ers await the Lions, after a 12-5 regular season and a 24-21 triumph over the Green Bay Packers in the divi- sional round. The 49ers are the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Danna, meanwhile, is back in the AFC championship game for the fourth time in as many years after being selected by the Chiefs in the sixth round of the 2020 draft. He's seeking his second Su- per Bowl title. Beyond these seven former Wolverine players, there are a couple more U-M connections among the divisional final- ists. The Baltimore coaching staff in- cludes former U-M and current Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald as well as Ravens head coach John Har- baugh, Jim's older brother. Ravens outside linebacker David Ojabo, a stalwart on the U-M's break- out 2021 team, is on injured reserve and unable to play after season-ending knee surgery at the end of November. FORMER WOLVERINES IN THE NFL Through Jan. 21 • Ronnie Bell (played at U-M from 2018-22), WR, San Francisco 49ers: Caught 6 passes for 68 yards and 3 touchdowns, also returned 10 punts for 70 yards in 17 games for the 12-5 49ers, who earned the No. 1 seed and first-round bye and won 24-21 over Green Bay in the divisional round (Bell was inactive). • Ben Bredeson (2016-19), G, New York Giants: Started all 16 games that he appeared in for the 6-11 Giants. • Devin Bush (2016-18), LB, Seattle Seahawks: Started three of his 13 games and totaled 37 tack- ❱  MICHIGAN IN THE PROS Wolverines Still Seeking A Super Prize In his second regular season for the Detroit Lions, Aidan Hutchinson finished second in the NFL in QB pressures with 101 and was 12th in sacks with 11.5. He had 4 tackles and 1 sack in the Lions' 31-23 NFC divisional round victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jan. 21. PHOTO BY JEFF NGUYEN/DETROIT LIONS

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