A Passing Fantasy Issue 107

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2002 Week One

ed Robert Crowther

Not much time this week, just for a change... The address for contributions is: 25 Colman Court, Christchurch Avenue, Finchley, London. N12 0DT. Or email at '[email protected]'.


St Louis Post Despatch - NFLBP 2002 Season Preview

Martyn Williams


AFC East



QB

RB

TE

OL

WR

DL

LB

DB

P/K

NE

4

4

2

12

4

7

10

7

0/1

MD

5

3

2

9

1

8

8

9

0/1

NJ

4/4

5

6

5

5

9

6

9

0/0

BB

3

8

3

7

2

10

5

8

1/0


In my opinion the Patriots underachieved last season in not reaching the AFC Championship game after a 15-1 season that included victories over the Bengals and Raiders, and while I think they still look very good for the Eastern title this season, I can’t help feeling that a golden opportunity to progress to the Superbowl has passed them by. The Dolphins disappointed last season after an impressive 2000 campaign, many expected them to push the Patriots to the limit. I think this season will see them rebound to a winning season, but I don’t expect them to challenge the Patriots for the division title. Both the Bills and Jets relied on their defences last season to win games, New York with more success than Buffalo. This season should see the Bills improve slightly and the Jets revert back to their normal poor selves.


Final Standings: Patriots, Dolphins (Wildcard), Bills, Jets


AFC Central



QB

RB

TE

OL

WR

DL

LB

DB

P/K

CI

3

4

2

9

4

7

9

8

1/1

BA

2/3

5

5

9

4

7

7

9

0/0

CL

4

7

1

8

5

8

7

6

0/0

TT

3/3

7

4

7

5

8

8

6

0/0


After many years of domination by Cincinnati, it finally looks as though the AFC Central could become a far more challenging division with the new coaches in Baltimore and Tennessee. I still expect the Bengals to win the division, but perhaps not as easily as in recent seasons. So who will finish second to them? The Browns have the ability but last season finished 8-8 after a 6-2 start, and I’m not convinced they are ready yet to challenge for the playoffs. My tip is for the Titans to finish second and grab a wildcard as well, while the Browns and Ravens fight a close battle for third.


Final Standings: Bengals, Titans (Wildcard), Browns, Ravens


AFC West



QB

RB

TE

OL

WR

DL

LB

DB

P/K

OA

3

2

3

12

3

6

7

9

1/1

KC

4/3

8

3

7

3

10

8

4

1/1

SS

3

3

2

12

4

7

9

10

1/1

DB

4

7

0

10

5

9

9

5

0/0


It is very difficult to see past the Superbowl Champion Raiders in this division, they have a well-balanced and experienced squad and no real competition. The Broncos aren’t a bad team as last season’s playoff run proved, but they don’t look capable of a repeat performance this season. The Seahawks finally made the playoffs last year, but I feel a more balanced gameplan is required for them to make the next step up to challenging for a division title, although they will undoubtedly once again cause the Raiders problems. The fall of Kansas City last season was a real surprise after two successive playoff appearances, it will be interesting to see if that was a one off. I don’t think it was…


Final Standings: Raiders, Seahawks, Broncos, Chiefs


NFC East



QB

RB

TE

OL

WR

DL

LB

DB

P/K

AC

3/3

7

3

11

3

8

5

12

0/0

PE

5

6

0

9

4

7

10

9

0/1

WR

4

7

0

9

6

9

11

6

0/0

DC

4

8

1

8

4

8

8

8

0/1


After a year of rebuilding the Eagles came back strong last season, the only thing that kept them from the Superbowl was their inability to beat the Rams. I find it difficult to see any team challenging them for the division title, but they may need to ease off a little on defence and take a few more risks on offence to get to a Superbowl. After years of underachievement the future looks bright in Washington at last with the new direction Coach Firth has brought with him. He should be able to get the Redskins talented squad to the playoffs. The Cowboys got to the playoffs last season on the back of a big play offence, I don’t think that will be enough for this year though. In Arizona the all-conquering team of only two seasons back is now a distant memory, I expect the decline to continue this season.


Final Standings: Eagles, Redskins (Wildcard), Cowboys, Cardinals


NFC Central



QB

RB

TE

OL

WR

DL

LB

DB

P/K

TB

3

6

0

13

4

8

7

7

0/1

DL

3/1

7

0

10

4

12

5

6

1/0

GB

4

4

5

9

3

10

6

5

1/1

CH

3

3

0

10

6

7

10

6

1/1


This division has been a model of inconsistency the last two years, and I expect that to continue as the last two years cellar dwellers, the Bears, win the division. Two early drafts have given Coach Cook a strong team to play with, especially in the passing game where the talented receiving corp should become the envy of the league. The Buccaneers should do just enough again to finish a distant second to the Bears, with the Lions and last years champions in Green Bay battling for the wooden spoon.


Final Standings: Bears, Buccaneers, Lions, Packers


NFC West



QB

RB

TE

OL

WR

DL

LB

DB

P/K

CA

3

5

3

9

4

8

6

9

1/1

SF

4

4

2

11

4

8

8

9

1/0

SL

3/3

3

3

11

3

9

7

7

1/1

NO

3

9

2

8

4

8

8

7

0/0


This promises to be a great battle again between the 49ers and Rams, with interestingly both coaches suggesting the other has the best chance of winning the division. For my money, after two seasons of taking a back seat while the Panthers and Rams have both made the Superbowl, I expect the 49ers to reclaim the division title this season. On paper both teams look very evenly matched, the 49ers having the more complete squad, the Rams having more experience in key positions. The difference could come in the schedule, the Rams tough inter-conference games against the Patriots and Bengals could go a long way to deciding who wins the division in my opinion. Carolina will still play many teams close but aren’t the team they were two seasons ago, while the Saints once again will lose more than they win, but can beat anyone on their day.


Final Standings: 49ers, Rams (Wildcard), Panthers, Saints


It’s a case of the usual suspects in the AFC (Patriots, Bengals and Raiders) but in the NFC I’m hoping the Bears will make things more interesting by mixing it with the Eagles and the NFC West big guns. My Superbowl prediction is Bengals v 49ers (which is what I said last year!), with the Bengals to win. The real darkhorses for me are the Bears.


Week One Preview


MW – Patriots by 10, Titans by 3, Raiders by 21 (Lock, Blowout), Bills by 3, Bengals by 17, Browns by 7 (Slugfest), Eagles by 10, Bears by 7 (Shootout), 49ers by 13 (Shock – Redskins), Panthers by 7, Buccaneers by 3


DB – Patriots by 14, Dolphins by 10, Raiders by 20 (Lock, Blowout), Broncos by 7, Browns by 3, Eagles by 10, Cowboys by 7, Rams by 14, 49ers by 14, Panthers by 7 (Shock, Shootout), Saints by 7 (Slugfest)

NFLBP Player Newsletter

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ed Robert Crowther