A Passing Fantasy Issue 96

NFLBP Player Newsletter 2001 Season Week 11

ed Robert Crowther

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Week Ten Review


Buffalo couldn't even offer token resistance against New England and were fortunate to lose by less than thirty. New York pulled off another victory thanks to an early lead and stout defense, this Miami found themselves unable to breach the endzone in the second half. Cincinnati wiped the floor with Jacksonville, the floodgates opened in the first quarter and the Bengals' offense just kept on pouring through. Kansas City kept their playoff hopes alive with an impressive victory in Seattle. The Chiefs' offense was in good form except, it seems, when it came time to put the ball in the endzone, fortunately the Seahawks were getting nowhere on offense themselves. Oakland were upset in a big way for the second time this season, Denver were able to take full advantage of a short punt in overtime to get the decisive field goal.


The Cowboys gave up two safeties to visiting Arizona, it didn't matter much, however, because the Cards couldn't seem to get the ball in the endzone in any other way. A fourth quarter touchdown did force overtime, but by then the Dallas QB had recovered his composure. Washington presented a surprisingly stuff challenge to the high flying Eagles, in the end it was the slightly less erratic kicking of Philly that won the day. Chicago lost another game they should have won, forcing three turnovers out of Tampa but only managing two field goals. Green Bay all but guaranteed themselves the NFC Central with an overtime win over nearest rivals Detroit. The Lions looked to have the Green Bay offense under control for most of the game but let their concentration slip at some crucial moments. The big news in St Louis was that the Rams have finally beaten the 49ers, although it may be too late for their divisional title aspirations. Carolina looked a bit more composed this week and were never in much danger of losing to the Saints despite another lacklustre offensive display.


Offense of the week goes to Cincinnati, even if it was only the Jags. Defensive performance of the week goes to Tampa Bay, whose defense kept bailing them out while the offense made mistake after mistake. Special teams performance of the week goes to St Louis, because you've got to give them something after all this time :).


Predictions Standings

Darren Birtchnell


Martyn Williams

13.90

(10)

Rob Crowther

12.78

(9)

Darren Birtchnell

12.22

(9)

Martin Devine

10.50

(2)


ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH

Martyn Williams


NFLBP 2001 Season, Week 10, San Francisco 49ers 23 @ 27 St Louis Rams


1st Quarter


The game started well for the Rams, Marshall Faulk single handedly moving them 30 yards to midfield. However Warner’s first pass attempt, looking for Isaac Bruce deep, was poorly thrown into man coverage and 49ers rookie CB Jason Webster came up with the ball. The 49ers first play from scrimmage was no more successful, Jeff Garcia trying to force the ball deep to Terrell Owens but being picked off by Rams veteran FS Kim Herring. Starting at the 49er 46, the Rams lost no time in getting to the 25, where Warner again went deep for Bruce, this time perfectly thrown for a 25 yard TD. Both teams next drives stalled in their own halves, and then Garcia showed the form that has him tipped for the Pro Bowl. Making good use of TE Brent Jones, he moved the 49ers 67 yards in 11 plays, culminating the drive with a 1 yard TD pass to the TE. A great kick return gave the Rams excellent field position at the 49ers 31 and despite the drive stalling at the 24, Jeff Wilkins converted a 41 yard field goal to give the Rams a 10-7 lead at the end of the quarter.


2nd Quarter


It wasn’t long before the 49ers snatched the lead. Following a good kick return they moved 26 yards in 5 plays to the Ram 33, where they faced a 4th and 1. Coach Devine decided to gamble and Garrison Hearst skampered round the line for a 5 yard gain. Two plays later Brent Jones found himself all alone and walked in a 22 yard TD pass from Garcia to put the 49ers on top 14-10. The Rams came back fighting, using 5 different players to move the ball 60 yards, and on 3rd and Goal from the 8 Torry Holt just managed to keep in bounds on the short out pattern, and the resultant TD put the Rams back in front. The Rams D came up big on the next series, holding the 49ers to 3 and out, and as the two minute warning sounded Kurt Warner looked deep for Bruce yet again, on 3rd and 2. With the 49ers gambling heavily to stop the run, Bruce found himself wide open and high-stepped it into the endzone on a 59 yard catch and run, putting the Rams up 24-14 at the half.


3rd Quarter


For 12 minutes both teams exchanged punts, the 49ers finally forcing the Rams into a 4th and 14 at their own 5 yard line. A bungled snap resulted in a disastrous 19 yard punt, and the 49ers found themselves starting with the ball in excellent field position at the Rams 19. Three plays later Garcia yet again found TE Jones over the middle and as he turned towards the endzone he looked certain to nab his third TD of the game. But Rams LB Mark Fields was waiting and delivered a vicious hit, leaving Jones out cold and Rams SS Dre’ Bly lying on top of the ball. Again starting from their own 5, the Rams swiftly moved out towards mid field, and the quarter ended with the Rams still up by 10.

4th Quarter


A terrible start to the final period for the Rams, 49ers NT Bryant Young bursting through the line and sacking Warner, forcing a fumble that he himself recovered at the Rams 35. One play later Garcia hit Owens on an 11 yard out pattern, where he left the Rams secondary for dead and weaved 24 yards for the TD. Crucially though, Wade Richey sliced the extra point, keeping the Rams up by 4. 4 minutes later that lead become 7 points when Jeff Wilkins connected on a 42 yard field goal, putting the Rams 27-20 in front, and giving the 49ers 9 minutes to get a TD. Garcia moved the 49ers quickly to the Rams 25, and again looked for TE Jones, but by now the Rams D had him covered and Coach Devine settled for a 36 yard field goal. And that was the 49ers last shot, the Rams succesfully ate up some time, forced the 49ers to start from their 20 with only 1 ½ minutes left, and held on a 4th and 7 to allow Warner to run out the clock, and kick start wild celebrations in St Louis as the Rams reversed a losing streak spanning 4 games against their divisional rivals.


Game MVP – Kurt Warner for recovering from a first attempt interception to put on a show of precision passing against a good 49er secondary.


In the post game press conference Coach Williams couldn’t keep the smile of his face. "That win means a lot to this organisation, and shows what progress is being made, both by the players and myself. Unfortunately it has come too late for us to have realistic aims of winning the West, but it is just the morale booster we need to see us through to the end of the season. And of course should we meet the 49ers in the playoffs, we now know that we can beat them. Anyway that’s it, I’m off to celebrate and drink the Budweiser brewery dry!"


ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH

Game Of The Week

New England Patriots (9-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-0)

Recent History, NFLBP 2000 Season:

Week 11 – Patriots 24 OT 27 Bengals

Divisional Playoffs – Bengals 38 at 24 Patriots


With the winless Redskins visiting St Louis, this week sees us looking further afield to the AFC for our Game Of The Week, and there is only one candidate, the heavy weight clash between the Patriots and the Bengals.


THE STATS

Rush O

Att

Yards

Avg

TD

Fm

Rating

Rank

Bengals

251

1185

4.72

13

7

77.88

1st

Patriots

356

1555

4.37

9

6

71.03

3rd

Rush D

Att

Yards

Avg

TD

Fm

Rating

Rank

Bengals

290

905

3.12

1

8

50.69

3rd

Patriots

211

653

3.09

3

7

52.07

5th

Pass O

C

Att

Pct

Yds

TD

I

Sk

Rat

Rk

Patriots

189

284

66.55

2152

22

5

21

107.60

3rd

Bengals

228

350

65.14

2769

25

8

34

103.62

4th

Pass D

C

Att

Pct

Yds

TD

I

Sk

Rat

Rk

Patriots

208

396

52.53

2461

7

11

34

66.07

1st

Bengals

180

322

55.90

1947

11

12

30

69.72

2nd


As the statistics show these are probably the best two teams in the league right now, though with the Bengals having whipped the hapless Jaguars twice in recent weeks you would expect their stats to look good! It’s difficult to see any particular match up between the two teams being key as both are equally adept at both running and passing the ball, and stopping the opposition from doing either. The Bengals have to successfully restrain the Patriots power running game while guarding against their free scoring passing game, while the Patriots will need to get in front early and force the Bengals into as many 2nd / 3rd and long situations as possible. It is this reporter’s view that New England’s best bet may be to go with an aggressive gameplan both on offence and defence. On special teams both teams are also equally matched, the Bengals have the edge on punting, but the Patriots have the better punt return team.


To summarise both teams are so good that it is impossible to choose a winner by reviewing statistics, my gut feel though is to go with the Bengals. They look like a team on a mission to reclaim the Superbowl, and playing at home you have to side with them.


Week Eleven Preview


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


Patriots at Bengals: Biggest game of the week by far - this one will go a long way towards deciding who gets home-field advantage in the AFC. New England are a very solid team, but it's difficult to see them beating a team with the all-round capabilities of Cincinnati. BENGALS BY 7


Dolphins at Steelers: Also a game with playoff implications, although not at the level of New England-Cincinnati - at the moment, it looks like a team might be able to sneak a wild card in the AFC with 9-7 (possibly 8-8). Miami are the better team, but Pittsburgh are tough to beat on their day - unfortunately, they're tough not to beat when it isn't their day. DOLPHINS BY 6


Jets at Seahawks: Another game between two teams on the edge of the playoff picture. Seattle should be the better team here, but it's difficult to write off the Jets given that they've won five games scoring as few points as they have. SEAHAWKS BY 3


Bills at Broncos: Neither team has played well so far this year, but Denver are more likely to break free from the mediocrity here. BRONCOS BY 10


Browns at Raiders: Oakland should win this game fairly comfortably, but the Raiders have put in a few substandard performances so far this season, and Cleveland are more than capable of taking advantage if given the opportunity. It's unlikely that the Raiders will falter two weeks in a row, though. RAIDERS BY 9


Jaguars at Chiefs: Kansas City have been somewhat disappointing recently, but they look like world beaters compared to Jacksonville. CHIEFS BY 14


Cardinals at Bucs: Two teams struggling to rediscover last season's form - difficult to pick a winner, as both teams can clearly perform better. Arizona, though are completely unrecognizable from last year's 15-1 team, while Tampa haven't fallen quite as far. BUCS BY 7


Eagles at Lions: A must-win game for Detroit if they are to have any chance of winning the NFC Central (or making the playoffs, for that matter), but Philadelphia are one of the class acts in the NFC. EAGLES BY 10


Redskins at Rams: I somehow doubt that St. Louis will lose this one after the high of last week's win - Washington would struggle to beat a high school team on current form. RAMS BY 24


Cowboys at Saints: A difficult game to call - everyone knows how to beat New Orleans (their defence simply isn't able to cope with a good passing team), but Dallas may not be fully able to take advantage. SAINTS BY 3


Packers at Panthers: This would have been a very easy game to call this time last season, but things have come almost full circle - Green Bay are looking close to their dominating best, while Carolina are starting to struggle after their Super Bowl win. PACKERS BY 6


Bears at 49ers: There may be 8 wins between the teams, but this is no foregone conclusion - Chicago have played a good bit better than their 1-9 record suggests. The usual keys will apply for the 49ers - use a solid passing attack to set up the run, and force the other team to become one-dimensional on offence.


Lock: Rams

Shock: Cowboys

Blowout: Rams

Shootout: Packers at Panthers

Slugfest: Patriots at Bengals


MW – Bengals by 7, Dolphins by 10, Seahawks by 10, Broncos by 7, Raiders by 10 (Shock – Browns), Chiefs by 14, Bucs by 3 (Slugfest), Eagles by 10, Saints by 3, Panthers by 3 (Shootout), 49ers by 21 (Lock, Blowout)


DB – Dolphins by 7; Seahawks by 3; Broncos by 1 (Slugfest); Raiders by 4; Chiefs by 10; Bucs by 6; Eagles by 10 (Shootout); Rams by 20 (Lock, Blowout); Saints by 7; Packers by 3 (Shock); 49ers by 17.

NFLBP Player Newsletter

-3-

ed Robert Crowther