Predictions - 1974
 
Two of our colleagues go out on a limb to share their views of the 1974 CGFL season.
 
Allen Nelson's predictions:
 
NFC EAST
1.Gate City
2.Iron Mountain (wildcard)
3.Cedarhurst (wildcard)
4.Jersey
5.Reading
 
NFC WEST
1.Canton
2.Minnesota
3.Ft Lauderdale
4.Duluth
5.Chicago
 
AFC EAST
1.Hudson Valley
2.Willamette (wildcard)
3.Marathon (wildcard)
4.East Texas
5.Tampa Bay
 
AFC WEST
1.Houston
2.San Antonio
3.Woodbine
4.United States
5.Ole Miss
 
Playoffs Canton over Gate City, Houston over Hudson Valley
Title Game Houston over Canton

Crawford Davis' predictions:
 
NFC East
Gate City and Iron Mountain should battle for the title with Jersey not far behind.....Too bad these teams will beat up on each other....last one standing wins, Gate City
 

NFC West

Canton should win with Minn at 10-4 or 9-5 at 2nd....Ft Lauderdale could be a threat with some good bounces of the ball
 
AFC East
Get a hat and pick a team.......Williamette has the edge in talent with Tampa and Marathon fighting for 2nd.....East Texas could be the x-factor with an upset or two; the same with Hudson Valley
 

AFC West

There's Houston and then there's the rest with USA finishing a distant 2nd
 
Super Bowl
Houston wins it all over Gate City.
 

 
Curt Gowdy Football League
1974 Preview
 
1974 marks the heart of the era of the superteam. Gate City, Canton, Willamette and Houston will prosper in their divisions but there will be some surprises from the 2nd tier of up and comers...
 
NFC East
Gate City - Last year was a breakout year for the Gunfighters, and this year it should get a little better. Franco Harris is the featured player on offense, and he'll be running his 4.8 game behind 41 points of blocking. But teams cannot key solely on Franco because Ken Stabler is going to be heaving the ball downfield to speedsters Mel Gray and Roger Carr. On defense, Gate City has 82 points, led by linebackers Jack Ham and Bill Bergey (both 10s). Their achiles' heel might be at cornerback, where a pair of 6s reside. Leon "X-Ray" McQuay will add some color (and yards) to the return game. Prediction - 12 wins, but get this, only the #2 seed in the NFC.
 
Iron Mountain - This is a tight call, with the computer rating the Miners just a hair better than Jersey. Fran Tarkenton, Calvin Hill, Otis Taylor - the big three - are solid but have modest years by their standard. Bob Tucker will help at TE, and the team has its big play receiver in John Gilliam. As was the case last year, the Miners are weak on defense - 68 points. There are no stars (rated 8, 9, or 10) and the corners are also both 6s. Good coaching will need to win a few to make the playoffs. Prediction - 8 wins, wild card #2.
 
Jersey - As was indicated above, Jersey is just a small bit behind Iron Mountain according to the computer. QB Joe Ferguson is ordinary, so John Riggins and the other 6 RBs will need to carry the load. Gene Upshaw (10) leads the offensive line (39 blocking points) so Riggo shouldn't have too many problems. The Giants have a pair of burners in Jim Lash and Bob Newland to pair with the possession catches of Jerome Barkum and Jerry Smith. On the defensive side of the ball is 75 points of terror, led by Jack Youngblood (10) and Phil Villapiano (9). The Giants' Don Cockroft does it all in the kicking department, but he can miss an XP here and there. Punt returner Manfred Moore will be dangerous in a limited role. Prediction - 8 wins, could be wild card #2.
 
Cedarhurst - Our data cruncher has the Bulldogs right behind Iron Mountain and Jersey, definitely in contention for that final wildcard spot. Len Dawson will be fine if he can (a) stay healthy, and (b) throw the ball to the correct team. Behind Len is perhaps the league's top RB in Otis Armstrong. The Bulldog speedster boasts a 5.3 average and has over 250 carries to work with...do the math and you find a potential 1400-1500 season. Unfortunately there isn' t anyone to take the heat off Armstrong, so Dawson will need to work the short to medium game to keep defenses honest. Speaking of defense, the Bulldogs total of 74 has a unique twist - 43 of it is against the pass! Ted Hendricks (10), Emmitt Thomas (10) and Ken Houston (9) are the big players. Prediction - 8 wins, has a chance at wildcard #2.
 
Reading - While it is no fun losing, it helps to be able to look forward to your QB blossoming. Terry Bradshaw is in his last of the lean years, but he has some help so maybe things won't be that bad. Drew Pearson and Golden Richards are legitimate deep threats, but the running game is pretty ordinary, so defenses may be looking for the pass. Art Shell (10) is sure to get a lot of action his way. The defense is developing, and is at 72. Mini Mack Herron is a threat returning punts. The Rage could pull a few upsets, but if not, they can keep saying, "Payton, Payton, Payton..." Prediction - 3 wins and a lottery wish list.
 
 NFC West
Canton - We've been here before, but this team is a power. Despite OJ Simpson's presence, the Canton strength is its passing game. Cliff Branch (18.2), Gary Garrison (19.1), Nat Moore (16.4) all will put a scare into opposing defenses. Charley Johnson and James Harris will benefit, and either could win the passing title with receivers like this. On defense, Claude Humphrey (9) and the CB tandem of Robert James (10) and Nate Wright (8) will shut down opposing passing games. It also helps to play in a division that does not have a lot of dominant offensive players. Prediction - 12 wins, wins the tie-breaker with Gate City to earn seed #1.

Minnesota - This could be going out on a limb a bit, but with Jim Hart's low sack and interception numbers, ball control might be a bit easier for the Storm than most teams. On offense the ground game is ordinary but consistent, while Charlie Wade is the lone deep threat. It could be that the NFC East teams beat each other up so much that Minnesota sneaks in the back door. The computer says that is the case, so that's what we'll go with. Prediction - 8 wins, first wild card.

 
Duluth - Sam Bam Cunningham leads a decent running attack, but the QB situation is so bad that in many games the ground attack won't be a factor. Either Jesse Frietas (7.3% int) or Tom Owen (8.2%) will be at the helm. The defense is solid against the pass, but an ordinary front 7, except for Carl Eller, will allow teams to run the ball. It will take good coaching and some luck to make the playoffs, but the computer says don't hold your breath. Prediction - 6 wins.
 
Fort Lauderdale - This will be a big disappointment to fans and management alike. Last year's Super Bowl team, this year a sub-.500 team. The squad looked good before the draft, but the other teams filled their holes, pushing the Trojans back. A quick comparison to Minnesota shows little difference - the running backs are similar, Riley Odoms and four WR are better than Minnesota's group, the o-line is similar and on defense there are a pair of tens (Alan Page and Jake Scott) and Chris Hanburger (9). So what's the difference? The quarterback. Archie Manning has a really bad interception rate (6.1%), but that can't account for a 5 win swing. The culprit is the schedule - all 6 of the non-division opponents are playoff contenders. The big games for the Trojans will be Cedarhurst, Iron Mountain, and both Minnesota games. Expect to see Mike Boryla during most of these contests. Prediction - 4 wins, although wins in all 4 key games could mean a playoff chance.
 
Chicago - Last year the Blackhawks won 3 games, and this year they'll win...3 games. Bert Jones should improve, but Larry Csonka falls into the human category. Woody Green and Robert Newhouse will help to balance things out. There isn't a lot of depth at the receiver positions, but TE Billy Joe DuPree and WR Larry Brunson could scare some defenses deep. The team has some young talent, so this might be their last season in the basement for a while. And wouldn't it be nice for a guy named Payton to play for a team named Chicago? Prediction - 2 wins.
 
AFC East
Willamette - Last year Marathon dethroned the AFC East champs, but the Wolverines should be back in the saddle again in 1974. The Kilmer and Jurgensen show does their swan song, and Sonny is likely to draw the league's tougher teams. And just in case Sonny is hurt, or Billy is beat up, there's Mr. Clint Longley. There ought to be a law against him playing on a team loaded with Redskins but maybe Allen will have him ride the pine all year as punishment for his Thanksgiving Day offenses. On the ground Marv Hubbard and rookie Wilbur Jackson make a nice backfield with Lenvil Elliott ready to sub in when needed. The defense is not spectacular, but it is solid, with mostly 6 and 7 players at every position except safety (Dick Anderson, 8). They're in a tough division, but experience wins out here. - 9 wins, first place on tie-breakers.
 
Hudson Valley - The Pioneers return to the playoffs after a 2-year hiatus, and they owe much of that reward to rookie Don Woods. Woods' outstanding 5.1 average will work well behind the left side of the line, Rayfield Wright (9), Tom Mack (9), and Len Hauss (also 9). To keep the pressure off Woods, look for Chuck Foreman to get his share of duty. Bill Munson is a modest QB, but his targets are great in Foreman, Ron Jessie, and Ray Chester. Jessie could lead the league in receiving. The defense is thin except for Mike Bass (9), who should help shutdown the opposition's best wideout. It will all come down to the division games, so this should be a great race all year. Prediction - 9 wins, #1 wild card on tie-breakers.
 
East Texas - The Bammers moved from New York and should rebound well from last year's 3 win season. Bob Griese leads a modest offense which will use a variety of backs to carry the ball. J.D. Hill and Harold Jackson can both stretch the field, and they will prove to be great models for a young man named Swann. John Mendenhall, Mike Curtis, and Bill Bradley provide solid defense in the middle, but the corners of Nate Allen and Eddie McMillan (6 and 5) are succeptible to the pass. Swann will be dangerous on punt returns. The computer says yes to the Bammers. Prediction - 9 wins, 2nd wild card on tie-breakers.
 
Tampa Bay - The good news is that Bobby Douglass is no longer the starting QB. The bad news is that Gary Huff is. More bad news is that two of the three top RBs have 3.2 and 3.6 averages. Good news is that Terry Metcalf is the 3rd RB and he is dynamite! Metcalf should account for over 2000 total yards in rushing, receiving, and returns. Another factor in the Bandits' favor is a league best 45 run blocking points, with Larry Little as a 10. So maybe 3.2 turns to 4.2? Fred Biletnikoff is the top receiver, but his production is down so expect more passes to the backs. On defense, Otis Sistrunk and Willie Lanier are both rated 9, but the corners are substandard (Taylor 5, Reardon 4). This alone should keep Tampa Bay below .500. Prediction - 6 wins.
 
Marathon - Let's get one thing straight...the computer made this pick. Alvin Maxon is a solid back for about 2/3 of the season. WR Isaac Curtis and Gene Washington BOTH have averages over 20. The defense totals 73 points, with a 7 and 5 on the corners. Roger Staubach is the QB. But wait...Roger didn't have the typical Staubach year. His rate of completions is only 52.8, which leads to a sub-70 QB rating. And in a way similar to Fort Lauderdale, they play a tough schedule. So perhaps the computer knows? Prediction - 5 wins.
 
AFC West
Houston - The Oilers went the distance last year with a 17-0 season, but in week 2 their luck could end against Gate City. Houston has Ken Anderson at his best, and he has a nice cast around him. Lawrence McCutcheon and Clarence Davis are a nice 1-2 punch, and in tight games Davis can pull out his "sea of hands" catch that he used against the Dolphins in the '74 playoffs. Harold Carmichael leads a deep receiving corps, and Russ Washington is a solid 9 at tackle. On defense, the prize is the secondary which features safety Tony Greene (10) and corners Roger Wehrli (9) and Ken Riley (7). White Shoes Johnson and Cullen Bryant are solid in the return game. Prediction - 13 wins.
 
United States - New owners bring a new attitude, and likely a winning feel to the team. The Americans are not very deep at running back, so the onus for winning falls upon the shoulders of QB Norm Snead. Snead is as old as the Chicago Bears' logo, but he can still throw the ball. He'll have some decent targets in Haven Moses and Chip Myers, but no one who would be considered a game breaker. The offensive line is all or nothing with Ron Yary (10) and Jim Langer (10) surrounded by 5s. On defense, everything is average except the corners, where the U.S. defenders Brown (7) and Buchanon (8) will give receivers the Willies. Ron Smith handles the return duties well. Prediction - 7 wins, in the hunt for a wild card, but a couple of games short.
 
San Antonio - We could see this coming as Hadl, Namath, Brown, and Brockington all went in the tank at the same time. Still, there are some stars. Jim Otis is coming along and could end up leading the team in rushing. How great would it be to have a tight end who averages 20 yards per reception? Rich Caster does for the Renegades. Roy Jefferson and Joel Parker each have over 40 catches, so that should help starter Dan Pastorini. The defense comes up at 69 points, which isn't enough to contend. Both corners are rated 6, and that seals the deal. Prediction - 5 wins.
 
Woodbine - Roman Gabriel had a bad year, but not this bad. The culprit is the running game, which eventually will require the use of Ken Grandberry (3.3) and Pete Banaszak. Greg Pruitt is the exciting player on the team, and if used to his fullest amount, could challenge Metcalf for the league's total yards award. The Tigers excell on the defensive line where Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood both post 10s. Unfortunately, the LBs and DBs are a mix of 4s, 5s, and 6s. It will be a long year in Woodbine. Prediction - 4 wins.
 
Ole Miss - Same song, second stanza, but a monster is being built. Plunkett is terrible. The running game is just as bad. Burrow and Joiner are fine receivers, but there is no one behind them. And on defense...there are only 3 players who rate a 6 or higher. They are all rated 6. That's a 53 point unit. Here's to Walter Payton, or Randy White, or whoever joins the superteam of the future. Prediction - 1 win.
 
The Playoffs
NFC - Canton should defeat Iron Mountain while Gate City should handle Minnesota. In a classic game that might emulate a Steelers-Raiders battle, Gate City and the Snake win it late as the Gunfighters advance to the Super Bowl.
 
AFC - Houston will defeat East Texas but it will be close. Willamette over Hudson Valley as Sonny's farewell party continues. The party ends in Houston as the Oilers take another trip to the big show.
 
Super Bowl - The Gunfighters shut down Ken Anderson and Franco Harris rushes for over 100 yards as Gate City wins 24-13.
 
So there you have it.