A PASSING FANTASY ISSUE 65 2000 SEASON WEEK ONE
NFLBP PLAYER NEWSLETTER ed Robert Crowther

I've had email this week from Christopher Baird and Jonathan Cullen. Christopher has decided to call it a day and will be retiring from the NFLBP when his credits run out in a few weeks, leaving behind the best record in NFLBP history. Jonathan is returning to coaching the Browns after taking last season off which should bring about an improvement in their performance, Cleveland had the league's best offense two seasons ago. All articles, predictions and comments are welcome at:

2 Lily Terrace
Edinburgh
EH11 1PN

Or email at [email protected]'.

2000 SEASON PREVIEW

A summary of each division from John Coleman and myself plus predictions from Quentin Jenkinson, Martyn Williams, John Coleman and myself.

AFC East

JC - It's the Patriots all the way. When I say all the way it could be the superbowl, depending on Kansas City. No team can rush past New England therefore only a strong passing side like Seattle or the Rams may cause problems. I predict 14-2 or maybe 15-1. An excellent season for the Bills last term. Can it be repeated? Fat chance. Coach Mountford has his work cut out! The Dolphins could turn into dark horses, a winning season for Miami. As for the Jets, a rushing game is desperately required as a number one priority.

RC - The New England offense looks very good this year, only Oakland have a stronger offensive line in the AFC. The defense was the best in the league last season but benefited slightly from regular games against the weak offenses of their divisional opponents, they may not rank first again but they'll still be plenty good enough to win this division. Buffalo have been a strong defensive team over the last few seasons but this year they look weak, especially in the secondary. The team to take advantage could be the Dolphins, perennial underachievers but strong on paper. The Jets still have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFLBP and won't be a factor.

JC 1 Patriots 2 Dolphins 3 Jets 4 Bills
RC 1 Patriots 2 Dolphins 3 Bills 4 Jets
QJ 1 Patriots 2 Dolphins 3 Bills 4 Jets
MW 1 Patriots 2 Dolphins 3 Bills 4 Jets

AFC Central

JC - The same as before. Coach Birtchnell has come up with outstanding gameplans, who can stop them? Pittsburgh will again be strong but not strong enough. Run stoppers are needed at Cleveland and Jacksonville. These two are evenly matched ... both lacking!

RC - The defending champions have a well balanced squad and have very little real opposition in this division, the defense will again be among the best in the league and the offense is well equipped to pursue the ball control strategy so successful last season. The Steelers have the talent to challenge the Bengals but have rarely shown the consistency, another wildcard appearance will be the limit of their ambitions. Cleveland should be much improved thanks to the return of their coach but need to address the weaknesses on the offensive line and in the secondary before they can be expected to challenge. If they get that sorted out then they should pip the Steelers to second place. Jacksonville have an even weaker offensive line than the Jets, but even worse pass protection, with no running game to speak off the pressure will be on their undertalented defense.

JC 1 Bengals 2 Steelers 3 Jaguars 4 Browns
RC 1 Bengals 2 Browns 3 Steelers 4 Jaguars
QJ 1 Bengals 2 Steelers 3 Browns 4 Jaguars
MW 1 Bengals 2 Steelers 3 Jaguars 4 Browns

AFC West

JC - The toughest division to predict. It will be very close between first and fourth, not a nine game spread like last season. The smart money is on Kansas to lose the championship game to New England.

RC - Kansas City now have the best defensive line in the NFLBP, a far cry from the soft run defense of previous seasons, but are weak in the secondary. The offense offers an interesting contrast to the Raiders, the Chiefs have much better talent at the skill positions but a comparatively weak offensive line while the Raiders have a monster offensive line with fewer stars. The weakness for Oakland lies in the linebacking corps, which might be difficult to mask over. The Seattle offense doesn't look as powerful as last season but the defense appears to be much improved. The Seahawks were one quarter away from the playoffs last season and have the talent to make it this year. The most improved team in the NFLBP this year looks likely to be the Broncos, the new head coach has built the most powerful defense in the NFLBP and apparently has LP's in the bank to address the slightly suspect secondary should that prove to be a problem. Any one of the four teams in this division could win it, looks like it'll come down to the last game of the season again.

JC 1 Chiefs 2 Raiders 3 Broncos 4 Seahawks
QJ 1 Broncos 2 Raiders 3 Chiefs 4 Seahawks
MW 1 Raiders 2 Broncos 3 Seahawks 4 Chiefs

NFC East

JC - The Eagles and Cowboys will slug it out again. Stop the run, stop the Eagles - easier said than done! This has been the problem for both the Redskins and the Cowboys. The Arizona QB ran sixty five times last season, more than some teams! He needs help. Washington should aim high ... like the number one draft pick next year.

RC - Philadelphia don't look to be strong enough on the offensive line to be successful with the ball control offense of last season but they have enough talent elsewhere to make up for that, passing the ball a bit more should see them challenging for the playoffs again. The Cowboys have a squad with no obvious weaknesses, if they can avoid the five game losing streaks they could have a chance this year, but they'll need to beat their divisional opponents. Arizona have done a lot of rebuilding over the offseason and now have one of the best offensive lines in the league and one of the most talented defenses. Washington once again have a potent offense but no defense to speak of.

JC 1 Eagles 2 Cowboys 3 Cardinals 4 Redskins
RC 1 Cardinals 2 Eagles 3 Cowboys 4 Redskins
QJ 1 Cardinals 2 Eagles 3 Cowboys 4 Redskins
MW 1 Cardinals 2 Eagles 3 Cowboys 4 Redskins

NFC Central

JC - Never write off the Pack. My selection for last year fell at the final hurdle. So ... I will write off the Pack this year! This division is hard, do you favour the Chicago philosophy or the airborne Lions. Can either of these teams survive the I or J formation rushes? Tampa, ah Tampa ... more passing this year? I've no idea so here is my mad prediction.

RC - The retirement of Coach Baird adds a little excitement to this division, the Packers may miss his leadership towards the end of the season. The Packers actually look very weak on defense this year but it seems that they have the LP's to rectify that fault after waiving a draft pick. Detroit narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season, they once again have a potent offense but the defense looks very weak. Chicago are likely to be the main challengers to the Packers, they have a better balanced squad than the Lions but need to address the weak defensive line if they are to make an impression on the top teams. Tampa have excellent defensive talent, but they've had this for years and it never seems to have done them any good.

JC 1 Bucs 2 Bears 3 Lions 4 Packers
RC 1 Packers 2 Bears 3 Lions 4 Bucs
QJ 1 Packers 2 Bears 3 Bucs 4 Lions
MW 1 Packers 2 Bears 3 Lions 4 Bucs

NFC West

JC - Why can't Carolina move to another division? The Rams under Coach Williams are the form team, bigger and better this year. They go for it in a big way on fourth downs (27 ... yes 27). Thank goodness they average six penalties per game. After defending with stiff necks against the Rams you then play the hard nose, straight ahead Saints. You know what to expect here! Coach Devine has the more balanced team and has proven to utilize the best gameplans. We keep waiting for him to slip up ... and we are still waiting! Ah, my Panthers. Another 2 or 3 players short of being superbowl champs!

RC - The strongest division in the NFLBP, boasting three genuine championship contenders and all four capable of making the playoffs. The 49ers will be very hard to score on and have a well balanced offense, though not nearly as potent as those of their divisional rivals. Carolina look to have improved on offense and a weakness in the secondary seems likely to be addressed after the waiving of the backup QB, apart from that one need they look to have the best squad. St Louis have a much better defense and yet still have that potent offense, sharing the title of biggest offensive line with the Raiders. New Orleans also have a highly potent offense but look weak on defense, and not just in the secondary. They'll surprise a few people but are unlikely to make the playoffs, especially in this division, unless they add some defense.

JC 1 Panthers 2 49ers 3 Rams 4 Saints
RC 1 49ers 2 Panthers 3 Rams 4 Saints
QJ 1 49ers 2 Rams 3 Panthers 4 Saints
MW 1 Panthers 2 Rams 3 49ers 4 Saints

Playoff teams

JC - Superbowl - New England 27 San Francisco 24
RC - Patriots, Bengals and any three AFC West teams. Cardinals, Packers, 49ers, Panthers, Rams or Eagles.
QJ - Patriots, Bengals, Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins. Cardinals, Packers, 49ers, Rams and Panthers. Broncos to meet Cards in superbowl.
MW - Panthers to beat the Raiders in the superbowl.

MESSAGE BOARD

Darren Birtchnell to Mark Gamble and Quentin Jenkinson: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Good results last week guys, keep it up!

Darren Birtchnell to all coaches: Good luck for the new season.

ALL TIME COACHES STANDINGS

This table lists all the coaches who have ever appeared in the NFLBP, ranked by overall winning percentage. New coaches are not credited (or blamed for) results until the turn after their name first appears on the League Report (ie. from the submission of their first gameplan). The table does not include this season's results, or any consolation bowl results.

				Overall			Reg Season		Playoffs
				W	L	T	 %	W	L	T	 %	W	L	 %
Danny De Simone			15	3	1	816	14	2	1	853	1	1	500
Robert Crowther			57	15	0	792	51	11	0	823	6	4	600
Martyn Williams			7	2	1	750	7	1	1	833	0	1	000
Christopher Baird		51	18	2	732	43	17	2	710	8	1	889
Martin Devine			49	19	1	717	45	16	1	734	4	3	571
Darren Birtchnell		41	16	1	716	35	14	1	710	6	2	750
Mario Olivier			8	4	0	667	8	4	0	667	0	0
Quentin Jenkinson		41	24	1	629	40	21	1	653	1	3	250
Steve Harridge			40	24	1	623	39	22	1	637	1	2	333
Allan Firth			11	7	0	611	11	6	0	647	0	1	000
John Coleman			11	7	0	611	10	6	0	625	1	1	500
Tony Mountford			26	19	0	578	25	17	0	595	1	2	333
Pat Ratcliffe			37	28	0	569	36	26	0	581	1	2	333
Dave Pinder			10	8	0	556	9	7	0	563	1	1	500
Nic Torpey			33	30	0	524	33	29	0	532	0	1	000
Ray Spicer			20	21	0	488	18	20	0	474	2	1	667
Ian Rothwell			31	33	0	484	30	32	0	484	1	1	500
Rod Pickard			6	7	0	462	6	7	0	462	0	0
Jason Evans			21	25	0	456	21	24	0	467	0	1	000
Michael Scott			29	35	1	454	28	33	1	460	1	2	333
Peter Wilkinson			22	28	0	440	22	27	0	449	0	1	000
Martin Keel			27	35	0	435	27	35	0	435	0	0
Ben Hilliar			3	4	0	429	3	4	0	429	0	0
Paul Gaines			27	38	0	415	26	36	0	419	1	2	333
Mick Ashton			26	37	0	413	26	36	0	419	0	1	000
Jonathan Cullen			19	26	0	413	19	27	0	413	0	0
Derek Blackhurst		2	3	0	400	2	3	0	400	0	0
Mark Stuart			8	12	0	400	8	12	0	400	0	0
Graham Morgan			25	38	0	397	25	37	0	403	0	1	000
Paul Thorniley			19	40	0	322	19	40	0	322	0	0
Tony Whiting			16	37	1	306	16	36	1	311	0	1	000
Dominic Williams		13	32	0	289	13	32	0	289	0	0
Darryl Saunders			12	34	0	261	12	34	0	261	0	0
Graham Muir			3	9	0	250	3	9	0	250	0	0
Brian Ball			7	39	0	152	7	39	0	152	0	0
Dave Boulton			2	14	0	125	2	14	0	125	0	0
Darren Drew			0	3	0	000	0	3	0	000	0	0

WEEK ONE PREVIEW

Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell, Martyn Williams and Quentin Jenkinson.

Patriots at Browns New England have enough offensive talent to expose the weaknesses of the Cleveland defense and enough defense to send the Brown's QB home in a bucket. PATRIOTS BY 10
DB - PATRIOTS BY 17 MW - PATRIOTS BY 10 QJ - PATRIOTS BY 10

Bills at Jaguars A fascinating encounter, the team with no secondary meets the team with no pass protection. If the Jacksonville QB gets time he could torch the Bills, otherwise he's getting buried. Whatever happens the Bills will roll over the Jaguars' defense. BILLS BY 7
DB - BILLS BY 3 MW - BILLS BY 7 QJ - BILLS BY 7

Dolphins at Chiefs A big test for the playoff credentials of Miami. The Dolphins need to run the ball well because the Chiefs are likely to be bale to beat their pass defense. CHIEFS BY 3
DB - DOLPHINS BY 3 MW - CHIEFS BY 10 QJ - DOLPHINS BY 3

Jets at Raiders A good test for the Oakland offense, if they can run on the New York defense they should be able to run on anyone. The Jets will be hoping to get the ball in the air before their pass protection collapses.
DB - RAIDERS BY 20 MW - RAIDERS BY 14 QJ - RAIDERS BY 10

Bengals at Seahawks Seattle have no obvious weaknesses but have yet to prove they can live in the rarefied company of teams like Cincy. BENGALS BY 7
MW - BENGALS BY 7 QJ - BENGALS BY 10

Steelers at Broncos The new and improved Denver defense will be subjected to a thorough examination by one of the better offensive teams in the league. The Pittsburgh will struggle with the strong passing offense of the Broncos. BRONCOS BY 3
DB - BRONCOS BY 14 MW - STEELERS BY 3 QJ - BRONCOS BY 21

Eagles at Bears Chicago will find it tough going against the Philadelphia defense but the Eagles should be able to run on the Bears. EAGLES BY 7
DB - EAGLES BY 1 MW - BEARS BY 3 QJ - BEARS BY 3

Cowboys at Bucs Dallas should be able to stop the run first offense of Tampa and find enough points to win a low scoring encounter. COWBOYS BY 3
DB - COWBOYS BY 3 MW - COWBOYS BY 10 QJ - COWBOYS BY 7

Cardinals at 49ers With both teams having better defenses than offense this will be a tight game. Likely to come down to a turnover or crucial special teams play, so I'm going with the home team. 49ERS BY 1
DB - CARDINALS BY 7 MW - 49ERS BY 7

Redskins at Panthers Washington may get some points on the board, but not nearly as many as they're going to give up. PANTHERS BY 14
DB - PANTHERS BY 17 MW - PANTHERS BY 10 QJ - PANTHERS BY 7

Packers at Rams Green Bay look a bit frail defensively at the moment so St Louis would not have been their top choice for week one. The Packers might be able to keep up in a scoring contest but if the Rams defense can keep them under thirty they should win. RAMS BY 3
DB - RAMS BY 4 QJ - PACKERS BY 3

Lions at Saints Two very similar teams, plenty of offense and not much defense. Expect scoring and yardage galore. SAINTS BY 3
DB - SAINTS BY 7 MW - SAINTS BY 7 QJ - SAINTS BY 7

RC : Lock - Bills; Shock - Seahawks; Blowout - Panthers; Shootout - Lions at Saints; Slugfest - Cardinals at 49ers.
DB : Lock - Patriots; Shock - Dolphins; Blowout - Raiders; Shootout - Eagles at Bears; Slugfest - Bills at Jaguars.
QJ : Lock - Bengals; Shock - Cardinals; Blowout - Broncos; Shootout - Eagles at Bears; Slugfest - Packers at Rams.