Welcome to the Thursday mailbag. Four games this weekend, the top four play in Brussels and the bottom four in Antwerp, so the standings are bound to be shaken up. Let’s get into it.
Games this weekend
@ St. Agatha – 12:00 – Bornem Titans (3-0-0) v Brussels Black Angels (1-1-1)
Since 2000 : Black Angels 8, Titans 0
Last match : April 11, 2010 – @ Anderlecht – Black Angels 13, Titans 6
I was a little surprised to learn that the Titans had never beaten the Black Angels, so perhaps we’re going to be in for a first. The Titans enter as the only team at 3-0, meanwhile the Black Angels are just treading water, 1.5 games back at 1-1-1, and not having scored at all last weekend.
The Titans are the most injury ravaged team in the FFL and their big boys on defense will have another tough time trying to stop the Black Angels power running game featuring FB Banza. The Angels will want to mix it up with the pass although they didn’t have much success with that last weekend against the Bulls, QB Njufom still trying to get the timing down with his receiving group.
As for the Titans’ offense, they’ll take heart from the fact that the best plays of the Bulls last week were in the air (as were the Tribes’ the week before that). It’ll be up to the Titans offensive line to give their quarterback the time he needs.
I see this as a tough matchup for the Angels. They’ll want to get pressure on Titans QB D’Hondt but it had better get there, because leaving WR Vermeir one-on-one on the outside is asking for trouble.
@ St. Agatha – 15:00 – Brussels Bulls (1-1-1) v West Flanders Tribes (2-0-0)
Since 2000 : Tribes 5, Bulls 0
Last match : April 25, 2010 – @ Bornem – Tribes 34, Bulls 18
A big match-up of two teams who, let’s be honest here, don’t like each other very much. The Bulls have shown themselves the last couple of years to be rather a big problem for the Tribes, as no other team has caused the champs so much trouble and scored so many points against them.
Bulls QB Fogarty is more than capable of torching any defense if given the time, and the Tribes are not the sort of defense who will sit back and give it to him, so I hope the Bulls’ backs have been working on their blitz pick-up. S Huyghe, however, is the best ball-hawk* going around at the moment, but he’ll need to keep himself disciplined.
The Bulls pass defense wasn’t really tested by the Angels last week, but they sure will be this week, facing TE Brutyn and WR Gancharov. The best way to stop any pass is to knock the quarterback over before he can get rid of the ball, and that’s just what LBs Nyati Panzu and Kitoko will be trying to do. RB George scored three times last week so the Bulls would be wise to keep their eye on him at all times as well.
@ Antwerp – 12:00 – Gent Gators (1-2-0) v Limburg Shotguns (0-1-0)
Since 2000 : Gators 2, Shotguns 0
Last match : April 18, 2010 – @ St. Agatha – Gators 13, Shotguns 6
This could be a most interesting matchup. The Shotguns were already a passing team and with RB Eeman injured they may just take to the air even more, so Gators S De Bruycker can expect a busy day.
Gent are also not afraid to sling the ball around – in fact we may just see the ball thrown 50 times in this game, weather conditions are expected to be good on Sunday. QB Bagget led his team all the way back last weekend, mostly through the air to WRs Depreitere and Van Melder. However the Shotguns would be wise not to forget about the A gaps, as the Gators are more than capable of peeling off a big run right up the middle.
I’m not sure how deep the Gators go at Cornerback, but we’ll certainly find out Sunday as they try to find the right matchups against the Shotguns’ spread formations.
@ Antwerp – 15:00 – Antwerp Diamonds (1-2-0) v Leuven Lions (1-3-0)
Since 2000 : Diamonds 8, Lions 2
Last match : April 18, 2010 – @ Antwerp – Diamonds 13, Lions 6
I wonder what the mindset of the Diamonds will be for this one, as their last three weeks have involved two losses in the last minute and some ambulance related unpleastantness. A lot is going to rest on the coaches and senior players to keep the young guys focussed, especially if the game turns out to be another close one.
As for the Lions, they need to get things turned around and quickly if they are to have any chance at all of making the playoffs – a loss on Sunday would mean virtual elimination for Leuven. But they do have the playmakers to get something going – excellent blocking up front with C Willems and G Salvaggio leading the way, and they’ll need it against a strong Diamonds defense, who looked a bit shaky against the pass last week.
The Diamonds offense, on the other hand, showed great form in the first half last week but couldn’t get enough points on the board for all their dominance. One thing that the Diamonds definitely have going for them is a rather surprising MVP candidate – however I’ll have more on that in one weeks’ time, when there are no games to preview (well, only half a game, to be completely accurate). Leuven’s defense are going to have to be aware of a little trickeration from the Diamonds, mostly involving ‘Slash’ Vervaet – if he has the ball in his hands you never know what he’s going to do with it. Also they’ll need to communicate well with each other because the Diamonds get out of their huddle faster than any team in the FFL.
Man v Machine
Here we go, the computer finally kicks into action! Now we’ll see just who’s smarter – man or machine.
The computer says : Titans by 6, Tribes by 7, Gators by 30, Diamonds by 7
I have : Titans by 7, Tribes by 9, Shotguns by 7, Diamonds by 3
To any Limburgers up in arms at this point, I’ll just say that the computer only takes into accounts final results of games, so the only thing it knows is the result of your game last week.
Hans De Leenheer, Bornem
“TIE BREAKING BRUSH UP:
1) Win/Loss total
2) tie: Win/Loss between the two teams
3) tie: Point differential of that/those game/s
4) tie: Win/Loss to next ranked team
5) tie: point differential of that/those game/s
6) tie: point differntial of all games played
7) are you kidding me?”
I always thought that the last tie breaker was ‘coin toss’, but fair enough! We have all learned something today, thanks Hans.
Bram Wydooghe, het Damberd, Izegem
“Fantastic blog, Dale. Why weren’t you around in the early days of Belgian football…? And may I add that some Tribes players are already getting a bit anxious about the winning streak of the Titans. It indeed looks like the Tribes-Titans games will be decisive. Might actually get my old butt out of the sofa to go and watch them…”
The answer to your question is fairly obvious – I was at primary school in Australia! You should definitely go to the games, I should point out that the April 17 game is in Izegem and not Ostend as I’d said. By the way, I had no idea you could write in such pretty English!
So this Sunday is week 5, and we’re just about half way through the season. Next Thursday’s column will be a little different than usual, as the only game to talk about will be the conclusion of Diamonds v Shotguns. I’ll be giving a review of the season so far, looking forward to the second half, and making a few nominations for first-half MVP and so on. Have a good game everyone. Until next time.
* I’m not sure if it’s specifically an Australian word, but a ball-hawk is someone who specialises in going up and taking the ball when not really expected to.