A Passing Fantasy Issue 98
NFLBP Player Newsletter 2001 Season Week 13
ed Robert Crowther
Apologies once again for another missed deadline, didn't hurt the Raiders' performance much though... I've had a busy time in the last few weeks, on holiday last week and before (and after) moving house. The new address is:
25 Colman Court
Or email at '[email protected]'. With no access to last week's predictions Darren hasn't been able to do the prediction standings (and I haven't had time to work them out for myself...). Also, Martyn has sent me the complete statistics up to and including week twelve. I plan to have them in HTML format and up on my website by the time you get this (www.geocities.com/dot_rob/gameplan.html). Finally, welcome to Allan Firth are you the same Allan Firth who was the Jets' first coach?
Week Twelve Review
The Patriots pulled off their second consecutive win against a reigning conference champion, though this defeat for Carolina leaves them with an uphill struggle to even make the playoffs to defend their title. The San Francisco was it's usual 'bend-but-don't-break' self, allowing Miami to rack up al sorts of yardage but closing them down when it counted. A defensive return touchdown meant the Dolphins' offense was outscored by the 49ers' defense. St Louis had the game won by halftime in New York. Although the Jets managed to shut the Rams down in the second half they couldn't get any offense of their own going. Buffalo produced one of the shock results of the day with an overtime win in New Orleans, both offenses were surprisingly successful. Cincinnati got back to winning ways against the visiting Cardinals, the Bengals' offense was somewhat constrained but defense was in dominating form the only shock was that Arizona managed to get close enough to score. Philadelphia took another step towards a second NFC East title with a convincing win over Pittsburgh, the Steelers could find no way through the tough Philly run defense. Cleveland gave the new coach in Washington a warm welcome, special teams and turnovers gave the Browns' offense plenty of second half opportunities. After years of ineptitude the Jaguars have finally called it a day and been replaced in the BP by the Titans the change of opposition didn't make any difference to the Cowboys, however, as they romped to another victory. Oakland put the final few nails in the coffin for Tampa Bay, the Bucs had trouble stopping the run, trouble stopping the pass, and trouble moving the ball... Kansas City kept themselves in the playoff race with a fine passing performance in Detroit, Coach Ashton may have some concerns about their defensive display but, for the most part, they kept the Lions out of the endzone. Seattle delayed Green Bay's divisional title by a week thanks to a solid defensive display, especially on third downs. Chicago looked great for the first quarter then, gradually, the wheels came off. Denver finally overhauled the Bears with three fourth quarter field goals.
Offensive performance of the week goes to Oakland, because nobody else managed 50 points :). Defensive performance of the week goes to Cincinnati because they were just plain scary. Special teams performance of the week goes to Cleveland for a stunning amount of punt return yards.
ST LOUIS POST-DESPATCH
NFLBP Review - Week 1 to 12
The Patriots have sewn up the division, and have given the rest of the AFC food for thought with the week 11 victory in Cincinnati. Coach Pinders only concern now will be the week 15 visit of the Raiders, a game he needs to win if the Patriots are to have a chance at securing homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Dolphins are unfortunate to still have the Patriots and Raiders to play, but look the best bet for the final AFC Wildcard. The Jets are unlikely to finish with a wining record, but could easily reach the dizzying heights of 8-8. For the Bills, a disappointing first season for Coach Williams looms large, and the Buffalo front office will have their work cut out in the offseason revitalising the offence.
Predicted Final Standings Patriots 15-1, Dolphins 8-8, Jets 8-8, Bills 4-12
Barring a major upset the Bengals have secured another Central division title only the Browns stand in their way and a win in Cleveland week 14 will see Cincinnati as probable Superbowl favourites again. Cleveland look to be recovering from a shaky mid-season and should be good for hosting the AFC Wildcard. Pittsburgh had better enjoy finishing third, because I fully expect the ex-Jaguars to come on strong next season following the move to Tennessee and the hiring of Coach Corrigan.
Predicted Final Standings Bengals 15-1, Browns 10-6, Steelers 5-11, Titans 2-14
The Raiders should have no trouble winning yet another divisional title, but despite some awe inspiring performances recently they look to have slipped a step behind the Pats and Bengals. The Chiefs, Broncos and Seahawks are all unlikely to make the playoffs, but it is the Chiefs who will be most disappointed, giving their playoff successes in recent seasons.
Predicted Final Standings Raiders 12-4, Chiefs 7-9, Seahawks 7-9, Broncos 6-10
The Eagles have all but reclaimed the divisional title from the Cardinals, but they still have one stern test to come. Having already lost to the Rams and Saints theyll need to give a good account of themselves against the 49ers in week 15 to be considered serious contenders in the NFC. The Cowboys should at worse split the last four games, ensuring their first playoff game for many years. The Cardinals season is all but over with the team looking nothing like last seasons powerhouse, and the Redskins should be good enough to give Coach Firth his first BP victory before the seasons end.
Predicted Final Standings Eagles 13-3, Cowboys 10-6, Cardinals 4-12, Redskins 2-14
The Packers have begun to wobble in recent weeks but only need one more win to be re-crowned divisional champions, and I doubt anyone will be betting against them achieving that. Of the rest, the Lions should be able to take advantage of a relatively easy end of season schedule to grab a few more victories, but for Tampa and Chicago the season end wont come soon enough.
Predicted Final Standings Packers 11-5, Lions 7-9, Buccaneers 4-12, Bears 1-15
The 49ers have been far and away the best in the NFC this season, and it is difficult to see past them for the NFCs Superbowl representative. If they win in Philadelphia week 15 then the NFC will be all but decided. Many people will consider the Rams to be the only team capable of standing in the 49ers way, and Coach Williams is certainly ruing the week 9 loss in Detroit. However, the Rams improvement under Coach Williams continues and the Dome at Americas Centre should host its first home playoff game for many a season. Carolinas Superbowl hangover has really kicked in and Coach Coleman may well have turned his attentions elsewhere, while the Saints early season promise looks to have petered out.
Predicted Final Standings 49ers 15-1, Rams 13-3, Panthers 7-9, Saints 6-10
Week Thirteen Preview
Predictions and commentary from myself, other predictions from Martyn Williams and Darren Birtchnell.
Patriots at Chiefs Kansas City have kept themselves in playoff contention without looking impressive at any point. New England have a better offense, a better defense, and are the better team by a long way. Patriots by 14
Dolphins at Raiders One more win for Oakland should ensure another divisional title, but they may wish they'd saved a few of last week's points for this game. Miami are a solid team and could easily take advantage of a sub par performance from Oakland.
Jets at Steelers New York, much to my surprise, are a contender in the wildcard race. Pittsburgh, however, have a half decent pass rush which should be enough to upset their offense. The only question then is, will the Steelers be able to score? Steelers by 3
Bills at Bengals The lowest ranked AFC defense takes on the highest ranked offense, their should only be one winner. Bengals by 21
Titans at Seahawks Seattle have been something of a disappointment this year, despite last week's win over a division leading team. Tennessee weren't too impressive on their debut, but did at least rack up some yardage. Seahawks must start as favourites, but a surprise may be in the offing. Seahawks by 7
Browns at Broncos Denver have enjoyed a revival in recent weeks, but Cleveland are a well balanced team and should have the edge. Browns by 7
Cardinals at 49ers Arizona have a useful defense, but its hard to see San Francisco slipping up at home. 49ers by 14
Eagles at Panthers Carolina have looked a shadow of their former selves in defense of their title. Philly have a simply awesome run defense and, providing they can hold on to the ball, should win. Eagles by 7
Redskins at Lions A new coach in Washington already looks to have had some impact on the poor defense. Detroit's similar defensive handicaps should provide plenty of scoring opportunities. Redskins by 3
Cowboys at Bucs Dallas look all set for the second NFC wildcard, a win over struggling Tampa could see them with a relatively relaxed run in. Cowboys by 10
Bears at Rams Chicago, by now, should have had at least three wins, but luck has not been with them. However, it'll take more than luck for them to beat St Louis. Rams by 14
Packers at Saints Green Bay's high flying pass offense should eat up the New Orleans secondary. Packers by 7
Shootout: Redskins at Lions
Slugfest: Eagles at Panthers
MW Patriots by 14, Raiders by 17 (Shock Dolphins), Jets by 3 (Slugfest), Bengals by 21 (Lock, Blowout), Seahawks by 7, Browns by 6, 49ers by 21, Eagles by 3, Lions by 7, Cowboys by 6, Packers by 7 (Shootout)
DB Patriots by 10, Raiders by 10, Jets by 3 (Slugfest), Seahawks by 1, Browns by 3, 49ers by 14, Panthers by 1 (Shock), Lions by 3, Cowboys by 7 (Shootout), Rams by 21 (Lock, Blowout), Packers by 7.
A slightly shorter issue but (hopefully) you'll all at least get to read it...
NFLBP Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther