[the board]
Week 1
2003

by Gerald Udowiczenko

Well I survived Gen Con 2000. As usually little sleep and lots of drinking. The accommodation wasn't bad, but not what we expected. It was advertised as being held in the Manchester Conference Centre, a purpose build site. What we got was a University campus, with a ten minute walk from our beds to where everything was being held (even breakfast) and even though we all booked together and asked to be housed on the same floor, guess what? We weren't.

But even with those small hic-ups it was still good fun. Got the PHB for AD&D 3rd Edition, which looks great. Had fun during the charity auction, watching some friends spends lots of money (upwards of 300) on art work and books. What wade it even better was, for every 25 spent in the auction, you got a bottle of beer. So by the end of the auction, we had quite a lot.

Thanks to Julian, Dave and Graham for this weeks contributions.

MD @ TT
Gerald : Should be a close game, and from what I've seen the Fish haven't lost their edge. Fish by 3.
Graham : How will Fish react to that playoff heartbreak? How much has Titans QB Steve McNair learned from his tough rookie year? Miami looked much the better in preseason. MD 7
Dave : Titans by 7.
Julian : This is a good match-up for Miami. Tennessee's strength is its running game, but Miami's linebackers are the envy of the AFC. And though the Titans have a strong roster their defensive backs will have to play out of their skins to hold Marino in check. MD by 10.

BB @ CL
Gerald : Just what the new Coach didn't want, the Superbowl Champs in the first week. I can't really see the Browns being able to overcome the powerhouse of the AFC. Bills by 13.
Graham : What a start for the Cleveland Kids !! Not sure they're ready for this yet. BB 14
Dave : Bills by 3.
Julian : Buffalo may have an ageing defence but they will be good enough to hold the Browns and top rookie RB Travis Prentice in check this early in the season. To have any chance Cleveland must cut out the errors, which plagued their pre-season encounter with Detroit, but the Bills are likely to be too good. BB by 7.

NJ @ DB
Gerald : I think the interceptions will fly this week. Though one to call but I think homefield will just see the Broncos home by 3.
Graham : Two rookie QBs - very unusual!! I was very impressed by Denver in our preseason clash. DB 7
Dave : Jets by 10.
Julian :
The Jets still lack deep speed in the secondary, but is Gus Frerotte the man to test them? Denver look thin on paper and they could face a serious challenge in the West this season, despite an impressive offensive display in their pre-season loss to the Rams. NJ by 4

NE @ SS
Gerald : New season, new comment? No Comment.
Graham : Neither lived up to expectations last year so won't want a bad start. Defence vs Offence? SS 1
Dave : Pats by 7.
Julian :
Udowiczenko's Patriots look in reasonable shape for the new season but holes at wide receiver and in the secondary may leave them struggling against a Seahawks team that remains strong across the board. SS by 7.

CI @ KC
Gerald : The Chiefs will have wanted an easier start to the season, the Bengals will be no easy feat. Even if the Chiefs get lucky, I still can't see them winning. Bengals by 7.
Graham : Each year the prospect of a KC revival seems fainter. What's more, Bengals look really hot. CI 7
Dave :
Bengals by 3.
Julian :
A good early-season test for the AFC Central champions, who performed well in the playoffs but have not developed well in the off-season. Rookie fullback James Brooks must establish some sort of running game against a weak Chiefs line, but the Bengals should have the advantage - just. CI by 3.

PS @ OR
Gerald : The Steelers finished very well towards the end of last season. The big question will be if they can carry on as the finished? I don't think so. Raiders by 3.
Graham : Steelers ought to challenge for Central after last year's late promise. History against Raiders. PS 10
Dave : Steelers by 10.
Julian : Oakland has a sackful of good players, but they looked pretty similar last year in only winning a single game. In an increasingly competitive AFC Central, Pittsburgh have to come out of the blocks fast and continue with the impressive form they showed in the second half of last season, but they need to resolve their quarterback situation. PS by 10.

WR @ CB
Gerald : Both teams will need good starts to their seasons, as they will find it hard in their respective divisions. I think the Bears will just have the edge, but only just. Bears by 3.
Graham : Bears looked terrific in preseason so this could be a great game, but Skins have track record WR 1
Dave : Bears by 3.

PE @ DL
Gerald : Eagles shouldn't have too many problems, unless they make their own. Eagles by 6.
Graham : Could be tough for offences, but Cunningham's class makes Eagles look better able to cope PE 10
Dave : Lions by 3.

DC @ SR
Gerald : Here we go again. Another unbeaten season attempt by the Rams, who are always impressive. Rams by 10.
Graham : No comment.
Dave : Rams by 7.

AC @ SF
Gerald : The Cards surprised me last week and could do the same to others this coming season, but I think the 49ers will be too strong. 49ers by 9.
Graham : 49ers ought to have no trouble getting off to a winning start against cellar-dwelling Cards. SF 13
Dave : 49rs by 7.

MV @ NO
Gerald : This should be the game of the week, but as who will win, I've no real idea. So I'll stick with homefield. Saints by 10.
Graham : Game of the Week. Saints won last year in a tough defensive struggle. Turnovers crucial. NS 1
Dave : Vikings by 3.

TB @ AF
Gerald : The Falcons did real well last season finishing 8-8 in their division, but they left it far too late. What will a new season hold for them? If they can get a good start, then they might just be able to play post season football, but the Buccs will be no push over. It will be tough, but I think they will just make it. Falcons by 3.
Graham : Tough start for new-look Buccs. Falcons are a team on the up with a talented new starting QB. AF 6
Dave : Bucs by 3.

by Graham Canwell (Pre-Season)  
AFC
Offence Miami 450 yards, on the road against one of the league's best defences. Not too shabby.
Defence Seattle D hasn't been a Seahawk strength in recent years so this will have been very satisfying for Derek. Also impressed by Pittsburgh, but they were helped by a ball-control offence.
Coach Guard (MD) Clearly not going to surrender the Eastern title without a fight.
NFC
Offence Chicago Wasn't a great day for NFC offences, but the Bears (known recently more for their D) put on a great show in Tennessee.
Defence Philadelphia Arguably an even worse day for NFC defences. Thought the Eagles did well in Buffalo (you don't play teams that good every week!) despite lack of turnovers.
Coach Parratt (CH) Brilliant, but can they challenge the Vikes???
 
Barry Switzer Award The NFC Collective responsibility strikes again. Doesn't bode well for weeks 6 and 12.

 

Graham to Jon H : I'm totally confident you'll be back in the playoffs this season. Hope I'll see you there.

Graham to Tim W : It was tough that despite pushing me closer than in the previous Championship Game the scoreline made it look otherwise. Still, the brutal truth you can't afford to make cockups in the playoffs (lets face it, it just happened to me one game later!!) and you can't afford to be just good or lucky - you need to be both.

Graham to Stuart G : I'm looking forward to our meeting. Here's hoping we're both in good shape going into it.

Graham to NFC West : OK, now we've got to do it all again. Don't see why we can't.

 

Cleveland Browns Press Release No 1 of 2003

Pre-season mistakes cause concern for Browns

Coach Horne admitted today that he had considerable concerns about his Cleveland team as they approach their season opener against the Superbowl champion Buffalo Bills.
"When you look at the Bills they've got experience across the board, and especially on defence", Horne said. "They're also a team with a winning habit, coming off an excellent run to finish last season, and we're a young team rebuilding after a poor year. I think the time will come where the youth and fitness of the players we have will start to count against some of the older teams around the league, but right now to start the season against Buffalo, it's a tall order for our young guys."
Buffalo's players average over a year and a half more experience than the Browns. None of the Browns' skill position players on offence has played more than 3 years in the league.
"It's hard for rookies like (RB) Travis Prentice to go up against veterans in their first game. I thought Travis had a great game against the Lions, and he'll be a star back in this league, but we have to cut out some of the mistakes we're making on offence."
Prentice carried 25 times in the pre-season finale against the Lions, netting a round 100 yards and a 4-yard average. But quarterback Tim Couch threw 3 interceptions and all the Browns' receivers struggled with dropped passes. Dennis Northcutt had 4 catches, including a touchdown, but the fact that he was late into training camp showed, particularly as he muffed a punt on his 10 yard line which led to a Lions TD. Tight end Aaron Shea had the crucial fumble with 3 minutes to go that put Detroit in position to go ahead for good. Coach Horne said that it was up to the team's veterans to lead the way.
"We can't go on making mistakes like we have been, giving the other team the ball over and over, and expect to win. Things like the dropped punt will just kill us against a team like Buffalo. I'm putting my faith in some of the older guys on the team to shake things up a bit. The Bills will be starting two rookies on the offensive line, and I think our defensive line is one of our strengths, so that's we're looking at. And players like (CB) Corey Fuller have got to start making plays."
Fuller had one interception against the Lions but was generally disappointing on a day when the two defences were mostly on top. Linebacker Jamir Miller missed the game with a shoulder injury, but is expected to start against Buffalo. His replacement, Lenoy Jones, had only 2 tackles.
"We're a few players away from being a good side right now", Horne admitted. "Northcutt is improving but he has a way to go, and I was disappointed with KJ (WR Kevin Johnson). He knows he's better than he played this week. With Miller back we should be tougher on defence, but it wasn't the defence that was the problem. We'll try to keep it tight against the Bills, but it may be asking too much for us to win."


By Dave Jones

The Buccs haven't been doing too well since I took over. Only 2 wins in the last 10 games and the last one way back in week 16 against the Lions. A slim 13-12 victory snatched with a field goal at 54.24 after the Lions had dominated most of the game.
After that win 3 bad losses (all losses are bad, but these were real bad) followed against the Seahawks 34-13, Eagles 31-7 and the Falcons 30-17. We've stopped the opposition reaching 30 points in the last two games, but still lost to the Jets 26-23 and the Steelers 27-14.
There must be a turning point and I'd like it to be this week against the Falcons who have beaten us 16-7 and 30-17 in the last two meetings. In the last game it was poor field position that meant we had to work harder to make ground and more mistakes trying for big yardage.
The mood in the locker room is one of optimism about our chances of reaching the playoffs this season. That's in the future and first we have to start winning games beginning with the one against the Falcons.
The winning gameplan is out there it's just a question of finding it.

End of Season Awards

Well the final count is in and I am pleased to announce the awards for NFLAB Season 2002 are as follows:

Best Offence - Buffalo Bills.
Best Defence - Denver Broncos.
Best Team - Buffalo Bills.
Best Coach - Graham Canwell and Stuart Guard.
Best Rookie Coach - Stephen Parratt (Chicago Bears)
Most Improved Teams - Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints.
Most Disappointing Teams - Philadelphia Eagles.
Most Hated Coach - Graham Canwell.

Well that's it for this week, I hope this gets to Danny on time as I was just a very tired when I got home yesterday and couldn't face doing it. No space this week for the Old Timers, they should appear in next issue (space providing).



The Editor can be contacted at magestones@yahoo.co.uk, or for mails with attachments, magestones@aol.com

The NFLAB website takes no responsibility for any errors in the newsletter, spelling or otherwise. Any problems, feel free to get in touch with the editor, who will be happy to help. Right Gerald ?