Okay, sort of in a hurry this week - I'm going on holiday for a few days and so am getting the newsletter done early (well, on time - Sunday). This means that I could have missed some contributions, especially if you emailed (sorry Martin). Hopefully I'll be able to make it up next time. Plenty of material anyway thanks to the sterling efforts of Quentin Jenkinson.
The Bengals managed to overcome two turnovers by scoring the last twelve points in a tight game. Denver saw a long drive in the fourth quarter end in a failed fourth down attempt and that was their last hope of getting back in the game. Oakland capitalized on a fumble and two interceptions in the first quarter to build a convincing lead. Another two fumbles in the second led directly to another ten points and that was always going to be too much for the Jets to claw back. The Packers got off to a fast start, scoring more in each of the first two quarters than the Eagles would manage in the whole game. The Eagles put in a good performance, stopping the Packers running and matching them for yardage, but Green Bay were more consistent and mistake free. Arizona got their first playoff victory in a convincing manner, running all over the previously impressive run defense of the Saints. New Orleans struggled with their own ground game and simply could not keep up with the consistently scoring Cards.
San Francisco's offensive line was once again the main culprit as the 49er offense sputtered, wasting a fine defensive showing. Buffalo struggled with their running game but still managed enough points to win. Cleveland went with the rather unorthodox strategy of not running on the Chiefs, the experiment was not a success. Kansas City struggled to run consistently, but they kept at it and that just made the passes more effective - over twenty yards a completion. Carolina continued with a run first, ball control strategy and, against the defense of the Seahawks, it was very effective. Seattle wasted their offensive output with turnovers. The Miami defensive line spent the day harassing Dallas quarterbacks and the result was three interceptions and another poor offensive showing for the Cowboys. The Dolphins had some problems passing too, but depended more on the run.
New England continue to impress, albeit against weak opposition. The Jaguars struggled to move the ball on the Patriots defense and were unable to stop New England. St Louis took to the air in Washington and, surprisingly, were able to control the ball and the clock. The Redskins did a lot of scoring in the first quarter but not much after that, the Rams won the game with three fourth quarter field goals. The Bucs spent three quarters being outgunned by the Bears but managed, somehow, to stay in the game. They got into field goal range three times in the fourth and that was enough for them to take the lead. Pittsburgh showed the value of a balanced offense, matching the Lions passing game running all over the Detroit defense. The Lions, without much of a rushing effort, left their quarterback exposed and struggled on third downs.
Week Thirteen - at Saints L 28-31
Another disappointing performance from the Cardinals. The biggest momentum shift came at the start of the third quarter when the Saints were seven points up and facing third and six at there own 29, they threw a 51 yard pass which resulted in a field goal. After the Saints were up by ten points it was always going to be difficult to get back in it.
Week Fourteen - at Redskins W 24-10
Arizona's ground game was smothered in this game. Luckily though, their passing game stepped up with Boomer Esiason throwing three touchdown passes. The Redskins did well on the ground, running for 151 yards.
Week Fifteen - vs 49ers W 27-21
In the 1996 season the 49ers beat the Cards in week six to snap a hundred percent record and then won in the divisional play off game en route to their Superbowl I win. Last season the game went to OT when the Cards took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. This time around the Cards scored 24 points in the second quarter and sat back to seal the victory.
Week Sixteen - vs Cowboys W 31-15
A strong performance from the Cardinals running game rounded out the regular season. The Cowboys, who used to be Arizona's biggest rivals in the NFC East, have had a terrible season and will need to do some hard thinking during the offseason. Joe Nedney finished his rookie campaign with five out of five field goals and two of two extra points to preserve his one hundred percent kicking record and claim the honour of the highest points scorer of the season with 157 points (plus beating last season's record - Jeff Jaeger of the Raiders, 155 points).
A new section, suggested by Quentin Jenkinson, for coaches to place short messages to other coaches. Quentin has some messages to get things started, hopefully there'll be some responses next time.
Quentin Jenkinson to Christopher Baird: Well done in beating the Eagles. You've got a curse on you for the Championship Game but may the best team win.
Quentin Jenkinson to Dave Pinder and John Coleman: Welcome to the NFLBP, hopefully you'll be able to turn your respective teams' fortunes around.
Quentin Jenkinson to Martin Devine: In your draft preview you mentioned that the 49ers needed a QB to replace the ageing Steve Young. Why then did you pass up the opportunity to draft the best QB on the board in round one?
Quentin Jenkinson to Jonathan Cullen: Bad luck about missing the playoffs, you've made the Browns a competitive outfit and should get some success next season.
Quentin Jenkinson to Ian Rothwell: Now that you've lost in the playoffs you can come out of hiding. I'm almost positive that you've been with us this season, all along.
Predictions and commentary from Quentin Jenkinson.
Bengals at Raiders The Raiders should be able to win through to their third successive Super Bowl in a tight game against the Bengals. Cincinnati will find the Oakland secondary difficult to penetrate and the game will hinge on turnovers and special teams. RAIDERS BY 3
Cardinals at PackersArizona face their most crucial game in franchise history, of the four teams in the championship games only the Cardinals haven't been here before. When these teams met in week eleven Brett Favre had a great day passing and I'm sure he'll have another here unless Arizona can stop him. If the Cardinals' special teams are on song they might have a chance, if not then it's good night Vienna. PACKERS BY 55 (see below!)
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Quentin Jenkinson.
Broncos at Saints Two teams based on strong run defense, the Saints have a
great D-line while the Broncos have excellent linebackers.
New Orleans have been better in the big games. SAINTS BY 3
QJ - SAINTS BY 7
Eagles at Jets The biggest problem for both these teams is turnovers. The
Jets have a talented young QB who make many mistakes through
inexperience while the Eagles have a good squad but seem to
cough the ball up on a regular basis. I'll go with Philly
but this will depend on turnovers. EAGLES BY 3
QJ - JETS BY 1
Chiefs at Bills Chiefs have a passive resistance defense, while the Bills
have the real thing. I don't think this will be too close
unless KC get some big plays. BILLS BY 10
QJ - BILLS BY 7
Dolphins at PanthersCarolina seem devoted to a ball control, ground based offense
- and what a good strategy it is! However, I remain to be
convinced that they have the talent to regularly pull this
gameplan off against anybody with a half decent run defense.
Miami would seem to fit in this category. DOLPHINS BY 7
QJ - PANTHERS BY 3
Patriots at Rams St Louis always struggle against teams with some defense
because they are incapable of stopping anyone from scoring.
The Patriots defense has already shown some improvement under
their new coach, and should allow them to win. PATRIOTS BY 3
QJ - PATRIOTS BY 3
Bucs at Steelers Despite a poor season Pittsburgh still possess one of the
most balanced squads in the league. Tampa have a good
defense but that will not be enough. STEELERS BY 3
QJ - STEELERS BY 1
Other predictions from Quentin: Redskins by 1; Lions by 3; Browns by 7; 49ers by 7.
The following from Quentin Jenkinson:
This is an article that appears regularly in my other league, the BF, where I am the newsletter editor. Generally, the gist of it is to determine who will win their game by the biggest margin, and why. Although, recently it's been a jinx for those teams predicted to win big - they go on to lose. Therefore, I'm going to start off by predicting that the Packers will thrash the Cardinals big time!
Green Bay, as well as being defending Super Bowl Champions, are most definitely the best team in the NFLBP right now. Their offense is awesome, with a passing attack that can obliterate any defense it comes up against. The Cardinals' offense, on the other hand, is shocking. They are ranked 19th overall and depend on other areas of the team to give them field position - which they often don't capitalize on. The Packers have an incredible defense, ranked 4th overall and first against the run. This unit will have no trouble closing down the weak Arizona offense. The Cardinals defense couldn't defend the pass if their lives depended on it and will have trouble containing the Packers' passing game.
So, all in all, it will be a profitable day at the office for Brett Favre and co. as the boys from Green Bay will pack the Cardinals off to Arizona and claim another trip to the big game.