A slightly truncated issue this week, I was away last week and have found my time this week obstructed by the World Series. Hopefully, this will just make issue fifty seem that little bit more special...
I have a message to pass on from Martin Devine, he is moving house as you read this. His new address will be:
22 Rowanhill Park,
The Bills built a two touchdown lead in the first half and the visiting Jets were never going to make that up, despite an excellent day on run defense. New England looked to have Miami well beaten but twenty two second half points made the final minutes tense. The Bengals asserted themselves early on in Cleveland, three first quarter touchdowns were backed up by a dominating rushing performance. Pittsburgh kept pace with Cincy at the top of the Central despite wasting a great offensive performance with poor third downs and field goal kicking. Oakland were another team to rack up five hundred yards and only have four scores to show for it, the Broncos, however, struggled to mount an offensive threat. Kansas City put in another strong defensive performance but still needed a fourth quarter comeback to see off Seattle. Philadelphia produced one of the shocks of the day, moving the ball freely on the Cardinals' defense and shutting down the Arizona running game, and crucially only committing the one turnover. Washington dragged themselves back into playoff contention by simply running over the Cowboys. The biggest shock of the day came in Detroit where the Lions didn't just end the Packers' twelve game winning streak, they demolished it. The Bears produced two plays of over eighty yards but the greater consistency of the Tampa Bay offense gave them the edge. San Francisco returned to the top of the NFC West with a convincing win over last season's nemesis, the Saints. After surrendering some big plays in St Louis the Panthers managed to squeak the win with a fourth quarter touchdown.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Oakland, because we don't pass for three hundred yards that often and I may never get the chance to make this award again. Defensive performance of the week goes to Detroit, who not only nullified the Packers ground game but stomped all over their pass attack with six sacks. Special teams performance of the week goes, once again, to Arizona - their kickers and returners kept them in the game against a rampant foe.
These standings don't include a set of predictions sent by Martin Devine last turn, but not included in the last issue because I didn't check my email (d'oh!).
1 Martin Devine 15 (2) 2 John Coleman 13 (2) 3 Darren Birtchnell 12.8 (5) 4 Robert Crowther 12 (5) 5 Quentin Jenkinson 11.6 (5)
Predictions and commentary from Martin Devine, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell, Quentin Jenkinson and John Coleman.
Jets at Packers New York are really struggling, and aren't likely to find their
first win against the Superbowl champions. PACKERS BY 14
DB - PACKERS BY 14 QJ - PACKERS BY 14 JC - PACKERS BY 28
Lions at Bills This one might be close if Buffalo can get their ball-control
offence going. If not, Detroit's offence is too good. LIONS BY 9
DB - BILLS BY 1 QJ - LIONS BY 7 JC - BILLS BY 3
Dolphins at Bucs Even this early in the season, this sort of game is starting to
look like a must-win for these teams. The key is the Bucs passing
against a weak Miami secondary. BUCS BY 6
DB - DOLPHINS BY 3 QJ - BUCS BY 3 JC - BUCS BY 7
Bears at Patriots Chicago will need to play well to come out on top in this one, as
New England should be able to run the ball against a weak Bears
defence. PATRIOTS BY 10
DB - PATRIOTS BY 7 QJ - PATRIOTS BY 7 JC - PATRIOTS BY 7
Bengals at Saints Defences could be on top in this one, with Cincinnati having one
of the best in the league, and New Orleans solid against the run.
Cincy's rookie QB could win or lose this one for his team. SAINTS
QJ - BENGALS BY 3 JC - SAINTS BY 3
49ers at Browns A tough game against an awkward opponent. If the 49ers can move
the ball with run and pass, and the secondary tightens up a bit
(well, maybe a lot!), there should be a good chance of a win.
DB - 49ERS BY 10 QJ - 49ERS BY 3 JC - BROWNS BY 1
Steelers at Panthers Carolina's much improved defence will come under severe
pressure in this one against a good Pittsburgh offence, but it's
the Panther offence which needs to put points on the board.
STEELERS BY 3
DB - STEELERS BY 1 QJ - PANTHERS BY 7 JC - PANTHERS BY 3
Rams at Jaguars The team with no offence against the team with no defence. St.
Louis will put too many points on the board for Jacksonville to
match. RAMS BY 7
DB - RAMS BY 1 QJ - JAGUARS BY 7 JC - JAGUARS BY 3
Raiders at Cardinals A tough game to call between two of the better teams in NFLBP.
So close that homefield advantage makes my choice. CARDINALS BY 1
DB - RAIDERS BY 1 JC - CARDINALS BY 7
Eagles at Broncos If Philadelphia can keep off the turnovers again this week, this
one won't be close. EAGLES BY 10
DB - EAGLES BY 7 QJ - EAGLES BY 10 JC - EAGLES BY 3
Chiefs at RedskinsTwo free-scoring teams with average (at best) defences. Don't be
surprised if the last drive produces the winning points. REDSKINS
DB - CHIEFS BY 6 QJ - CHIEFS BY 7 JC - REDSKINS BY 1
Cowboys at Seahawks Seattle's offence should be enough to see them through in this
one. SEAHAWKS BY 12
DB - SEAHAWKS BY 7 QJ - SEAHAWKS BY 7 JC - SEAHAWKS BY 3
MD : Lock - Packers; Blowout - Packers; Shootout - Chiefs at Redskins; Slugfest -
Raiders at Cardinals.
DB : Lock - 49ers; Shock - Raiders; Blowout - Packers; Shootout - Chiefs at Redskins; Slugfest - Raiders at Cardinals.
QJ : Lock - Eagles; Shock - Panthers; Blowout - Packers; Shootout - Dolphins at Bucs; Slugfest - Raiders at Cardinals.
JC : Lock - Cardinals; Shock - Redskins; Blowout - Packers; Shootout - Dolphins at Bucs; Slugfest - Bears at Patriots.
This is always a tense, low scoring game. In the second season of the BP the final score was 10-7 to the Raiders, a 91 yard kickoff return touchdown at the start of the second half pulled Oakland level before they scored the winning field goal. Last season the Cardinals got some revenge by winning 12-7, all of Arizona's points came from the boot of Joe Nedney (shoot him, indeed!) while the Raiders' only touchdown came from a 44 yard interception return. The only other time that these teams have met was in the Championship Bowl at the end of last season. That was won by Arizona 21-7, although the scoreline was slightly flattering, the final TD was scored after the Raiders failed to convert a fourth down at their own 23 yard line with one and half minutes remaining. This fixture has become one of the best rivalries in the league, we should be in for an exciting defensive encounter here.