We reach the halfway point of the season and the playoff picture is starting
to crystallise. Every division now has a clear leader, albeit in most cases
by only one game, and a team in clear second. The contenders are starting to
pull away and the next few weeks should see the others falling out of the race
as last year's champs play last year's last place teams. In this issue Coach
Jenkinson has done a half term report for his Cardinals, anyone else out there
brave enough to assess their team's start to the season? The address for contributions
2 Lily Terrace
Alternatively email at '[email protected]'.
The Patriots found moving the ball a bit of a struggle, but were far more effective than the Jets. New York had fifteen opportunities on third down and converted on none. Buffalo maintained the upper hand in the East despite a very poor offensive display. The Dolphins had the edge in yardage but found it impossible to get into the endzone in the face of a relentless Bills pass rush. Jacksonville gave the Bengals a fright with two fourth quarter touchdowns. However, Cincinnati didn't panic and held on to win a game they'd controlled for three quarters. Cleveland bounced back from a string of recent defeats with a strong performance against the visiting Steelers. The powerful Pittsburgh offense was held in check while the Browns came up with some big plays running and passing. Kansas City continued their impressive run with a fine win in Denver. The Chiefs were able to sustain some long drives, converting over sixty percent of their third downs. The Raiders were given a big surprise by the visiting Seahawks who were unstoppable through the air, Oakland had a couple of return touchdowns to thank for keeping them in the game. The Raiders held their nerve in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks recovered an onside kick and had the pass batted away, at first and goal from the three, as time expired. Dallas shocked everyone by beating the Cardinals in a brutal defensive game. The Cowboys grabbed an early lead on an eighty yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and managed to maintain the advantage until the end. Philadelphia took full advantage, a comfortable win over the Redskins took them to first place in the East. This is the first time the Cardinals have not held at least a share of first place in their division. Chicago gave the Packers a run for their money but, in the end, couldn't make up the fourteen point first quarter deficit. Tampa Bay's defense was its usual self for three quarters in Detroit, surrendering only ten points. Unfortunately in that other quarter, the second, they gave up three touchdowns - more than the Bucs manage in most games. Carolina went to San Francisco and were thoroughly outplayed. San Francisco ran and passed with equal aplomb while the Panthers did all their scoring on one play in the fourth quarter. The Rams' new coach got off to a winning start in New Orleans, taking full advantage of the Saints' traditional weaknesses in the secondary. Offensive performance of the week goes to Seattle, because I've got restore some self respect. Defensive performance of the week goes to New England, who just crushed the Jets. Special teams performance of the week goes to the Raiders, because the only kick return touchdown of the day turned out to be the difference.
1 John Coleman 13.4 (5) 2 Martin Devine 13 (4) 3 Quentin Jenkinson 11.88 (8) 4 Darren Birtchnell 11.63 (8) 5 Rob Crowther 11.5 (6)
How to ... beat the 49ers : Very simple, send in a better gameplan than I did, and that would not be too difficult! Alas, back to the drawing board for yet another difficult match at the Lions.
Well, Arizona are having their worst ever start to a season and the attitude within the camp is acrimonious, to say the least. The defense are pointing fingers at the offense, saying that they don't put enough points on the board and turn the ball over too much, whilst the offense are pointing fingers at the defense, saying their pass coverage is as effective as a spilt condom. Both sets of players are also pointing fingers at the head coach, they say he made a massive mistake when he took the best QB in last year's draft. They feel he has done irreparable damage to the franchise and that he should go, now. Coach Jenkinson has been through adversity with this franchise before, however. In season one, after starting 7-1, the Cardinals lost five straight games and only won the NFC East on points difference when they beat the Eagles in the last game of the season. Arizona are not out of the playoff picture yet and, with the Eagles only one game up in the East, might just pull off their fourth straight divisional title. It is definitely going to be a tough road ahead, the traditional five game road trip for the NFC East champions beckons between week ten and fourteen and there are some good teams in there. Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, some hard decisions will have to be made in the offseason.
In season one: A week of high scoring divisional matchups was highlighted by San Francisco's forty five points in St Louis and the Redskins and Cardinals combining for seventy seven points, resulting in a surprise victory for Washington. In season two: Miami scored forty four points against visiting Pittsburgh, but it wasn't enough as the Steelers scored forty five. The Raiders continued their perfect record, shutting out the Patriots and holding them to just fourteen yards of net offense. Green Bay remained unbeaten thanks to a comfortable victory over the Cowboys. In season three: Green Bay and Arizona remained unbeaten with comfortable wins over the Rams and Bucs respectively. Buffalo beat Cincinnati in overtime despite not scoring a touchdown. The Bears beat the Panthers three field goals to two in possibly the lowest scoring BP game ever. Oakland held New England scoreless for the second season in a row.
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from John Coleman, Quentin Jenkinson and Darren Birtchnell.
Jaguars at Jets Both teams are above average on defense and poor on offense, so expect a low scoring game. Jacksonville should be able to take advantage of New York turnovers. JAGUARS BY 3 JC - JAGUARS BY 1 QJ - JAGUARS BY 10 DB - JAGUARS BY 3
Steelers at Bills A classic offense verses defense battle - Buffalo have the league's top defense while the Steelers have one of the better offenses. My inclination is to go with the defense. BILLS BY 3 JC - BILLS BY 10 QJ - BILLS BY 7 DB - BILLS BY 3
Broncos at Dolphins Both teams are more or less out of the playoff hunt after poor starts. The Broncos have been surprisingly bad on defense while the Dolphins have struggled with their ground game. DOLPHINS BY 1 JC - DOLPHINS BY 7 QJ - DOLPHINS BY 3 DB - DOLPHINS BY 1
Raiders at Patriots In three previous meetings the Patriots have managed a total of three points. That should all change here. The Raiders have been shaky on defense this season while New England are much improved all round, especially on run defense. Should be close. JC - PATRIOTS BY 3 QJ - RAIDERS BY 7 DB - RAIDERS BY 6
Seahawks at Bengals Seattle nearly surprised Oakland last week but will have a tougher time in Cincinnati. The Seahawks will struggle to stop the Bengals' run based attack. BENGALS BY 7 JC - BENGALS BY 17 QJ - BENGALS BY 7
Chiefs at Browns Kansas City have been the complete package so far this season and should be able to continue their run here. CHIEFS BY 7 JC - BROWNS BY 1 QJ - CHIEFS BY 14 DB - CHIEFS BY 7
Bears at Cardinals Arizona come off a tough defeat and are desperately searching for some offense. Offense isn't a problem for Chicago but stopping opponents from scoring is. Something's got to give. CARDINALS BY 7. JC - CARDS BY 10 DB - BEARS BY 1
Bucs at Eagles The Eagles are on a roll and, providing they hold on to the ball, they'll continue rolling all over the Bucs. EAGLES BY 10 JC - EAGLES BY 21 QJ - EAGLES BY 3 DB - EAGLES BY 10
49ers at Redskins After a poor start the 49ers are now looking like the best team in the NFC. This should be the start of a steady slide out of playoff contention for the Redskins. 49ERS BY 10 JC - 49ERS BY 7 QJ - 49ERS BY 7 DB - 49ERS BY 10
Saints at Cowboys Cowboys got a big win last week, while the Saints slipped to a shock defeat. Expect normal service to be resumed here, Dallas don't have the offense to challenge the New Orleans secondary. SAINTS BY 7 JC - COWBOYS BY 1 QJ - SAINTS BY 7 DB - SAINTS BY 14
Rams at Packers An interesting matchup, the new coach in St Louis currently has a perfect record while the old coach in Green Bay is the two time champion. We know St Louis can score some points so it all come down to what sort of performance the new coach can get out of his defense. PACKERS BY 3 JC - PACKERS BY 21 QJ - RAMS BY 3 DB - PACKERS BY 3
Panthers at Lions Another tough week for Carolina. The Lions can beat any team when they get their offense going. LIONS BY 3 JC - LIONS BY 10 QJ - LIONS BY 3 DB - PANTHERS BY 1
RC : Lock - Chiefs; Shock - Rams; Blowout - Eagles; Shootout - 49ers at Redskins;
Slugfest - Jaguars at Jets.
JC : Lock - 49ers; Shock - Browns; Blowout - Packers; Shootout - Panthers at Lions; Slugfest - Jaguars at Jets.
QJ : Lock - 49ers; Shock - Rams; Blowout - Chiefs; Shootout - Seahawks at Bengals; Slugfest - Bears at Cardinals.
DB : Lock - 49ers; Shock - Bears; Blowout - Saints; Shootout - Rams at Packers; Slugfest - Jaguars at Jets.