A Passing Fantasy Issue 93

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2001 Season Week Eight

ed Robert Crowther

Welcome to another issue, lots of stuff from Martyn again and also some predictions from Martin Devine. Darren is on holiday this week so the predictions standings have taken a holiday too. The address for comments and contributions is:


79 Petworth Road

Finchley

London

N12 9HE


Or email to '[email protected]'.


Week Seven Review


New England were moving the ball well but struggled to put points on the board in Denver. They had a kick return touchdown to thank for the eventual margin of victory. Miami missed the extra point after taking a first quarter lead in Seattle and that proved to be crucial, the Seahawks stealing a one point victory with a fourth quarter touchdown. New York built a 21 point first half lead in Jacksonville, that was always going to be more than enough. Cleveland grabbed another win after surviving a surprising two touchdown fourth quarter comeback from Buffalo. Kansas City ran the AFC champions close despite struggling to produce yardage on offense. The Bengals' passing game was rampant except, strangely, on third downs. The Oakland defense was obviously annoyed at last week's defeat and took it all out on the Steelers. The Raiders didn't have to work very hard on offense to build a decisive halftime lead. Arizona went to the ground in a big way in New Orleans, a strange tactic considering the run is about the only thing the Saints are equipped to stop. The predictable result was a comfortable victory for the home team. St Louis were too good for the Eagles, building a comfortable lead before sitting back and soaking up the Philly hurry up passing game. Chicago, after over a year of waiting, finally got a win. Washington move into pole position for top draft pick despite amassing 500 yards of offense. Green Bay continued their fine form with an easy win over Dallas, already the Packers look like regaining the NFC Central crown. San Francisco warmed up for their crucial divisional matchup this week with a comfortable win of the current Central champions. Tampa were unable to mount a consistent offensive threat while the 49ers took advantage of every opportunity. Detroit sprung to life in Carolina, shocking the champs with over 500 yards of offense. Despite this the Panthers' defense held them in the game until the end.


Offensive performance of the week goes to Detroit, for even finding time in one game to run 80 plays from scrimmage. Defensive performance of the week goes to Oakland for finally managing to shut down a Pittsburgh offense. Special teams performance of the week goes to New England, where a kick return touchdown made all the difference.


ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH

Post Game Press Conference

Martyn Williams


Philadelphia Eagles 10 at 31 St Louis Rams Coach Williams started the post game press conference by heaping praise on his team. "I’m proud of the way they performed, and even more on their focus on the job in hand. To put it simply, weeks 8 and 10 versus the 49ers have been embedded in this teams mind since the schedule came out as the most important games of the regular season for us. But all week during preparation for the game, only one team was mentioned and that was the Eagles. And it showed out there today, after the Eagles early TD they never troubled us again. Kurt Warner had his best game since week one, and took some of the pressure of Canidate and Faulk who I think performed admirably against what was the leagues best run defence. Great punting consistently gave the Eagles a long field and then the defence stepped up and put relentless pressure on McNabb, who was never able to get into a rhythm." When prompted by reporters to discuss the Rams playoff chances, there was a word of warning. "Let’s not forget that we were 6-1 at this stage last year, and then things started to unravel. I know we have beaten better teams this season on the way to that record, and we are a much better team, but we have to watch against complacency setting in. Ask me that same question in three weeks time, as my view on the playoffs very much depends on our results against the 49ers."


ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH

GAME OF THE WEEK

Martyn Williams

St Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers


Recent History:

2000 Season Week 2 – Rams 21 at 23 49ers

Week 14 – 49ers 16 at 9 Rams

Wildcard – Rams 14 at 36 49ers


This is part one of the match up that looks like deciding the NFC West this season, and it is time for the Rams to stand up and prove themselves true Superbowl Contenders. As the recent history shows, Coach Devine’s 49ers pretty much single-handedly put an end to Rams hopes last season and they look very well placed to do so again. Both teams look to be much stronger than last season, not just in terms of personnel but also the effectiveness of their gameplans. Last season the Rams were struggling against teams with winning records, this season the Browns and Eagles have already been despatched with ease. They have only lost one game, a heart breaker to an overtime field goal in Carolina. The 49ers of course are yet to lose, and with the exception of an overtime game in Pittsburgh haven’t looked likely to.


Looking at the 49ers offence has likely caused some headaches at Rams Park this week. Their passing game has been on fire, averaging 3 TD’s a game, and they are backed up by a consistent if not awe-inspiring rushing game that has been happy to quietly grind out the yards while Garcia and co have put all the points on the board. That would look like being the 49ers best bet for this game too as the Rams are still to concede a rushing touchdown. Having said that they are only conceding one TD a game through the air, and this is where this game could be decided. If Garcia can avoid the Rams pass rush regularly then his receivers will gradually win the battle with the Rams secondary. If that happens they will win the game. But if the Rams can pressure Garcia into some early mistakes things could be quite different.


The Rams offence will also be worrying for the 49ers. The running game hasn’t appeared on many highlight reels but is ranked first in the league, accounting for 14 TDs in seven games, with only two fumbles. It was for games like this that FB Marshall Faulk was acquired, and Coach Williams will be looking for him to use his leadership qualities to instill belief in the young Rams offence around him. The problem for the 49ers is that if you concentrate on stopping Faulk then Warner, Bruce and Holt will win the game instead, as shown against Philadelphia last week. And stopping the Rams from rushing doesn’t just mean yardage, it also means scoring. It is only when all the responsibility for winning rests on Warner’s shoulders that he crumbles. On special teams there isn’t much in it when looking at kicking and punting, but rather surprisingly the Rams have the edge in returns.


So who will win? Both teams have solid run defences, which suggests that the team whose passing game performs will win. On current form then it looks like a 49ers victory, and they will certainly be the favourites for the victory. But if this reporter was asked to bet money on a winner, I’d refuse! It is that close…


The San Francisco Reporter


Coach Devine had this to say about the crucial matchup: "This should be a good game - both teams are playing well at the moment, and there's little to choose between them. For St. Louis to win, their defence will have to play a solid game against an on-form 49er offence, and the suspect San Francisco secondary must be exploited as few teams have been able to run on the solid 49er front seven. The key for the 49ers on offence is to establish the pass in order to open up the run, but a big defensive showing is a must against a well-balanced Rams attack. As always, special teams are likely to play a big part - there's not much between the teams in this area, with the Rams holding a slight advantage (if any)."





STATS CORNER

Martyn Williams


PASS RECEPTIONS





Team

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

Browns

172

1750

10.17

12

49ers

164

1802

10.99

21

Jets

162

1958

12.09

9

Seahawks

153

2503

16.36

12

Bears

149

1717

11.52

6

Bengals

148

1869

12.63

14

Broncos

147

2038

13.86

12

Steelers

143

1724

12.06

7



RUSH ATTEMPTS






Team

Att

Yards

Avg

TD

Fm

Saints

296

927

3.13

10

4

Panthers

263

846

3.22

4

5

Lions

257

749

2.91

7

7

Raiders

253

1047

4.14

3

5

Redskins

253

859

3.40

3

9

Browns

251

689

2.75

1

6

Patriots

249

1102

4.43

6

6

Jaguars

240

763

3.18

2

2



TURNOVER RATIO


Team

T/O +/-

Buffalo Bills

10

Carolina Panthers

7

Cincinnati Bengals

7

New England Patriots

6

Kansas City Chiefs

5

New Orleans Saints

4

Denver Broncos

4

Arizona Cardinals

4



3rd DOWN CONVERSION % (OFFENCE)

Team

3rdM

3rdA

3rd%

Browns

74

138

53.62

49ers

58

110

52.73

Patriots

48

96

50.00

Saints

60

121

49.59

Raiders

48

98

48.98

Rams

49

103

47.57

Lions

47

102

46.08

Buccaneers

54

119

45.38



3rd DOWN CONVERSION % (DEFENCE)

Team

3rdM

3rdA

3rd%

Browns

22

81

27.16

Raiders

32

104

30.77

Chiefs

38

113

33.63

Jets

38

108

35.19

Eagles

41

114

35.96

Patriots

42

116

36.21

Broncos

39

107

36.45

Seahawks

36

98

36.73

 


Week Eight Preview


Predictions and commentary this week from Martin Devine. Other predictions from Martyn Williams.


Bills at Patriots: As solid as the New England defence is, Buffalo are going to struggle to even get on the board in this one. The only question is how well the Bills can shut down the Pats' offence – this could be closer than the records suggest. PATRIOTS BY 7


Jets at Dolphins: Tricky game to call - New York are struggling to score points, but seem to be sneaking wins from games they have no right to win. Miami look the better team on paper, but haven't been playing particularly well. JETS BY 1


Jaguars at Bengals: If Jacksonville are losing to the Jets, they shouldn't bother turning up for this one... BENGALS BY 17


Browns at Steelers: Cleveland don't have a particularly prolific offence, but this Pittsburgh defence is hardly the Steel Curtain. BROWNS BY 10


Seahawks at Chiefs: If the Chiefs can be burned by the Bengals' pass offence, what hope do they have against Seattle? On the other hand, Kansas City have enough offence to keep ahead of anything the Seahawks can do. CHIEFS BY 3


Broncos at Raiders: Should be comfortable for the Silver and Black - Oakland are stronger on both sides of the ball. RAIDERS BY 14


Cowboys at Cardinals: Two mediocre teams with little to choose between them - tough one to call, so I'll use the usual tiebreaker. CARDINALS BY 1


Redskins at Eagles: Washington have a powerful enough offence to win some games this season - unfortunately, they also have a defence which rivals the worst I've seen in Gameplan (including that quality Carolina defence before coach Coleman came along). EAGLES BY 10


Bears at Bucs: Another game between two poor teams - Tampa are slightly better, though, so have the edge here. BUCS BY 7


Packers at Lions: Green Bay are this season's shock team in the NFC - while Detroit are a decent team in their own right, they don't really have much hope if the Packers continue their good form. PACKERS BY 13


Saints at Panthers: Carolina haven't been at their best so far this season while New Orleans are playing better, but the Saints have too many holes for the Panthers to exploit. PANTHERS BY 4


MW - Patriots by 14, Dolphins by 7, Bengals by 28, Browns by 7, Seahawks by 3, Raiders by 13, Cardinals by 3, Eagles by 17, Bucs by 10, Packers by 10, Panthers by 3


MD - Lock: Raiders; Shock: Jets; Blowout: Bengals; Shootout: Redskins at Eagles; Slugfest: Bills at Patriots.


MW - Lock - Raiders, Shock - Jets, Blowout - Bengals, Shootout - Packers at Lions, Slugfest - Bears at Bucs.

NFLBP Player Newsletter

-3-

ed Robert Crowther