More season predictions this week from Martin Devine, they would have been in the last issue if I'd checked my email more regularly - unfortunately I don't often check it at weekends. I'll be away from home the weekend after next so any postal contributions for the next newsletter will need to reach me on the Friday before the deadline. The address is:
2 Lily Terrace
Or email at '[email protected]'.
The New England offense was in overpowering form in Cleveland, running and passing with equal ease. On the other side of the ball the Pats' defense was its usual miserly self and the Browns were well beaten by halftime. The Bills were the epitome of ball control offense, running the Jags defense into submission. Buffalo were only forced to punt twice but two missed field goals kept Jacksonville in the game until the third quarter. The Kansas City defense gave up whopping amounts of yardage but, amazingly, no touchdowns as the Dolphins were pinned back in their own half by the Chiefs' kicking game (nine punts, no returns). The Miami defense, after doing a fine job for most of the game, finally gave up a crucial touchdown in the fourth. The Oakland defense took full advantage of the weak offensive line of the Jets, breaking up play after play in the backfield. Meanwhile the Raiders offense was demolishing the New York defense. The defending champions had a tough start to their defense as they visited the Seahawks. Seattle burned the Cincy secondary on numerous occasions and kept the game close, but it was the less spectacular but more consistent offense of the Bengals that had the last laugh. The Denver defense was simply awesome, crushing a visiting Pittsburgh team that, traditionally, is one of the better offensive teams in the NFLBP. On offense the Broncos were less impressive but still more than good enough to give their new coach a comfortable victory. Everything went according to plan for the Eagles in the first half in Chicago but it wasn't to last. The Bears got their offense going in the second half and were denied victory only thanks to a fourth quarter safety. The Bucs finally put in the sort of performance we've been waiting for all these years. The defense was impressive while the offense set about running the Cowboys into the ground. Arizona marked their intentions for this season with an impressive victory over last year's NFC runners up. The 49ers were able to get more first downs than Arizona but found their drives constantly broken up by sacks and hurries. Washington got a massive performance out of their offense, with over five hundred yards against the Panthers, but it wasn't enough. Carolina got some good plays on special teams and took advantage of the Redskins' turnovers to win comfortably. Green Bay reacted badly to the imminent departure of their coach, minds were clearly not on the game as the Pack coughed up five turnovers. Give the St Louis offense that many chances and you're always going to struggle. Detroit were surprisingly successful with their run defense, not quite stopping the Saints in their tracks but limiting them to only three and a half yards per carry. On the other side of the ball the New Orleans pass defense, always vulnerable, managed to make a game of it but capitulated in the fourth.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Washington, five hundred yards is always impressive even in a losing effort. Defensive performance of the week goes to Denver for wiping out the formerly impressive Steelers. Special teams performance of the week goes to Kansas City for keeping them in a game they didn't deserve to win.
AFC East: It's difficult to see past New England in this division - this team looks
capable of making everyone forget about the doormats of the AFC of two seasons ago.
The main challenge looks likely to come from Miami, especially if their rookie QB can
settle in quickly. Buffalo look weak in several areas, while the Jets will struggle
with a poor offensive line.
1 Patriots 2 Dolphins 3 Bills 4 Jets
AFC Central: Cincinnati remain the team to beat, with a stifling defence and a
powerful ground game. None of the others in this division look solid enough to mount
a serious challenge.
1 Bengals 2 Steelers 3 Browns 4 Jaguars
AFC West: The most competitive division in the AFC, with three teams looking strong.
Kansas City may struggle to repeat as division champions, though, as they look to
have a couple of problem areas. Oakland look solid as always, while Denver come into
the season under a new coach with a big reputation. Seattle are likely to struggle
1 Raiders 2 Broncos 3 Chiefs 4 Seahawks
NFC East: This looks to be Philadelphia's division to lose, as the Eagles look to be
the strongest team here. Dallas are inconsistent, while Arizona, despite a strong
offseason, still have to prove that last season is completely out of their system. A
porous defence will see Washington stay in the basement.
1 Eagles 2 Cardinals 3 Cowboys 4 Redskins
NFC Central: Green Bay are in good position to reclaim their position at the top of
NFLBP, with the Central unlikely to offer up much challenge. Detroit's offence will
win games, but won't be able to make up for defensive weaknesses. Chicago should
continue to progress, but are still not strong enough to challenge, while Tampa Bay
will have a strong defence, but little else.
1 Packers 2 Bears 3 Lions 4 Bucs
NFC West: Probably the toughest division in the NFC, with three teams having a legitimate chance to come out on top. Carolina continue to rebuild from the shambles of two years ago, and will be a better team this season. St. Louis's young offence will benefit from a stronger defensive unit this season, while San Francisco will rely on their defence to stay in the hunt. New Orleans look to be on the slide with a secondary most teams will take advantage of.
Quentin Jenkinson to Darren Birtchnell : You won't be laughing come week nine when Mark smashes your QB into the ground a dozen or so times, nor when the Cardinals take your superbowl trophy away from you!
Quentin Jenkinson to John Coleman : The reason my QB ran 65 times last season was, more often than not, designed. I had a lot of option plays in my gameplan last year, although these have now been taken out. You'll notice that my O-line has been strengthened 150% (two players and four strengths to five players and ten strengths), is that enough help for the QB.
Quentin Jenkinson to Mark Gamble : Go easy on our poor editor this week, he won't know what's hit him!
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Quentin Jenkinson, John Coleman and Martyn Williams.
Dolphins at Patriots Miami played well last week and still lost. New England should
have more success than the Chiefs containing the Dolphins offense
but might find it tough going offensively. PATRIOTS BY 7
QJ - PATRIOTS BY 7 JC - PATRIOTS BY 10 MW - PATRIOTS BY 14
Jets at Bills The New York might just be able to take advantage of the
weaknesses in the Buffalo secondary if they can just keep their
quarterback upright long enough. The Bills should have no trouble
running the ball, limiting the Jets' opportunities. BILLS BY 10
QJ - BILLS BY 7 JC - BILLS BY 14 MW - BILLS BY 10
Browns at BengalsCleveland might be able to get some big plays offensively but
their defense will struggle to contain Cincinnati. BENGALS BY 14
QJ - BENGALS BY 10 JC - BENGALS BY 21 MW - BENGALS BY 14
Jaguars at Steelers Pittsburgh should find the going much easier this week as
Jacksonville will offer little resistance defensively. The
Steelers managed four sacks last week on a relatively good
offensive line, expect them to double that. STEELERS BY 10
QJ - STEELERS BY 3 JC - STEELERS BY 3 MW - STEELERS BY 7
Broncos at RaidersThe two top defenses after week one, both will be looking to
continue their good starts. Denver go for all out attack on
defense so Oakland will need to run the ball well.
QJ - BRONCOS BY 21 JC - RAIDERS BY 7 MW - RAIDERS BY 3
Seahawks at ChiefsSeattle were impressive in defeat last week against the champion
Bengals while Kansas City were unimpressive in victory. Both
offenses like to go for big plays and whoever makes the most of
them should win. SEAHAWKS BY 3
QJ - SEAHAWKS BY 7 JC - CHIEFS BY 14 MW - CHIEFS BY 3
Cardinals at Eagles Arizona were impressive last week, Philly were less than
convincing. The Cardinals are all out to regain the divisional
title the Eagles took from them last year, it will take a big
improvement in Philadelphia to stop them. CARDINALS BY 7
JC - EAGLES BY 1 MW - CARDINALS BY 7
Redskins at Cowboys Dallas were completely shut down last week, but the Washington
defense is unlikely to repeat that feat. The Redskins offense
will make it interesting but the Cowboys should rack up a lot of
rushing yardage. COWBOYS BY 7
QJ - REDSKINS BY 7 JC - COWBOYS BY 3 MW - COWBOYS BY 7
Bears at PackersGreen Bay still look vulnerable defensively, especially to an
offensive team as good as Chicago, but the offense is still going
strong. The Bears defense has been better than expected and could
be the deciding factor. BEARS BY 1
QJ - BEARS BY 3 JC - BEARS BY 1 MW - PACKERS BY 3
Bucs at Lions The Tampa Bay defense was very impressive last week and will be
looking to repeat that feat here. Detroit will need to shut down
the Bucs' running game to stand a chance. BUCS BY 7
QJ - BUCS BY 3 JC - BUCS BY 3 MW - LIONS BY 7
Saints at PanthersNew Orleans looked very poor last week, the Carolina defense also
got off to a bad start but they should have less trouble with
Saints. PANTHERS BY 10
QJ - PANTHERS BY 7 JC - PANTHERS BY 3 MW - PANTHERS BY 10
Rams at 49ers The San Francisco defense didn't perform up to expectations last
week, a better performance will be required against St Louis. The
Rams 'bend but don't break' style of defense will likely be more
congenial to the 49ers than last week's assault. 49ERS BY 1
QJ - 49ERS BY 3 JC - 49ERS BY 3
RC : Lock - Bengals; Shock - Seahawks; Blowout - Bills; Shootout - Bears at Packers;
Slugfest - Dolphins at Patriots.
QJ : Lock - Patriots; Shock - Bears; Blowout - Broncos; Shootout - Cardinals at Eagles; Slugfest - Jaguars at Steelers.
JC : Lock - Patriots; Shock - Bears; Blowout - Chiefs; Shootout - Redskins at Cowboys; Slugfest - Jaguars at Steelers.
A new feature for APF, suggested by Quentin Jenkinson. Each week one fixture will be selected to be the 'Monday Night Game' for in depth analysis. This week Quentin has selected Denver at Oakland.
The new look Broncos travel to Oakland in what should be a cracking match, both teams shut out their opponents in week one and each team totally closed down their opposing offenses. With those sorts of performances you might imagine that this could be a slugfest, but each offense is very potent and if one of these offenses can break the shackles then we might see some fireworks. The reason that I think that Denver will break free and light up the scoreboard is the fact that the Raiders depend on their running game a lot and the Broncos' style of defense usually stuffs the run for fun. Oakland will need to air the ball out, but they will then have to contend with Denver's pass rush - so the sack count will mount up. Oakland's defense will give the Broncos a hard time but Denver should be able to get their passing game going and come away with a comfortable victory.