Welcome to the fiftieth issue of APF. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all my contributors, regular, occasional and sporadic, who've made it so much easier to keep going for so long - Darren Birtchnell; John Coleman; Martin Devine; Allan Firth; Paul Gaines; Steve Harridge; Quentin Jenkinson; Graham Muir; Dave Pinder; Pat Ratcliffe; Ian Rothwell; Danny De Simone; and Peter Wilkinson (I think that's everyone, apologies if I missed anybody). Here's to another fifty! If you'd like to be a part of the phenomenon that is APF send your contributions to:
2 Lily Terrace
Or email at '[email protected]'.
The poor form of the Jets continued as they offered little opposition to the Packers. Green Bay were able to run and pass effectively while New York could only manage nine first downs. Detroit wasted their good performance of last week as they found they couldn't stop the Buffalo running game. The Lions' passing game was restricted by a great performance from the Bills' rushers. Miami won Florida bragging rights in an error prone game in Tampa Bay. The Bucs were far more consistent on offense but couldn't seem to get into the endzone. New England looked to be cruising after dominating the Bears in the first half, but the always dangerous Chicago offense made a game of it in the third, closing to within four. It wasn't enough, however, as the Pats were able to pull away again in the fourth. The Saints mounted a second half comeback to see off the Bengals. Cincinnati's young QB made some mistakes under pressure from the excellent New Orleans pass rush. Cleveland were run all over for the second week in a row, though they did manage to hold the 49ers to just 150 yards. The San Francisco defense did its job, keeping the Browns out of the endzone. Carolina and Pittsburgh were evenly matched on the stats, but special teams made a big difference. The Panthers returned a punt for a touchdown and took advantage of field position with four field goals. Jacksonville prevented the sweep of NFC West teams over the AFC Central with a comfortable win over St Louis. The Rams were unable to exploit the Jaguars' weaknesses against the run. Oakland amassed three hundred yards passing for the second week in a row and score their first regular season offensive touchdown in Arizona to boot. The Cardinals were clearly not expecting another aerial onslaught as they focused on shutting down the run. Philadelphia managed, once again, to shoot themselves in the foot. Three turnovers allowed the Broncos to tie the game then snatch victory in overtime. Kansas City's run defense showed some signs of slipping in Washington but turnovers gave the offense plenty of opportunities to score. The Chiefs blew the game open with 31 points in the second half. The new coach in Seattle doesn't seem to be helping, after building a big lead and being left with the task of running out the clock in the fourth the Seahawks let the Cowboys right back in it. The Dallas offense managed 17 points in the fourth quarter, more than they've scored in most whole games this season.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Buffalo, over two hundred yards rushing and thirty six points. Defensive performance of the week goes to New England, holding the dangerous Bears to just seven first downs. Special teams performance of the week goes to Carolina, a punt return TD and four field goals making the difference in the game.
1 Darren Birtchnell 13.17 (6) 2 Martin Devine 13 (3) 3 Robert Crowther 12 (5) 4 John Coleman 11.67 (3) 5 Quentin Jenkinson 11 (6)
How to ... beat the Eagles: Wait for them to turnover the ball !!!
In season one: The Panthers, after winning their first ever game in week six, went to visit undefeated New Orleans. The newsletter editor confidently predicted 'Carolina broke their duck last week, but a win against the Saints is too much to ask' and went so far as to predict a winning margin of two touchdowns. So, really, it was hardly surprising that the Panthers came from behind to win by six points... (I wasn't the only one, four other contributors - Peter Wilkinson, Quentin Jenkinson, Martin Devine and Ian Rothwell - all picked the Saints to win by 21, 14, 10 and 6 respectively) Definitely the biggest shock of the NFLBP's short history.
In season two: The Arizona Cardinals managed 44 points in one half, it was against the Panthers but still an impressive achievement. The Raiders and Dolphins continued their perfect runs with comfortable wins over Jacksonville and Denver respectively, while the Packers shutout the Eagles to remain unbeaten.
In season three: The Green Bay Packers defeated the New Orleans Saints with an overtime field goal to preserve their perfect record, and end that of the Saints. Arizona also remained perfect thanks to a rather more comfortable win over the Rams.
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell, John Coleman and Quentin Jenkinson.
Jets at SeahawksThe Jets have been a shadow of their former selves this season,
they've scored less and conceded more points than anyone in the
league. The Seahawks defense will be a chance for them to improve
on offense but they'll have a hard time outscoring the Seattle
offense. SEAHAWKS BY 7
DB - JETS BY 1 JC - SEAHAWKS BY 15 QJ - SEAHAWKS BY 3
Bills at ChiefsThe big matchup in the AFC this week, both teams have one loss
each. The Chiefs have been the surprise package of the NFLBP this
season, mostly thanks to improvements in their run defense. This
showed signs of slipping last week, however, and the Bills are the
ultimate test. BILLS BY 3
DB - CHIEFS BY 3 JC - CHIEFS BY 7 QJ - BILLS BY 7
Dolphins at Jaguars Miami should find it much easier running the ball on the Jags
than the Bucs. They should complete their tour of their Florida
rivals with a perfect record. DOLPHINS BY 7
DB - DOLPHINS BY 3 JC - JAGUARS BY 3 QJ - DOLPHINS BY 3
Patriots at Steelers Another great matchup between playoff contenders. The Steelers
look to have returned to their form of two seasons ago while the
new coach in New England has improved the Pats beyond all
recognition. The Patriots' slightly suspect secondary will be
tested here. STEELERS BY 1
DB - PATRIOTS BY 4 JC - STEELERS BY 3 QJ - PATRIOTS BY 7
Bengals at BroncosCincy were unlucky to lose last week but should be able to get
back on track here. Denver will not be able to rush for two
hundred yards on this defense. BENGALS BY 3
JC - BRONCOS BY 3 QJ - BENGALS BY 10
Browns at RaidersOakland will be looking to exploit the Browns' weak run defense.
On the other side of the ball, the top ranked defense meets the
bottom ranked offense.
DB - RAIDERS BY 14 JC - RAIDERS BY 10 QJ - RAIDERS BY 14
Cardinals at RamsThe struggling Arizona offense gets a chance to shine in St Louis.
The Cards should be able to control the passing attack of the Rams
when there's no running game to worry about. CARDINALS BY 10
DB - CARDINALS BY 7 JC - CARDINALS BY 7
Eagles at PanthersThe main factor here will be the Eagles' ability to hold onto the
ball. They've proved time and again that they can beat anybody
when they're not beating themselves. EAGLES BY 3
DB - PANTHERS BY 1 JC - PANTHERS BY 3 QJ - EAGLES BY 3
Redskins at BearsTwo good offenses and two weak defenses, so we should see a lot of
points. It could come down to who has the ball last, but
Washington's running game should give them the edge if they get an
early lead. REDSKINS BY 7
DB - REDSKINS BY 6 JC - REDSKINS BY 3 QJ - REDSKINS BY 1
Cowboys at BucsDallas shocked everyone by flashing a bit of offense last week,
but it's hard to see them keeping it up in the face of a tough
Tampa defense. BUCS BY 3
DB - BUCS BY 3 JC - COWBOYS BY 3 QJ - BUCS BY 3
Packers at 49ersThe big matchup in the NFC this week. The 49ers have had a surge
of form in recent weeks while the Packers have been somewhat
fortunate to only lose once. The Green Bay run defense has looked
weaker than in the past while the 49ers are still struggling with
their pass protection. Homefield to give the 49ers the edge,
though it will be close. 49ERS BY 1
DB - 49ERS BY 3 JC - 49ERS BY 3 QJ - PACKERS BY 7
Lions at SaintsBoth teams look to take advantage of a slip by their respective
division leaders. Detroit's free wheeling passing attack should be
able to rip the New Orleans secondary to shreds, providing they
have enough time to get the passes off. LIONS BY 3
DB - LIONS BY 1 JC - SAINTS BY 7 QJ - SAINTS BY 7
RC : Lock - Cardinals; Shock - Browns (why not? I'm just copying Quentin); Blowout -
Seahawks; Shootout - Redskins at Bears; Slugfest - Cowboys at Bucs.
DB : Lock - Bengals; Shock - Jets; Blowout - Raiders; Shootout - Cardinals at Rams; Slugfest - Eagles at Panthers.
JC : Lock - Seahawks; Shock - Cowboys; Blowout - Raiders; Shootout - Redskins at Bears; Slugfest - Bengals at Broncos.
QJ : Lock - Bengals; Shock - Rams; Blowout - Raiders; Shootout - Bills at Chiefs; Slugfest - Cowboys at Bucs.
The way the Cardinals have been playing recently makes this a cast-iron certainty, the Rams will beat Arizona. St Louis boast the league's best pass offense, with an average of 353 yards per game, whilst the Cardinals couldn't defend the pass if their lives depended on it. Last season it didn't matter that their coverage wasn't too good as, more often than not, the blitzers got to the QB before he could get the ball off. This time around teams have sussed out the Cards' defensive gameplan and the sack rate has dropped. After six games last year the Cardinals had 42 hurries and 26 sacks, this year it is 22 hurries and 16 sacks. On the other side of the ball the O-line is causing a lot of concern, mainly in the running game. A ranking of 15th in run offense isn't Cardinal football, but a Cardinal sin! Jake Plummer, who made his debut last week and promptly fumbled a snap, may have to be released sooner than expected to make way for solid reinforcements.