A Passing Fantasy Issue 82

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2000 Divisional Games

ed Robert Crowther

Send predictions, opinions and other contributions to me at:

2 Lily Terrace


EH11 1PN

Or email at '[email protected]'.

Wildcard Review

The Dolphins got off to a strong start and never looked back against Kansas City, with two first quarter touchdowns that were too much for the Chiefs. Kansas City were unable to move the ball consistently through the air or on the ground and the Miami defense was huge on third downs, stopping all eleven conversion attempts. On offense the Dolphins were also a little inconsistent but were able to take advantage of good field position and managed one big play, and 86 yard touchdown run.

After a tight first half in San Francisco the 49ers blew the game open with two third quarter touchdowns. St Louis were able to pile up the yards but couldn't force their way back into the game in the fourth quarter. Turnovers were the most significant statistic - the 49ers had one, the Rams had five.

Silver Bowl Review

The Seahawks' run of good form was brought to an end in Detroit as the Lions were able to get just enough rushing game to keep Seattle off the field. Philadelphia thrashed the Broncos, taking full advantage of four turnovers. Pittsburgh were able to slow the Washington offense down and give themselves plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the weak Redskin defense. Dallas saw off the Packers with little effort, building a 23 point first half lead that proved to be more than enough. The Cleveland offense moved the ball well but were unable to find a way into the the New Orleans endzone after the first quarter, giving the Saints the opportunity to steal victory in overtime. The Jets were outgained by the Jaguars, gave up more turnovers than the Jaguars, and somehow managed to enter the fourth quarter with a seventeen point lead, it nearly wasn't enough but, in the end, Jacksonville paid the price for not getting pressure on the New York QB.

Divisional Games Preview

Predictions and commentary from John Coleman and Martyn Williams, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell and myself.

Dolphins at Raiders

JC – The Dolphins cruised to victory over the falling Chiefs last week. Rushing at over seven yards per carry will win you most games, however Kansas could point to their four turnovers as a similar, self inflicted knockout. The Raiders, for such a strong rushing team, have scored an alarmingly high percentage of passing touchdowns. Miami need to be aware of this, but also need a quick scoring gameplan to stay close. Look for the shotgun formation to be used, unfortunately for Miami to no avail. Raiders 28 Dolphins 3

MW – The strength of the last 4 contenders in the AFC is impressive to say the least. The Dolphins have looked an extremely useful team the second half of the season, and just in case the Raiders needed a wake up call to remind them not to take anything for granted, the Dolphins provided it with last weeks 33-0 annihilation of the Chiefs. But the Raiders are unbeaten in the last 12 games, and seem to be on an unerring path for the Superbowl. The Dolphins are capable of the victory, but will need to be at their peak in all phases of the game to achieve it. As long as Coach Crowther can keep the Raiders focused on the game in hand and not look ahead to the possibility of the AFC Championship Game the victory will be theirs. Raiders by 10

DB – Raiders by 3

Bengals at Patriots

JC – The Bengals need to keep their offense on the field as long as possible to have a chance. Stick it up your jersey and run straight ahead. Fumbles will be a key issue; for Cincinnati to win they need to recover their own, especially in their own half. The Pats? This will be a stroll by the fourth quarter. There will be closer games ahead. Patriots 24 Bengals 7

MW – Ouch! This is going to be one hell of a bruising encounter for both teams. In the week 11 match up in Cincinnati the Bengals won by an overtime field goal, handing the Patriots their first defeat of the season. This game will be just as close and it is impossible to pick a definite winner. But the Bengals have struggled away from home against playoff opposition this season while the Patriots faithful at Foxboro have enjoyed eight straight wins. My gut feeling is to go with the Patriots to win by a field goal. Patriots by 3

RC – Patriots by 1

49ers at Cardinals

JC – Arizona's number one rated offense and pass rushing defense will start as top dogs. With homefield advantage and an untroubled season except a blip in Tampa, what chance do San Francisco have? Coach Devine will spring a surprise or two or three, watch for a few fourth down options. Coach Jenkinson needs only to hold his nerve while the receivers need to hold on to the ball. NFC West rules with a shocker. Cardinals 10 49ers 12

MW – In their last two games the Cardinals have looked nothing like the team they were for the first 14 weeks of the season, struggling to beat no hopers, and even changing their league leading defensive gameplan in week 16. The question everyone is asking is are they simply lulling the rest of the NFC into a false sense of hope? Way back in week 1 the Cardinals beat the 49ers very convincingly, and they will still be most people's favourites to do so again. But if the 49er defence can force turnovers in the same way they did last week against the Rams, and get a big day from their special teams (which they generally do) the 49ers can definitely cause the major upset of the playoffs. And maybe because I've failed to beat my NFC West rivals in 3 attempts this year I just have this unexplainable feeling they are invincible! 49ers by 1

DB – Cardinals by 1

RC – 49ers by 1

Bucs at Panthers

JC – It's a little distressing to predict Tampa to win at the start of the season, it's time to rue my prediction otherwise screams of 'fix' will be heard. Carolina just beat Tampa in the regular season, the Bucs had better numbers. Carolina will need to be at their best, I hope we are! Panthers 35 Bucs 27

MW – The Buccaneers lost to all three playoff bound NFC West teams during the regular season, but will probably be grateful that of the three teams it is the Panthers they are facing. They only lost to a 4th quarter field goal in week 11, and their offence has definitely improved since then. But the Panthers much maligned defence has also improved, and they are unbeaten at home this year. I think it is more likely to be a slugfest than a shootout, but whichever way the game turns out I expect the Panthers to advance to the NFC Championship game. Panthers by 10

DB – Panthers by 3

RC – Panthers by 7

Silver Bowl Preview

Rams at Chiefs

RC – Kansas City have not been playing well in recent weeks, their defense will keep the game close but St Louis should have enough to beat them. Rams by 7

JC – Rams by 7

DB – Rams by 10

Eagles at Lions

RC – Detroit demonstrated some of their early season form last week and will be hoping to repeat that, Philadelphia have a much better defense than Seattle, though. Eagles by 3

JC – Lions by 10

DB – Eagles by 7

Cowboys at Steelers

RC – Both teams played well last week, especially on defense, a tight low scoring game with Dallas snatching victory. Cowboys by 1

JC – Steelers by 3

DB – Cowboys by 3

Jets at Saints

RC – An interesting encounter, if the New York QB gets time the New Orleans secondary will be toast (I said if). Saints by 3

JC – Saints by 17

DB – Saints by 7

Bronze Bowl Preview

Bears at Bills

RC – Chicago went the whole season without winning a game, no reason to start against Buffalo and their new coach. Bills by 3

JC – Bills by 7

DB – Bills by 7

Jaguars at Browns

RC – Cleveland have looked much better in the latter parts of the season and should be able to find a way past the Jacksonville defense. Browns by 7

JC – Jaguars by 3

DB – Browns by 3

Packers at Redskins

RC – After showing signs of life in the last few games of the regular season both teams reverted to losing form last week, homefield might give Washington the edge. Redskins by 3

JC – Redskins by 21

DB – Packers by 3

Broncos at Seahawks

RC – The Seattle offense is in dominant form, while Denver have been getting progressively worse. Seahawks by 10

JC – Seahawks by 28

DB – Seahawks by 10

NFLBP Player Newsletter


ed Robert Crowther