A PASSING FANTASY ISSUE 28 1998 SEASON WEEK SIX

NFLBP PLAYER NEWSLETTER ed. Robert Crowther


In this issue...
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay. I was working at Christmas and Hogmanay, and in between managed to crash a hire car and spend four hours on a train waiting outside Newcastle station for the lines to be cleared. So that was fun, hopefully you all had a better time. My unbeaten run has finally come to an end, a big disappointment, but it had to happen sometime. Letters this week from Pat Ratcliffe and Darren Birtchnell, and email from Martin Devine. The address is:

2 Lily Terrace

Edinburgh

EH11 1PN

Email me at: [email protected] I generally check my email two or three times a week, so I should get any contributions in plenty of time for the newsletter.


WEEK FIVE REVIEW

The Dolphins repaid my confidence in them by succumbing easily to the Bills. The only thing that kept the score close was a poor performance by Buffalo on special teams, missing two field goals and providing little in the way of returns. The Jets built a large lead in the first half which was more than enough to beat the Patriots. Pittsburgh kept themselves in the running in the Central with an overpowering offensive performance in Jacksonville, racking up 200 yards on the ground and converting twice on fourth down. Cincinnati were shocked in Cleveland, the Browns built a first half lead and then held on to win in a second half dominated by defense. Oakland had their unbeaten run broken in Denver, poor redzone performances in the first half forced the Raiders to come from behind in the fourth quarter. The Broncos, however, tied the game in the dying seconds before marching to a touchdown on the first possession of overtime. Kansas City confirmed the Seahawks' status as also rans with a surprisingly good defensive performance. Seattle's powerful offense was limited to only two touchdowns while the Chiefs were able to pile up the yards on the ground. Arizona continued their perfect run, despite being outgained by the Cowboys, as they got another strong performance from their returners. The Redskins fell behind in the first half in Philadelphia but some big plays in the second half, including a 59 yard touchdown pass, allowed them to snatch victory. The Packers were able to completely shut down the Bears running game and, although Chicago threw the ball well, three interceptions were the result. The Tampa Bay pass rush was a thorn in the side of the Lions all day, eight sacks meant the Lions struggled to move the ball consistently. However, a great effort on run defense from Detroit forced the game into overtime where the Bucs clinched victory. New Orleans emphatically established the new order in the NFC West with a come from behind win over the 49ers. After falling behind early the Saints took advantage of some big plays on defense. The Rams produced 13 points in the fourth quarter, part of a great offensive performance, for a narrow victory over the Panthers.

Offensive performance of the week goes to St Louis, whose great showing was the key to victory. Defensive performance of the week goes to New Orleans, for holding the 49ers to just ten points and picking up 88 yards on returns. Special teams performance of the week goes to Arizona, 130 yards on returns and four field goals.


THIS WEEK IN HISTORY

In season one: New Orleans continued their unbeaten run, scoring seven touchdowns to Detroit's one. All four NFC West teams won, ending the week with a combined record of 16-8, second only to the AFC West, whose four teams also won this week, at 17-7.

In season two: Arizona's unbeaten streak came to an end thanks to a return touchdown from the Raiders in a low scoring game. The Raiders and the Dolphins remained perfect, both scraping victories by three points, while the Packers remained unbeaten with a convincing win over Denver.


WEEK SIX PREVIEW

Predictions this week from Pat Ratcliffe, Martin Devine and Darren Birtchnell.

Dolphins at Packers

PR-Is there any team in the AFC capable of competing with the mighty Pack in the cold of Green Bay? No! I don't think so! So its frozen fish this new year! PACKERS BY 3

MD-If this one had been played last season it would have been tough to pick a winner. Miami have slipped since then, while Green Bay are still a top team. PACKERS BY 10

DB-Miami may have a strong offense, but Green Bay have the NFC's best defense. The Dolphins will also struggle to contain the Packers' passing game. PACKERS BY 10

Bears at Bills

PR-Chicago had a mauling by the Pack last week, and this week it's the same again but now in Buffalo. BILLS BY 10

MD-Neither team has started the season well, but Buffalo are showing a bit more form. Chicago aren't likely to see much of the ball due to the Bills' power running game. BILLS BY 7

DB-Neither team has really got going this season, both having losing records after making the playoffs last season. It might be close but Buffalo are better. BILLS BY 5

Jets at Panthers

PR-Carolina were unlucky to see the Rams out-score them 13-3 in the 4th quarter last week to win. They won't be as unlucky this week as the Jets should have it sewn up by the half. JETS BY 20

MD-Carolina are playing better football, but are still underachievers, while the Jets are handicapped by an inexperienced offense. New York should still be too strong, especially if they run the ball well. JETS BY 9

DB-The deciding factor in this game will be the jets defense, as neither offense is particularly strong and neither is the Panthers' D. JETS BY 7

Rams at Patriots

PR-Can the Rams find a way to batter three in a row, and square up their season? The Patriots' offense is shocking, as in it is shocking how bad it is. Roll on Rams! RAMS BY 13

MD-The contest between the offenses is the key here: New England blow hot and cold, while St Louis have the capability to move the ball on almost any defense. RAMS BY 12

DB-New England are the league's worst team, while the Rams have a decent offense and enough defense to win comfortably. RAMS BY 10

Steelers at 49ers

PR-The stats predict a close encounter of the sixth week, but I'm predicting nothing other than both teams need a win to keep in contention in their respective divisions. NO PREDICTION

MD-Finally a return to the Bay Area after the road trip from Hell. Unfortunately the fun doesn't stop there as the Steelers are a tough team to beat. Turnovers are a key, as the 49ers have been giving the ball up too much, and the SF OL must improve on an awful showing last week. NO PREDICTION

DB-Tough one to call, with two good teams going at it. The Niners aren't playing that well, but homefield just gives them the edge. 49ERS BY 1

Saints at Jaguars

PR-No contest. If this were a boxing match, there'd be no licence issued for the fight. SAINTS BY 20

MD-Jacksonville will almost certainly lose their sixth straight here, as New Orleans are on form this year. SAINTS BY 17

DB-New Orleans are 5-0 while Jacksonville are 0-5. I think that says enough. SAINTS BY 10

Bengals at Redskins

PR-Cincinnati suffered a rare defeat at the hands of the upbeat Browns last week. The Skins are playing well and winning, but have let in a lot of points. BENGALS BY 10

MD-An interesting matchup sees Cincinnati's stingy defense up against the potent Washington offense. The deciding factor here, though, will be the Skins defense, which is short of talent. BENGALS BY 6

DB-Cincinnati need a win to keep in touch with the much improved Browns. If they can stop the Redskins offense it shouldn't be too hard a task. NO PREDICTION

Eagles at Browns

PR-The Browns are one of the best in the AFC right now, but will they gain from their win last week or be exhausted? EAGLES BY 6

MD-Philadelphia have yet to perform to their full potential, and will need to here to keep up with a Cleveland outfit very much in form. BROWNS BY 10

DB-Cleveland are proving tough to beat, whereas Philly are still inconsistent. The Eagles will likely be black and blue after the Browns have finished with them. BROWNS BY 9

Raiders at Cardinals

Shock of the week, in Week 5, to everyone except Coach Rothwell. How will Coach Crowther react? Will he panic and change everything or just grind it out on the ground again? A close one to call, but I don't think the desert air suits one-eyed pirates. CARDINALS BY 1

MD-The game of the week in my eyes. Two quality teams, but Oakland have been winning games without playing particularly well, while Arizona are fully deserving of their 5-0 record. CARDINALS BY 3

DB-Two of the league's best teams meet here. Coach Crowther's commitment to the run could be his undoing as Oakland will probably need to pass more to win this one. CARDINALS BY 1

Cowboys at Broncos

PR-You'd expect the Cowboy to tame the horse. Not here. Not this week. Cowboys will be kicked two miles high in Denver! BRONCOS BY 21

MD-The Dallas offense is no longer quite as predictable, but is still struggling to put points on the board. The Broncos should have few problems unless the 'Boys can get into the endzone more often. BRONCOS BY 14

DB-Denver hammered Dallas when they met in the quarter finals of the Consolation Bowl. With or without Coach Rothwell I can't see Dallas getting too close here. BRONCOS BY 8

Seahawks at Lions

PR-Whoever makes the fewest mistakes will win, and I'm that excited. SEAHAWKS BY 7

MD-Both Seattle and Detroit have been very disappointing so far this year, with only one win between them. The Lions should get into the win column here, though. LIONS BY 3

DB-Will Detroit's QB finally have time to throw? Probably not, but the Lions have to win sometime, and this is as good a chance as they'll get. LIONS BY 3

Bucs at Chiefs

PR-A tight game to call but Kansas seem to be able to score more effectively and I see the Buccaneers returning to Tampa empty handed. CHIEFS BY 6

MD-Kansas City have been winning games on the back of a powerful offensive unit, but Tampa Bay have the defense to stop it. This one will come down to how well the Bucs can move the ball on a weak KC defense. BUCS BY 5

DB-A team with no offense and good defense versus a team with no defense and good offense. Could be interesting. BUCS BY 3

That's all for this week, thanks for the letters - I should even get round to writing back this week (I know, promises, promises...).

Rob

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