Some housekeeping stuff to deal with before I get on with the newsletter: First of all, Darren Birtchnell has moved house and has asked me to print his new address for all those who correspond with him regularly. It is - 37 Wingfield Road, Norwich. NR3 3HF. Secondly, if you have internet access, there is a great website for gameplanners at 'http://www.endzone1.co.uk'. It features results and stats from a number of leagues (including the NFLBP) and other related paraphernalia. Finally, the address for contributions remains:
2 Lily Terrace
Or email at '[email protected]'.
Denver committed four turnovers and the visiting Patriots took full advantage with an excellent second half performance. The Broncos got plenty of yardage but struggled on third downs, where New England were far more effective. Seattle finally found their range on the long passes and burned the Bills for over thirty yards per completion. The Buffalo run offense found it tough going and only three fourth quarter touchdowns made the score respectable. Miami continued their excellent recent form with a win in Jacksonville. The Dolphins struggled offensively in the second half but the Jaguars fourth quarter comeback was too little, too late. The Jets romped to their second win on the trot, despite having no running game and no pass protection they were still too good for the Browns. Oakland finally got a win over the Bengals, running the ball successfully and battering the opposing QB into submission. Cincinnati were able to keep the game close thanks to turnovers and nearly snatched victory when Covington came off the bench in the fourth, but the Raiders recovered the onside kick to preserve their victory. Kansas City kept themselves in the playoff hunt thanks to some great defense, shutting out the visiting Steelers. Philadelphia revived their faint hopes of retaining their division title with a win in New Orleans. Despite being outgained by the Saints the Eagles were able to maintain good field position thanks to their special teams. St Louis suffered a scare as the Cowboys sprang into life in the fourth quarter but, in a day of failed comebacks, the Rams had a big enough lead to hold onto. Shock of the day came in Tampa where the Bucs played host to the undefeated Cardinals. Despite a massive disadvantage in terms of offensive yardage the Bucs somehow managed to stay in the game with some big plays on special teams then, in overtime, got the winning score on a safety. The Washington defense showed that even they were good enough to stop the Bears' offense, which has got to be worrying for Coach Hilliar. Green Bay's reign as NFC champions seems to be over as they never got close to the Panthers, perhaps their successors. Detroit's playoff credentials were exposed to a severe examination in San Francisco and they came away with a stamp of approval. The 49ers were the better team, particularly in the second half, but lacked incision in the red zone and weren't good enough to overcome three interceptions.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Seattle, thirty yards a completion is always impressive. Defensive performance of the week goes to Kansas City for shutting out a dangerous offensive team. Special teams performance of the week goes to Tampa Bay for their miraculous win over the Cardinals.
Courtesy of Darren Birtchnell.
1 Darren Birtchnell 17 (6) 2 Martin Devine 13 (2) 3 John Coleman 12.67 (6) 4 Quentin Jenkinson 12.6 (5) 5 Rob Crowther 11 (7) 6 Martyn Williams 9.5 (2)
Predictions and commentary from John Coleman and myself, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell and Martyn Williams.
Jets at Patriots JC - The Jets are much improved this year and lack a little
luck. Against any other team I would give them a chance,
unfortunately they are up against the probable Superbowl
champs. PATRIOTS BY 10
RC - Can't see the Jets making any impression on the Pats' perfect record. PATRIOTS BY 14
DB - PATRIOTS BY 17 MW - PATRIOTS BY 21
Dolphins at Bills JC - A superb road win last week for Miami but the pass
protection needs to step up a gear to sneak a result. The
Bills will have to decide on a blitz or 'sit back and see'
defense. Go for the blitz! DOLPHINS BY 3
RC - The Bills can't seem to get things going this season. Miami have a good defense which should be able to shut down the somewhat one dimensional Buffalo offense. DOLPHINS BY 7
DB - DOLPHINS BY 7 MW - DOLPHINS BY 10
Jaguars at Bengals JC - The Jaguars need to stop the fumbles if they are to
remain within ten points. Alas, it won't be. Three fumbles
to nil. BENGALS BY 14
RC - The champions are in the midst of a losing streak but the visit of Jacksonville should see the end of that. The Jaguars will offer some resistance on defense, but not enough. BENGALS BY 10
MW - BENGALS BY 17
Browns at Steelers JC - It's the slugfest! The only TD will be an interception,
fumble return or kick return. STEELERS BY 7
RC - Both teams are coming off poor performances, but for Cleveland that's par for the course. Pittsburgh should have no trouble outscoring the Browns. STEELERS BY 10
DB - STEELERS BY 7 MW - STEELERS BY 10
Seahawks at RaidersJC - Two teams on a roll. Performance of last week goes to
the Raiders, but the Seahawks are better than their record
suggests. Seattle need big plays with a limited time
offense. Oakland can be caught, but Seattle will be playing
catch up for most of the game. RAIDERS BY 1
RC - The Oakland defense has made something of a recovery in recent weeks but had tremendous trouble stopping the Seahawks last year. Likely to be a high scoring game.
DB - RAIDERS BY 10 MW - RAIDERS BY 10
Broncos at Chiefs JC - How to beat the Bronco Blitz? The Pats showed us how
last week. I reckon the scrambling Chiefs QB will score the
winning touchdown in a come from behind victory. CHIEFS BY 3
RC - The next three weeks could be crucial in deciding the destination of the AFC West crown. The holders, Kansas City, started slowly but have shown some good form in recent weeks. Denver are coming off a big defeat but have shown the ability to rip opponents to shreds. The Chiefs' have struggled with pass protection at times this year and this could be a crucial weakness. BRONCOS BY 3
DB - BRONCOS BY 7 MW - BRONCOS BY 7
Redskins at Eagles JC - Will the Redskins run all over Philly? They will hope
so, although Coach Gaines has more options. It might be
close. EAGLES BY 3
RC - Philadelphia are yet to show the form which won them the division last season, but they are back to winning ways. Washington managed their first win last week but have struggled against quality opposition. EAGLES BY 10
DB - EAGLES BY 7 MW - EAGLES BY 14
Cardinals at CowboysJC - A shock loss last week for the awesome Cards. Dallas
almost beat the mighty Rams. I'll predict the Dallas QB is
hurried more than twenty times and sacked just the five
times. CARDINALS BY 3
RC - Arizona will still be smarting after contriving to lose last week, look for them to take it all out on the Cowboys. Dallas will struggle to outscore the Cards' defense. CARDINALS BY 14
DB - CARDINALS BY 20 MW - CARDINALS BY 14
Bucs at Packers JC - The crown is slipping. The NFC champs will not now
finish in the top two of their division. I tipped Tampa from
the start, this win could turn their season! BUCS BY 7
RC - The Bucs have provided the two biggest shocks in the last two weeks, first losing to the Jets then beating the Cards. This game against the wilting former champions could be the key to their season, victory could provide the platform for a run at the playoffs while defeat will highlight the inconsistency that is their biggest enemy. BUCS BY 3
DB - PACKERS BY 3 MW - BUCS BY 3
Bears at Lions JC - The shut out. This is very difficult as I am not sure
of the winning margin: 20+, 30+ or 40+? It would be the
shock of the week if Chicago managed double figures. LIONS
RC - The Lions are the surprise package in the NFC this season. Having proven themselves against playoff calibre opposition they should cruise to victory here. LIONS BY 14
DB - LIONS BY 10 MW - LIONS BY 28
Rams at Panthers JC - Coach Williams has adopted a balanced offense which is
difficult to defend, as nearly everyone has found out. Do
you defend the long pass or the inside run? I plan to stop
the run... or try to keep it below 4.5 a carry! PANTHERS BY
RC - The rematch of last year's wildcard game, the undefeated Panthers start as favourites with something of a winning streak against the Rams. Carolina's dodgy defense is bound to let them down once, eventually, and I'm picking St Louis to be the team that makes them pay. RAMS BY 3
DB - PANTHERS BY 1
Saints at 49ers JC - Come on you Saints! The 49ers are a class team. Only
good teams beat them... are New Orleans good? 49ERS BY 7
RC - The Saints look to be a spent force, San Francisco will relish this opportunity against their one time nemesis. 49ERS BY 10
DB - 49ERS BY 10 MW - 49ERS BY 17
JC : Lock - 49ers; Shock - Bears (scoring more than ten); Blowout - Bengals; Shootout
- Rams at Panthers; Slugfest - Browns at Steelers.
RC : Lock - Patriots; Shock - Rams; Blowout - Lions; Shootout - Broncos at Chiefs; Slugfest - Jaguars at Bengals.
DB : Lock - Patriots; Shock - Packers; Blowout - Cardinals; Shootout - Rams at Panthers; Slugfest - Bucs at Packers
MW : Lock - Patriots; Shock - Bills; Blowout - Lions; Shootout - Broncos at Chiefs; Slugfest - Bucs at Packers.