A Passing Fantasy Issue 88
NFLBP Player Newsletter 2001 Season Week Three
ed Robert Crowther
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Week Two Review
The Patriots dealt easily with the Jets. The New England offense had little difficulty and their defense had the New York passing game well under control. The Miami defense continued its impressive start to the season, holding the Bills to just nine first downs. The Dolphins' offense struggled somewhat but didn't make any critical mistakes. Cincinnati were too good for the Browns, rushing and passing with equal ease while limiting the Cleveland offense to short pass completions and little else. Pittsburgh continued their winning start to the season, building a large first half lead which the visiting Jaguars were never likely to match. Denver were looking to upset the form book when a ninety yard touchdown pass put them ahead in the first quarter. The Kansas City defense, however, was soon back in control and allowed the offense plenty of chance to overtake the early lead. Oakland struggled for three quarters against visiting Seattle before finally taking the lead in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks were on the verge of getting back into the lead but failed to drive the ball in from the Raiders' five.
Arizona were a bit hit and miss on the passing game two interceptions from only twelve attempts, but also two touchdowns. It was too much for the Redskins who never recovered from an early deficit. Philadelphia continued to set the pace in the East with another fine defensive display. Dallas had the Eagles' offense under control for all but one quarter, in which Philly scored five times. Tampa continued to disappoint, despite gaining 22 first downs to the Packers' 13 they gave up several big plays to the Green Bay offense. Detroit did something unusual they won a low scoring game. Chicago were never likely to offer much opposition though. San Francisco dealt well with the offensive threat of New Orleans. The 49ers' offense was well in control for most of the game and, even with some late defensive slip ups, they never looked like losing. In the game of the day in the NFC the Rams were able to march the ball up and down the field in Carolina, but that pesky Panthers defense kept coming up with big plays at key times to help them hold on to a first half lead. St Louis did mount a fourth quarter comeback, only to see it all for nought in overtime.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Green Bay, erratic but impressive. Defensive performance of the week goes to Miami, whose defense won the game almost single handed. Special teams performance of the week goes to Pittsburgh for a kick return touchdown.
Week Three Preview
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Darren Birtchnell and Martyn Williams.
Steelers at Patriots
RC Pittsburgh have made a strong start to the season but this is their first real test. Despite their week one defeat New England are a playoff calibre team and should be good enough to win at home. Patriots by 7
DB Patriots by 7
MW Patriots by 17
Bengals at Dolphins
RC The Miami defense has been awesome so far this season, conceding only three points in two games. Cincinnati have been nearly as good but have also managed some significant offensive output. The three time AFC champs will start as favourites but the Dolphins might take the opportunity to prove themselves genuine contenders. Bengals by 1
MW Dolphins by 3
Broncos at Jets
RC New York are not going to win many games this year but Denver's weak secondary might be just the opportunity they're looking for. Jets by 3
DB Broncos by 7
MW Broncos by 7
Seahawks at Bills
RC Both teams have started winless but Seattle, at least, have made it into their opponents' endzone a few times. Defense look likely to have the upper hand but Buffalo will need some fortuitous turnovers to have a chance of winning. Seahawks by 3
DB Seahawks by 1
MW Seahawks by 10
Chiefs at Browns
RC Neither team has been spectacular on offense so far but Kansas City look to have the better defense although Cleveland have faced better quality opposition. I expect the first team to build a lead will manage to hold on to it. Chiefs by 3
DB Chiefs by 7
MW Browns by 6
Raiders at Jaguars
RC Nobody expects much from Jacksonville this season but Oakland have slipped up more than once on the road against 'inferior' opposition in the past. If the Raiders get ahead early it probably won't be close.
DB Raiders by 20
MW Raiders by 21
Lions at Cardinals
RC Both teams have offensive firepower so the contest could come down to which defense shows the most backbone. Arizona have given up more yards but against more powerful offenses than Detroit have been asked to deal with. Cardinals by 7
DB Lions by 3
MW Lions by 7
Bucs at Eagles
RC Many tipped Tampa for glory this season but it has all gone wrong for them so far. It may be too early to start writing them off but this is the sort of game they need to win if they want to be taken seriously. Philadelphia are a solid team but lack the big play ability exhibited by the Bucs' previous two opponents. Bucs by 3
DB Bucs by 3
MW Eagles by 10
Saints at Redskins
RC Neither team has managed to hold either of their previous opponents to fewer than 25 points. Offense will rule, and New Orleans look to be better equipped in that area. saints by 7
DB Saints by 6
MW Saints by 7
Rams at Cowboys
RC St Louis may not have figured out how to beat their divisional rivals but Dallas will hold few fears for them. The Cowboys might complete a few a long passes but not enough to keep up. Rams by 14
DB Rams by 10
49ers at Packers
RC An interesting encounter, Green Bay seem to have recovered some of the form that took them to three superbowls while San Francisco have been quietly winning games, as they always do. The Packers' offense has looked formidable so far but the 49ers defense has always been able to come up with the goods in big games. A win may signal a return to the glory days for Green Bay but I think San Francisco will find a way to win. 49ers by 3
DB 49ers by 10
MW 49ers by 10
Panthers at Bears
RC Carolina have continued where they left off at the end of last season, giving up yards but not points and taking full advantage of opponent's mistakes. Chicago have also continued last season's form, but look determined to set a record for consecutive defeats. Panthers by 14
DB Panthers by 14
MW Panthers by 17
DB : Lock Raiders; Shock Bucs; Blowout Raiders; Shootout Lions at Cardinals; Slugfest Bengals at Dolphins.
MW : Lock Raiders; Shock - Packers ; Blowout Raiders; Shootout - Saints at Redskins; Slugfest - Bengals at Dolphins.
RC : Lock Panthers; Shock Jets; Blowout Panthers; Shootout Lions at Cardinals; Slugfest Chiefs at Browns.
ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH
GAME OF THE WEEK
St Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys, NFLBP 2001 Season, Week 3
Recent History - NFLBP 2000 Season, Week 7 - Cowboys 28 at 31 Rams
"Despite the heart breaking loss in Carolina last week the mood at Rams Park is good and there seems to be a greater sense of belief around the team. In his mid-week press conference Coach Williams explained this. "What you saw last week was I feel, despite the loss, a coming of age for this team. Not one single player gave up even when it was 17-7 Carolina with only a minute to go. That shows how determined this team is this year, and they now know that they can go head to head with the best in this league and not come away from the game feeling they didn't deserve to be there." Referring to a failed 4th and 2 at the Panthers 7 he added" Hell, we were two yards short of beating the Superbowl Champs and that gives us confidence. Next time it will be our turn."
It is hard to see Dallas being quite so aggressive and hungry to play after an 0-2 start. They gave a good account of themselves in San Francisco in week 1 but were made to look very ordinary last week in Philadelphia. QB Troy Aikman especially had a bad day, being benched in favour of rookie Randall Cunningham. However, with this being the Cowboys home opener this season they should find some extra motivation to play and the Rams will do well not to under estimate the 'Boys. A win here would be just the kick start Dallas need.
On offense the Cowboys are still to find their running game and it would seem unlikely they will find it this week against the Rams stingy run defence, so a lot depends on the performance of Troy Aikman. In week 7 of last season he hit the Rams secondary for four touchdowns but that was with the help of a rushing attack. Also the Rams pass rush is bigger, stronger and faster this season so Troy will have to be agile in the pocket if he is to have the time to hit his receivers. Overall the Dallas offence will live or die with the success of their offensive line this game. If Aikman has the time to throw then Dallas do have quality receivers who can score points.
Defensively the Cowboys have looked good against the run, keeping opponents to under 3 yards a carry and this is something they simply must achieve this week to stay in the game. Rams FB Marshall Faulk is running behind RT Ryan Tucker for fun at the moment and a lot will be expected of him this game to lead the way for the Rams. The Cowboys front 7 are averaging 3 sacks a game so far and will be hoping to improve on that figure this week against a Rams OL that has already conceded 9 sacks. But they will need to penetrate quickly because if they don't get the pressure on the Cowboys secondary looks a little weak to be mixing it with Warner, Holt and co, despite their 3 picks so far.
The Rams are the bookies favourites but a Dallas victory wouldn't be a complete
NFLBP Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther