The Riverfront Reporter
NFLAY Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther
Welcome to the second issue of the NFLAY Newsletter, this issue features an in depth preview of the playoffs. I received some encouragement after the first issue though not much in the way of contributions. Another issue will appear after the championship games with Superbowl predictions/previews and reviews of the draft, if you have any opinions on either then drop me a line at:
2 Lily Terrace
Or email me at '[email protected]'.
Week Sixteen Review
Indianapolis put paid to New York's wildcard ambitions in convincing style. The Colts offense sputtered a bit early on but once they found their rhythm there was only going to be one winner. The New England run defense was awesome, holding the visiting Dolphins to negative yardage. The Miami defense also put on a fine display, forcing five turnovers, but gave up some critical big plays. In Baltimore the Ravens knocked off the division champion Bengals, building a huge first half lead on the back of several Cincinnati turnovers. The Jaguars concluded their 5-2 finish to the season with a win over Pittsburgh in a defensive battle during which both teams notched up safeties. San Diego secured a divisional title with a comfortable win over the struggling Chiefs. Two second quarter touchdowns were more than enough to give the Chargers victory. In Oakland the Seahawks exploded in the fourth quarter with three scores. The Raiders' running games was again suspect as they could find little in the way of consistent offense.
The Cowboys secured their divisional title with a comfortable win over previous incumbents Philadelphia. The Eagles got an early lead but were unable to make any further inroads on the strong Dallas defense. It was a similar story in Washington as the Giants early lead was slowly eroded by the Redskins' persistent running attack. Detroit and Minnesota got themselves into a shootout despite having nothing much to play for except pride. The big plays of the Lions won out over the more consistent Vikes. Green Bay got a touchdown on a kick return and another on an interception return and added a safety but their lack of offense cost them as they were unable to overcome the Bears' one point advantage in the fourth quarter. St Louis rounded out their year with an impressive win in Atlanta, their coach may be lobbying for a move to the Central division in the offseason. San Francisco produced the upset of the day with a come from behind win in Carolina, stopping the Panthers' unbeaten run at 24 games.
Offensive performance of the week goes to San Francisco, mostly for that last touchdown. Defensive performance of the week goes to New England for that awesome performance against the run. Special teams performance of the week goes to Green Bay for their kick return touchdown.
All the playoff teams are listed in seed order along with a breakdown of their record, home, away and versus the other playoff teams. Also listed are offensive and defensive rankings within the conference.
Record: 13-3 Home: 8-0 Away: 5-3 vs Playoff: 5-2
Offense: 3 Run: 4 Pass: 4 Defense: 1 Run: 5 Pass: 1
Up until last week's resounding loss to the Ravens the Bengals were clear favourites in the AFC. Baltimore have highlighted their weakness turnovers. Their QB is relatively inexperienced and can be erratic at times. That said, Cincy are unbeaten at home this season and have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
Record: 12-4 Home: 5-3 Away: 7-1 vs Playoff: 3-3
Offense: 1 Run: 7 Pass: 1 Defense: 3 Run: 3 Pass: 5
Lost in overtime to the Bengals in week three and will be looking to avenge that defeat. Finished the season with a four game winning streak. A tough defense and a potentially explosive offense could well see the Colts into the Superbowl.
San Diego Chargers
Record: 9-7 Home: 5-3 Away: 4-4 vs Playoff: 2-3
Offense: 4 Run: 1 Pass: 10 Defense: 11 Run: 8 Pass: 11
After an 0-4 start, they turned their season around with two wins over Oakland the only playoff team they did manage to beat. Despite their strong finish they will do well to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.
Record: 12-4 Home: 7-1 Away: 5-3 vs Playoff: 3-3
Offense: 2 Run: 2 Pass: 7 Defense: 8 Run: 7 Pass: 8
Their only home defeat came against Indianapolis, shame they have only one more home game. A solid all round team they are more than capable of beating any opposition in the playoffs, but they'll find it tough to get to the Superbowl from the wildcard game.
Record: 8-8 Home: 5-3 Away: 3-5 vs Playoff: 2-4
Offense: 10 Run: 12 Pass: 3 Defense: 12 Run: 6 Pass: 12
Slumping badly towards the end of the season and probably the worst playoff team in the AFC on paper. The Raiders are always capable of producing a shock win in a big game but will struggle to do it three times on the trot.
Record: 15-1 Home: 7-1 Away: 8-0 vs Playoff: 6-1
Offense: 1 Run: 12 Pass: 1 Defense: 6 Run: 6 Pass: 9
Although the week sixteen defeat at the hands of San Francisco may not have affected the playoff positions but will have given the rest of the NFC some hope. The Carolina offense is next to unstoppable but the defense can be vulnerable, however out of the NFC playoff teams only the 49ers have potent offense.
Record: 10-6 Home: 6-2 Away: 4-4 vs Playoff: 2-4
Offense: 7 Run: 11 Pass: 5 Defense: 1 Run: 1 Pass: 1
Won their division on the back of a great defense but tend to struggle if they get behind in games. If they can keep the games close they stand a chance of beating anyone.
Record: 9-7 Home: 6-2 Away: 3-5 vs Playoff: 1-5
Offense: 5 Run: 7 Pass: 4 Defense: 7 Run: 4 Pass: 6
Their only win against playoff opposition came at the expense of the Colts, don't expect them to get very far.
San Francisco 49ers
Record: 13-3 Home: 7-1 Away: 6-2 vs Playoff: 3-3
Offense: 2 Run: 8 Pass: 2 Defense: 12 Run: 12 Pass: 10
Only home defeat came against Carolina. Finished the season strong with road wins in Dallas and Carolina. Defense is an obvious weak area but it hasn't stopped them piling up the wins. I'm sure they'd love another crack at the Panthers in the Championship game but might suffer from the hard work getting there.
Record: 10-6 Home: 6-2 Away: 4-4 vs Playoff: 3-2
Offense: 12 Run: 5 Pass: 12 Defense: 3 Run: 11 Pass: 3
Started 0-3 but bounced back to claim a wildcard. They beat their wildcard opponents, the 49ers, 6-0 in week nine. However, it seems unlikely they can hold San Francisco scoreless for a second time and there offense is unlikely to be good enough to make up for it.
Silver Bowl Preview
Patriots at Eagles
New England were the best team not to make the playoffs, despite doing well statistically they found a way to lose a lot of games they should have won, let down by poor special teams. Philadelphia were not nearly as effective and yet won the same number of games. The Patriots should win providing they can avoid shooting themselves in the foot.
Patriots by 7
Seahawks at Jets
The Jets are another team who didn't live up to their performances, one more win would have seen them pip the Raiders to the last wildcard spot a team ranked behind them in almost every statistical category (except wins...). The Seahawks' record looks to be slightly flattered by their weak divisional opponents.
Jets by 7
Vikings at Rams
Minnesota finished the season on a real slump losing their last four. St Louis meanwhile finished on a high with two straight wins. It would be reasonable to expect this form to continue.
Rams by 7
Falcons at Dolphins
Both teams finished last in their divisions but Atlanta can take more pride from that having faced Carolina and San Francisco four times. Miami finished 1-3 as their schedule toughened up towards the end of the year, the Falcons should be too good for them.
Falcons by 7
Jaguars at Steelers
A repeat of their week sixteen encounter which Jacksonville won, part of a strong finish to the season. However if Pittsburgh can get a couple of early scores the Jaguars' offense might struggle to catch up.
Steelers by 3
Bears at Packers
Another rematch from week sixteen. Green Bay needed some big plays on defense and special teams to make it close last time, expect Chicago to make it more comfortable this time.
Bears by 7
2002 Season Playoffs