A Passing Fantasy Issue 100

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2001 Season Week 15

ed Robert Crowther

"Welcome to the inaugural edition of the NFLBP player newsletter. Hopefully this should become a forum for discussion between coaches in our league. I am Robert Crowther, coach of the Oakland Raiders, and my ambition is to be newsletter editor - not newsletter writer!"

With these words I introduced the very first NFL-BP newsletter, oh so long ago... One season later saw the introduction of 'A Passing Fantasy' – the name was the inspiration of Pat Ratcliffe, and opened with me bemoaning my first superbowl defeat:


"SUPERBOWL REVIEW
What can I say? I'm sick as a parrot. Although the 49ers were dominant on offense and defense it was the Raiders inability to take advantage of turnovers that proved to be their undoing, twice getting the ball inside the 49er 30 in the second half and only getting field goals. The 49ers defense had a superb day, stuffing the raiders on the ground giving Billy Joe Hobert all sorts of headaches. Both opening kickoffs were returned for touchdowns (surely some sort of record) as special teams cancelled each other out - the score was 7-7 before the first pay from scrimmage."

Aah, those were the days – if only I could get to the superbowl now I'd be happy! It is good to see I fulfilled my ambition for the newsletter, thanks to all the people who have contributed over the years – keep up the good work! A hundred issues later and, despite some coughs and splutters, APF is still going strong.


If you want to get in on the legend that is APF, the address for contributions is:


25 Colman Court

Christchurch Avenue

Finchley

London

N12 0DT


Or email at '[email protected]'.


Week Thirteen Review


New England dealt comfortably enough with the Jets, even though they weren't racking up the points the Patriots were never in any danger of losing. Miami looked to be in a similar position in Buffalo, building an early lead but not adding to it. In the fourth quarter the Bills mounted a comeback and forced the game to overtime, where neither team was incisive enough to finish it off, a result that could cost the Dolphins' playoff hopes dearly. In Cleveland the Bengals stamped their authority all over their nearest divisional rivals with another impressive offensive display. The Browns were able to move the ball but kept on falling short on third down. Baltimore won the battle of the new coaches with a power rushing display and a kick return touchdown, Tennessee may feel hard done by that they didn't come out of the first quarter with a more decisive lead. Oakland did their playoff credibility no good at all with a shambolic offensive display in Seattle. The Seahawks were none too impressive themselves, the teams combining for 9 turnovers, but were able to take advantage of field position to kick the winning field goals. Kansas City's dreams of a third consecutive playoff appearance were destroyed by the Denver defense, who not only limited them to just nine points but managed six on their own.


Arizona managed to score 37 points with less than 250 yards of offense as the Washington offense gave them some gilt edged opportunities. Dallas surprised the Eagles, and moved into pole position for the second NFC wildcard, despite not gaining a single yard rushing. Philadelphia's three fumbles gave the Cowboys a big head start, and the comeback was stifled by some problems with two point conversions. Tampa again demonstrated the sort of form that took them to the playoffs last season, shutting down the free scoring Packers for most of the game, but it's all a bit too late. Detroit saw their slim playoff hopes vanish in Chicago where, despite raking up nearly 1000 yards between them, neither team could find the endzone in overtime. St Louis guaranteed themselves a playoff spot with a another win over the reigning champions. Carolina now look unlikely to even have a chance to defend their title in the playoffs. Meanwhile in New Orleans the San Francisco juggernaut rolled on, racking up a huge 32 first downs on the way to a comfortable win.


Offensive performance of the week goes to Cincinnati, yet another impressive all round display. Defensive performance of the week goes to Denver, who didn't need much help from their offense. Special teams performance of the week goes to Arizona, good returning and great kicking.


Predictions Standings

Darren Birtchnell


Martyn Williams

13.38

(14)

Rob Crowther

12.55

(11)

Darren Birtchnell

12.38

(13)

Martin Devine

12.00

(3)


ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH

Coach Williams Mid-Week Press Conference


It was an extremely happy Coach Williams who appeared at Rams Park for the mid-week press conference this week, as he was met by a chorus of cheers from the local media, worthy congratulations for bringing a playoff game to St Louis for the first time in many seasons. He responded in kind, "Thanks guys, I’d just like to thank you for sticking with me the last two seasons, life is certainly easier without the media on your back. We are now in a position where St Louis really does have a football team it can be proud of, as was shown in our week 10 defeat of San Francisco. I know that Coach Coleman has lost interest in the Panthers after winning last years Superbowl but it is always a hard game against the Champions, and to win in the fashion we did was fun."


Rookie Post-Despatch reporter Mike Martz asked Coach Williams how he was feeling about the team going into week 15. "Good, real good" he replied." This team hasn’t looked back since week 10 and of late our offence has really clicked. Just look at last week, 3 TD passes and 3 TD runs, zero sacks and a rush average of 4.6 yards a carry. When our OL win the war in the trenches with such ease we have the offence now to really make the opposition pay. Special mention must go to Kurt Warner, after week 9 he had thrown for 12 TD's but also 12 interceptions, but in the last 5 weeks he has really turned his season around throwing for 15 TD's and only 4 interceptions. And I have to mention our defence; against the run they have been magnificent all season, only conceding 2 TD’s and less than 3 yards per carry, and against the pass they have performed better than the stats suggest, having picked off 19 passes. You need to remember that most teams have spent the second half of the ball game passing on us, needing to play catch up. That skews the stats."


So what are the Rams plans for the last two weeks of the regular season? Have they given up all hope of winning the NFC West? "Realistically yes, I can’t see Coach Devine letting his 49ers lose either of the last two games, let alone both. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be letting the players cruise into the playoffs – we are lucky in that both the Packers and Saints are good teams so we won’t be taking the W for granted. Having said that, we are currently running through some things in practice that we are looking to use in the playoffs so in that respect you could say we aren’t fully focused on the next two games."


Finally, how does Coach Williams view the playoffs shaping up? "AFC, it’s all about the Bengals and Patriots and there really is nothing to choose between them. The Raiders could throw a spanner in the works but they have lost 3 real bad games this year and I think Coach Crowther needs mini and training camps to refocus his team. In the NFC it is 49ers all the way, unless we can stop them. I said at the beginning of the season we were one season away from a serious Superbowl challenge, and I still believe that. But a Rams v 49ers Championship Game – what a mouth watering prospect that is!"


STATS CORNER

Martyn Williams


RUSHING OFFENCE

Team

Att

Yards

AvgR

TD

Fm

Rating

Rams

463

1650

3.56

20

7

75.04

Bengals

337

1548

4.59

16

12

71.65

Patriots

506

2186

4.32

10

7

70.09

Packers

433

1339

3.09

15

6

69.89

49ers

434

1702

3.92

13

8

69.87

Saints

540

1632

3.02

23

11

69.46

Raiders

422

1672

3.96

14

10

68.73

Eagles

456

1748

3.83

10

10

64.47

Buccaneers

393

1339

3.41

8

7

63.77

Lions

472

1383

2.93

14

12

61.30


PASSING OFFENCE

Team

Cmp

Att

Pct

Yds

TD

Int

Sk

Rating

Packers

218

328

66.46

3359

26

14

38

108.78

Panthers

222

347

63.98

2738

29

10

43

104.12

Patriots

288

431

66.82

3071

28

10

36

99.44

Bengals

320

498

64.26

3929

36

16

53

99.21

49ers

282

456

61.84

3383

35

13

41

98.24

Broncos

273

439

62.19

3536

21

9

59

94.87

Cowboys

200

384

52.08

3295

30

12

39

94.26

Saints

254

402

63.18

3359

18

14

29

89.97

Rams

247

423

58.39

3257

27

16

41

88.34

Raiders

286

475

60.21

3381

32

19

39

87.71


RUSHING DEFENCE

Team

Att

Yards

AvgR

TD

Fm

Rating

Eagles

390

644

1.65

6

14

43.96

Rams

388

991

2.55

2

14

44.29

Raiders

347

1085

3.13

3

11

50.74

Patriots

275

840

3.05

3

9

50.77

Seahawks

382

1131

2.96

4

12

50.79

Bengals

386

1195

3.10

1

9

52.36

Chiefs

389

1208

3.11

2

9

53.52

Bills

426

1464

3.44

7

14

54.82

Lions

472

1123

2.38

9

10

56.43

49ers

493

1365

2.77

8

10

57.69


PASSING DEFENCE

Team

Cmp

Att

Pct

Yds

TD

Int

Sk

Rating

Patriots

288

535

53.83

3383

10

21

51

63.17

Raiders

265

488

54.30

2976

12

13

52

69.84

Broncos

276

503

54.87

3363

20

23

65

69.87

Dolphins

273

507

53.85

3400

20

21

47

70.79

Bengals

264

464

56.90

2821

18

16

43

73.39

49ers

238

417

57.07

2881

14

15

38

74.64

Cards

230

401

57.36

2979

16

16

41

77.51

Rams

262

445

58.88

3073

21

19

39

77.86

Panthers

288

489

58.90

3625

20

20

39

78.64

Bills

293

492

59.55

3626

23

20

50

81.06


MISC OFFENCE

Team

AvgGn

Cincinnati Bengals

5.87

Green Bay Packers

5.64

Detroit Lions

5.50

Seattle Seahawks

5.48

San Francisco 49ers

5.24

New England Patriots

5.22

Oakland Raiders

5.19

St Louis Rams

5.07

Dallas Cowboys

5.05

New Orleans Saints

4.99


MISC DEFENCE

Team

AvgGn

Cincinnati Bengals

4.26

Philadelphia Eagles

4.27

San Francisco 49ers

4.28

Oakland Raiders

4.29

New York Jets

4.37

St Louis Rams

4.44

Miami Dolphins

4.46

Denver Broncos

4.47

Baltimore Ravens

4.60

New England Patriots

4.61



Week Fifteen Preview


Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Martyn Williams and Darren Birtchnell.


Raiders at Patriots – a big game for both teams, New England want to maintain their challenge for homefield advantage, while Oakland want to prove they belong among the elite after some dodgy performances lately.


Chiefs at Dolphins – Kansas City's playoff hopes are all but dead, while Miami are hanging on by a thread. Neither have been particularly impressive in the last few weeks but homefield will give Miami the edge. Dolphins by 3


Bengals at Jets – New York will be no match for Cincy, even if the QB gets time to throw his receivers will be covered. Meanwhile Cincinnati will be racking up the points. Bengals by 14


Ravens at Bills – Baltimore looked reasonably competent last week, and can only get better as their new coach has time to mold them. Buffalo put in one of their better performances of the season last week, but I reckon that was a one off. Ravens by 7


Seahawks at Browns – The winner of this game will be in pole position for the second wildcard, while the loser could find themselves out of the running. The teams look evenly matched, but I'll go with the home team. Browns by 1


Broncos at Titans – A win for Denver ensures them a place in the playoffs, it seems unlikely that Tennessee will be good enough to stop them. Broncos by 10


Panthers at Cardinals – Two teams that are a shadow of their former selves, this time last season both were leading their division. The rot hasn't got so far in Carolina, yet. Panthers by 7


49ers at Eagles – Philadelphia are a very solid team, with an awesome run defense. San Francisco, however, are the class act of the NFC and are well balanced enough to take on anyone. 49ers by 7


Bucs at Redskins – Tampa have shown signs of a return to form in recent weeks. They should be more than good enough for the winless 'Skins. Bucs by 10


Lions at Cowboys – Dallas are the surprise contender in this year's playoff race. They have been quietly winning without being spectacular. Detroit probably just as good, but seem to have lost the winning habit. Cowboys by 7


Rams at Packers – Not much for either team to play for, but St Louis are by far the better team. Rams by 10


Saints at Bears – Chicago might be just the team to exploit the New Orleans secondary. Bears by 3


Lock – Rams

Shock – Bears

Blowout – Bengals

Shootout – Lions at Cowboys

Slugfest – Chiefs at Dolphins


MW – Patriots by 10, Dolphins by 3 (Slugfest), Bengals by 21 (Lock, Blowout), Ravens by 7, Seahawks by 7, Browns by 7, Panthers by 7, 49ers by 10, Bucs by 3 (Shock – Redskins), Cowboys by 7, Bears by 3, Shootout – Rams at Packers.


DB – Patriots by 3, Dolphins by 3, Ravens by 7 (Slugfest), Seahawks by 6 (Shock), Broncos by 7, Panthers by 10, 49ers by 7, Bucs by 3, Cowboys by 7 (Shootout), Rams by 10, Saints by 10, Lock, Blowout – Bengals.






NFLBP Player Newsletter

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ed Robert Crowther