A Passing Fantasy Issue 78
NFLBP Player Newsletter 2000 Season Week Fourteen
ed Robert Crowther
I'll admit to being chuffed with myself this week, another contender visits Oakland and departs in defeat. New England were somewhat unlucky, however, as their 27 first downs (compared to the Raiders' 17) demonstrates. If things stay as they are the two teams will meet again in the divisional round of the playoffs. The playoff picture is now almost decided in the AFC, only the Broncos can upset the applecart but one defeat or one more Miami victory will see them eliminated. In the NFC things are more clouded thanks to the Rams' big win over Tampa this week. The four teams contesting the three remaining places face each other this week, wins for the Lions and 49ers will guarantee them playoff spots. If you have any comments on the playoff situation, or anything else to say, write to me at:
2 Lily Terrace
Or email at 'robertc.@scotland.com'. A slightly shorter issue this time, also apologies to John Coleman he's sent me a player profile and I've forgotten to download it, so it'll be in the next issue.
Week Thirteen Review
The Raiders built an early lead on the back of some New England turnovers. After the Patriots had got themselves back in the game the Oakland offense exploded at the start of the third quarter with two seventy yard scoring plays. Kansas City kept up the pressure in the race for the West despite struggling for three quarters against Buffalo. The Bills were able to keep the powerful Chiefs' offense out of the endzone till the fourth, holding them to five field goals. Miami took another step towards postseason action in a defensive struggle in Pittsburgh. The Dolphins' two return touchdowns were the main difference between the two teams. Cincinnati disposed of the Jets as expected, a huge day for their punt returner left them with a short field. Seattle continued their run of good form with another impressive victory, albeit over Jacksonville. Denver kept themselves in the wildcard race with a win over the Browns. Cleveland would have given them more trouble if it weren't for five turnovers.
Carolina dealt a major blow to Philadelphia's playoff hopes despite struggling to run the ball. The Eagles now have to win every game to have a chance, starting in Arizona next week. San Francisco struggled in the first half against the visiting Cowboys and trailed by four. The 49er defense came out to play in the second half, however, and notched up two safeties. Arizona passed another examination with flying colours, despatching Detroit with a big day rushing. The Lions handled the pass rush better than last week but were well outclassed by the Cards. Green Bay's terrible season continued as their defense could offer no opposition to the visiting Redskins. St Louis reversed their recent form with a very impressive victory over playoff rivals Tampa. The Rams' defense was a major factor, forcing three fumbles and returning one for a touchdown. New Orleans handed the Bears their unlucky thirteenth defeat, matching their two fourth quarter scores to preserve the win.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Seattle because 47 points is a lot, even against Jacksonville. Defensive performance of the week goes to St Louis for a big performance in a big game. Special teams performance of the week goes to Miami for their good punt returns and kick return touchdown, with an honourable mention to Cincinnati.
Week Fourteen Preview
Predictions and commentary from John Coleman, Martin Devine and myself, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell and Martyn Williams.
Patriots at Dolphins
JC Miami will try and dominate the clock, the ball and the scoreboard. Maybe one out of three, maybe not! New England to score first and last. Patriots by 10
MD - Last chance saloon for Miami if they want a first round bye - a big win here is essential to keep their hopes of catching New England in the AFC East. As solid as the Patriots are, though, I have a feeling that this won't happen. PATRIOTS BY 7
RC Miami have been playing well of late but they don't have the firepower to upset New England. Patriots by 7
DB Patriots by 7
MW - Patriots by 10
Bills at Jets
JC It's the slugfest! The Jets to gain the most yards, the Bills to gain the most points, just! Bills by 3
MD - Little at stake here except who picks earlier in the upcoming draft, but difficult to pick between two poor teams. New York may be able to take advantage of Buffalo's porous pass defence well enough to make up for their lack of a running game. Jets by 3
RC Buffalo are unlucky to have only two wins, New York are lucky to have their two. The Bills' front seven will be having quarterback for dinner. Bills by 10
DB Bills by 7
MW - Bills by 7
Bengals at Browns
JC The lock out! Browns' first downs and points to be under ten. Bengals by 17
MD - Cincinnati's stingy defence should be able to keep Cleveland at bay to keep the Bengals on target for home-field advantage in the playoffs. BENGALS BY 20
RC Cleveland have improved as the season has gone on but they'll need to improve a whole lot more to challenge the champs. Bengals by 14
MW - Bengals by 24
Steelers at Jaguars
JC A close divisional matchup. They both lost last week scoring three points with 74 against! The Jaguars to Steel(!) it with a fumble return. Jaguars by 7
MD - Another meaningless game between two poor teams, but again this is a tough game to call - Pittsburgh and Jacksonville both have reasonable defences but struggling offences. STEELERS BY 3
RC Jacksonville need to keep the score low to have a chance, if Pittsburgh can build any sort of lead they're home and dry. Steelers by 7
DB Steelers by 4
MW - Steelers by 7
Chiefs at Seahawks
JC - Every now and again a big surprise happens that nobody can explain. Except perhaps I've just consumed five pints of Stella... Seahawks by 3
MD - This one is likely to turn into an aerial shootout between two pass-happy teams, so the winner will be the team which plays better pass defence - this is more likely to be Kansas City. CHIEFS BY 10
RC The Seattle offense has been in top for in recent weeks and I'm praying that'll be enough to upset Kansas City having trouble believing it though... Chiefs by 7
DB Chiefs by 10
MW - Chiefs by 10
Raiders at Broncos
JC Oakland to remain in homefield advantage contention with a hard earned victory, I think. Raiders by 3
MD - Given Denver's poor recent form, this game should go the way of Oakland, but the Broncos defence is still a solid unit despite its recent change of style. RAIDERS BY 7
RC The Oakland defense was swamped by the Denver offense earlier in the season. The Broncos have cooled off after the departure of their coach while the Raiders' defense has been improved in recent weeks. Given that the Raiders were outgained 3 to 1 last time will this be enough?
DB Raiders by 4
MW - Raiders by 14
Eagles at Cardinals
JC The Eagles stuffed my run last week, can they do the same in Arizona? I hope so, but the Cards are the NFC number one. It's the blowout. Cardinals by 21
MD - As well as the Arizona defence is playing, it's tough to see Philadelphia managing to keep up in this one. Add in the Cardinals' solid offensive form, and there can surely be only one winner. CARDINALS BY 14
RC Philadelphia's playoff chances will be extinguished in the Arizona desert. The Eagles defense might keep it close but the Cards will shut down the Philly ground game. Cardinals by 10
DB Cardinals by 17
MW - Cardinals by 17
Cowboys at Redskins
JC - A game of offensive power or defensive neglect. Could instigate a recount! Redskins by 17
MD - Coach Passey has made a difference to Dallas in his short time as coach - this should be enough against Washington, traditionally one of the weaker teams in the league. COWBOYS BY 10
RC Dallas are much improved under their new coach, making the 49ers work last week. Washington will find points harder to come by this week. Cowboys by 7
DB Cowboys by 7
MW - Cowboys by 7
Packers at Bears
JC This is it! You read it here first! Week fourteen and Chicago notch up their first victory. Bears by 10
MD - If any game deserves the title of 'Ineptitude Bowl', it's this one. Neither team is playing well, especially the Bears, but I feel this could be the game in which Chicago finally make a mark in the win column. BEARS BY 3
RC Green Bay have been terrible this season, but not as bad as the Bears. One of these two has to win... Packers by 1
DB Bears by 1
MW - Bears by 3
Lions at Bucs
JC My selected Bucs were poor last week. In fact, Norway do better in the Eurovision. This match they must win, therefore: Bucs by 10
MD - Detroit's potent offence against a solid Tampa defence is the marquee matchup, but the game is likely to be decided on the other side of the ball - the Lions need to play a rare solid defensive game to come out on top in this one. LIONS BY 7
RC Detroit can secure a division title with a win here but have struggled against the blitzing brigade in recent weeks. Tampa have as good a pass rush as anyone and this could be decisive. Bucs by 3
DB Lions by 3
MW - Bucs by 3
49ers at Rams
JC The good news for the Panthers is one team will lose, or will they? A tie after OT is a realistic result. The Rams can run now but the 49ers can stop both, mostly. This is a high scoring certainty, well over sixty points?! An overtime field goal is the winner... 49ers by 3
MD - A game with big playoff implications - a San Francisco win makes it much harder for St. Louis to make the playoffs and guarantees the 49ers a wild card, but a Rams win opens up the wild card race.
RC San Francisco can secure a playoff spot with a win in St Louis, but after last week's performance the Rams start as favourites. Another big game performance from their defense will see them through. Rams by 1
DB 49ers by 3
Panthers at Saints
JC Remember the song 'Walk Like a Panther'? Carolina have been limping somewhat recently. New Orleans are better than 4-9, though I hope not too much. Panthers by 3
MD - This should be a comfortable game for Carolina, as their offence should be able to take advantage of the weak New Orleans secondary. PANTHERS BY 10
RC Carolina are far too good to lose to New Orleans. Panthers by 10
DB Panthers by 7
MW - Panthers by 14
JC: Lock Bengals; Shock Seahawks; Blowout Cardinals; Shootout Cowboys at Redskins; Slugfest Bills at Jets.
MD: Lock Cardinals; Shock Bears; Blowout Panthers; Shootout - Chiefs at Seahawks; Slugfest - Raiders at Broncos.
RC: Lock Bengals; Shock Rams; Blowout Panthers; Shootout Chiefs at Seahawks; Slugfest Steelers at Jaguars.
DB: Lock Bengals; Shock Bears; Blowout Bengals; Slugfest Steelers at Jaguars.
MW: Lock Bengals; Shock Bears; Blowout Bengals; Shootout - Cowboys at Redskins; Slugfest - Steelers at Jaguars.
NFLBP Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther