A PASSING FANTASY ISSUE 26 1998 SEASON WEEK FOUR

NFLBP PLAYER NEWSLETTER ed. Robert Crowther


In this issue...
Another great issue, thanks again to Pat Ratcliffe, Quentin Jenkinson, Martin Devine and Darren Birtchnell. For the rest of you, the address for contributions is:

2 Lily Terrace

Edinburgh

EH11 1PN


WEEK THREE REVIEW - BY QUENTIN JENKINSON

Two fumbles returned for sixty yards couldn't turn the game around for Jacksonville, neither could their strong passing game. Miami were able to ride out the storm and clinch it with a third quarter TD. Pittsburgh overcame the Bills in a tight game at Rich Stadium. Two interceptions by the Steelers defense seems to be the reason why they managed to edge it. New York jumped out to an early lead at the Meadowlands, then their defense managed to stifle any comeback attempts by the Chiefs. Seattle's leaky run defense hampered their efforts for a second consecutive week, as two second half touchdowns by the Patriots clinched the match. Cincinnati managed to shut out the Broncos by forcing more turnovers and making Denver take to the air. Coach Birtchnell should be satisfied with a solid win, which leaves them unbeaten. Oakland almost received a shock at the hands of the Browns. Cleveland moved the ball well on offense, didn't allow the Silver and Black to dominate with their running game, but unfortunately for them the Raiders pulled the game out of the fire with two fourth quarter TD's. Looking at the 'headline' stats in the league report it seems like Arizona had a fortunate win. In reality, the Cardinals played a competent game and capitalized on some lax playcalling from Coach Spicer. Was Coach Keel stung by recent criticism? Dallas came out passing, perhaps trying to catch the Packers off guard, but couldn't find a way through the Green Bay secondary. The Pack controlled the ball when they had it, making the Cowboys' task harder. Washington pulled away from the Rams in the second half, their accurate passing attack shredding a poor St Louis secondary. Carolina couldn't make it two in a row as the Eagles ran all over the Panthers' defense (makes a change!). Philadelphia can count themselves lucky that they won, though, a poor kicking performance from John Kasay ultimately cost Carolina the game. It looks like a pattern is starting to emerge, go after the Lions' QB! Detroit ran the ball well but were unable to keep up with the Saints offense, mainly because Frank Reich was trying to evade the New Orleans pass rush all the time. Tampa Bay almost handed the 49ers another defeat. The Bucs outscored San Francisco 17-3 in the second half to take it into overtime. Each team took out the other's ground game, and the Niner's aerial supremacy won the day.

Offensive performance of the week goes to Green Bay for 368 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys. Defensive performance of the week goes to Cincinnati for their shut out of the Broncos. Special teams performance of the week goes to Arizona (again). Five of five field goals and an 82 yard kick off return touchdown was better than anyone else this week.


BEARS AT CARDINALS - IN DEPTH REPORT FROM QUENTIN JENKINSON

This is another new section, suggested by Quentin. A detailed report of the action in his game with Chicago this week. If you would like to do a similar thing for one of your own games please remember not to include any details of actual play calls other than general descriptions like run, pass or blitz. You wouldn't want to go around giving your gameplan away!

Chicago started the game as they meant to go on, a ridiculous play call drew a flag for illegal procedure on the first play from scrimmage. The Bears couldn't make up the yards and, on third down, the Cardinals made an interception and took it to the Chicago ten. Two plays later it was 7-0 on a Esiason TD pass. Chicago, undeterred, drove 80 yards on their next series with a string of passes to level the score. The kickoff was then taken straight back for a Cardinal TD - 14-7. After a Chicago punt, Arizona managed to a short drive but had to settle for a field goal. The Bears' passing game was becoming hit and miss and on the last play of the first quarter Arizona got a second pick at midfield. Arizona again couldn't move it too far, settling for another field goal. Two plays later the Cards forced a fumble at the Bears' 28, and even with that short distance couldn't convert. Another field goal left the score at 23-7 at the half, the rest of the quarter was a punt fest. After an exchange of punts at the start of the second half the Cards slowed the game down, using up five minutes to drive 27 yards and kick another field goal. Chicago started to chase the game, but Erik Kramer was finding pressure and had to settle for three points - 26-10. Again the Cards slowed the game down, moving the game into the fourth quarter with another five minute drive before giving up a fumble. The Bears moved quickly down the field, but punted. The Cards went three and out then Chicago's Curtis Conway got whacked - coughing up the football on the Bears' 26. Another field goal ensued. The Bears quickly scored a touchdown, going 92 yards in four plays for a touchdown pass and made the two point conversion. Arizona recovered the onside kick to seal the win - 29-18. It wasn't a brilliant performance, especially on offense, but sweet revenge for the divisional playoff defeat!


PREDICTIONS - ALL TIME STANDINGS

This table, courtesy of Darren Birtchnell, includes all regular season predictions up to and including week three of this season.

1Darren Birtchnell150572.722
2Martin Devine199812.709
3Robert Crowther206972.679
4Ian Rothwell141701.667
5Peter Wilkinson61350.635
6Quentin Jenkinson68440.607
7Steve Harridge20130.606
8Pat Ratcliffe19131.591
NQTony Mountford930.750
NQAllan Firth840.667


THIS WEEK IN HISTORY

In season one: New Orleans got an unusual overtime victory, sacking the Green Bay QB for a safety to get a two point win and preserve their unbeaten record. The Chiefs, Seahawks, Eagles and Rams all lost to leave Arizona as the only other perfect team. Best line from the newsletter - 'Jags defense could be just the tonic for the spluttering Bills 'O', but I doubt it.' The Bills scored fifty.

In season two: The Buffalo Bills, 0-3 to start the season, surprised the Steelers by coming from behind in the second half. All four NFC Central teams won, not for the last time... After four weeks the league's top defense was Dallas and the top offense was Miami.


WEEK FOUR PREVIEW

Seahawks at Dolphins

PR-A miracle will be needed by Coach Wilkinson's Seahawks to reverse their poor 0-3 start to the season. The Dolphins have begun to win, and should continue, though I believe in miracles, but not now! DOLPHINS BY 3

MD-Miami's season hasn't really got underway, but Seattle are going through a bad run. The Dolphins should be able to run the ball at will. DOLPHINS BY 10

DB - DOLPHINS BY 7 QJ - DOLPHINS BY 7 RC - DOLPHINS BY 10

Chiefs at Bills

PR-Can Kansas rediscover the awesome scoring machine shown in week one, or will Buffalo charge forward to reverse their unlucky loss against the Steelers last week. If the Bills can resist giving up interceptions, it will help, but Kansas look too strong. CHIEFS BY 6

Kansas City are playing better, especially on defense, but Buffalo should be too strong for it to matter. BILLS BY 7

DB - BILLS BY 10 QJ - BILLS BY 3 RC - BILLS BY 10

Bengals at Jets

PR-The leaders of the East and Central battle it out at the Meadowlands. Coach Birtchnell's Bengals look very mean on defense this season, and are scoring well, though the Jets are on a two game streak and have only lost to the impressive Oakland. Look to Cincinnati to flow onward. BENGALS BY 9

MD-A tough one to call, as both teams seem to have plugged the obvious holes through the draft - New York on offense, Cincinnati on run defense. I feel the Bengals are a little stronger overall. BENGALS BY 3

DB - NO PREDICTION QJ - JETS BY 1 RC - BENGALS BY 7

Browns at Patriots

PR-Is last week's narrow victory for the New Englanders a sign of things to come, or will Coach Cullen craft a cunning coup de gras? BROWNS BY 14

MD-Cleveland have surprised a few people around the league with their performances do far this season, including leading the Raiders after 3 quarters last week. This game should be a good bit easier. BROWNS BY 7

DB - BROWNS BY 10 QJ - BROWNS BY 10 RC - BROWNS BY 10

Raiders at Steelers

PR-The Browns got close to Coach Crowther's Raiders in last week's match up, but 14 points in the 4th quarter saw the Oakland team through by 4. Can the Men of Steel steal the pirate's glory, or will they be run through? NO PREDICTION

MD-Oakland are the class of the AFC, but Pittsburgh are not far behind. This one should be a tough defensive battle, with the Raiders coming out on top, but only just. RAIDERS BY 1

DB - RAIDERS BY 8 QJ - RAIDERS BY 7 RC - NO PREDICTION

Broncos at Jaguars

PR-Even home advantage in the Florida swamps, and the shut out inflicted on the Mile High fliers last week, should not prevent Denver's return to the winning pattern, though it could be close. BRONCOS BY 1

MD-It's been a problematic start to the season for the Jags, and it's unlikely to improve here. Denver should rebound from a big loss against the Bengals by winning this one. BRONCOS BY 10

DB - BRONCOS BY 1 QJ - JAGUARS BY 3 RC - BRONCOS BY 3

Panthers at Cardinals

PR-Yet another win in the Cardinals march towards glory. The high scoring offense built by Coach Jenkinson this year should easily see them through. CARDINALS BY 14

MD-Carolina's big play passing offense will put the Arizona secondary to the test, but the Cardinals are superior in every other department. CARDINALS BY 13

DB- CARDINALS BY 10 QJ - NO PREDICTION RC - CARDINALS BY 14

Rams at Cowboys

PR-Dallas is scoring less than 10 points a game, but St Louis is conceding over 30. If the Cowboys can generate some momentum they should make the home crowd happy. COWBOYS BY 7

MD-St Louis' season shows the danger signs of being very similar to their 1997 campaign, and things won't get better if Dallas continue to put the ball in the air. COWBOYS BY 6

DB - COWBOYS BY 1 QJ - COWBOYS BY 3 RC - COWBOYS BY 7

Lions at Redskins

PR-Who wants to win more? Look to the Lions chasing the Redskins all over the ball park. LIONS BY 10

MD-Washington have the better record, but Detroit have had a tough start to the season. Expect better things from the Lions against easier opposition. LIONS BY 3

DB - LIONS BY 7 QJ - REDSKINS BY 3 RC - LIONS BY 3

Bucs at Eagles

PR-Tampa suffered their first loss in overtime last week. Coach Thorniley will have the pirate ship in full sail with all guns blazing this week, in an attempt to keep pace with the Central's leading Pack! BUCS BY 12

MD-Both teams are better than they were last season, but the Bucs are the more improved team, which should show up here. BUCS BY 1

DB - BUCS BY 4 QJ - BUCS BY 7 RC - BUCS BY 7

49ers at Packers

PR-Match of the week for me! Will Coach Baird's high flying Pack be a match for the craft of the West Coast machine? The stats, so far, point to Brett Favre to win again. PACKERS BY 4

MD-A clash between the top offense (SF) and top defense (GB). I feel the key in this game will be the 49er defense, which hasn't been up to scratch recently and will be tested by the balanced Packers. The game could come down to special teams, both are capable of scoring on any return. NO PREDICTION

DB - PACKERS BY 1 QJ - PACKERS BY 3 RC - PACKERS BY 1

Saints at Bears

PR-It's hard to make a case for Coach Harridge failing on his Bear hunt this week. The Bears will fight hard but in a high scoring game the Saints will take the glory. SAINTS BY 12

MD-Chicago possess a big play passing offense, but it won't be on the field very much as New Orleans run a very efficient ball control attack. SAINTS BY 7

DB - SAINTS BY 3 QJ - SAINTS BY 3 RC - SAINTS BY 7

Rob

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