A Passing Fantasy Issue 83

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2000 Championship Games

ed Robert Crowther

Crunch-time in the BP, three Championship Game regulars are joined by newcomers Carolina for the last step on the road to the Superbowl. Opinions on the playoffs or the draft can be sent to me at:


2 Lily Terrace

Edinburgh

EH11 1PN


Or email at '[email protected]'.


Divisional Games Review


Miami and Oakland both found it hard to move the ball early in the game but the Raiders were able to take advantage of some Dolphin turnovers to build a significant lead. Miami mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter but it was too late to affect the outcome. In New England the Patriots took an early lead but three second quarter touchdowns but the Bengals in control. New England were unable to close the gap in the second half as the Cincinnati QB had plenty of time to pick out his receivers and keep the Bengals in front.


The 49ers were in control from start to finish in Arizona, taking the lead in the first quarter and never looking in danger of giving it up. The Cardinals missed the defensive big plays they've been making and struggled to move the ball on the San Francisco defense. Carolina also got off to a fast start, building a seventeen point lead by halftime. Tampa, never the best catch up team, got some big plays but were unable to convert their many third down attempts and sustain their drives.


Silver Bowl Review


After a low scoring first half the Rams and Chiefs came alive in the second, five touchdowns leading to an overtime period in which St Louis were able to secure Missouri bragging rights. The Lions offense looks to be back in gear and even their defense chipped in with a safety but it wasn't enough to match the Eagles. The Pittsburgh defense was in top form, shutting down the Dallas offense on third downs. New York were able to take advantage of the New Orleans secondary to build a first half lead but were fortunate to hold on against a superior Saints offense.


Bronze Bowl Review


The Bills were in dominant form under their new coach, running the ball 67 times against visiting Chicago – and bringing back memories of former glories. Cleveland struggled a bit in the first half but had more than enough to see off the Jaguars. Green Bay got into a shoot out in Washington, and played into the hands of the powerful Redskins offense. The Seattle defense had a great day, holding the Broncos without a third down conversion, to make up for an untypically lacklustre offensive showing.


Championship Game Previews


MW – All four of these teams have proved this season that they are worthy of becoming (or remaining in Cincy's case!) Superbowl Champions. So how do you go about predicting winners and losers? Well thankfully I don't have to put much thought into it as I can refer back to my pre-season prediction that the Superbowl would be Raiders v Panthers, and I'm not going to change my mind now, especially when both of those teams have homefield advantage! Raiders by 1, Panthers by 3


Bengals at Raiders


History


Oakland and Cincinnati are the powerhouse franchises of the AFC, whoever wins this will be the fifth time in five seasons one of the two has been AFC Champion. This is the third time they have faced each other in the big game (current score 1-1) and the fourth playoff matchup overall (Bengals lead 2-1). Oakland reversed a long winning streak by Cincinnati with a three point win in week seven but are well aware that their great rivals will not give up their title without a fight.


Raiders Offense vs Bengals Defense


The Oakland offense is based around a powerful offensive line, which they take advantage of by running often. The Bengals struggled with the Raiders' ground attack in week seven but that was a somewhat exceptional performance by their standards, they usually shut down the run very effectively. Cincinnati need to stop the run and get pressure on the young Oakland QB.


Bengals Offense vs Raiders Defense


The Cincinnati offense is also based around ball control, though not as effective as Oakland during the regular season this is counteracted by the less effective Raiders' defense. Like the Bengals, Oakland will be looking to shut down the run. The Bengals cannot afford to give up nine sacks, like they did in week seven, and expect to win.


Special Teams


The Bengals' excellent special teams units have been a big help to them this season, a 43 yard net punting average has left their opponents with a long field on many occasions. Oakland are also pretty good on special teams but lack a quality punter, they will be hoping homefield advantage balances things up.


Prediction


I predict this will be a very tough, hard fought game...


JC – Cincinnati blew my Superbowl tip apart last week! To score 38 points in New England is awesome. Whenever the Raiders have come up against a top team I've gone against them, but Oakland have come up trumps. The Raiders eased past Miami with only 11 first downs and 96 yards rushing. Cincinnati cause turnovers and the key will be if the Raiders can rush error free. Cincinnati will employ the blitz, Oakland know this, but can they cope? Oakland will employ the blitz, Cincinnati know this, but can they cope?!! It's a slugfest ... I think. Raiders 21 Bengals 10


49ers at Panthers


History


San Francisco were the original champions of the BP, and have waited a long time to get back to the big game. Carolina were a very poor team for their first few seasons but did have a knack for pulling out surprise victories over the 49ers. Now that the Panthers have developed into one of the better teams in the league they still have a hex over San Francisco, beating them twice already this season.


Panthers Offense vs 49ers Defense


Carolina have an excellent and well balanced offense, leading the league in completion percentage and also ranking in the top ten in rushing. The San Francisco defense is one of the better units in the league but have not managed to seriously disrupt the Panthers' passing attack in either of their games this season. If Carolina get decent field position they will score points.


49ers Offense vs Panthers Defense


The Carolina defense started out the season woefully, they have since improved to merely poor but even a less than spectacular San Francisco offense should have little trouble moving the ball. They key for the Panthers is turnovers, even when they are giving up a lot of yards they tend to picking up fumbles and interceptions. The 49ers were punished for their mistakes in the two games this season and their QB is tied for the NFC lead with 26 interceptions, they can't afford to make too many here.


Special Teams


Both teams have been fairly poor on punt returns but the 49ers have an edge in all the other categories. San Francisco should be defending a long field for most of the game.


Prediction


Carolina will be looking to get some turnovers followed by some easy scores, San Francisco have fought their way from a wildcard berth and will find it hard to match the intensity of their opponents. Panthers by 3


JC – It's bad enough playing in the NFC West, and now this. At least an NFC West team will be in the big one. I prefer the 49ers to the Rams, but it is quite easy to lose to them both. The trouble with the 49ers is that they can control the ball either on the ground or through the air. They have receivers in the backfield, at tight end and deep. My gameplan is fairly simple – San Francisco will score, so the Panthers will have to score more! Whoever wins, I hope they go all the way. 49ers 10 Panthers 14


DB – PANTHERS BY 1


Player Profile


Name: Martyn Williams

Age: 27

Marital Status: Living together (with Sarah)

Occupation: Programme Office Manager for EDS

Favourite Teams: St Louis Rams and, for my sins, Queens Park Rangers (though if the Rams can win the Superbowl there's hope for QPR yet)!

Sporting Hero: Les Ferdinand, and more recently Marshall Faulk.

Gameplan: BP Rams first coaching position, recently took over the BX Rams as well.

Hobbies / Pastimes: Movies, music, drinking beer and single malt scotch (not together!), Front Office Football on the PC, reading Terry Pratchett and Ian Fleming, continually trying but failing to keep fit.

Favourite TV: The Professionals, The Sweeney, Dr Who (70s and 80s) – at times the best and at others the worst TV programme ever, Simpsons, South Park, Red Dwarf

Favourite Actors: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood, Richard E. Grant, Michael Caine.

Favourite Actresses: Winona Ryder, Cameron Diaz (not entirely for her acting abilities)

Favourite Films: Withnail & I, Saturday Night Fever, There's Something About Mary, Get Carter, The Outlaw Josey Whales, Aliens, and Any Given Sunday (Pacino, Diaz and American Football – perfect).

Favourite Music: The Cure, The Wonderstuff , Morrissey, David Bowie, Lush.

Favourite Comedian: Billy Connolly

If I won the lottery: I would buy the Porsche I've always dreamed of and then happily drive around while deciding what I will spend the rest of the money on.


Divisional Bowl Preview


Patriots at Cardinals


RC – Both teams will be disappointed to find themselves in the Divisional Bowl, but Arizona have been a disappointment for the last few weeks. After starting the season looking like the most dominant team the BP has ever seen their season has petered out. New England should have little trouble. Patriots by 14


JC – PATRIOTS BY 10

DB – PATRIOTS BY 10


Bucs at Dolphins


RC – Two teams with great defenses, Miami offer more in the way of offensive threat and homefield advantage should see them through. Dolphins by 3


JC – BUCS BY 7

DB – DOLPHINS BY 6


Silver Bowl Preview


Eagles at Rams


RC – Philadelphia have had a disappointing season but are always capable of springing a surprise. The Rams have had a rough ride in the extra tough NFC West and may lack motivation for consolation prizes. Eagles by 1


JC – RAMS BY 17

DB – RAMS BY 10


Jets at Steelers


RC – I've been going on all season about how bad New York are and they've been defying my predictions by actually winning some games. It'll not happen here though... Steelers by 14


JC – STEELERS BY 10

DB – STEELERS BY 10


Bronze Bowl Preview


Bills at Browns


RC – The new coach in Buffalo looks to have had immediate impact, but the Bills are even more one dimensional now. Cleveland aren't exactly great on defense but should be able to come up with a run stopping gameplan. Browns by 3


JC – BROWNS BY 7

DB – BILLS BY 7


Redskins at Seahawks


RC – The 'All Offense Bowl' should see plenty of points and a home win. Seahawks by 7


JC – SEAHAWKS BY 10

DB – SEAHAWKS BY 10


NFLBP Player Newsletter

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ed Robert Crowther