NFLBP PLAYER NEWSLETTER ed. Robert Crowther
Offensive performance of the week goes to Kansas City for 381 yards and four TDs against the Jaguars. Defensive performance of the week goes to Cleveland for limiting a strong Bills offense to one touchdown and two field goals. Special teams performance of the week goes to Denver, 6 kick returns for 158 yards (including a TD), 2 of 2 field goals and 3 of 3 extra points.
1) Miami 2) Buffalo 3) New York 4) New England
Expect this to be a two horse race, New York don't have the offensive talent to overcome a rookie starter at QB. Buffalo and Miami both have well balanced rosters, the Bills have more talent but the Dolphins have more experience. Their week five encounter should be important, but the Dolphins get the Patriots twice in three weeks in the middle of the season which will either put them back in the race or put them too far ahead. New England, once again, will struggle without pass protection, and their defense is getting weaker by the year.
1) Cincinnati 2) Pittsburgh 3) Jacksonville 4) Cleveland
The toughest division in the AFC, Pittsburgh will be tough to unseat but the Bengals have enough talent to do it. Neither team look to have any major weaknesses. The Jaguars are lacking a secondary, which could hurt them in the long run, but have a strong offense and pass rush to overcome this for any given game - expect a few thrashings either way. Cleveland look good on paper, the defense could be exceptional if the young LBs play well, but their track record counts against them in this division of experience coaches and quality rosters.
1) No 2) Predictions 3) From 4) Me
The Raiders had this division won by midseason last year, and remain the team to beat - the question is, can any of the other three do it? Denver are the obvious challengers, with a strong defense - especially against the run - and enough talent on offense. However, they are likely to be without a coach for a large part of the season. Seattle look to have a monster offensive line which, coupled with a veteran RB and QB and two deep threat wideouts, should lead to a high octane offense. The problem will be on defense, where they will struggle to stop most teams running, let alone the Raiders. The Chiefs are loaded at the offensive skill positions, but will also struggle on defense. Having said that, the Raiders are not without problems - the running game has lost it's workhorse, and the defensive front seven is starting to look a bit thin.
The likely playoff teams in the AFC are Buffalo, Cincinnati, Oakland, Miami and Pittsburgh. Other contenders are Jacksonville and Denver. It's about time someone other than Oakland got to represent the AFC in the Superbowl, so I'll pick, um, err, well, one of the others...
1) Arizona 2) Philadelphia 3) Washington 4) Dallas
The Cardinals look to be untouchable in this division with all the other contenders having major problems. Many of us are waiting for the Eagles to have their breakthrough year, but they look weak on the offensive line and lack experience at linebacker. The Redskins still need to improve their defense to give their offense a chance to win games. The Cowboys like to run the ball, a lot, but unusually chose to draft a WR rather then bolster their offensive line. The defensive line and secondary are strong, but the Cowboys are too predictable on offense.
1) Green Bay 2) Detroit 3) Chicago 4) Tampa Bay
This division is a lottery, any one of three teams could win. Despite it being Detroit's turn I'm going to stick with the Packers. Green Bay are strong in every area, and feature virtually impenetrable pass protection for their short passing game and great defensive playcalling. Detroit have more talent, but seem to lose out in the big games, their week sixteen loss to the Bears is just one example. The Bears rely on their veteran NT to hold the defense together long enough for their offense to overpower opponents. Although they are weak at linebacker, they have managed to overcome this lack of talent before and have a chance to win the division. Tampa Bay are built around a monster defensive line, and should once again be among the league's leading run defenses, the question is, do they have enough talent in other areas to overcome their strong divisional opponents?
1) San Francisco 2) New Orleans 3) St Louis 4) Carolina
The West should be much stronger this year as the Rams return to contention. After losing a host of veterans and enduring a horrible season last year, the Rams have added talent and experience. They may not be in the playoffs, but they look good enough for seven or eight wins. The Panthers have more talent than anyone in the NFC, the defense, on paper, should be among the league's best, but they are continually let down by their total lack of offensive blocking and poor defensive playcalling. New Orleans look back to their best, great offense coupled with overpowering run defense but shaky further back - a recipe that worked in 1996. The 49ers however, have enough class to take the division again. A balanced offense, and perhaps the best linebacking corp in the league.
The likely playoff teams are Arizona, Green Bay, San Francisco, Detroit and Chicago with New Orleans the team most likely to benefit from the infighting in the Central. The last two champions, Green Bay and San Francisco, are favourites to advance.
Jets at Dolphins
PR - After difficult games in week one, both New York and Miami have to regroup and take advantage of their first down superiority. DOLPHINS BY 6
QJ - JETS BY 1 DB - DOLPHINS BY 4
Patriots at Bills
PR - Both teams need to step up to secure victory. BILLS BY 3
QJ - BILLS BY 14 DB - BILLS BY 14
Bengals at Steelers
PR - A hard game in prospect, with the Bengals keen to get on the winning track and Pittsburgh looking to close up a leaky pass defense after a lucky week one win. NO PREDICTION
QJ - STEELERS BY 7 DB - NO PREDICTION
Browns at Jaguars
PR - Coach Morgan needs to discover how to shore up his shell-shocked defense, after a severe hammering in week one, and find a way to improve his third down conversion rate. BROWNS BY 6
QJ - JAGUARS BY 3 DB - BROWNS BY 1
Chiefs at Broncos
PR - Can Kansas continue their awesome offense in Mile High Stadium? Something has to give. BRONCOS BY 6
QJ - CHIEFS BY 3 DB - BRONCOS BY 3
Seahawks at Raiders
PR - Look to Coach Crowther to continue in his relentless pursuit of a bowl win, in this close encounter of the second week. RAIDERS BY 3
QJ - RAIDERS BY 7 DB - RAIDERS BY 10
Redskins at Cardinals
PR - Coach Jenkinson should build on an excellent week one, and washout Washington's warpath. CARDINALS BY 10
QJ - NO PREDICTION DB - CARDINALS BY 10
Eagles at Cowboys
PR - Dallas are going to need to generate more offense in the air to have any chance of winging an eagle today.EAGLES BY 10
QJ - EAGLES BY 7 DB - COWBOYS BY 1
Lions at Packers
PR - There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded lion, so the Pack had better be on the lookout. LIONS BY 6
QJ - PACKERS BY 7 DB - PACKERS BY 3
Bucs at Bears
PR - The Bucs are due for a severe mauling from Coach Spicer's Bears. BEARS BY 14
QJ - BEARS BY 10 DB - BEARS BY 7
Rams at Saints
PR - The rams defense will be steamrollered away by the almost heavenly power of the Saints rush towards glory. SAINTS BY 14
QJ - SAINTS BY 7 DB - SAINTS BY 7
Panthers at 49ers
PR - Only a minor miracle can save Carolina from another devine performance. 49ERS BY 17
QJ - 49ERS BY 10 DB - 49ERS BY 10
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