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.
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
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
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)
Made most of the plays that mattered, especially on 3rd down.
Kept the Eagles in it by only allowing a potent Browns offence into
the endzone once.
World Champion. Enough said.
A second half rampage to remind us how good they can be.
The Bills aren't their former selves but they're still a damned
Must have been pleasing against a divisional rival.
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
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?)
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.
Dolphins - 14
Bengals - 13
Hawks - 10
Patriots - 9
Titans - 6
Broncos - 8
Bills - 5
Browns - 4
Raiders - 7
Jets - 0
Steelers - 4
Chiefs - 7
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.
for the Coming Season
By Richard Ogg
Bengals and Bills
Redskins and Bears
Browns v Patriots
Vikings v Rams
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
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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)