[the board]
PreSeason
2004

by Gerald Udowiczenko

Due to the wealth of contributions there's not much space for me. So before I go, many thanks to Graham, Pat, Richard, Julian, Jon, Dave & Brucey for this weeks contributions.

Top Predictor
I am currently dog & House sitting for some friends and have unfortunately forgotten to bring last weeks results with me. But I think its safe to say that the 2003 Top Analyst is Graham Canwell. I'll have the complete results next issue.

WR @ BB
Gerald : This will be interesting and a good test, to see how the Bills do against a strong D after the losses they've suffered. Bills by 3.
Graham : Good test of the new-look Bills, while Redskins ought to be really fired up for this campaign. WR 3.

NE @ PE
Gerald : No Comment.
Graham : Two excellent defences go head-to-head. I'll back my conference again. PE 3.

MD @ DC
Gerald : A fresh start for the Fish to carry on the potential they showed towards the end of last season & in the Con Bowls. Fish by 3.
Graham : Fish were disappointing last year but finished strongly. Boys still a bit of a mystery. MD 6

AC @ NJ
Gerald : The Cards didn't really do anything in the Con Bowls to show signs that they will be much of a threat this season. Jets by 10.
Graham : Jets coming off Silver Bowl win and should have too much for the Cards. NJ 10.

CL @ CH
Gerald : Julian keeps the wining streak going with what should be a conformable win. Unless he's using this game as an experiment? Even so, Browns by 10.
Graham : New World Champs should be even more formidable this year. Bears will be hoping to build on last year's surprise heroics. CL 10.

MV @ TN
Gerald : very tough to call but I feel the Titans will struggle this season. Vikes by 7.
Graham : Titans may struggle to make playoffs this year in very tough division, while Vikes will surely improve. MV 7.

PS @ DL
Gerald : Pat hasn't been able to show us much in the Con Bowl and this will be a real test, as the Lions D can be real mean. Lions by 3.
Graham : Could be a game of "Spot the Offence" unless either team has some new tricks up their sleeve, since the defences should be tough. DL 3.

TB @ CI
Gerald : Both coaches will want a good start to the season and will try out a few new plays, with the new personal they picked up in the draft. Bengals by 10.
Graham : These two are surely safe bets to get be better this year. Bengals offence could win them this one. CI 6.

SR @ DB
Gerald : Should be a good game, as both teams usually like to score against each other. But I think the Broncos will just have the edge, but only just. Broncos by 1.
Graham : Most of our preseason games seem to turn into mad shootouts. Wouldn't surprise me if this goes the same way.

SF @ SS
Gerald : Both did well in the various Con Bowl, but I've got to side with the AFC. Hawks by 3.
Graham : Two of last year's disappointments coming off excellent preseason performances. SS 1.

NO @ KC
Gerald : Tough one to call. The Chiefs will want that O to produce more wins this season & this could be an early indicator, or not?. Chiefs by 3.
Graham : Frankly it's hard to know what to expect from either of these unpredictable outfits. KC 3.

AF @ OR
Gerald : Again another two teams that will want (and probably need considering the divisions they're in) a good start to the new season. But as with most pre-season games, experimentation will utmost on the coaches mind. Falcons by 3.
Graham : I'm going to go with my divisional rivals here because they have another good looking squad that is capable of great things given a few breaks. AF 6.

by Graham Canwell (Week 20)  
PLAYOFFS
Offence Cleveland Made most of the plays that mattered, especially on 3rd down.
Defence Philadelphia Kept the Eagles in it by only allowing a potent Browns offence into the endzone once.
Coach Horne (CL) World Champion. Enough said.
CONSOLATION BOWLS
Offence Minnesota A second half rampage to remind us how good they can be.
Defence Buffalo The Bills aren't their former selves but they're still a damned fine option.
Coach Purrington (NJ) Must have been pleasing against a divisional rival.
 
The Diddley NO AWARD I'm not going to tell a Bowl winner they might not have deserved it! Especially when they all did a good job.

 

Graham to Gerald : Well it wasn't a great game, but I'm at least happy that my offence turned up for parts of the game (unlike the previous two weeks). Here's to a meeting in week 20 next year with a bit more on the line.

Graham to Julian : Congratulations! Looked a tough old scrap from here, and you kicker might have been MVP?

Graham to Jon : Bad luck! Always tough to lose when you score more TDs. See you once again in week 13.

Richard to Gerald : Four (one in Man1, one in AW, two in NFLB and one in AB). Might have lost one in NFLAG but not sure.

Richard to Julian : Congratulations on completing an excellent season with the big win.

Richard to Jon : Bad luck but it looked a very close game. It remains an outstanding effort for a wildcard team.

Richard to All : Next season looks the most difficult to predict for several years with a real power shift. In most divisions any team could win it unlike in some previous years where say only two teams were in the hunt. There my excuse is in for my predictions.

Dave J. to Terry : just over 5 minutes to go, its 4th and goal and your third attempt to get 7 yards to score and it's looking good for a Buccs win and what happens? Your QB steps up and runs in a TD. Bugger Jets win by 1 point. Good game though.

Dave J. to All : Is anyone going to the last Claymores home match of the season on the 23rd? It's the only 'live' match I'll be able to see this season. If you want to look me up at the game, drop me a line to ... (details withheld coz it's the internet and there are all sorts of strange folks. If you want them, email the site). it's a work mobile so try during the day.

Jon to The NFC : Sorry to let you down guys - but the heart nearly won.

Jon to Paul Spence : Seconds out, round 6? (or is it 7?)

 

The Value of Experience?
By Jon Heath

I thought it might be worth looking at the amount of nominal experience in each squad - it could be interesting to see how it relates to the positions at the end of the season (so I'll have to remember to check that out come Wk.16 - Thanks Jon. Ed). So here's a list of the total nominal values for each team's players of 9 years or more in age.

East Central West
Dolphins - 14 Bengals - 13 Hawks - 10
Patriots - 9 Titans - 6 Broncos - 8
Bills - 5 Browns - 4 Raiders - 7
Jets - 0 Steelers - 4 Chiefs - 7
East Central West
Eagles - 14 Vikings - 19 Rams - 15
Skins - 10 Lions - 16 Falcons - 10
Cards - 10 Buccs - 8 Saints - 5
Boys - 8 Bears - 7 49ers - 0

Oddly the Rams actually have a 20 year old tight End. Oh, he's got no skills, but .... Strange to see that neither the 49ers nor the Jets have any star players of 9 or more years experience.

Predictions for the Coming Season
By Richard Ogg

AFC East Patriots   NFC East Eagles
AFC Central Browns   NFC Central Vikings
AFC West Broncos   NFC West Rams
Wildcards Bengals and Bills   Wildcards Redskins and Bears
Conference games
Browns v Patriots   Vikings v Rams
Superbowl winners
Browns
Alteration to predictions
After looking at the squads the Dolphins look a good bet to upset my predictions as an outside bet to go all the way.


I Had a Dream 2 !
By Pat Ratclife

PREDICTIONS

  1. Week 0 - PS @ DL
    I read that Coach Henderson has a dream - the dream to be a champion. Well, dream on sucker! Pittsburgh has a dream - that all teams are not created equal; that the AFC is the glorious home of football, and the NFC stinks; and that we'll knock out the first rung of your ladder to success. Prediction - a Steelers win on the road!
  2. The AFC Central
    Coach Horne has a dream - that his bag of renegades can, by some miracle of nature, raise their eyes and think of a two-peat. Don't dare to glare at the glorious black and gold. ›We're going to ring your bell!
    Prediction - Steelers win at home and on the road!
  3. The Contenders
    Coach Ogg, Coach Udowiczenko, Coach Guard, Coach Dadswell, and the rest in the AFC dream of draws and slants and touchdowns by the score. Wake up. It's a nightmare! The Black and Gold are blitzing; your Running back's are stuffed; your Receivers' popped and your QB's going off in a body bag. Prediction - Steelers hold every and all threats! ›Going to the Bowl, and holding up the trophy - again!
    Good God. I've just woken up. Have I had a dream?

Match report by Jon Heath

Both teams started nervously on offence as defences dominated a scoreless first quarter. The only highlights were a failed fourth down attempt on each teams opening drive and a fumbled punt return by Cleveland that they recovered. All the same, the Browns had the upper hand as the Eagles failed to get a firstly down during the period.

Cleveland fumbled another punt return in the second quarter, but the Eagles returned the favour two plays later. This was followed by an interception by Philly, but another failure to move the ball. Then came the first score of the game, as the Browns went 56 yards to set up a 39-yard fieldgoal. The lead didn't last long as a 6 play, 80 yard drive was capped by a 22-yard TD pass to Van Dyke to give the Eagles a 7 - 3 lead. 9 plays later Cleveland struck back with the last play of the half, a 26-yard TD pass to Northcult and they went in 10 - 7 ahead.

The second half opened with a 49 yard KO return by the Eagles, but the Cleveland defence held firm and the resulting 45 yard fieldgoal attempt was wide right. After an exchange of possession Cleveland found themselves pinned on their own 5, but a 47 yard option screen dump-off got them out of the hole as they marched downfield. However they failed to convert in the red zone and had to settle for a 22-yard fieldgoal to stretch the lead to 6. The Eagles then riposted with an 80-yard TD drive, Van Dyke taking the 9-yard catch for a 14 - 13 lead with 12 _ minutes left on the clock. Philly quickly got the ball back, but the Van Dyke took a big hit and spilled the ball. Cleveland possession on the Eagle 23. The Browns went back wards but the 42 yard fieldgoal was good and Cleveland led again, 16 - 14. On the next drive the Eagles found themselves facing 4th and 3 on their own 29, with less than 5 minutes left. Foolishly they went for it and disastrously, Cunningham was sacked for a 7-yard loss. Again the Browns went nowhere, but scored with a 33-yard fieldgoal, for a 19 - 14 lead, at the Two Minute warning.

One last throw of the dice for Philly, starting from their own 20. 4th and 5 was converted, then four plays later, so was a 4th and 7. This was followed by a 26-yard dump-off and a 13-yard pass to bring up 1st and 10 from the Browns 12 yard line, with 4 seconds left on the clock. How that extra fieldgoal counted now, as 3 points were now no use. Cunningham, with no options left, had to go for the endzone, but the attempt was batted away and a game that went to the wire had gone to the Browns.

After Match Interview with Jon Heath.
"Altogether an excellent match, but I can't help feeling that (as it was so close) that extra game played by my Eagles ultimately made the difference. All the same it was not a great disappointment, as I'd won my personal Superbowl and exorcised a few demons in beating the Rams two weeks earlier. Anything after that was an unexpected bonus. MVP for the game had to be Prentice, for the Browns. Only 55 yards on 25 carries, but his 120 yards on 9 receptions were critical in setting up the Cleveland scores."



Match report by Julian Horne.

First Quarter
The opening skirmishes indicated just how important the game was to both coaches, and how little there was to choose between the two sides. The Browns won the toss and drove to midfield where they faced 4th and 2. When Travis Prentice was stopped for a loss the Eagles had terrific field position for their opening drive, but three plays later Coach Heath was in the same position and left his offence on the field on fourth down. Stanley Pritchett also came up short and the AFC champions were back on the field. The two sides managed only one first down in their next five combined possessions, however, and the quarter ended with the Eagles backed up inside their ten yard line.

Second Quarter
From there, Philadelphia moved the chains only once before punting from their own 16, but Dennis Northcutt's second fumbled return of the day was pounced on by the Eagle coverage team giving them great position on the Browns' 32. Only two plays later, however, Courtney Brown knocked the ball from Duce Staley's hands and Cleveland took over near midfield, only to return the ball on a Tim Couch interception after advancing just a few yards. With the score still 0-0, the Eagles punted again and stopped Northcutt inside his 20. From there, a series of confident plays took the Browns to the Eagle 30, but aggressive play from the Philly linebackers stalled the drive. Phil Dawson's 39-yard field goal broke the deadlock with just under 3 minutes to play in the half.
That score seemed to spur the Eagles into life. Randall Cunningham, so far in the game 2 for 9 with his only two completions coming on screens, then hit 4 of 4 passes for 74 yards in leading the NFC champions on a terrific 6 play, 80 yard drive. His final throw was a 22 yard catch-and-run touchdown to Alex Van Dyke, putting the Eagles up. But had they scored too quickly?
Taking the ball with a minute and 23 seconds remaining in the period, the Browns initially struggled in moving out towards the halfway line. Couch then found Northcutt for 31 yards to the Eagle 28, opening up the prospect of a field goal to cut the lead to 1. On the final play of the half, however, Northcutt beat Bobby Taylor to the back of the endzone and snared a 26 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Browns at halftime.

Third Quarter
The opening of the second half showed the best and the worst of the Eagles' special teams. A 49 yard kick return gave them good position in the Cleveland half, but they missed their opportunity to tie the score with a 45 yard field goal sailing wide. An exchange of punts then left the leaders pinned back on their 5 yard line and the Eagle defence, unbroken aside from that final drive of the first half, baying for blood. On 3rd and 8 from the 7, Couch flipped the ball to Prentice, who raced into open field and down to the Philadelphia 46. The Browns made further progress but again seemed to have little answer to the blitz, and had to settle for Dawson's second kick and a 13-7 edge. Cunningham again brought the Eagles back and as the third quarter came to a close they faced 3rd and 10 on the Browns' 41.

Fourth Quarter
Staley's 8-yard run made it 4th and 2. Even the 50-yard field goal would have been a gamble and Coach Heath opted again to play the down. Cunningham scrambled and found Cecil Martin for the first down. Inspired, the Eagles moved quickly to the Cleveland 9 yard line where Cunningham's second touchdown pass to Van Dyke gave them a slender 1-point lead. Worse was to come for the Browns as Couch was sacked twice in three plays following the kickoff, and they were forced to punt the ball straight back to Philadelphia. Two plays later Cunningham connected with Van Dyke on a short slant, but outside linebacker Jamir Miller levelled him on the Eagle 23 and recovered his fumble. The Browns could not advance the ball but another field goal put them back in front, 16-14.
After the kickoff the Eagles moved to their own 29 before facing a 4th and 3. With less than 5 minutes to go in the game Coach Heath elected to roll the dice again, but this time Cunningham could not find an open receiver and was buried under a pile of white shirts. The Browns took over, but again could not move the ball, extending their lead only to 19-14 on Phil Dawson's fourth field goal of the day. As the ball sailed between the uprights, the two minute warning sounded.
Cunningham started from his own 20 and quickly ran into trouble with a 4th and 5. Too late now to do anything but go for it, he found the reliable Van Dyke for a first down out to the 32. Three plays later, with just over a minute on the clock, it was fourth down again - and again, Cunningham's strike to Charles Johnson kept the Eagles in business at midfield. Cunningham then found Torrance Small down to the Browns' 25, and another pass to Johnson made it 1st and 10 at the 12. A field goal was not enough, it was all or nothing. With four seconds left on the clock, Cunningham had assembled his troops and took the final snap of the Superbowl, but his last-gasp pass was tipped away from Small in the endzone. A dramatic victory for the AFC champion Browns, 19-14, but a fantastic game: it was a shame either side had to lose. Thanks, Jon, I hope we both get the opportunity to repeat the performance next year.

Well that's the end of this first new look newsletter for the new season. Any comments or suggestions to the address below. (That would be the email address then ? BaH)



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 ?