A PASSING FANTASY ISSUE 21 1997 SEASON WEEK 20 NFLBP PLAYER NEWSLETTER ed. Robert Crowther

In this issue...

A bumper edition this week, thanks to a draft analysis and an in depth look at the Superbowl. If you fancy doing some predictions for next season, division champs etc., send them to:

2 Lily Terrace
Edinburgh
EH11 1PN

PLAYOFF REVIEW

The Raiders struggled on offense for the second week, but got a kick return and a fumble return for a touchdown in a critical third quarter. Pittsburgh missed out on their early opportunities with a horrendous day from their kicker. After a close first quarter the Packers were emphatic in victory, passing with abandon. The Bears struggled on offense the whole day, their only TD coming on a return.

CONSOLATION BOWL REVIEW

The Bucs got ahead early and were able to control the game against the Panthers. Carolina threw three interceptions in their attempts to catch up. Cincinnati not only won comfortably, but rubbed the Bronco's noses in it with 24 points in the fourth quarter. Denver were always going to struggle if they couldn't establish the run and had no answer to some huge scoring plays from the Bengals.

DRAFT ANALYSIS

A team by team listing showing draftees and free agent acquisitions, along with rankings in major categories last season. A grade is given which represents how well I think a team has done in filling it's needs relative to draft position. It should be pointed out that I have not taken into account any major retirements, which might change a team's needs, or that teams who have signed a lot of free agents will not have used those losing points in fixing step losses.

Miami Dolphins Draft Pos: 17 Grade: B+
Off: 3 Run: 8 Pass: 5 Def: 9 Run: 12 Pass: 8
1: LB 3 DRI 2: OL 2 OQB 3: DL 2 DBZ FA: OL 6 1 ORO DB 8 1 DPL
Run defense was the weakness in last season's key games, that need was addressed with two picks. Additions to the offensive line will help the whole offense, already the best in the AFC.

Buffalo Bills Draft Pos: 16 Grade: B
Off: 10 Run: 3 Pass: 20 Def: 3 Run: 5 Pass: 10
1: LB 3 DRI 2: RB 2 ORI 3: DL 2 DBZ FA: WR 7 1 OPL
Buffalo have been building on their strengths but may regret neglecting their pass defense.

New York Jets Draft Pos: 11 Grade: B
Off: 17 Run: 21 Pass: 11 Def: 14 Run: 20 Pass: 6
1: QB 4 OPS 2: RB 2 ORO 3: DB 2 DPL FA: DL 3 1 DRI
Addressed major needs in run offense and defense, remains to be seen whether they have done enough to be competitive in a run dominated division.

New England Patriots Draft Pos: 1 Grade: D
Off: 24 Run: 20 Pass: 23 Def: 20 Run: 22 Pass: 11
1: RB 3 ORI 2: QB 3 OPS 3: OL 1 ORI
Finally got some offensive line help in the third round, but there was a two strength player available. Hard to fathom why they picked another RB in the first.

Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Pos: 20 Grade: B
Off: 8 Run: 9 Pass: 9 Def: 8 Run: 11 Pass: 9
1: DB 2 DPL 2: OL 2 OQB 3: WR 1 OPS FA: LB 7 2 DRI TE 8 1 OPS
A balanced draft, reflecting a balanced team. It looks like they traded down in the first round to get the strengths they wanted, freeing up LP's for free agents.

Jacksonville Jaguars Draft Pos: 14 Grade: B-
Off: 12 Run: 23 Pass: 1 Def: 7 Run: 19 Pass: 3
1: DL 3 DBZ 2: OL 2 ORI 3: DB 1 DPL
Jaguars again drafted for defense, but managed to pick up some help for the running game. Could have picked up a two strength defensive player in the third round, however.

Cincinnati Bengals Draft Pos: 13 Grade: A
Off: 10 Run: 12 Pass: 8 Def: 10 Run: 15 Pass: 5
1: LB 3 DRI 2: LB 2 DRO 3: OL 2 OQB
Moved to improve their only major weakness, and also picked up help on the offensive line.

Cleveland Browns Draft Pos: 5 Grade: B
Off: 19 Run: 17 Pass: 14 Def: 17 Run: 10 Pass: 18
1: LB 4 DRI 2: LB 1 2 DRO 3: DB 2 DRO FA: TE 4 1 ORO
Can't help but feel they may have benefitted more from one of the three strength DB's available in the second round, but defense will be vastly improved next season.

Oakland Raiders Draft Pos: 24 Grade: B
Off: 7 Run: 1 Pass: 21 Def: 1 Run: 3 Pass: 2
1: DB 3 DPL 2: TE 2 OPS 3: QB 2 OPS FA: RB 4 1 OPS*
After going with the best available player in the first round, the Raiders moved to diversify their offense.

Denver Broncos Draft Pos: 12 Grade: B-
Off: 15 Run: 13 Pass: 16 Def: 12 Run: 14 Pass: 13
1: QB 3 OPL 2: RB 2 ORI 3: DL 2 DBZ
A team in need of general improvement rather than specifics, could perhaps have got better value for their picks.

Seattle Seahawks Draft Pos: 9 Grade: A-
Off: 18 Run: 15 Pass: 18 Def: 16 Run: 18 Pass: 12
1: OL 3 OQB 2: DB 3 DPL 3: WR 2 OPL
The bonus of a three strength player in the second round is offset by the fact that the glaring need was for run defense.

Kansas City Chiefs Draft Pos: 2 Grade: C
Off: 22 Run: 11 Pass: 22 Def: 24 Run: 23 Pass: 23
1: TE 3 OPS 2: QB 3 OPS 3: DL 2 DBZ
The worst defense in the league is unlikely to make any significant improvements after this draft.

Arizona Cardinals Draft Pos: 22 Grade: A
Off: 13 Run: 14 Pass: 13 Def: 11 Run: 7 Pass: 17
1: DB 3 DPL 2: OL 2 OQB 3: KK 1** OFG
After addressing their major need in the first round the Cards got good value for their lower picks.

Dallas Cowboys Draft Pos: 10 Grade: B
Off: 21 Run: 4 Pass: 24 Def: 4 Run: 2 Pass: 16
1: DL 3 DBZ 2: RB 2 ORI 3: WR 1 OPL
Pass defense should improve with experience, so that wasn't a major need. Offense in general would receive a major fillip if they actually throw to the new WR.

Washington Redskins Draft Pos: 8 Grade: C
Off: 1 Run: 5 Pass: 4 Def: 22 Run: 21 Pass: 15
1: OL 3 OQB 2: LB 2 DRI 3: RB 1 ORI
Although this is a team in need of blocking so much more could have been done to improve the defense.

Philadelphia Eagles Draft Pos: 6 Grade: A
Off: 6 Run: 7 Pass: 10 Def: 18 Run: 9 Pass: 20
1: LB 3 DRI 2: DB 3 DPL 3: WR 2 OPL FA: QB 2 3 OPS
Just about perfect, help everywhere they needed it. Will the Eagles finally fulfil their potential?

Green Bay Packers Draft Pos: 23 Grade: B
Off: 9 Run: 19 Pass: 3 Def: 2 Run: 4 Pass: 4
1: KK 1 OFG** 2: OL 2 OQB 3: TE 2 OPS FA: OL 6 2 OQB
Could certainly have waited to select a kicker, but did well with the rest of their picks.

Chicago Bears Draft Pos: 19 Grade: B
Off: 5 Run: 10 Pass: 6 Def: 19 Run: 16 Pass: 19
1: DB 3 DPL 2: OL 2 OQB 3: QB 2 OPS
Defense is still the problem for the Bears, more could have been done for this aspect, but got good value for their picks.

Detroit Lions Draft Pos: 18 Grade: A
Off: 2 Run: 16 Pass: 2 Def: 15 Run: 13 Pass: 14
1: DL 3 DBZ 2: WR 2 OPL 3: DB 2 DPS FA: OL 5 1 ORO DL 6 1 DRI RB 8 1 OPS*
Aggressive in the free agent market, the Lions improved just about every aspect of their team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft Pos: 7 Grade: C
Off: 20 Run: 22 Pass: 7 Def: 5 Run: 1 Pass: 21
1: RB 3 ORI 2: QB 2 OPS 3: DL 1 DRO
A three strength DB would maybe have been a better choice in the second round.

San Francisco 49ers Draft Pos: 21 Grade: B
Off: 16 Run: 18 Pass: 15 Def: 6 Run: 8 Pass: 7
1: DB 3 DPL 2: DL 2 DBZ 3: LB 2 DPS FA: RB 2 1 ORO
Amazing that the only two strength LB available in the third round fell this far, the 49ers took the opportunity to vastly improve an already strong defense. Will the offense be good enough?

New Orleans Saints Draft Pos: 15 Grade: A
Off: 4 Run: 2 Pass: 17 Def: 13 Run: 6 Pass: 22
1: DL 3 DBZ 2: DB 3 DPL 3: TE 2 OPS
Hard to see how the Saints could have drafted any better.

Carolina Panthers Draft Pos: 4 Grade: C+
Off: 23 Run: 24 Pass: 12 Def: 21 Run: 24 Pass: 1
1: RB 3 ORI 2: QB 3 OPS 3: RB 1 OPS*
A team with many needs, the Panthers focused on offense. Some linemen may have been useful, however.

St Louis Rams Draft Pos: 3 Grade: B
Off: 14 Run: 6 Pass: 19 Def: 23 Run: 17 Pass: 24
1: OL 3 OQB 2: LB 2 DRI 3: DB 2 DPL
After last year's nightmare offseason the Rams can look forward to better times. Pass offense should be far better if their young QB has time to throw.

SUPERBOWL PREVIEW

Packers vs Raiders The top two defenses in the league square off. The Packers have a slight edge in run defense, conceding only three yards per carry, while the Raiders are slightly better on pass defense. Coincidentally this makes each defense a perfect match for the offenses, where the Pack like to pass and Oakland like to run. On special teams, the Raiders have an edge, but Green Bay have better punt coverage, offsetting Oakland's better return team. Expect both offenses to have limited success and the difference to come down to mistakes, an interception or fumble will most likely prove critical in a low scoring contest.

CONSOLATION BOWL PREVIEW

Bucs at Bengals If the Bengals maintain their current form they should have no problem with the Bucs. Tampa's run defense is great but it looks like they will suffer in the face of the Cincinnati passing attack. The Bucs are unlikely to make much of an impression on the Bengals defense. BENGALS BY 10

MARTIN DEVINE PREDICTS

Packers vs Raiders Oakland haven't played well in the playoffs, but have still been good enough to make it to the big game. Green Bay's defense is the best in the NFC, and more balance on offense has made the Packers tough to stop. The Raiders, though, are simply the best team in the league. RAIDERS BY 10

Bucs at Bengals Cincinnati are the form team in the NFLBP at the moment, having only lost two of their last eleven games. They should be too much for Tampa Bay, who have a good defense but are a bit predictable on offense. BENGALS BY 14

That's all for another issue, a full four pages at last. Next week should see the introduction of version 2.15, I have been part of a 2.15 league in Dorchester so I might have a few comments.

Rob
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