A Passing Fantasy Issue 103

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2001 Divisional Round

ed Robert Crowther

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Wildcard Review


The pass rushes were on top form in Denver, twelve sacks between the two teams with two safeties in the first quarter and another one in the second and third quarters. All the pressure didn't seem to inhibit the passing game much as both teams went over 300 yards. Seattle, as usual, got their yardage infrequently and in big lumps while the Bronco offense was more consistent and, ultimately, more effective.


The 49ers were favourites at home in the NFC wildcard game but it was the Cowboys who went in at half time with the lead thanks to four field goals. The third quarter saw Dallas finally score a touchdown and extend their lead to nine points. San Francisco didn't panic and showed their class in the fourth quarter, racking up three touchdowns and making the final score look far more comfortable than it was.


Silver Bowl Review


Carolina dominated the visiting Browns thanks to three interceptions and one long touchdown pass. Miami built a large first half lead but were made to hang on in the fourth quarter as the Bucs came back to within one touchdown. Defenses dominated in New York, the only scoring through three quarters was two safeties for Arizona, but a 92 yard touchdown pass tipped the balance for the Jets in the fourth. Kansas City got four turnovers out of Baltimore and were able to turn them into a comfortable margin of victory. The Lions offense was in good form passing the ball, while their defense was all over the New Orleans running game. A new coach made all the difference in Buffalo as the Bears became the only team to win on the road in the preliminary round of the Silver Bowl.


Final predictions Standings

Darren Birtchnell


Martyn Williams

13.44

(16)

Rob Crowther

12.83

(12)

Darren Birtchnell

12.33

(15)

Martin Devine

12.00

(3)

Divisional Games Preview

Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals


MW – The big question is do the Broncos stand a chance? Probably not much of one, but they are a better team than some think, and have won 7 of their last 9 games. They have very clearly defined strengths (pass offence, monster pass rush, forcing turnovers) and weaknesses (rush offence, rush defence, putting points on the board). In comparison the Bengals don’t appear to have many weaknesses, except for a negative turnover ratio and an average kicker, neither of which have troubled them on the way to a 15-1 record. The Broncos only chance would appear to be forcing turnovers in key situations, but I expect the Bengals to pound out a victory by a large margin. Bengals by 20


Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots


MW – I was very surprised to read Coach Pinder’s views on his chances in the playoffs. Having won 15 games straight and having already beaten every other team to make the playoffs in the AFC this season I consider the Patriots chances to be equal that of the Bengals. They really don’t appear to have any weaknesses, finishing in the top 5 in all the major stats categories, and combining an unstoppable running game with the best passing offence in the playoffs. Having said all that the Raiders are never an easy team to play against, even when they are a little off form like this season. They have shown a new found ability to break games wide open with their offence this year and I think this is their best chance – go for the jugular early and take it from there. To have a good chance they will have to keep turnovers to a minimum though, difficult against the league leaders in turnover ratio. Patriots by 10


San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles


MW – This is a very difficult game to call. On paper the 49ers are the better team, but when you take into account their recent poor form, getting here via the wildcard, and playing in Philadelphia, where they lost only 3 short weeks ago the picture looks a lot more distorted. Coach Devine will be hoping that last weeks 4th Quarter comeback against the Cowboys will have finally seen off the poor form of recent weeks, and that the allure of revenge against the Eagles and Rams will be enough to see his team through. The way to beat the Eagles is passing the ball, running on them is basically a non-starter, and the Eagles do have the worst pass defence of all the playoff teams. For the Eagles I think it is simply a case of stopping the 49ers scoring through the air, and expect the teams freshness and homefield advantage to pull you through. I’m not convinced that will be enough... 49ers by 7


Green Bay Packers at St Louis Rams


MW – This is a game where the Rams will be big favourites. The two teams met only 3 weeks ago in Green Bay and the Rams ran away 34-3 winners, on the back of forcing 6 turnovers. If the statistics are to be believed the Packers have only one hope, to beat the Rams with the best passing offence in the NFC play offs – the only problem with that plan is the Rams having the best pass defence in the NFC playoffs! Defensively the Rams match up well with the Packers, offensively they blow them away. Everything points towards a big Rams victory – Coach Williams has never lost to the Packers, the Rams are unbeaten at home this year and on a 7 game winning streak, the Rams are adept at getting turnovers, the Packers give the ball away too easily – the list goes on. If the Rams protect the ball and stay focused then Coach Williams should get his first BP play off victory, but being the playoffs anything can happen...

NFLBP Player Newsletter

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ed Robert Crowther