It’s been a pretty lame week on the FFL-blog front. Seems that a week off causes people to forget all about football. Fortunately there’s some good stuff on tap.
Games this weekend
@ Anderlecht – 12:00 – Limburg Shotguns v Leuven Lions
Since 2000 : Shotguns 1, Lions 0
Last match : April 11, 2010 – @ Leopoldsburg – Shotguns 18, Lions 13
Leuven’s secondary held Antwerp wide receivers without a catch in their last start, but I’d say their chances of doing that this week are rather remote. The Lions are going to need a very delicate balance of pressuring the quarterback while maintaining containment so he can’t easily escape, and then it’ll be up to the secondary to make a few big plays.
Hopefully Leuven have regained a few playmakers on offense, and have used their week off to good effect, as last week they never got out of first gear against Antwerp. It’s certainly possible to move the ball on this Shotguns defense, although the Lions are going to want to account for LB Curren on every play.
I think it should be an interesting matchup, but I see the Shotguns offense as a bit too dynamic for the Lions. However, the predicted poor weather should play right into Leuven’s hands.
@ Anderlecht – 15:00 – Brussels Black Angels v Gent Gators
Since 2000 : Angels 7, Gators 0
March 7, 2010 – @ Ostend – Angels 20, Gators 12
With an Angels running game that is back in form, this is going to be a tough old game for Gent. Hopefully the Gators have used their bye week to work on their coördination and organisation on the defensive side of the football. They’ve got the back end to make some plays but their defensive line are going to have to play the game of their collective lives if they want to make something of this game. Also their tackling will have to get better, because you can’t go around giving the Angels extra yardage – they have the ability to get enough on their own.
The Gators offense showed some life against Limburg two weeks ago but the Angels have the number 1 rated defense in the FFL. Gent will to need to be firing on all cylinders just to consistently move the football for first downs, and hopefully touchdowns. Unfortunately for them, I just can’t see the game ending in anything other than victory for the boys in Black (the Angels, I mean!). Brussels are too strong on both sides of the football and will control the line of scrimmage all day.
@ Bornem – 12:00 – Antwerp Diamonds (3-2-0) v West Flanders Tribes (3-0-0)
Since 2000 : Tribes 7, Diamonds 6
March 7, 2010 – @ Ostend – Tribes 28, Diamonds 0
This game was the number four in my top five games not to miss this season, and for good reason – these two teams don’t like each other. I think there must be some sort of fundamental difference between the people in the province of Antwerp and the province of West Flanders, or at least people there think that there is. As “foreign guy”, I’m going to claim ignorance on this one. Can’t we all just get along? No? Oh well, if it all leads to a good game of football, I guess it’s all good.
The Tribes defense haven’t been their usual dominant selves this year. This is bad news when they’re facing the most dynamic and varied Antwerp offense in forever. It’s not just possible to focus on one guy any more. Word on the street is that QB Keymolen is out for the Diamonds. Surprisingly, the Tribes defense would probably rather he did play, because they have to face a left handed, agile quarterback at training each and every week and should be used to it. I suppose if he is out, he’ll be replaced by Vervaet, but this is going to damage the Diamonds backfield no end as his shoes are tough to fill.
Antwerp’s defense is on song. They haven’t condeeded a point in their last 6 quarters (4 against Leuven and 2 against Limburg), but, as usual, they’ll have to be very wary of the Tribes speed game – WR Gancharov and RB George, as ever, are the danger men.
@ Bornem – 15:00 – Bornem Titans (3-1-0) v Brussels Bulls (1-2-1)
Since 2000 : Titans 3, Bulls 1
April 18, 2010 – @ St. Agatha – Titans 23, Bulls 8
This is a most interesting one. The Bulls have been close the last two games to pulling a big upset, but they are going to need to win this game, otherwise their playoff chances are going to evaporate (even if they win out, 4.5 wins is unlikely to be enough). On the other hand, the Titans can survive with a loss, but a win puts them at 4-1 and they’ll have one foot in the post-season (don’t forget that they hold the crucial tie-breaker over Antwerp).
The Titans have been a bit short-handed on defense up the middle, and this is not where you want to be weakened against the dominant offensive line of the Bulls, who pushed the Tribes all over the field last week, leading one knowledgeable FFL fan to describe their blocking as “beautiful”. The Bulls can also get it done through the air, QB Fogarty one of the best going around, which can make them tough to defend at times. It’s going to take a concentrated effort from the Titans D to shut down their opponents.
Going the other way, the Titans will have to prove they can effectively move the football and finish off against a tough defensive front seven. The Titans offensive line are going to have to be effective in springing RB Steenackers and letting him cause chaos in the Bulls secondary, but this will not be easy. Nor will pass blocking DE Nyati Panzu and allowing QB Rochtus the time to find WR Vermeir and TE D’Hondt.
Man v Machine
Neither of us did very well last week, that leaves me with 3 points and the computer with just 2. Let’s try to do a better job this time around, shall we?
I have : Shotguns by 14, Angels by 27, Tribes by 8 and Bulls by 3
The computer has : Shotguns by 30, Angels by 26, Tribes by 7 and Titans by 3
For those wondering, I make my picks before I simulate! I think I will come up with a better system for keeping track of who’s winning though. That’ll be for next week.
Dorian Vermeir, Bornem
“As for the Titans, indeed, we have not been ourselves this year in terms of production on offense. Although we have put together solid drives and yardage, we need to be more consistent and, most important, finish it off. But you did miss our best display so far against Leuven.”
You’ll have a chance to show how you’ve used the bye week to work on those things that needed a little improving. It’s all about finishing, as my Dad would say, “the scoreboard doesn’t say how, just how many”*.
Patrick Brady, Brussels
“I will predict that the 3rd playoff spot is going to go to the winner of the Bulls Titans game this weekend.”
I think that’s a fair call. A Titans win puts them at 4-1, and a Bulls win puts them half a game behind the Titans but Bornem play the Tribes twice.
Bart Killens, Wetteren
“If you look at the schedule and you would make a prediction on the outcome of the regular season, what would your ranking look like?”
Good question! Tough to answer but here we go:
Playoff teams : Tribes 8-0-0, Angels 5-2-1, Bulls 5-2-1
Missed out : Titans 4-4-0, Diamonds 4-4-0, Shotguns 2-6-0, Gators 2-6-0, Lions 1-7-0
Now that I see it like that I think perhaps I should have changed my pick for the Belgian Bowl! However, it’s like Patrick Brady said, if the Titans beat the Bulls, that would get them in. The computer thinks the following (I am well aware that this looks weird but it’s due to rounding and percentages and such).
Playoff teams : Tribes 7.2 wins, Titans 5.5 wins, Angels 4.8 wins
Missed out : Bulls 4.3 wins, Diamonds 4.2 wins, Shotguns 2.9 wins, Gators 2.1 wins, Lions 1.0 wins
The weather looks like being pretty dodgy on Sunday, and this isn’t good for the players, the fans, or some guy watching a pair of games and trying to take stats so he can write them up afterwards! I suppose we’ve had good weather this season and this was bound to happen at some point, after all, this is Belgium. Have a good game everyone, and for those bound for Bornem on Sunday, see you there!
* My Dad is full of those kind of phrases. Other favourites are “It’s a funny old game” and “If you want to be a footballer, at least look like a footballer”.