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Cincinnati took the opening kickoff, and drove down the field for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Their next drive, though, ended with an interception in Bengals' territory - the 49ers struggled after this big play, but eventually managed to put the ball in the endzone to tie the game at 7. Another touchdown on the 49ers' next possession (this time on a much more impressive drive) gave them the lead at 14-7. Both teams put together long drives for field goals before the half - at the break San Francisco led 17-10. The 49ers didn't sit on their lead, though, as they came out firing in the third quarter - after a good kickoff return, the first play of the second half resulted in a San Francisco touchdown. Later in the quarter an interception was turned into another 49er touchdown to take the score to 31-10. Cincinnati managed a consolation touchdown after an interception midway through the fourth quarter but were unable to close the gap any further.
Green Bay's downward slide continued with a visit from the Patriots. New England got two touchdowns in the first quarter and the Packers were never in the game after that. Detroit silenced their critics with an excellent performance in Buffalo, ripping apart the Bills' secondary and, more surprisingly, containing the Buffalo rushing attack. Miami took a while to get going in the cold winds of Chicago but were almost unstoppable in the second and third quarters. The Bears grabbed a late touchdown on a seventy yard pass but it was too late to be any use. Tampa Bay handed the Jets their first win of the year with a very poor offensive display against a mediocre defense. The Jets weren't much better but got a 94 yard touchdown pass. San Francisco produced an upset with a resounding victory over the champion Bengals. The Carolina offense was strangely subdued in Pittsburgh, managing only one touchdown. Fortunately their defense put in a better performance, returning an interception for a touchdown and stopping the Steelers consistently on third down. The St Louis offense found little resistance from visiting Cleveland, while the Browns never looked like adding to their first quarter score. New Orleans finally got their first win as Jacksonville struggled to contain their opponent's rushing attack. Kansas City racked up a massive five hundred yards of passing offense but managed only two touchdowns. The Philadelphia offense was a bit more pedestrian but also more consistent as they matched the Chiefs for five quarters. Oakland were comfortable victors over the visiting Cowboys but were helped considerably by their opponent's eagerness to go for it on fourth downs. Arizona put in another impressive defensive performance with an amazing 31 hurries of the Seattle quarterbacks. The Seahawks still managed to pass for a touchdown under all that pressure but the Cardinals sealed the game in the third quarter. Washington seem to have improved with practice against the all blitz defense but they still stood little chance in Denver. The Broncos' offense exposed all the Redskins' defensive weaknesses.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Detroit for an impressive display in Buffalo. Defensive performance of the week goes to Arizona for that relentless pass rush. Special teams performance of the week goes to St Louis for consistent returning and kicking.
Courtesy of Darren Birtchnell.
1 Martin Devine 19 (1) 2 Darren Birtchnell 17.4 (5) 3 John Coleman 13.4 (5) 4 Quentin Jenkinson 12.6 (5) 5 Rob Crowther 11.5 (6) 6 Martyn Williams 9 (1)
Predictions and commentary from Martin Devine and Martyn Williams, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell, John Coleman and myself (slight NFC West bias this week...).
Patriots at Broncos MD - A tough game to call, as New England have been pretty
impressive so far, while Denver have just about managed to live up
to the hype generated by the appointment of Coach Gamble. The
Broncos have an impressive defense, but I have a feeling that the
Patriots' defense is good enough to stop the Broncos. PATS BY 3
MW - A tough game to call. The Patriots are unbeaten, and deservedly so, while in recent weeks the Broncos' offense has been as dominant as their defense. Taking into account the Patriots' strong defense, and the Broncos' only previous loss being against a strong defensive team in the Dolphins, I'll go with the Patriots. PATRIOTS BY 3
DB - BRONCOS BY 7 JC - BRONCOS BY 3 RC - BRONCOS BY 3
Bills at SeahawksMD - Buffalo has a decent defense, but they've just been torched
for lots of yardage and points by Detroit. This could be
Seattle's chance to get their under-performing offense going...
SEAHAWKS BY 7
MW - Whereas the Bills are probably better than their record suggests, the Seahawks' pre-season promise has disappeared, along with their defensive draft picks! Expect the Bills to get back on track here. BILLS BY 7
DB - SEAHAWKS BY 1 JC - SEAHAWKS BY 3 RC - BILLS BY 7
Dolphins at Jaguars MD - If Jacksonville can't beat New Orleans, they're really going
to struggle in this one as the Dolphins are a much better team,
especially defensively. DOLPHINS BY 10
MW - The highlight of Jacksonville's season was the two game winning streak weeks 4 and 5. I don't see any further highlights to come, while after a poor start the Dolphins seem to have got their act together, and should have no problems overcoming the sorry Jaguars. DOLPHINS BY 14
DB - DOLPHINS BY 10 JC - DOLPHINS BY 3 RC - DOLPHINS BY 14
Jets at BrownsMD - New York may have picked up their first win of the season
last week, but Cleveland present a much bigger offensive threat
than Tampa Bay. BROWNS BY 9
MW - Does anyone care? The Jets and Browns certainly don't seem to! If the Jets can score 2 TDs against Tampa's D, they should be able to double that against the Browns. I don't think they actually will, but they should get their second win of the season. JETS BY 6
DB - JETS BY 1 JC - BROWNS BY 1 RC - BROWNS BY 3
Bengals at RaidersMD - The second of the two big AFC matchups of the week. Oakland
come in with better form, but Cincinnati have a reputation of
playing their best football in the big games. BENGALS BY 1
MW - After their first loss of the season the Bengals will be looking to get back to winning ways. The Raiders' D is still not looking entirely settled, and unless their running game hits its stride early I think that will be the difference in a close game. BENGALS BY 3
JC - BENGALS BY 3
Steelers at ChiefsMD - This one could turn into an aerial shootout, as both teams
like to pass. Kansas City have the better defense, which is
likely to be the deciding factor in a game dominated by the
offenses. CHIEFS BY 6
MW - After an explosive start to the season the Chiefs have struggled these last three weeks despite some great offensive performances, and they need a win to stay in touch with the Broncos and Raiders. I don't think the Steelers' defense is good enough to stop them getting back to winning ways. CHIEFS BY 10
DB - CHIEFS BY 3 JC - CHIEFS BY 3 RC - CHIEFS BY 7
Eagles at SaintsMD - Philadelphia need to win in order to keep their season alive,
and the Saints shouldn't offer up much resistance, especially on
defense. EAGLES BY 14
MW - This season it seems to Mardi Gras every week in New Orleans, unfortunately for the opposition! Expect the Eagles to start turning things around here, while the Saints are resigned to finishing last in a strong division. EAGLES BY 7
DB - EAGLES BY 3 JC - SAINTS BY 3 RC - EAGLES BY 7
Cowboys at RamsMD - The St Louis offense is maybe the best in the league at the
moment, so Dallas will have to play their best game just to keep
up. RAMS BY 10
MW - With a bit of luck the Cowboys can beat anyone, unfortunately for them they'll need more than luck to beat the Rams. The Cowboys just haven't got the defense to stop the Rams who now have a running game and a respectable defense to add to the passing game of last season.
DB - RAMS BY 21 JC - RAMS BY 10 RC - RAMS BY 14
Cardinals at BucsMD - Arizona's defense is immeasurably improved from last year's
unit, which does not bode well for Tampa Bay, whose offense
struggles against mediocre opposition. CARDINALS BY 17
MW - Both teams have great defenses, unfortunately for Tampa, Arizona also has an offense. Arizona may not score too many, but I'm not convinced that Tampa will score at all! CARDINALS BY 14
DB - CARDS BY 17 JC - BUCS BY 3 RC - CARDINALS BY 7
Redskins at BearsMD - This may be as good a chance as the Bears have to get that
elusive first win - Washington have a very weak defense, and the
powerful offense of past seasons has faded as well. BEARS BY 3
MW - Another meaningless game so early in the season. At least the 'Skins usually manage to put some points on the board. REDSKINS BY 7
DB - BEARS BY 7 JC - BEARS BY 3 RC - BEARS BY 3
Packers at Panthers MD - Carolina may be undefeated but they do have weaknesses -
unfortunately, Green Bay are unlikely to be in any sort of
position to exploit them. PANTHERS BY 7
MW - The loss of Coach Baird has had a big impact on the Packers, who look a mediocre team without his leadership. The Panthers meanwhile have found someone in Coach Coleman who could take them from cellar dwellers to Superbowl champions, and all from the NFLBP's toughest division. This game will prove that the power in the NFC has finally swung away from Green Bay. PANTHERS BY 10
DB - PANTHERS BY 10 JC - PANTHERS BY 3 RC - PANTHERS BY 7
Lions at 49ersMD - The powerful Detroit offense will challenge the useful 49er
defense, but the game is likely to be decided on the other side of
the ball - the Lions don't have a great defense, but San
Francisco's offense hasn't exactly been setting the league on fire
MW - People keep expecting the Lions to trip up but they have proved themselves in recent weeks to have an offense capable of beating anyone. The 49ers have one of the better defenses in the league, and are used to playing high-powered offenses after playing the Rams twice a season. I think the 49ers will sneak it with help from their special teams, but in a shootout there is only the Lions. 49ERS BY 3
DB - LIONS BY 3 JC - 49ERS BY 3 RC - 49ERS BY 7
MD : Lock - Cardinals; Shock - Patriots; Blowout - Cardinals; Shootout - Steelers at
Chiefs; Slugfest - Bengals at Raiders.
MW : Lock - Dolphins; Shock - Lions; Blowout - Panthers; Shootout - Lions at 49ers; Slugfest - Jets at Browns.
DB : Lock - Rams; Shock - Seahawks; Blowout - Rams; Shootout - Packers at Panthers; Slugfest - Jets at Browns.
JC : Lock - Dolphins; Shock - Broncos; Blowout - Rams; Shootout - Lions at 49ers; Slugfest - Jets at Browns.
RC : Lock - Dolphins; Shock - Bills; Blowout - Rams; Shootout - Redskins at Bears; Slugfest - Cardinals at Bucs.