A painful week in Raiderland, defeat at the hands of the Bengals, once again. Still, I'll get over it if the Bengals win the superbowl... Managed to read my email this week and I've included some predictions from Martin Devine and Martyn Williams for last week's games at the end of the newsletter (turns out the Raiders were favourites, no wonder we lost) as well as their articles in this issue. Any contributions can be sent to:
2 Lily Terrace
Or emailed to '[email protected]'. I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome Mark Gamble as the new coach of the Broncos - I've heard you've been remarkably successful in the NFLBF, so we'll all be expecting a big improvement in Denver.
The Bengals saw an early lead vanish in the second quarter, but the Oakland momentum was stopped abruptly by a blocked punt. The touchdown after the subsequent short drive put Cincy in the lead for good. The Raiders only managed to get past the Bengals' forty once in the second half. The Patriots surprised this season's surprise package with a dazzling offensive display. The Chiefs got some good field position from their returns unit but struggled to make much of an impression on the New England defense. Green Bay built a large lead in the first half over the visiting Panthers and were able to sit back in the second. The Carolina offense, not well suited to playing catchup, managed one touchdown but didn't really worry the Packers. The San Francisco defense displayed its championship credentials as the Eagles were held to just 4.3 yards per play. The offense wasn't too spectacular but didn't make any mistakes to give Philadelphia any easy opportunities.
The Rams racked up five hundred yards of offense but had difficulty turning that into points thanks to six turnovers, while the Steelers, with only four turnovers and half as much yardage, were able to snatch victory. The Seahawks offense was once again in the mood, the Cowboys were always going to struggle to keep up. Arizona continued their recent good form and gained some revenge for a regular season defeat by the Bears. The Jets offense, productive in recent weeks, ran into a brick wall in the shape of the Miami defense.
Denver welcomed their new coach with a win over Washington, both offenses were effective but the Broncos made fewer mistakes. Jacksonville pulled another inexplicably impressive performance out of the bag, comprehensively seeing off the Bucs. Buffalo were able to exploit the Lions' achilles heel, nearly three hundred yards rushing at over five yards per carry.
Darren Birtchnell to Mark Gamble : Looking at your free agent signing I expect you're going to take the easy way out and use the same tactics as your BF Redskins. So is that the only way you can win?
Despite what some people might expect after two successive defeats at the Carolina Panthers, morale is still high at the Trans World Dome this offseason. And why shouldn't it be? Coach Williams arrived in week eight a rookie head coach, at a team firmly stuck to the bottom of the NFC with the league's worst rushing offense and worst overall defense. The only plus point seemed to be a quarterback and receiving corps capable of scoring on anybody. However, with a new defensive philosophy of bend but don't break (more through necessity than anything else, this defense was never going to stop giving up yards) and five wins later in week fourteen the pundits were suggesting the Rams could go all the way if reaching the playoffs. Ironically, playing up against the 49ers virtually assured a playoff berth, but also resulted in the team peaking too soon. It just wasn't possible for them to raise themselves to that level again and so suffered a disappointing defeat in a one sided wildcard game at Carolina. But simply making that wildcard game had turned a disastrous season around to become a success. Looking towards next season, the team's offense has managed to stay relatively unaffected by retirements and the like, and with the draft hopefully injecting some youth and hunger back into the defense the feeling in St Louis is that next season the Rams will be genuine contenders for the NFC West Championship (as long as we can convince the NFL to move the Panthers into the AFC!).
For the second year running there isn't going to be a whole lot of change in 49er- land, with virtually the whole squad returning. Offensively, the only change is at QB, where the coaching staff has made the decision to go with the younger player. This has allowed the front office to concentrate on defense in the draft, looking to shore up any weak spots and strengthen the team for next year, but also to make it less likely that future retirements create holes in the team. The DL picked up in the first round of the draft covers both, as the pass rush and run defense will be immediately improved, and this provides cover for the cornerstone of the 49er defense, Bryant Young.
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell and Quentin Jenkinson.
Patriots at Bengals After their surprise victory last week the Patriots will be
hoping that anything is possible. However, I suspect they're
going to need more than just luck to unseat the Bengals as AFC
Champions. New England have the best run defense in the league
but that didn't stop them getting soundly beaten when they visited
Cincinnati in week thirteen. The Bengals got an early lead in
that one and managed an amazing 24 hurries of New England's QB.
BENGALS BY 10
QJ - BENGALS BY 3
49ers at PackersDespite possessing the second and fourth best defenses in the NFC
these two combined for 47 first downs in their week seven
encounter. The 49ers ended up winning comfortably in that one,
but the game was close for three quarters and the Pack seem to
have improved as the season has worn on. This game will be close
and will likely come down to whoever makes the fewest mistakes.
I'm going to go with Green Bay, since they're the defending champs
and have homefield advantage. PACKERS BY 1
DB - PACKERS BY 3 QJ - PACKERS BY 3
RC DB QJ Raiders at Chiefs RAIDERS BY 3 RAIDERS BY 7 Panthers at Eagles PANTHERS BY 3 PANTHERS BY 6 PANTHERS BY 7 Seahawks at Steelers SEAHAWKS BY 7 STEELERS BY 1 SEAHAWKS BY 3 Dolphins at Cardinals CARDINALS BY 7 CARDINALS BY 7 Broncos at Jaguars BRONCOS BY 10 BRONCOS BY 10 BRONCOS BY 10 Saints at Bills SAINTS BY 1 SAINTS BY 3 BILLS BY 3
That's all for this week, the predictions left out of the last issue appear on the next page. I should warn everyone that I will be going away on the weekend of the 13th May so the newsletter will be getting done on the Friday before the next deadline, if you have any contributions for the next issue please ensure they reach me before then.
A PASSING FANTASY ISSUE 61 ADDENDUM Turned out there was lots of email last week, from Martin Devine and Martyn Williams. In order not to waste their predictions (and since there's plenty of space in the newsletter) here they are: