A Passing Fantasy Issue 91

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2001 Week Six

ed Robert Crowther

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Week FIVE Review


A few short weeks ago the Dolphins looked like contenders, but their third consecutive defeat, this time at the hands of divisional rivals New England, confirms their fall from grace. The Patriots were able to control the ball on the ground and Miami never got close. The New York offense got very little reward for 350 yards of passing except for one touchdown and, oh yes, the win. The Buffalo offense hits a new low... Cincinnati dealt comfortably with sometimes problematic divisional rivals Pittsburgh. The Bengals gave up yardage and first downs but played tough when it counted and never looked like surrendering their first quarter lead. Cleveland kept pace with the Bengals with an easy win over top pick favourites Jacksonville. The Oakland defense was in a mean mood in Kansas City, the Chiefs didn't even get near the endzone. Rushing games were out of fashion in Denver, the Seahawks and the Broncos combined for a mere 34 yards. In the battle of the passing games Seattle were able to pick up the first downs but couldn't stop the big plays of their opponents.


Philadelphia were all over Arizona in the first half but again lacked penetration in the redzone. It didn't look like it would matter until a fourth quarter touchdown from the Cardinals made the last few minutes interesting. Dallas were happy to take advantage of the obliging Washington defense, scoring on all but one of their drives. After a dodgy start, Tampa look to be back to their form of last season. A comfortable win in Detroit keeps them in sight of the division leaders. Talking of the division leaders, Green Bay continued to remind their fans of the good old days, taking advantage of the Lions' defeat to move two games up. San Francisco looked to be struggling against the young guns of Carolina, after three quarters the Panthers had fought their way to a seven point lead. In the fourth quarter however, a different 49ers team came out to play – a blasted past Carolina for three touchdowns. In New Orleans the Rams were made to fight to the end by a surprisingly effective Saints team.


Offensive performance of the week goes to San Francisco, mainly on the strength of that fourth quarter. Defensive performance of the week goes to Oakland, the only shutout of the week. Special teams performance of the week goes to St Louis for good return yardage and kicking in the clutch.


Predictions Standings

Darren Birtchnell


Darren Birtchnell

13.8

(5)

Martyn Williams

13.8

(5)

Rob Crowther

13.4

(5)

Martin Devine

9.0

(1)


ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH

Martyn Williams


Post Game Press Conference


St Louis Rams 27 at 24 New Orleans Saints


Following the victory in New Orleans Coach Williams agreed with reporters that "the game was closer than it should’ve been, but proves what I was saying to my players pre game – the Saints aren’t just here to make up the numbers in the West this season. They are very good at running the ball consistently and then hitting you with the passing game. It is no fluke that they have the leagues top rated passing game at present, QB Jeff Blake isn’t taking risks and is throwing very accurately." When a reporter asked if Rams QB Kurt Warner could learn a thing or to about playing the position from studying Blake, obviously referring to his 2 TDs to 8 picks in the last four games, Coach Williams snapped. "No matter what you guys say about Kurt, this team is getting it done. At the moment our passing game is struggling but what does that matter when we have scored 3 rushing TDs a game the last three weeks? I’ve every confidence that if our running game has an off day Warner, Bruce and Holt can pick up the slack. You have to remember these guys are still young, Bruce only just stepped out of diapers as good as yesterday! When we start to lose games then I’ll get concerned" And with that he called the press conference to a premature end. The word on the grapevine is that Williams is far more concerned than he is letting on with Warner’s slump in form this season, and that reaction would appear to uphold that view...


Stats Corner

Martyn Williams


Some more stats for you, rushing and passing will return next week.


Turnover Ratio


Cincinnati Bengals

+8

New England Patriots

+8

Carolina Panthers

+6

New Orleans Saints

+5

Dallas Cowboys

+5

Cleveland Browns

+4

Kansas City Chiefs

+4

Buffalo Bills

+4


3rd Down Conversion RATE (Offense)


San Francisco 49ers

55.42

Oakland Raiders

52.11

St Louis Rams

50.63

Detroit Lions

50.00

Cleveland Browns

49.46

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

47.62

New Orleans Saints

47.06

Carolina Panthers

46.91


3rd Down Conversion Rate (Defense)


Cleveland Browns

30.00

St Louis Rams

31.88

Oakland Raiders

31.94

Kansas City Chiefs

32.93

New York Jets

33.33

Buffalo Bills

33.33

Denver Broncos

33.33

Philadelphia Eagles

34.94


Average Gain (Offense)


Green Bay Packers

6.62

Cincinnati Bengals

5.77

New Orleans Saints

5.58

Seattle Seahawks

5.56

Oakland Raiders

5.47

Arizona Cardinals

5.36

San Francisco 49ers

5.24

Denver Broncos

5.09


Average Gain (Defense)


Oakland Raiders

3.92

St Louis Rams

3.99

Pittsburgh Steelers

4.21

New England Patriots

4.22

Cincinnati Bengals

4.26

Philadelphia Eagles

4.32

Arizona Cardinals

4.42

New York Jets

4.53


Week Six Preview


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


Patriots at Bucs


RC – Tampa look to have bounced back from their poor start while New England seem to be improving with every game. The Patriots have a greater variety of ways to beat you and should be able to win on the road. Patriots by 3


DB – Patriots by 10

MW – Patriots by 7


Lions at Dolphins


RC – Both teams were looking like contenders a few weeks ago, but have slid back as their schedules have got tough. A chance here for one of them to regroup and get back in the thick of the playoff race. Dolphins by 7


DB – Dolphins by 10

MW – Dolphins by 3


Jets at Packers


RC – New York have won two games already, I'm confident this will be more than enough for them for a good long while. Green Bay have the offensive firepower to slice them apart. Packers by 10


DB – Packers by 14

MW – Packers by 14


Bears at Bills


RC – Buffalo have a marginally less pathetic record, but after last week's performance it would take a brave man to bet in their favour. Chicago have got to break that losing streak eventually. Bears by 7


DB – Bears by 1

MW – Bills by 7


Bengals at Panthers


RC – A superbowl rematch, spiced up by some tough talk in the last issue of APF. Time for Coach Coleman to put his money where his mouth is. Carolina don't seem to be getting the breaks they were getting last year while Cincinnati have revamped their offense and look to be improved. Bengals by 3


MW – Bengals by 7


49ers at Steelers


RC – Pittsburgh have produced a few surprises in the past, but this would be a really big one. 49ers by 14


DB – 49ers by 17

MW – 49ers by 13


Browns at Rams


RC – Cleveland are much better than they were last year but aren't in the 'superbowl contender' class, St Louis will have to prove they do belong there. Rams by 7


DB – Rams by 7


Saints at Jaguars


RC – New Orleans should have little difficulty, Jacksonville will not be able to expose their defensive weaknesses. Saints by 14


DB – Saints by 10

MW – Saints by 10


Raiders at Cardinals


RC – This would have been some matchup this time last year, but since then Arizona have fallen away drastically. Still, games between these two are traditionally low scoring affairs so a big play may decide it either way.


DB – Raiders by 21

MW – Raiders by 14


Eagles at Chiefs


RC – Two teams that seem to be lacking a little offensive firepower. Philadelphia are leading their division but don't have as tough a time of it, schedule wise, as the Chiefs do. Homefield advantage to give KC the edge. Chiefs by 1


DB – Chiefs by 3

MW – Eagles by 3


Seahawks at Redskins


RC – Should be a fun game to watch, but doesn't figure to have a big impact on the standings. Seahawks by 7


DB – Seahawks by 10

MW – Seahawks by 10


Cowboys at Broncos


RC – Both teams had big days on offense last week, but Dallas have been more consistent this year. Cowboys by 3


DB – Cowboys by 3

MW – Cowboys by 7


DB : Lock – Raiders; Shock – Bears; Blowout – Raiders; Shootout – Seahawks at Redskins; Slugfest – Bears at Bills.


MW : Lock – Raiders; Shock – Steelers; Blowout – Raiders; Shootout – Browns at Rams; Slugfest – Eagles at Chiefs.


RC : Lock – 49ers; Shock – Bears; Blowout – Saints; Shootout – Cowboys at Broncos; Slugfest – Eagles at Chiefs.


ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH - GAME OF THE WEEK

Martyn Williams


Cleveland Browns at St Louis Rams


Recent History, NFLBP 2000 Season Week 6 – St Louis Rams 34 at 7 Cleveland Browns


Coach Cullen brings his resurgent Browns to the home of the Rams, and one thing is certain – the Browns will give a much better account of themselves than they did in the corresponding matchup last season, when St Louis racked up over 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. Many people have been surprised by the 2001 Browns, but good victories over the Patriots and Chiefs show they mean business.


The stats tell the same story. Offensively they are ranked 8th in the league, and although their running game looks unlikely to cause the strong Rams rush defence any concerns (the Browns are yet to score a rushing TD, the Rams are yet to concede one) they should be able to do just enough to keep the Rams from keying solely on the passing game. The drafting of rookie QB Zeier seems to have sprung veteran Browns QB Couch into life and he looks set for a standout season. He has good protection in front of him and has 10 TDs to 2 Ints going into the game. Surprisingly, despite the Rams pass defence conceding fewer yards then any other team they do sometimes struggle to stop the opposition from scoring, and on current form Couch looks well equipped to make the most of this weakness.


Defensively the Browns are hardly recognisable from last year’s sorry outfit. They have a tough run defence that is making a name for itself for forcing fumbles, however the Rams rush attack is currently on fire, scoring 9 TDs in the last 3 weeks. All looks set for a bruising encounter between the two, and this is where the game will be won or lost. The Browns pass defence is also having a good season, combining a strong pass rush with very good coverage skills. They haven’t conceded many TDs and will be confident of improving their stats against the Rams currently ineffective passing attack.


This game promises to be a classic, hard fought encounter. The key for the Browns is to keep in check the Rams running game, for the Rams it is to get into Couch’s face early and often. With two good offences and defences going head to head this game could easily be a shootout or a slugfest, either way it will be great football. What neither team wants is to find itself 2 TDs down early, as they will struggle to get back into the game.


NFLBP Player Newsletter

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ed Robert Crowther