A PASSING FANTASY ISSUE 42 1998 SEASON SUPER SUNDAY
NFLBP PLAYER NEWSLETTER ed. Robert Crowther

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME REVIEW

Cincinnati opened with an eleven play drive which ended in a converted forty yard field goal, Oakland responded with a nine play drive of their own ending in a thirty two yard field goal. The Bengals had another long drive but faltered just short of field goal range before the Raiders fumbled on their own 43. Cincy drove into range at the start of the second quarter but had to settle for another field goal after a sack. The Raiders got the better of an exchange of punts but missed a field goal. Another exchange of punts left the Bengals inside their own twenty with just over a minute left in the half and a holding penalty forced them to punt back to Oakland. A long return left them with an opportunity to tie the scores at the half. The Raiders were forced to punt at the start of the second half and Cincinnati were once again able to drive into field goal range to move into the lead. A big return once again put Oakland in good field position but they were unable to capitalize thanks to another missed field goal. The Bengals then drove down to the Raiders' 15 yard line, the deepest penetration by either offense so far in the game, but the Oakland D came up with an interception. The Oakland offense proceeded to give the ball back on the next play, the Cincy defense coming up with an interception on a deep pass. The Bengals completed two long passes and scored the game's first touchdown. Defenses were in charge again for most of the fourth quarter, there were two exchanges of punts before, mysteriously, Oakland brought in their rookie QB. He managed to get himself sacked three times (twice on fourth down) and throw an interception, his lack of experience was very apparent in the harsh light of the Bengals' pass rush. Cincinnati managed to get two touchdowns on just 38 yards of offense, which was more than enough to seal the game.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME REVIEW (ARIZONA CARDINALS SEASON SO FAR PART 4B)

This was a very exciting and tense game, realistically I didn't think the Cardinals would be able to win so I was surprised at how close it was. After an exchange of punts to open the contest the Packers started at their own six yard line. They got to their own 32 before Brett Favre coughed up the ball on a sack and the Cards returned it all the way for a touchdown (7-0). Green Bay got straight back in it, going 69 yards in ten plays culminating in a 21 yard TD pass to Dorsey Levens (7-7). After several exchanges of punts going into the second quarter the Packers found themselves on their own three, on the first play Brett Favre was sacked for a safety (9-7). After another exchange of punts Arizona found themselves on their own 14, Boomer Esiason threw an interception and the Packers capitalized. The Cards' D did stuff Aaron Hayden on third and goal at the one, so they settled for a field goal (10-9). Two plays after the kick off Boomer Esiason threw another interception, but with time running out the Packers had to settle for 48 yard field goal on first down. The second half started like the first, with defenses on top. Arizona punted twice and Green Bay punted once. Green Bay then got possession on their own one. On first down they gained four yards on a run but on second down they tried the same play and Aaron Hayden was stripped of the ball and the Cards' D took it back for a TD (16-13). Green Bay were forced to punt on their next drive but the Cards couldn't move the ball so the Pack started the third at their own 41. The Pack then passed the ball downfield, Mark Chmura being the main target, but stalled at the 25. They then kicked a 42 yard field goal (16-16). Neither side could do very much for the rest of the quarter, Green Bay did get into kicking range inside the two minute warning but Brett Favre threw an interception to send the game into overtime. After Arizona kicked off the Pack went 41 yards in 8 plays, stalling at the Cards' 38. Ryan Longwell stepped up to take a 55 yard field goal, which sailed through the posts (19- 16).

DIVISIONAL BOWL REVIEW

New Orleans were almost unstoppable on offense, racking up massive yardage and converting fifteen of twenty on third downs, but they just couldn't put the Broncos away. Eventually an overtime touchdown sealed the win. The Eagles' power running game proved to be more effective than the Jets' pass based attack, though missed field goals kept the game closer than it should have been.

SILVER BOWL REVIEW

Buffalo got in a scoring contest with Kansas City, which is not usually a good idea, but their better balance allowed them to dominate the clock. Carolina, despite an horrendous offensive outing, managed to somehow put together enough points to beat the Dolphins. Miami gave up two safeties to account for the winning margin.

BRONZE BOWL REVIEW

New England and St Louis matched each other through three quarters before the Rams broke the pattern by scoring three times in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh got ahead of the visiting Bucs early on and managed to stay ahead despite struggling with their running game.

DRAFT REVIEW

Patriots Off: 17 Run: 12 Pass: 16 Def: 24 Run: 20 Pass: 24
1 LB 4 DRI 2 OL 2 OQB 3 DB 2 DPS FA WR 7 2 OPL DB 5 2 DPL DL 7 3 DBZ
Defense will be massively improved, also got OL help. GRADE A

Jaguars Off: 19 Run: 14 Pass: 13 Def: 16 Run: 22 Pass: 3
1 RB 3 ORI 2 QB 3 OPS 3 DL 2 DBZ
Addressed major needs, but this team needs too much help to be able to waste a pick on a second QB. GRADE B-

Rams Off: 14 Run: 23 Pass: 2 Def: 23 Run: 21 Pass: 23
1 OL 3 OQB 2 WR 2 OPL* 3 DB 2 DPL
Worst pass protection in the league will be improved, but defense needed more help. GRADE C

Cowboys Off: 24 Run: 19 Pass: 15 Def: 14 Run: 18 Pass: 9
1 RB 3 ORI 2 WR 2 OPL 3 OL 1 ORI
Failed, once again, to address their major needs in the trenches. GRADE E

Dolphins Off: 13 Run: 16 Pass: 10 Def: 18 Run: 12 Pass: 19
1 RB 3 ORI 2 OL 2 OQB 3 TE 2 OPS FA DB 4 2 DPL LB 3 3 DRI
Drafted an offense and acquired a defense through free agency. Should be back in the hunt next season. GRADE A

Redskins Off: 18 Run: 4 Pass: 24 Def: 17 Run: 11 Pass: 20
1 RB 3 ORI 2 WR 2 OPL 3 DL 2 DBZ
Drafted a RB they didn't need, a WR they won't throw to and a DL when they needed a DB. GRADE E

Seahawks Off: 5 Run: 2 Pass: 21 Def: 20 Run: 23 Pass: 7
1 RB 3 ORI 2 WR 2 OPL 3 DL 2 DBZ
See above. At least they needed run defense. GRADE D-

Bears Off: 21 Run: 21 Pass: 9 Def: 10 Run: 19 Pass: 5
1 TE 3 OPS 2 RB 2 ORI 3 DL 2 DBZ
Drafted offensive help, but needed blocking. GRADE C

Bucs Off: 22 Run: 17 Pass: 19 Def: 8 Run: 8 Pass: 12
1 OL 3 OQB 2 WR 1 OPL* 3 LB 2 DRI
Offense should improve no end thanks to this draft. GRADE B+

Panthers Off: 23 Run: 24 Pass: 6 Def: 15 Run: 17 Pass: 11
1 OL 3 OQB 2 OL 2 ORI 3 LB 2 DRO
Finally the Panthers get some OL! GRADE A

Lions Off: 9 Run: 22 Pass: 1 Def: 21 Run: 13 Pass: 21
1 OL 3 OQB 2 WR 1 OPL* 3 DL 2 DBZ
Extra pass protection will be a big help, but could have done with more defensive help. GRADE B

Chiefs Off: 10 Run: 11 Pass: 11 Def: 22 Run: 24 Pass: 14
1 DL 3 DBZ 2 WR 1 OPL 3 OL 1 ORO
Good first pick, but need more than one player to make run defense competitive in this division. GRADE B-

Steelers Off: 8 Run: 13 Pass: 7 Def: 13 Run: 16 Pass: 10
1 DL 3 DBZ 2 WR 1 OPS* 3 LB 2 DRI
Only major weakness was run defense, that shouldn't be a problem now. GRADE A

Browns Off: 1 Run: 9 Pass: 5 Def: 11 Run: 15 Pass: 8
1 DL 3 DBZ 2 LB 1 DRO 3 LB 2 DPS FA DB 3 1 DPS DL 4 1 DRI
Defense was the obvious priority and this offseason should lay the foundations for a playoff appearance. GRADE A

Bills Off: 15 Run: 8 Pass: 20 Def: 2 Run: 7 Pass: 4
1 DL 3 DBZ 2 WR 1 DKR 3 TE 2 OPS
Took best available player in round one, but second pick is a bit hard to fathom. GRADE B-

Eagles Off: 3 Run: 6 Pass: 12 Def: 7 Run: 3 Pass: 15
1 DB 3 DPL 2 OL 2 OQB 3 OL 1 OQB
Addressed only major weakness and got extra pass protection, which always helps. GRADE A

Jets Off: 11 Run: 20 Pass: 4 Def: 3 Run: 10 Pass: 1
1 DL 3 DBZ 2 RB 2 ORI 3 LB 2 DRO
Run offense and defense were the main requirements, but an OL might have been more useful in their scheme than a RB. GRADE B-

49ers Off: 7 Run: 10 Pass: 8 Def: 5 Run: 2 Pass: 13
1 WR 2 OPL* 2 OL 2 OQB 3 QB 3 OPS
Got the pass protection they desperately needed but missed out on defensive backs. GRADE B

Broncos Off: 16 Run: 5 Pass: 23 Def: 19 Run: 14 Pass: 18
1 LB 3 DRI 2 RB 2 ORI 3 LB 2 DRO
Hard to believe they drafted two more linebackers, but also hard to believe they won twelve games with only mediocre offense and defense. GRADE C

Bengals Off: 12 Run: 7 Pass: 18 Def: 6 Run: 9 Pass: 6
1 WR 1 OPL* 2 QB 3 OPL 3 DB 2 DPL
Got some help for the passing game, could have waited till the third for the QB but that might not have got them better players. GRADE B

Saints Off: 2 Run: 1 Pass: 22 Def: 9 Run: 5 Pass: 16
1 LB 3 DRI 2 OL 2 OQB 3 DB 2 DRO
Drafted to their strengths but may need more defensive backfield help. GRADE B-

Raiders Off: 6 Run: 3 Pass: 17 Def: 1 Run: 6 Pass: 2
1 WR 2 OPL* 2 OL 2 OQB 3 KK 1 OFG*2
Got everything I wanted except backup for an ageing defensive front seven. GRADE B

Cardinals Off: 19 Run: 15 Pass: 14 Def: 12 Run: 4 Pass: 22
1 QB 4 OPS 2 DL 2 DBZ 3 DB 2 DPL
Major coup getting a four strength player, but need more immediate offensive help. GRADE B

Packers Off: 4 Run: 18 Pass: 3 Def: 4 Run: 1 Pass: 17
1 DB 3 DPL 2 DL 2 DBZ 3 QB 3 OPS FA LB 4 2 DRI
Got the defensive backfield help they needed plus enough to be the best defense in the league next year. May regret not improving the running game. GRADE B+

MESSAGE BOARD

Quentin Jenkinson to Martin Devine: I see you've got your QB at last!

Quentin Jenkinson to Christopher Baird: Well done in your divisional game, it was a good, hard fought contest.

Quentin Jenkinson to Martin Keel and Ray Spicer: Are you two still with us? I notice that you're listed as coaches in the Gridstats league I've just joined.

Quentin Jenkinson to Darren Birtchnell: Best of luck in the Superbowl, you'll need it if you're to be the first AFC team to win the trophy.

Darren Birtchnell to Christopher Baird: I'll make a deal with you; if you let me win this week I'll let you win next week, OK?

Darren Birtchnell to Michael Scott and Dave Pinder: How many players did you guys lose to be able to spend 70 LP's in free agency? You couldn't bung me a few could you?

Robert Crowther to Darren Birtchnell: After having the cheek to beat me in a Championship game you'd better win the Superbowl or I'll not be happy!

SUPERBOWL PREVIEW

Quentin Jenkinson: Green Bay should be able to retain their Superbowl, although it will be close. The Bengals have a very good defense and will be able to capitalize on any mistakes. On offense, Cincy like to run the ball but the Pack have a very good run D. If Brett Favre has another good day passing then the Bengals will have trouble, but if Cincinnati's secondary collect a few picks then the Superbowl might be heading to Ohio.

Robert Crowther: Cincinnati were good enough to run on the Raiders, so they should be able to get some yards on the Pack. Green Bay will need to get some running of their own or Brett Favre will be under constant pressure. If the Bengals manage to shut down the Packers running game they have a chance of getting the turnovers they need to offset the passing yardage that Green Bay will produce, but they'll need to get lucky.