The Riverfront Reporter
NFLAY Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther
Welcome to another stop on the slightly erratic publishing schedule of the Riverfront Reporter. This issue welcomes a couple of new coaches and includes the usual review and preview stuff. James Mackay took over in Green Bay a couple of weeks ago and has sent a player profile which you will find below. Mark Gamble is a name to strike fear into the hearts of Gameplan coaches everywhere he has spent the last few years terrorising various Basic leagues, excellent records and superbowl victories everywhere. He is also the father of the 'Gamble defense' (not an original name, I know...), which is notorious for flattening opposition QB's. I don't know if Mark plans to use his infamous strategy in Pittsburgh, but, once he has settled in, I expect him to improve the team beyond all recognition by next season.
The next issue will be sometime around week 13 or 14, depending on how much time I get to write anything and the number of contributions I receive. Send your contributions to me at:
79 Petworth Road
Or email at '[email protected]'.
Review of weeks seven to nine
Well, three weeks have passed since the last review, and in that time things have for the main tightened up rather than changed drastically. The only new division leader is Robert Puckett's Dolphins: in spite of two crushing wins the crucial game was a week 8 13-12 win over the Colts, leaving the Colts a game behind the pace in the AFC east. The Phish controlled the ball throughout, racking up 181 yards rushing, limiting the normally very good Colts offense to 4 FGs and putting their very good rushing D to the sword.
The AFC central has turned into a dogfight for a wildcard spot behind the Ravens, who march serenely on unbeaten, with the Bengals currently nosing in front (though I suspect our Editor is still gloomy about his prospects). In the AFC west Coach Mennear's Raiders are still out in front with a 3 game lead, though they did drop a W to the Jets last week, mainly due to only making 8 first downs all game.
So, the AFC playoff picture looks like this: the Ravens look like a lock: The Chiefs have a lot of Offense to improve to catch the Raiders, and Miami and Indianapolis control the East and a wild card. The other spot looks like one of the fast-improving Patriots or the Jags, with Cincy and the Chefs, sorry, Chiefs as outsiders in that order.
Finally, Pittsburgh have brought in an experienced Coach from a rival league to try and avoid the expense of paying the no.1 pick's signing bonus: I believe Mark Gamble is profiled elsewhere in this newsletter.
And so, to the NFC, where remarkably little has happened. In the West the Falcons dropped a very tight game against the rather less than serene Panthers and allowed San Francisco to leapfrog them into 2nd place. Carolina still hold 1st place.
The chasing pack in the Central all had a disastrous 3 weeks, giving Coach Arthurton what must be an unassailable 5 game lead. The most interesting development was the signing, waiving and re-signing of promising DE Vonnie Holliday in 8 days by the Packers: I am informed a false-positive drugs test was responsible and the over-eager D-line coach who fired Holliday has been replaced.
In the East the Cowpokes still lead, thanks to their Stingy D and a steady offense. Washington have leapt from bottom to 2nd with the guidance of new main man Arnie Kitching, and are probably the most improved team since week 6. The Giants and Eagles may well look back at this stretch as where it all went wrong: both 0-3.
The NFC playoff picture: Chicago are in, barring a complete collapse. Dallas and Washington are fighting for the east with the loser facing elimination from a wild card due to San Francisco and Atlanta's better points record, and Carolina Continue to control the West.
Name: James Mackay
Occupation: Astrophysics student
Gameplan Experience: Current coach of NFLBW Packers and NFLAY Packers
Favourite Team: Green Bay Packers
Favourite Things: Watching and playing American football (currently with the South Wales Warriors), basketball, and clubbing
Favourite Authors: Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett
Favourite TV: West Wing, Futurama, Simpsons, Family Guy, Equinox
Favourite Films: Shawshank Redemption, Any Given Sunday, Saving Private Ryan, American Beauty
Favourite Music: Radiohead, Blur, Feeder, Manics, Guns N Roses, Queen
If I won the lottery... It would be a bloody miracle as I don't play it.
Preview of week ten
Colts at Dolphins
A crunch matchup for Miami, if they want to prove themselves worthy of taking the AFC East crown they need to beat the current champs. Indianapolis slipped up at home but I'm sure coach Pickett will have been making plans to improve on that ever since. Colts by 3
Patriots at Jets
Both teams are still in contention for the playoffs in what is turning out to be the AY's toughest division. New England are currently in the second wildcard slot with New York just one game off the pace. The Jets will have to improve significantly on their week eight performance in Massachusetts if they want to stay in the playoff running. Patriots by 7
Bengals at Jaguars
The defending central champs were less than impressive in their last encounter with Jacksonville, failing to score an offensive touchdown but sneaking the win thanks to a defensive return. Cincinnati have yet to recapture their form of last season and will be looking to their defense to have a big day.
Ravens at Steelers
A new coach in Pittsburgh but I doubt he'll have enough time in charge to provide much of an obstacle for the Baltimore express. The Ravens are firing on all cylinders and have been doing since the end of last season. Ravens by 10
Raiders at Seahawks
Coach Mennear's return to Oakland has been a great success, the Raiders have repeatedly found a way to win despite never showing a significant advantage over their opponents. Seattle are basically cannon fodder this year. Raiders by 10
Chargers at Chiefs
After making it all the way to the AFC Championship last year, San Diego have fallen from grace in spectacular fashion. The offense has never been that spectacular but now the defense is leaking pas yards at an alarming rate. Kansas City, not one of the league's better teams, dealt comfortably with the Chargers in San Diego. Chiefs by 7
Cowboys at Giants
Dallas are once again in playoff contention, thanks mainly to that impressive defense. It took a defensive touchdown to see them past New York in week eight, but I think the Giants have now missed their big chance to have an impact on the NFC East race. Cowboys by 10
Redskins at Eagles
Coach Kitching has Washington playing great football at the minute, without overpowering anyone they are nevertheless winning comfortably. Philly couldn't make much of an impression in week eight, and will be looking for some big plays from defense or special teams to have a chance at home. Redskins by 7
Lions at Bears
A miracle turnaround this season in Chicago from Neil Arthurton sees the Bears as major superbowl contenders, certainly no-one in the division looks like giving them much opposition. Detroit are in second place, but are a full five games behind. Six after this game. Bears by 14
Vikings at Packers
Not much but pride to play for here. Coach Mackay has yet to make much of an impact in Green Bay but, as we all know, overnight success is hard to produce in the AY. Minnesota were division champs two seasons ago, but don't look like repeating that in the near future, even after an impressive showing last week. Vikings by 1
49ers at Rams
The 49ers were made to work last week but they are a class outfit, they may not repeat week eight's result but a victory seems likely. St Louis seem to have finally gotten demoralised having to play their perennial playoff contending divisional rivals six times a year. 49ers by 10
Panthers at Falcons
After waiting most of last season for the (relatively) poor defense to upset the Carolina applecart, the rest of the NFC West must be dismayed by this season's turn of events. The offense seems to be slowing down (though, of course, it still leads the league) while the defense has stepped up a gear and has now reached the heady heights of 'nearly average'. Atlanta are a good team, but they aren't in the same class as the Panthers. Even though they ran Carolina close in week eight it took five turnovers to manage even that, can't see that happening again. Panthers by 10
2003 Season Week 10