A Passing Fantasy Issue 84

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2000 Superbowl

ed Robert Crowther

Good luck to all those in bowl action this week (though better luck to the AFC teams, obviously). For the rest of you, time to start thinking about next season – get your draft reviews and season previews to me at:


2 Lily Terrace

Edinburgh

EH11 1PN


Or email at '[email protected]'.


Championship Game Review


The Bengals found the best way of avoiding the Oakland pass rush, run the ball! The Raiders' pass rush was pinned back by the relentless running attack of the champions while the Cincinnati defense had no trouble with the Oakland running game. The game was still tight until the third quarter when the Bengals finally broke a long touchdown run. The Raiders' best drive of the day go them a fourth quarter touchdown inside the two minute warning but Cincy recovered the onside kick to end any threat.


Both teams got off to a fast start in Carolina, with touchdowns on the first three possessions. The Panthers fumbled on their own 17 at the start of the second but the 49ers couldn't advance and had to settle for a field goal. Carolina got a touchdown in their two minute offense and then broke the game open in the third quarter. San Francisco committed two fumbles and threw an interception in the third and the Panthers took full advantage with 17 points that put the result beyond doubt.


Divisional Bowl Review


The Patriots returned to top form a week too late (from their point of view) while the Cardinals put in another disappointing late season performance. The Arizona offense couldn't get anything going against the tough New England run defense, while the Cards' D looks a pale shadow of its early season self. Miami found out just how tough the Tampa Bay defense can be as they were unable to penetrate even to field goal range. The Bucs' offense was, if anything, even worse but looked to have the advantage of better field position.


Silver Bowl Review


Three safeties were the main highlight in St Louis, the Eagles got two to the Rams' one but it wasn't enough to make up for their six turnovers. Pittsburgh made hard work of the Jets, spotting them a two touchdown first quarter lead which they gradually crawled back.


Bronze Bowl Review


Buffalo switched to a more balanced strategy this week as their new coach is obviously taking a look at what his team can do, they were no match for the passing offense of Cleveland, however. Seattle comfortably outscored the Redskins in yet another all singing, all dancing offensive show.


St Louis Rams Season Review

Martyn Williams


"A strange season for St Louis, many improvements have been made but there were more disappointments than expected. The team got off to a flying 6-1 start and seemed destined to continue the form that propelled a basement 1-5-1 team into a playoff team under Coach Williams the previous year. But the tough mid-season schedule saw them finish at 10-6 and proved what most in St Louis already knew, they were better than most but not capable of mixing it with the big guns on a regular basis just yet. On it's day the Rams offense was awesome, but if the running game was held in check early then the passing game couldn't match it's success of the previous season. It was because of the Rams struggles against most other playoff teams, and the less than convincing way they got in, that there was less disappointment at the defeat to the 49ers in the wildcard game than there had been the previous year, when it was the Panthers that ended the Rams hopes. Highlights for the season obviously centre on the improved defence, ranked 8th overall despite having 3 rookie starters. Their finest moment came in week 10, holding out against Carolina for a 13-7 victory, Coach Williams' first against the Panthers. Shutting out Tampa Bay 28-0 in a must win game in week 13 was probably the best overall team performance.


Looking ahead to the new season it will be a different Rams team that takes the field. The squad has been hit hard by retirements, with the primary HB and WR retiring, as well as a veteran DL. Rookies have been drafted to cover these retirements, with some experienced free agents also being picked up at FB and DL to bolster the running game and defensive line. The Rams expect to play even better on defence this coming season with a simplified gameplan being employed and rookie mistakes eliminated. Steps have also been taken to improve on special teams, and perhaps rather surprisingly it is the offence that causes most concern - will the for the most part young and inexperienced running and receiving corp be able to match the production of recent seasons? A lot will depend on how successfully Coach Williams can implement the revised gameplan. However, the main factor affecting just how successful the Rams can be is whether I can work out how to beat the 49ers and Panthers consistently!"


Draft Report


Teams are listed in draft order with their draft picks and any free agent signings. Grades are my (highly subjective) estimation of how the players drafted/signed fit the needs of the team. Since I don't know who retired/got step reduced the grades are likely to be somewhat inaccurate as far as actual drafting performance goes...


Bears

1) LB 4 DRI 2) WR 2 OPL*1 3) RB 2 ORI

A good first pick but you would think their defense needed more help than that. Grade: B-


Bills

1) OL 3 OQB 2) DB 3 DPL 3) WR 1 OPL*1

FA: PN 7 1 OPN*1

Got good value for the first two picks and also addressed a major defensive need. Grade: A


Jaguars

1) TE 3 OPS 2) WR 2 OPL 3) OL 2 ORI

Offense was a problem for the Jags last season, but their new picks won't get much chance to shine if they can't stop the run. Grade: C


Jets

1) TE 3 OPS 2) QB 3 OPL 3) WR 1 OPL*1

Failed (again) to draft an offensive lineman. Grade: E


Browns

1) QB 4 OPS 2) OL 2 ORI 3) OL 2 OQB

FA: DB 4 2 DPS DB 5 1 DPS

Used the draft to build the offense for the future, and got some help for the poor running game, while getting immediate help for the defense through free agency, but probably not enough. Grade: B+


Saints

1) RB 3 ORI 2) WR 2 OPL 3) OL 2 ORI

Failed to address the glaring weaknesses in the secondary. Grade: D


Packers

1) DL 3 DBZ 2) WR 2 OPL 3) LB 2 DRI

It's been a while since the Pack drafted this high, a balanced selection. Grade: B


Cowboys

1) RB 3 ORI 2) QB 3 OPS 3) DL 2 DBZ

Can't help feeling that Dallas' main problems lie with the defense, not much help there. Grade: C


Redskins

1) RB 3 ORI 2) LB 2 DRI 3) DL 2 DBZ

Sensible to take two defensive players, but unless they had retirements I can't see why they needed an RB. Grade: C+


Steelers

1) OL 3 OQB 2) DL 2 DBZ 3) DB 2 DPL

The Steelers running game was pretty poor last year, so a solid first pick, and defensive improvement is always a good thing. Grade: A


Broncos

1) OL 3 OQB 2) WR 1 OPL*2 3) DB 2 DPL

Improved running attack and another speedy wideout won't replace the inspirational defensive playcalling. Grade: B


Eagles

1) DL 3 DBZ 2) RB 2 ORI 3) OL 2 ORI

Drafted to their strengths, but may regret not getting any secondary help. Grade: B-


Seahawks

1) LB 3 DRI 2) DB 3 DPL 3) TE 2 OPS

FA: LB 4 2 DRO

This could be just what Seattle needed, finally a defense that's half as good as the O? Grade: A


Lions

1) DL 3 DBZ 2) RB 2 ORI 3) DB 1 DPL

Detroit were in dire need of some defense but failed to address their weak pass protection. Grade: A-


Rams

1) RB 2 ORI*1 2) WR 1 OPL*1 3) DL 2 DRI

FA: DL 6 3 DBZ RB 9 1 ORI*1

Improvement on special teams was a must for St Louis, and also got some quality defenders – no more third place? Grade: A-


Chiefs

1) LB 3 DRI 2) RB 2 ORI 3) DB 1 DPL

Kansas City really needed some offensive line help, and could have got better value with their third rounder. Grade: C


Buccaneers

1) QB 4 OPL 2) OL 2 OQB 3) TE 2 OPS

Improving the offense was the order of the day, top pick probably won't have an immediate impact but a good draft nonetheless. Grade: A


Dolphins

1) DB 3 DPL 2) DB 2 DPL 3) WR 1 OPS*1

FA: DL 9 3 DBZ

Not satisfied with having the fifth best defense in the league! With no major weaknesses they could afford to indulge themselves. Grade: B


49ers

1) DB 3 DPL 2) OL 2 OQB 3) LB 2 DRO

San Francisco have always made defense a priority but are still taking steps to improve their sometimes dodgy pass protection. Grade: A


Panthers

1) QB 3 OPS 2) WR 1 OPL*1 3) DB 2 DRO

FA: KK 3 1 OFG*1

Defense was the major weakness last year and was not really addressed (but then, look who's in the big game). Grade: C


Bengals

1) WR 2 OPL*1 2) RB 1 OPS*1 3) DL 2 DBZ

The champs are obviously looking to add some variety to the offense, and also picked up some extra LP's. Grade: A


Raiders

1) LB 3 DRI 2) PN 1 OPN*2 3) DL 2 DBZ

FA: LB 4 3 DRI OL 6 2 ORI

Looks nice on paper, but with retirements factored in is unlikely to have improved the team much. Grade: B-


Patriots

1) DB 2 DPS 2) OL 2 OQB 3) LB 2 DPS

Could be awesome on defense next year with improvement against the pass, and maybe some insurance for those blitzing defenses? Grade: B+


Cardinals

1) DB 3 DPL 2) QB 2 OPS 3) WR 1 DKR

Second and third picks were poor value, even picking this late, but DB might be of immediate help. Grade: C-


Superbowl Prediction


MW – The Panthers have made good so far on my pre-season faith in them and appear in their first BP Superbowl, but will they go all the way and win the big one as I predicted? Standing in their way are the Bengals who have now equalled the Packers record of making it to three consecutive Superbowls. It is rather ironic that they have been victorious this post season on the road, when it was their away form against other playoff teams during the regular season that kept the Cincinnati faithful without a home playoff game to start with. It would appear that Coach Birtchnell knows exactly how to motivate his team to perform at a higher level in the playoffs and it is without doubt that most people will have the Bengals down as Superbowl favourites. But then their detractors could point to the relatively easy ride they have in the BP's weakest division as giving them more in reserve come playoff time. That is something that you cannot say about the Panthers, winning the NFC West is not easy, and beating the 49ers three straight games certainly isn't easy (believe me I know, just one victory this season would have been nice)! So the Panthers have had their fair share of big game experience this year as well and have looked very good offensively in beating two good defensive teams on their way to the Superbowl. They certainly look capable of breaking a few big plays against the Bengals D. So who is it to be? Well, my head tells me Cincinnati but my heart says Carolina. How can I go against them now? Panthers by 3


RC – The Bengals enter their third consecutive superbowl, the Panthers make the trip for the first time. Many people wrote Cincinnati off after they failed to secure homefield advantage but they have once again proved themselves to be an entirely different proposition in the playoffs. The Bengals' offense has stepped up a gear and the already strong defense has reached new levels of excellence. The Carolina offense has been the strong point of the team for most of the season but their defense also makes a contribution with one of the highest turnover totals in the league. However, if the Panthers don't get turnovers their defense is a weak link and the ball control style of the champions is not prone to errors. I think the greater experience of of Cincinnati will give them the edge. Bengals by 3


Championship Bowl Preview


RC – A rematch of Superbowl I, Oakland will be looking to get some measure of revenge for their defeat back then. San Francisco will not be likely to make it easy, however. An interesting contrast of defensive styles sees the blitzing Raiders face off against the zone defenses of the 49ers. For both this game represents a failure to meet expectations and the result could come down to who doesn't care the least...


Divisional Bowl Preview


RC – The Tampa defense is pretty awesome but New England look to be the better balanced side. The Bucs will struggle to run the ball against the Patriots D which should mean New England get enough opportunities to crack open their opponents defense. Patriots by 7


Silver Bowl Preview


RC – St Louis came third in the toughest division in the NFLBP, Pittsburgh came a distant second in one of the weaker divisions. The Steelers don't have the firepower to live with the Rams. Rams by 10


Bronze Bowl Preview


RC – Cleveland and Seattle both have far better offenses than defenses, but have very different styles. The Seahawks like to pound the ball at you then throw long while the Browns just like to throw. Whoever gets the ball last will have the best chance of winning. Seahawks by 1



NFLBP Player Newsletter

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ed Robert Crowther