The Riverfront Reporter
NFLAY Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther
Welcome to another issue, it's been a while. This issue appears primarily because of the contributions of Andy Crawley who has written loads of stuff, in fact most of this issue my planned contributions have been curtailed by my getting a job and losing my league roundup, so apologies from me and thanks to Andy. In the months since issue three I've moved house, if you have any contributions for a future issue the address is now:
79 Petworth Road
You can still email me at [email protected].
2003 Season predictions
After four weeks things are already shaping up, last years' playoff teams, with the exception of San Diego, have made solid starts. Miami are off to a fast start in the East but the Colts are on their tail, their encounters in weeks eight and ten could be decisive. Baltimore are living up to their status as champions and are already ahead of rivals Cincinnati thanks to a surprise win by New England. The Bengals need to win this week or see the Ravens slip two games clear. The West is already looking like the weakest link, no team has a winning record. Coach Mennear took the Raiders to the Superbowl two season ago, however, so they can't be counted out.
The big story in the NFC is the Dallas defense, it was pretty good last year but has gotten better in the offseason. A stunning averaged of only four points conceded per makes them favourites in the East. The revival of Chicago and the continued improvement of Detroit will hopefully make the Central a more interesting place this season, the Bears in particular look well equipped for a run at the playoffs. In the West it is the same old story Carolina fell one game short of a perfect regular season last year and have started like they want to go one better. The defense has been playing a bit better and the offense, which Coach Crawley assures me is misfiring, still leads the league. The 49ers are still snapping at their heels and, as they proved last season, are more than capable of upsetting the Carolina applecart but their defensive vulnerabilities mean they may struggle to match their rivals over a full season.
Rob AFC: Ravens v Dolphins
NFC: Panthers v Bears
Superbowl: Ravens v Panthers
Andy - AFC: Ravens v Dolphins or Bengals.
NFC: Panthers v Cowboys or Niners.
Superbowl: Ravens beat Cowboys.
Review of Weeks One to Four
First off, welcome to our (not so) new Coaches. Coach Kitching has spent 58 LPs in 3 weeks in charge, Coach Mennear 45 in 4 weeks in his new spell. Coach Arthurton has been quieter, but the veteran has turned the Bears around and put them into contention for the NFC Central title.
Week 1 was notable for shutout by the Ravens, Cowboys, Bears, and Falcons over the Chiefs, Packers, Skins and Vikings respectively, with the Cowpokes scoring a league-high 38 points. The colts produced 159 yards rushing against the Steelers: The Panthers 310 passing, but a miserable 4 yards on the ground. Still, an improvement on their -(yes, minus)16 in preseason.
Week 2 had that rarity, a tied game: the 49er's 411 yards passing was not enough to beat the Falcons, who produced a stupendous 216 yards rushing. The Jags scored 18 in the 4th to tiewith the Ravens, but couldn't keep the Superbowl winners out of field-goal range and went down 28-25.
Week 3 saw the Chiefs not only score their first points but also win in OT: 13-10 over the Jets. The Panthers and the Bears scored 73 points in a shootout in Chicago, and the Ravens stung the Colts for 3 safeties in a 22-12 win. The Giants ran over the Rams for 202 yards in a 30-17 win.
In Week 4 the NFC central started to look like a two-horse race whilst the Cowboys stingy Defence placed them firmly in control of the NFC east. The Bengals, Ravens, Cowboys and Panthers all went on the rampage, and the Eagles came from behind to beat the pack 27-24 in OT.
And so, after 4 weeks: The Ravens stand not only as defending Champions but also undefeated and the most complete team in the league. There are a lot of safeties being scored this year, and it's not just the passing teams suffering. And if you thought 58 LPs was a lot to spend, San Francisco have so far spent 87 this season (mainly on the D side), and the Giants, Seahawks and Packers 75 LPs each. I just hope they've hit the cap limit...
For the most part, the usual suspects are leading the charge (a product of the schedules I suspect) but most divisions are still wide open: there are 12 games to go (as I write) in a long season and anything may happen. The Panthers may even get a running game...
Finally, thanks to Rob for Editing the newsletter: It has livened the game up considerably. Someone out there must be a better predictor than me: please have a go. And can I once more recommend the Gameplan club on yahoo for those with net access: it is very educational.
Preview of Week 5
AC Game of the Week: Panthers at Niners. A scorefest. Big brewing rivalry, and so close for 2 1/2 years you can't slip a fag paper between them. God alone knows who'll win...
RC Game of the Week: Bengals at Ravens. Cincy are the division champs but Baltimore went one better last season and won the superbowl. The Ravens have the top ranked defense in the AFC, the Bengals rank second, but look to have a significant advantage on offense. If Baltimore get ahead early the Bengals are unlikely to be able to catchup (as their last encounter proved) but, if defenses dominate, it will come down to who can hold their nerve in the fourth quarter.
Colts at Pats Pats by 6 Colts by 7
Jets at Fins Fins by 3 Dolphins by 10
Bengals at Ravens Ravens by 7 (Sorry Rob)
Steelers at Jags Jags by 6 Jaguars by 10
Chargers at Raiders Chargers by 7 Raiders by 7
Seahawks at Chiefs Seahawks by 3 Chiefs by 1
Cowboys at Redskins Cowboys by 14 Cowboys by 14
Eagles at Giants Giants by 6 Eagles by 7
Lions at Vikings Lions by 10 Lions by 10
Packers at Bears Bears by 14 Bears by 14
Panthers at 49ers Panthers by 1
Rams at Falcons Falcons by 10 Falcons by 7
Preview of Week 6
AC Game of the week: In a week of AFC-NFC match-ups, I go for Steelers v Rams: one will get their first win of the year. Rams by 6.
RC Game of the Week: Bears at Dolphins. Two teams seemingly on the rise. The Dolphins have stormed to a 4-0 start on the back of a formidable looking pass offense and the league's best pass defense. Chicago have a similar pass fuelled offense but have only been average defensively, still they have improved markedly on last season. Are these teams championship material? This game could tell us...
Colts v Lions Colts by 10 Colts by 14
Vikings v Patriots Pats by 7 Patriots by 10
Jets v Packers Jets by 3 Jets by 7
Bears v Dolphins Fins by 6 Dolphins by 3
Niners v Ravens Ravens by 10 - the best team in the league Ravens by 7
Steelers v Rams. Rams by 6 Rams by 10
Falcons v Jags Falcons by 3 Jaguars by 1
Chargers v Cowboys Cowboys by 7- what a D! Cowboys by 10
Redskins v Raiders Raiders by 6 Raiders by 7
Seahawks v Eagles. Eagles by 14 Eagles by 10
Giants v Chiefs Giants by 14 Giants by 10
Bengals v Panthers Your Editor vs your Correspondent! Pass O vs Pass D... Panthers by 7
2003 Season Week 5