Thanks to Martin Devine, Quentin Jenkinson, Darren Birtchnell and John Coleman for letters this week. The address is:
2 Lily Terrace
John would like to know how the Panthers won six games last season (I can only answer solid defense and big passing plays) and says he hopes to improve that record this season. He also predicts that Green Bay will win the superbowl this season, and on that note...
QJ - Look for New England to win more games this season than they've won in their
entire history (not too difficult: 4-10; 1-15; 2-14), they'll win this division now
they've got a coach who looks as though he knows what he's doing.
1 Patriots 2 Jets 3 Dolphins 4 Bills
MD - It's tough to see the Jets repeating as division champions given their problems
on the offensive line, but their defence will win them some games. Buffalo also have
weaknesses, but their ball-control offence is well-suited to their squad. Miami look
to be the strongest team (or maybe the team with the fewest weaknesses) in this
division. New England are rebuilding, but will be much improved over past seasons.
1 Miami 10-6 2 Buffalo 8-8 3 New York 6-10 4 New England 6-10
RC - Jets have no OL, Bills and Patriots have no secondary, Dolphins win the division
by default. Maybe not. The challenge with the other three will be to get the ball
in the air before the defense eats the QB - the Jets, Bills and Pats all have more
talent in their front seven than most teams have on their entire defense. This will
be the closest divisional race.
1 Dolphins 2 Patriots 3 Bills 4 Jets
DB - Dolphins, Patriots, Bills, Jets.
QJ - Cleveland will battle the Bengals for the top spot in the Central. Cincinnati
should be able to hold them off to set up another drive toward appearing in the
1 Bengals 2 Browns 3 Jaguars 4 Steelers
MD - Cincinnati may be starting a rookie QB, but he'll have a good supporting cast to
ease him into the professional game. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are likely to be the
main challengers, but are likely to fall short. Jacksonville will be in the running
for the first pick in the draft once again.
1 Cincinnati 13-3 2 Pittsburgh 9-7 3 Cleveland 8-8 4 Jacksonville 2-14
RC - Bengals will once again rely on their defense, the rookie QB may hurt them in
close games. Pittsburgh show signs of having a powerhouse offense this season, an
above average effort from their defense could see them back in the playoffs.
Cleveland have a suspect secondary and will need another league leading performance
from their offense. Jacksonville still have no defense and feature one of the worst
offensive lines in the league.
1 Bengals 2 Steelers 3 Browns 4 Jaguars
DB - Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Jaguars.
QJ - Oakland won't have as much trouble in this division this season as they did last
year. The Silver and Black should win the West with ease as they attempt to regain
top spot within the AFC.
1 Raiders 2 Chiefs 3 Broncos 4 Seahawks
MD - Oakland should come out on top here, but it's tough to see them being as
dominant as they have been in the past - this may be the start of a decline for the
Raiders. Denver will again be the main threat, but the Broncos will struggle against
the best teams in the league. Kansas City and Seattle will win games on the back of
their offenses, but will leak too many points to be contenders.
1 Oakland 12-4 2 Denver 9-7 3 Seattle 5-11 4 Kansas City 4-12
RC - The Raiders will struggle with a young QB this season, but are any of their rivals good enough to take advantage? Denver have the best squad but are going to have to start playing their LB's on offense to get them in the game. Seattle and KC have great offense but neither has a defense capable of stopping an opponent.
DB - Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks.
QJ - Arizona have some competition in the East this season (makes a change!) from the
Eagles. Modesty prevents me from predicting another divisional title heading towards
the desert, Philadelphia might just snatch it away.
1 No 2 predictions 3 from 4 me
MD - This division is all about second place, as Arizona should retain the top spot
with ease despite a merely average offence. The main challenge will come from
Philadelphia, a team on the rise. Dallas and Washington will battle to avoid last
place in the division - the Redskins should come out on top due to their offensive
1 Arizona 14-2 2 Philadelphia 10-6 3 Washington 6-10 4 Dallas 3-13
RC - The Cardinals will need another good year from their special teams to keep them
ahead of the Eagles, who had another good offseason and, like Miami, have no obvious
weaknesses. The Arizona offense looks suspect on paper but managed four hundred
yards on the Jets in preseason. The Cowboys have yet to figure out how to take
advantage of their offensive talent while the Redskins still have one of the worst
defenses in the league.
1 Cardinals 2 Eagles 3 Cowboys 4 Redskins
DB - Cardinals, Eagles, Redskins, Cowboys.
QJ - The sudden demise of the Bears and Lions leaves Green Bay the only decent team
in this division. The repeat Superbowl champions won't have any problems in
clinching another Central title and might even go all the way once again.
1 Packers 2 Bears 3 Bucs 4 Lions
MD - Can anyone stop the Packers? Not in this division, anyways! Green Bay should
win this division at a canter. Detroit are the favourites to take second place,
although they do have defensive weaknesses. Tampa Bay won't set the league on fire,
but they should finish ahead of the Bears.
1 Green Bay 14-2 2 Detroit 9-7 3 Tampa Bay 7-9 4 Chicago 4-12
RC - Green Bay have very little between them and a third consecutive division title.
It seems strange that divisional opponents who regularly face the league's premier
passing offense have yet to hit on the idea of building a solid secondary. In fact,
Chicago have given up on the concept of defense altogether.
1 Packers 2 Bucs 3 Lions 4 Bears
DB - Packers, Bucs, Lions, Bears.
QJ - San Francisco and New Orleans will fight each other for the Western title, while
Carolina might even have a tilt at it. I think that Coach Devine has done well in
re-tooling his squad, and so should regain his divisional crown.
1 49ers 2 Saints 3 Panthers 4 Rams
MD - The closest division in the NFC (which isn't saying much!) New Orleans and San Francisco will battle for the division title, with the edge going to the defending champion Saints. Carolina will be improved, but are still building towards a challenge for the division. The offence will win games for St. Louis, but the defence will lose more.
RC - This is going to be a fun division. New Orleans will once again pile up the
yards but are still vulnerable defensively. The 49ers have the most balanced squad
while the Panthers have the best front seven in the league, ideal for stopping that
New Orleans offense. Oh, and the Rams will get the top draft pick...
1 49ers 2 Saints 3 Panthers 4 Rams
DB - 49ers, Saints, Panthers, Rams.
John Coleman to Martin Devine: What did the Panthers do to the 49ers last season? Please tell me as I need the help for week eight.
Darren Birtchnell to all: I didn't post my turnsheet in time last week, so I played the Packers with the same gameplan I used for the Superbowl the week before, only this time I won. How annoying is that?
Quentin Jenkinson to Chris Baird: What happened? Were you trying? Perhaps your players were in awe of their famous head coach (do they get First Down in Green Bay?).
Quentin Jenkinson to Dave Pinder: A good win but I think you let me down regarding my blowout prediction. Perhaps my faith in the Patriots was ill advised, but I hear on the grapevine that you've got a good record in Gameplan - perhaps the Broncos will feel the wrath of the revolutionaries.
Quentin Jenkinson to John Coleman: You've got an excellent chance to cause an upset this week, although you'll need to stop giving the ball away if you are to do it.
MD QJ DB Jets at Steelers Steelers by 3 Jets by 7 Jets by 1 Bills at Jaguars Bills by 10 Bills by 3 Bills by 13 Dolphins at Raiders Raiders by 6 Raiders by 7 Raiders by 3 Patriots at Broncos Broncos by 7 Patriots by 14 Patriots by 1 Bengals at Chiefs Bengals by 12 Bengals by 10 No prediction Browns at Seahawks Seahawks by 1 Browns by 3 Seahawks by 3 Cardinals at Bucs Cardinals by 10 No prediction Cardinals by 10 Eagles at Bears Eagles by 7 Eagles by 3 Eagles by 10 Redskins at Saints Saints by 9 Saints by 21 Saints by 20 Cowboys at 49ers No prediction 49ers by 7 49ers by 7 Packers at Panthers Packers by 10 Panthers by 1 Packers by 6 Lions at Rams Lions by 6 Lions by 3 Lions by 1 Lock of the week Bengals Bengals Bills Shock of the week Seahawks Panthers Seahawks Blowout of the week Packers Saints Saints Shootout of the week Lions at Rams Lions at Rams Lions at Rams Slugfest of the week Bills at Jaguars Jets at Steelers Patriots at Broncos
RC - Steelers by 7; Bills by 10; Patriots by 3 (Slugfest); Bengals by 10; Browns by 3 (Shootout); Cards by 7; Eagles by 14 (Blowout); Saints by 14 (Lock); 49ers by 10; Packers by 7; Lions by 10.
Redskins at Saints: This will be Custer's last stand in reverse, this time it will be the Indians on the receiving end of the slaughter. The New Orleans offense will be able to run rings around the Redskins, their frail run defense will be put to a severe test and will fail dismally. The Saints defense will be able to contain the Washington offense, they are strong when it comes to stopping the run and although they have a suspect secondary they force quarterbacks to hurry their decision making with an excellent pass rush. If the Saints get the momentum going early they could quite possibly set a new record for points scored.
Redskins at Saints: New Orleans will get their season off to a flying start as they look to continue the good form they showed last week in beating the Raiders. We all know how these two teams like to play offense - run, run then run again - but it will be the other side of the ball which decides the outcome here. The Saints defense is fairly good (9th overall, 5th against the run last year) but the Skins defense is poor and will be on the field for long periods as they struggle to contain the Saints ground attack. New Orleans sometimes struggle when defending the pass, but Washington ranked dead last in passing yardage last year so they won't advantage of this, even after drafting a WR. So expect the game to be over by halftime as Washington return home well and truly scalped while the Saints go marching on.
Browns at Seahawks: The Browns had the top offense in the league last season, while the Seahawks had the best running game. Neither defense offers too much resistance, the Browns are slightly better but have little chance of shutting down the Seattle running game. The weak Cleveland secondary will get little help from the front seven and will be exploited by Seattle's deep passing game. Meanwhile, the Seattle defense will be needing all the rest it can get from the barrage of the balanced Brown's offense, through the air or on the ground the Seahawks will have no answers. Whoever wins, expect spectacular amounts of offense.