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Week 6

by Gerald Udowiczenko

Well it's week 6, so that can only mean the usually battle of the Conferences and again this year it's the AFC mainly offence dominated teams against the NFC defensives. Last season, the AFC won it 7 - 5 in the first clash, but thanks to a very strong performance in week 12, the NFC won it overall 13 - 11.

So hopefully this year with the likes of the Bills, Fish, Browns Titans, Steelers (even with half a brain), Raiders, possibly the Chargers (who should be doing better) and dare I say it? ………. the Patriots, looking like strong teams. Perhaps the AFC can wipe the floor with the sorry excuse this is the NFC? :o)

As always thanks to those who sent in something for the Newsletter, Graham, Jon, Mark, Paul, Brucey & Rob.

BB (4-1, L1) @ MV (3-2, W2) Last time : wk 6, 2002 (9 - 15)
Gerald : The Vikes seem to have found some form from last season, but it's not that devastating yet and the Bills lost their first game last week. Tough one to call, but I thing the Bills just have the edge. Bills by 3.
Jon : A tough one to call as both teams are very good. This one will probably go to the wire. Bills by 1.
SPLATT : Minnesota by 4.

TB (0-5, L6) @ MD (4-1, W2) Last time : wk 6, 2002 (14 - 20)
Gerald : I really can't see the Buccs upsetting the formbook here. Fish by 10.
Jon : The Buccs are struggling at present whilst the Dolphins are coming off a good win over Buffalo. Miami by 10.
SPLATT : Miami by 5

NY (2-3, L1) @ CB (4-1, W3) Last time : wk 6, 2003 (17 - 34)
Gerald : A loss here for the Jets could be disastrous and the Bears are looking hot at present. Bears by 3.
Jon : The Bears look like one of the NFC's teams to beat, so I think they'll be too much for the Jets. Bears by 9.
SPLATT : New York by 5.

DL (4-1, L1) @ NE (3-2, W1) Last time : wk 6, 2003 (10 - 17)
Gerald : No comment.
Jon : The Lions' bubble burst quite heavily last week. Can they recover in time for the Pats? Possibly, but I'll go for the home team. New England by 1.
SPLATT : New England by 2.

CL (4-1, L1) @ SR (1-4, L3) Last time : wk 6, 2004 (13 - 30)
Gerald : Well last time, the Browns got a slapping. But this time around the Rams are really struggling and even though they lost last week, the Browns look the stronger team. Browns by 7.
Jon : The Browns are riding high, despite last week's loss. The Rams are really in the doldrums. It's time that changed. Rams by 3.
St Louis by 2.

SF (3-2, W2) @ PS (3-2, W2) Last time : wk 6, 2003 (34 - 19)
Gerald : Should be a close game and I'm not going to bet against the AFC. Steelers by 5.
Jon : The 49ers still have the Saints in sight, but for how long? Maybe not much longer after this, as I feel the Steelers may surprise them. Pittsburgh by 2.
SPLATT : San Francisco by 3.

CI (1-4, L2) @ AF (2-3, L2) Last time : wk 6, 2004 (34 - 28)
Gerald : Both teams are still struggling and both need the win. The Falcons look slightly better able to cope. Falcons by 3.
Jon : The Falcons have had some tough games in the last 2 weeks so this may come as some relief to them if they can find their early season form. Falcons by 6.
SPLATT : Atlanta by 3.

NS (5-0, W9) @ TT (4-1, W4) Last time : wk 6, 2003 (24 - 27)
Gerald : Well can the last remaining unbeaten team stay that way? The Titans should give them a good run for their money and I think they can just sneak it. Titans by 1.
Jon : Can anybody stop the Saints? Certainly the Titans have done well so far and this is a real test of their credentials, but I think the Saints will be a bit too good. Saints by 1.
SPLATT : Tennessee by 3.

SD (2-3, W1) @ PE (3-2, L1) Last time : wk 6, 2000 (31 - 38)
Gerald : Well Randall is still struggling, but fortunately he's not the whole team. The Chargers still seem to be suffering from moving house to San Diego. Eagles by 10.
Jon : One day Randall will remember how to get a completion rate above 50%. If not, I hope the defence keep me in it.
SPLATT : Philadelphia by 5.

WR (3-2, W1) @ KC (1-4, L3) Last time : wk 12, 2001 (17 - 38)
Gerald : A good win last week for the Skins, while the Chiefs seemed to do everything right, but score more points. The same gain this week I fear for the Chiefs. Skins by 10.
Jon : The Redskins came back well last week and should know how to handle the Chiefs. Washington by 7.
SPLATT : Washington by 3.

SS (0-5, L6) @ DC (2-3, W1) Last time : N/A.
Gerald : Can they break their duck? Not this week. Boyz by 10.
Jon : The way the Seahawks are going at present this should be an easy win for the Cowboys. Dallas by 14.
SPLATT : Dallas by 3.

AC (0-5, L34) @ OR (2-3, W1) Last time : wk 6, 2004 (14 - 17 OT)
Gerald : Another team that looks unlikely to break their duck. Raiders by 10.
Jon : The Raiders will stay top of the West unless the Cards suddenly find some unexpected form. Mind you, they are overdue a win. Raiders by 10.
SPLATT : Oakland by 2.

by Graham Canwell (Week 5)  
Offence Miami No doubt about this. Not only a magnificent balanced performance but against the previously perfect Bills. No-one else came close.
Defence Pittsburgh A strong case could be made for the Pats but (sorry Gerald) I (just) went for the Steelers, who achieved the rare feat of holding the (also previously perfect) Browns to just 14 points
Coach Guard (MD) An almost impossible job to pick between Stuart and Mark but it seemed a bit of a wimp-out to give a joint award to I plumped for Stuart for reasons I can't explain (ah, there's the wimp-out!). Call it a sixth sense (only without the dead people).
Offence Chicago The Saints and 49ers were there again this week but were just edged out on the rails by the Bears, who were playing a team in rather better form (the Lions, to be precise).
Defence Minnesota When your own offense is flailing about like Minnesota's was this week it takes a remarkable defensive effort to notch up a 33-6 win, and the Vike's D duly came up with one.
Coach Macguire (CH) You need to have beaten a previously 100% team to get a coaching award this week and in the NFC that meant Paul was the cream of the crop.
  The Diddley NO AWARD Try as I might I couldn't dish this one out. All the winners thoroughly deserved it. I dare anyone to suggest otherwise. . .    


Gerald to Graham : OK I dare (re: wk.5 Rammys). What about the Chargers?

Gerald to Brucey : Hummm. So what happened? Didn't you get the 4 hour train journey to write a winning gameplan?

Gerald to Mark D : Well done, but I still can still see Brucey give you a hard time.

Gerald to Jon : Randall is looking÷÷.. Hummm, how can I be polite? Shite!!

Gerald to Graham : Well you're getting closer to your ways of old, but perhaps this could be the end of an era? 4 games behind is going to be hard to overcome.

Gerald to Brucey : It looks like our 'D's will be the deciding factor. Or perhaps which of our two-year old QBs has the better day? It's lucky you have no 'O' to speak of, as you might just be dangerous :o)

Gerald to Mark Dixon : Watch it my son, I noticed the reference to the Worst ∆ in your report. And you should know that that has been ∆ to myself, unless you want to buy a licence?

Jon to Paul S : I thought I had you at half time as it was looking reasonably comfortable. Good comeback. Git! :o(

Jon to All : I am getting seriously worried about Randall's loss of form. At least, so far, he's not throwing many interceptions. I just wish he'd throw more completions as well.

Jon to Stuart : Good win last week.

Jon to All : Has anybody thought of putting a contract out on Troy?

Jon to Bruce : Well, I suppose it had to end sometime!

Jon to Graham : What's happened?

The Chargers
by Paul Gorner

Yippee!! Finally, a win for my Chargers!!

Maybe my win against the Chiefs was expected, but still my offence sucks! Anyway, just another week of Special Team training and it will be at full strength, and then I can concentrate on training some of my offensive plays.

What the hell happened to my run defence? I didn't see that coming, I was just lucky he didn't get near the red zone too often or the score would have been so different. It's usually my defence which has been keeping me in games, but they certainly failed to turn up against the Chiefs.

If I can continue to scrape wins together for a few more weeks, and with the division being very close, then maybe I can give the Playoffs a go. I've more or less finished sorting my squad out and the Losing Points have vanished, so it's now training which has been letting me down. Like I've said, another week and I can concentrate on my offence training and start putting some yards onto my stats.


The Raiders
by Rob Crowther

After three full weeks at the helm I'm very happy with the way things have gone. Two very comfortable wins have been the bread of a narrow defeat sandwich, and I can swallow that.  We were able to take the Jets by surprise, the game was basically over by halftime.  Next up, the Dolphins.  They were much better prepared and were able to thwart our offense for most of the game, we were happy to keep it close against playoff quality opposition.  Last week the Seahawks provided little opposition, I gave the defense some new plays for the first time and they really paid off, Seattle struggled to move the ball on us and really only scored as many as they did thanks to offensive mistakes.

Everything is still not in place offensively, we've played well in patches but have made too many mistakes.  We expect to improve as the season goes on and we build up training in the plays we're using.  The defense has done well but I think we need to improve there as well if we want to make the playoffs.  We're lucky to be in a week looking division - 2-3 wouldn't be good enough for third place in most divisions in the league but here we are in pole position.  I don't expect we can achieve anything much better than 9-7 this season, but it looks like that may be good enough to win the AFC West.  I expect the Chargers to improve over the course of the season and our games in weeks eight and ten could be crucial.

Next week we have a visit from the 0-5 Cardinals, on the face of it a very good opportunity to cement our place at the top of the division.  We won't be taking anything for granted, however, players are still unfamiliar with the offensive playbook and we will be giving a few teams some easy opportunities to beat us over the coming weeks.


by Graham Canwell

Well, some (OK, nearly everyone) would say that it's taken far too long, but the Rams have finally opened up a clear margin at the bottom of the NFC West. So what's gone wrong? The answer, to be honest, is not that much really. The retirement of veteran all-world blah blah blah Chris Miller from the QB position was always likely to lead to a period of transition in St. Louis. Furthermore, given that the changeover coincided with the arrival of a refreshing new surge of stellar coaching talent into the league the general feeling in the Rams camp was that this campaign was always likely to be an uphill struggle.

So it has proved, although the team has performed better than expected although the team is 1-4 it has actually come within a whisker of being 4-1. In three of the four losses the team have led inside the two-minute warning, only for the opposing offence to step up at the death and pull the game out of the fire. It would be tempting to blame the defence for allowing this to happen but that would be unfair as the unit lacks the strength of personnel to carry the team - it never has done in living memory and it isn't likely to start now!

We'd be the first to admit we've had our share of good breaks in the past and we're due a few of the other kind so we aren't complaining. Even in our other loss we managed to outgain the Vikings in yardage and only committed one more turnover, so to lose 31-13 was a bit of a kick in the teeth. Given the presence of a new young QB the offence has done admirably and although, with our usual hideous interconference schedule, our season is already almost doomed, spirits are still high and we are taking a lot of positives from the games. We might need to switch to a more gambling style of defence to try and make a few more big plays, and future coaching is likely to be concentrated in that area. Maybe it will come right in spectacular fashion and maybe (probably!!) it won't. But at least it looks like it'll never be dull . . . .


Week 5 - AFC Review
by Mark Dixon

Welcome back to the erratic AFC review. I've just realised that I only do this when I win (not deliberate I promise) so if you like this feature and want to see it more often can I suggest that you lose to Pittsburgh when you play them as it looks like that will get the round up produced that week :o)
Anyway... On with the show:

The AFC (apart from the West, but I'll get to that) is looking pretty nicely poised after week 5, both of the unbeaten teams from week 4 aren't any more and two of the divisions are already looking like they are going to be very tight this year. (well all 3 look tight, but the West looks tight cos they are all dire, whereas the East and Central look tight due to teams actually winning the odd game).

Divisional weeks always throw up big games, this week was certainly no exception as in the East the Bills travelled to Miami and in the Central the Browns were in Pittsburgh. We'll look at the Bills game first.

At 4-0 coming into this game Coach Ogg must've been pretty confident against a Miami team that's been winning, but hasn't looked that good doing it. Well they looked good this week as they rallied from a 28-16 half time deficit to win 31-38. Great second half D and a stella punt return keyed the Dolphins fight back, which leaves them second in the East on points difference. The Bills had no answer to the 'phish's clock munching ground game giving up 4.6 a carry and 34! first downs.
In the other game involving East teams the Patriots crept past the Jets in a game that may have decided both teams fates in the East this year. With the win the Patriots move to 3-2 and are a game behind the leaders, the Jets fall to 2-3 and even this early in the year it looks a long way back due to the quality of coaching talent elsewhere in the East. It was a tough game for either team to lose really, but the Pats made fewer mistakes and in the end just did enough.

Moving on to the Central's big game: Cleveland visited Pittsburgh in a game that the Steelers needed to win to keep their season alive. And they did! Pittsburgh didn't even need any of the luck that saw them scrape past the Browns last year. A solid running game and a couple of great defensive plays kept the Steelers in with a shout despite going 14-7 down early.

By the half the deficit was one point and the second half was all Pittsburgh. The 4th quarter was a tense affair with Cleveland always threatening to pull a TD back, but the 'Steel Curtain' held firm to give the steel town boys a winning record and leave them one game behind the leaders in the Division.

In the Central's other game the Titans showed once again that the week one loss was an aberration as they proved way too good for the Bengals, with a smothering defensive performance. The Bengals put up token resistance, but did mange to salvage their pride a little with a 4th quarter TD to avoid the shutout. Weeks 8 and 10 should be pretty interesting in the Central when the Browns and Titans match-up. I think that those 2 games will decide the division. The Browns still look pretty good, but they have to be worried by the form being shown by Tennessee at the moment. The Bengals? Well it looks like their season is over before it got started. Coming back from 1-4, whist possible, is a big ask and they haven't shown anything to suggest that they can do it.

And now we come to the Worst, sorry West. The Division no one wants to win...
The Raiders are starting to look the pick of the bunch here, but they need to be able to win some big games before anyone is going to worry about them too much. They did a nice job on the Seahawks though, but with no disrespect intended; that hasn't been to hard to do this year (cue Pittsburgh losing that game). The other team that I think might be able to muster a challenge is the Chargers, but scraping past the previously woeful Chiefs isn't really the way to impress people is it? Here the Chiefs had the Lions share of the possession and yardage, but 2 picks proved to be their undoing as San Diego squeaked it.

The AFC is probably going to come down to a battle between the 4 teams that are currently 4-1. The guys on 3-2 are going to have their work cut out to get a wildcard and will probably need help from other teams (like the ones above them losing silly games). I expect the Bills to win the East, with the 'Fins taking the WC. I'm going to go with the Titans to win the Central with the Browns picking up the WC. Who's gonna win the West? My gut feeling is that the Raiders will, but I don't expect them to last too long in the Playoffs.


Last Man Standing
by Bruce Henderson

As the waters of defeat rise there comes a point when there's only one team still breathing in a good dose of victory. As of week five, the last team to remain undefeated are the resurgent Saints, guided by their master at arms, Troy Dilworth. Are we seeing a possible perfect season already? They've certainly looked like they have what it takes to do the business, and possibly make that final step and become the champions of the NFLAB.

The Eagles' good run of fortune ended this week as they strode into the capitol with the Playoffs in their sights. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia side the Redskins had other ideas, who, although going behind early, rallied in the second half to take a well-deserved 14-10 win, and tie for the top-spot in the East. For both teams, their defenses played well, keeping the game tight, right to the end, but throughout, the Redskins looked to have the game under control, especially in the air, with 234 yards and no interceptions. Washington will expect to perform ably against the struggling Chiefs in the first of this seasons' inter conference match ups, with the possibility of going clear of their divisional rivals on the cards. The Eagles really need to do well on their return to Veterans' Stadium where they take on the AFC West Chargers. Worst case, a loss could see them in a three-way tie for the East.

There isn't much in the way of hope in Arizona at the moment, with speculation regarding the long-standing coach's position in the team in all the local papers. The continuing run of losses isn't helping matters, and a 31-0 home-loss to division rivals Dallas in week five only rubs salt into the gaping wounds. The Cardinals were unable to offer much in the way of an offense against the Dallas powerhouse that has developed since the arrival of new play-caller, coach Appleby, and gained a measly 5 first downs, and only 136 yards of total offense. On the other hand, the Cowboys showed that on their day they are a force to be wary of, putting up a lot of impressive figures, and the all-important shut-out. But the on-off nature of their game could spoil the party, and a week six defeat against the appalling Seahawks might not be out of the question. Arizona's chances of a win in the near future look doomed, with a trip to this years' surprise AFC West front-runners Oakland unlikely to raise their sunken hopes.

Minnesota cruised to an easy 33-6 win over the Buccaneers despite only posting 190 total offensive yards. Tampa Bay seemed more than willing to give the Vikings the ball anywhere they desired, giving the visitors great field position for much of the day. However, the win probably won't fill the Vikings with too much confidence as they'd hoped to show a little more offense that has definitely been lacking this season. Currently only third in a division they strolled through undefeated last year, a visit from AFC top-dogs Buffalo could see them go 3-3 with the real possibility of not making the playoffs. It looks like the Buccaneers' dreams have ended for this year. 0-5 and one of the most generous defenses in the league, it's doubtful a trip to nearby Miami will cause much of a splash.

The Lions perfect season came to an end with a decisive 30-7 home defeat to Chicago. During the mauling, the Lions gave up a season-high 5 turnovers, allowing the Bears easy access to good field position and lots of scoring opportunities. The only high-spot for Detroit was an 82 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, their second of the season. The Bears punished their opponents' mistakes and controlled the ball for most of the game, looking like they were going to win early on. The Lions need to rethink their strategies if they are to build on what has been their best start to the season since before the 1995 season. A trip to the big-scoring Patriots will see if their defense is really as good as its record suggests. The Bears will be out to prove that they have the right to call themselves the best in the Central, taking on the unknown quantity that the Jets have been seen to be this year.

The Rams' once dominant place in the West has officially ended. Now 1-4, and a game behind the rest of the division they will need to consolidate what's left of their season and try and regroup for 2006. The closely fought battle against the 49ers that ended in a 24-27 defeat was the last nail in their seasons' coffin. San Francisco on the other-hand must be elated with both their victory and their new coach, as he appears to have worked a minor miracle and turned them into a force to be reckoned with. With 317 yards in the air, and another 158 rushing, the 49ers simply ground the Rams into defeat. Although their defense crumbled in the end, the St Louis offense fought hard enough to stay within sight of a win right up until the end, but as this season has shown, it just wasn't to be. It's likely that the Rams would like to go away and lick their wounds, but with a visit from the mighty Browns looming, they may as well wait another week and clear up the mess then. The run of good fortune could take the 49ers past a difficult trip to Pittsburgh, but the Steelers will be looking to build on a surprise win over their nemesis Browns this week, so a slug-fest looks promising.

The Saints go from strength to strength as the season progresses. They won easily over the Falcons 41-13, producing a performance that was truly outstanding. Future opponents beware. Again, the New Orleans passing attack was awesome, completing the game with 363 yards and four touchdowns, with Atlanta totally at a loss as to how to defend against it. The Falcons' own offense wasn't exactly shabby itself, but with your opponents striding up the field as easily as New Orleans did, they were simply outshone. The Saints next travel to Tennessee to take on AFC Central joint-leaders the Titans, in what should be an intense meeting, with the Titans hungry for a place in the playoffs in a very tough division. Atlanta should have an easier time taking on the poorly performing Bengals, and hopefully retaining some hope of a place in the playoffs.


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Well not much left for me ramblings. So I'll leave it short. COME ON AFC!!

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 ?