First off, apologies this week to anyone who may have sent a contribution via email. I haven't been able to check my email this week so your contribution will not be in the newsletter, I will include anything in the next issue. The address for contributions is:
2 Lily Terrace
The slightly unreliable email address is '[email protected]'.
The Steelers enjoyed an explosive first quarter in Oakland, but the Raiders' defense managed to establish some control after that. The Oakland offense managed to overcome its own mistakes for long enough to get into the lead and it looked fairly comfortable until Pittsburgh scored with a minute left. The Raiders recovered the onside kick to preserve the narrow win. Many expected an offensive explosion in Carolina but most were expecting the St Louis offense to be racking up the points. The Pnathers were outgained by a hundred yards but managed five more first downs, two less turnovers and three more touchdowns. The Rams went for the big plays, and got a couple, but made too many mistakes.
The Seahawks' run game struggled in Buffalo, but while the Bills were busy stuffing the run the Seattle QB was tearing their secondary apart. Dallas were well outgained by the Lions but managed to hold onto the ball much better and win comfortably. Arizona showed what might have been, with a little more luck, winning a shootout in New Orleans. The Bears offense struggled for three quarters to put points on the board but, for once, their defense was a match for the opposing offense and Cleveland were finally overwhelmed in the fourth. In the Florida derby the Dolphins defense had all the answers, especially on third down, as the Jaguars were steamrollered. The Jets' QB was once again the subject of much abuse, but Tampa's defense was not having all the fun - he stayed upright long enough to deliver four touchdown passes.
1 DB 22 DL 3 DBZ 9 AC 32 WR 2 OPL*1 17 PS 49 LB 2 DPS 2 WR 25 LB 3 DRI 10 NS 36 WR 2 OPL 18 CA 37 WR 1 OPL*2 3 TB 28 DB 3 DPL 11 DC 48 LB 2 DRO 19 PE 51 LB 2 DRO 4 NJ 41 OL 2 OQB 12 DL 53 DB 2 DPL 20 SF 52 LB 2 DRO 5 JA 42 OL 2 OQB 13 SS 40 OL 2 ORI 21 GB 47 LB 2 DRI 6 MD 55 DB 2 DPS 14 SR 50 LB 2 DRO 22 OA 38 TE 2 OPS 7 CL 23 DL 3 DBZ 15 BB 54 DB 2 DPL 23 KC 56 DB 2 DRO 8 CH 31 WR 2 OPL*1 16 NE 57 DB 2 DPL 24 CI 34 RB 2 ORI
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Quentin Jenkinson and Darren Birtchnell.
Raiders at BengalsA major AFC rivalry, though somewhat one sided in recent years -
the Bengals have won every game since the 1997 season. The
Raiders and Bengals have won all three AFC titles between them and
this is their third playoff encounter. On defense the Bengals
are among the best in the league while the Raiders have slipped
somewhat this season, but can still make it hard for Cincinnati.
Establishing the run will be vital for both teams, a failure for
either could lead to a one sided result as neither are good at
playing catchup. Two young QB's are always likely to make
mistakes, but the Raiders are a little more dependent on their QB
than the Bengals.
QJ - RAIDERS BY 1 (Ed - That's all I need!)
Patriots at Chiefs Two newcomers to the playoffs, both have improved beyond
recognition this season. The Chiefs have a powerful offense while
the Patriots have the league's top defense. However, New England
excel at stopping the run and could be vulnerable to the passing
attack of Kansas City - this proved to be their undoing in their
week three encounter. If the Patriots can find a way of stopping
the pass without sacrificing too much run defense their offense,
which gained five hundred yards in week three, is good enough to
take advantage of any opportunities. That's still a pretty big
if. CHIEFS BY 3
QJ - CHIEFS BY 7 DB - CHIEFS BY 3
Panthers at Packers It took the defending champions five quarters to see off the
Panthers back in week one. That was a low scoring game and this
will probably follow the pattern as both teams have better
defenses than offenses. Both teams are on long winning streaks
and both have improved over the course of the season. I've been
getting the impression, in recent weeks, that Green Bay have been
holding back all season and always have available that extra gear,
should they need it. It is this highly unrational feeling which
leads me to pick them here. PACKERS BY 1
QJ - PACKERS BY 7 DB - PACKERS BY 3
Eagles at 49ers The Eagles surprised everyone last year when they defeated the
49ers in the wildcard game. Given their habit of occasionaly
pulling off stunning victories it is hard to rule them out here.
Having said that, I still won't pick them to win. The 49ers are
usually vulnerable to teams with strong pass rushes and Philly are
only average in this area. The Eagles also like to run a lot and
San Francisco, although they have conceded a lot of rusing yards,
are behind only one team in the NFC (the Eagles) in average yards
per rush on defense. 49ERS BY 3
QJ - 49ERS BY 10 DB - 49ERS BY 3
RC QJ DB Rams at Steelers RAMS BY 7 RAMS BY 7 RAMS BY 7 Cowboys at Seahawks SEAHAWKS BY 1 SEAHAWKS BY 3 SEAHAWKS BY 7 Bears at Cardinals CARDINALS BY 3 CARDINALS BY 1 Jets at Dolphins DOLPHINS BY 7 JETS BY 7 DOLPHINS BY 6
RC QJ DB Broncos at Redskins BRONCOS BY 3 BRONCOS BY 10 BRONCOS BY 3 Bucs at Jaguars BUCS BY 3 BUCS BY 7 BUCS BY 7 Browns at Saints SAINTS BY 7 SAINTS BY 10 SAINTS BY 10 Lions at Bills BILLS BY 3 BILLS BY 3 BILLS BY 3