Two heavyweight contests this week as the Raiders visit Cincinnati, looking to avenge their first (and second) ever home defeat, and the Saints visit Green Bay with the hope of retribution for last year's overtime defeat. Between them these four teams have eight division titles, five conference championships and two Superbowls - it may be early to start talking about the playoffs but these are matchups many expect to see repeated come postseason. Full coverage in the preview section below. Also in this issue the usual reviews and This Week in History. Many of you may have noticed a marked similarity between this years' and last years' TWIH, and, I have to admit, I pasted directly out of previous newsletters. Hopefully it will still be of interest to the new coaches and I'll get round to writing new stuff when I've tidied my room and dug up my old League Reports. If you have any contributions send them to:
2 Lily Terrace
Or email me at '[email protected]'. Note, this is a new email address though the old one will still work.
Cleveland struggled with their running game but were very effective passing the ball and this, combined with some good returning, allowed them to score more than enough points to beat the Jets. Cincinnati found the going tough in Buffalo, their young QB was unable to take the pressure off the running game. Buffalo struggled on offense as well but were able to get into the endzone while the Bengals settled for field goals. Seattle's deep threat passing game was the downfall of Miami, building a huge lead on the back of 12 completions at twenty five yards a pop. The Dolphins mounted a comeback in the fourth but were too far behind. Kansas City continued their string of results though they had to rely on some big plays on special teams. New England will be disappointed at only having two touchdowns to show for five hundred yards of offense. Denver were another team to pile up the yardage without penetrating the endzone, until the fourth quarter when it was too late. Pittsburgh struggled with their running game but managed touchdowns on a more consistent basis. Oakland built an early lead on the back of some Jacksonville turnovers and were never really threatened after that. Arizona battled back from a first half deficit only to lose on the last play of the game to the surprising Lions. Green Bay had one of the worst offensive showings, in terms of yardage, in their history - but still managed to score over thirty points. Philadelphia's downfall was, once again, the propensity for turnovers. In Washington the most surprising event was a complete lack of scoring in the third quarter as the two defenses put up little resistance. Carolina finally got their first win under their new coach, their fast start was too much for the Cowboys to overcome. San Francisco's poor early form finally caught up with them in Tampa Bay. The Bucs had pressure on Steve Young all day but only got one sack, netting them a safety and putting them in the lead for good. The Saints' defense didn't allow a touchdown in Chicago, but that performance nearly wasn't good enough. The Bears kicked six field goals to keep themselves in the game right into the fourth quarter.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Detroit, who had a big day against a tough Cards defense. Defensive performance of the week goes to Oakland as the Jaguars only made past halfway twice (both times after poor punts). Special teams performance of the week goes to Kansas City.
Coaches are listed by average weekly score, numbers in brackets are number of weeks participating.
1 Martin Devine 15 (2) 2 John Coleman 15 (1) 3 Robert Crowther 14.67 (3) 4 Darren Birtchnell 12.67 (3) 5 Quentin Jenkinson 8.67 (3)
How to ... beat the Packers : Forget to send in your turnsheet on time.
How to ... beat yourself : Twice have first and goal inside the Buffalo ten but only score a field goal on each occasion. Oh, and you could also miss a field goal with less than two minutes left, just to make sure.
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.
In season three: Cincinnati shut out the Jets, not even allowing them into field goal range. But that wasn't enough, the Bengals also ran an interception back for a TD and scored on a safety (the offense chipped in with three touchdowns, but they needn't have bothered...). Oakland, Arizona, Green Bay and New Orleans remained undefeated while Seattle and St Louis picked up their first wins, leaving only Jacksonville and Detroit winless.
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell and Quentin Jenkinson.
Chiefs at Jets The Jets have been simply horrendous so far, their once
mighty defense has given up more points than anyone except St
Louis. Kansas City have been the surprise team in the AFC,
with good performances against the Bengals and the Raiders.
CHIEFS BY 7
DB - CHIEFS BY 7 QJ - CHIEFS BY 7
Seahawks at Bills Seattle have a new coach and it will be interesting to see if
he can find some defense to complement that potent offense.
Buffalo are always a difficult team to beat, but the element
of surprise might give the Seahawks the edge. SEAHAWKS BY 1
DB - BILLS BY 1 QJ - SEAHAWKS BY 3
Steelers at DolphinsThe Steelers have quietly got off to a good start, while
Miami have been a little unfortunate to lose two of their
games. If the Dolphins' offense can get their act together
in the first three quarters, instead of leaving it until the
fourth, they should win. DOLPHINS BY 3
DB - STEELERS BY 1 QJ - DOLPHINS BY 3
Jaguars at PatriotsImprovements in the Jacksonville defense have been matched by
a decline in their offense. New England need to find a way
of turning their offense into points. PATRIOTS BY 3
DB - PATRIOTS BY 6 QJ - PATRIOTS BY 7
Raiders at Bengals Between them these two teams have three Superbowl appearances
and five Championship game appearances, there is no doubt
they are the teams to beat in the AFC. Both have young QB's,
run led offenses and perennially strong defenses. If either
get their running game going that will give them a good
chance of winning, otherwise it will come down to which young
QB makes the fewest mistakes.
DB - NO PREDICTION QJ - BENGALS BY 1
Broncos at Browns Denver haven't looked like the powerhouse they were at the
start of last season while Cleveland look to be hitting form.
BROWNS BY 7
DB - BRONCOS BY 1 QJ - BROWNS BY 3
Panthers at CardinalsThe tough start to the season continues for the Panthers as
they face another of the NFC's premier teams. Arizona are
always tough to beat and it is doubtful that Carolina have
the firepower to make an impression on the Cards' defense.
CARDINALS BY 7
DB - CARDINALS BY 3 QJ - NO PREDICTION
Rams at Eagles The Eagles are off to their best start since the first season
of the NFLBP and have an excellent opportunity to get back to
winning ways here. The Rams are unlikely to be able to stop
Philly scoring. EAGLES BY 10
DB - EAGLES BY 7 QJ - RAMS BY 3
Bucs at Redskins Tampa got a much deserved first win last week and should
continue the run here. Washington will struggle to run the
ball and will have to rely on their passing game to keep them
in it. BUCS BY 7
DB - BUCS BY 3 QJ - BUCS BY 7
Bears at Cowboys One of these teams will get their first win. Dallas played
poorly last week after two good performances while the Bears
surprised a lot of us by giving the Saints a good game.
COWBOYS BY 3
DB - COWBOYS BY 3 QJ - BEARS BY 3
Saints at Packers Game of the week in the NFC, two division champs go at it and
try and preserve their perfect records. New Orleans look to
exact revenge for last season's overtime defeat. So far,
both teams have been less dominant than their records
suggest. The Saints will need to run the ball well because,
given time, the Packers are going to tear their pass defense
apart. PACKERS BY 3
DB - PACKERS BY 4 QJ - PACKERS BY 14
49ers at Lions Things could go from bad to worse for the 49ers, whose form
has been poor so far. The Lions have always done well
against the 49ers' sometimes susceptible pass defense and the
league's highest scoring offense is likely to put some points
on the board. LIONS BY 3
DB - LIONS BY 1 QJ - LIONS BY 7
RC DB QJ Lock Eagles Chiefs Chiefs Shock Browns Lions Rams Blowout Eagles Chiefs Packers Shootout Chiefs at Jets Steelers at Dolphins Steelers at Dolphins Slugfest Raiders at Bengals Raiders at Bengals Raiders at Bengals
This is the biggest rivalry within the AFC. The Bengals are up 2-1 in regular season games with Oakland and are tied 1-1 in AFC Championship games. Each coach knows the strengths and weaknesses of the other team and this will be a hard fought contest. These two teams are known for their strong running games and stingy defenses, all of which will combine for a low scoring match here. By way of balancing out the jinx I handed the Raiders a couple of weeks ago, I've given the edge to Cincinnati this time around - but you would probably have to toss a coin to separate these teams.