Only three weeks left in the regular season and still five teams are alive for a playoff spot. Two teams can clinch this weekend, a win would put the Black Angels or the Tribes (or both) back into the postseason yet again. I believe this would be the 10th postseason in a row for the Angels, and the 6th straight for the Tribes. Meanwhile, the Diamonds, Lions and Gators have only their pride left to fight for, the latter two kicking things off in a most interesting matchup in Izegem.
Games this weekend
@ Leopoldsburg – 12:00 – Antwerp Diamonds v Brussels Black Angels
Since 2000 : Black Angels 8, Diamonds 7
Last match : April 10, 2011 – @ St Agatha – Black Angels 54, Diamonds 0
Here’s a rematch of a game from last weekend, and if you read the blog on Monday, I don’t think anybody is really looking forward to another Angels – Diamonds game. However, that’s what the schedule says, and that’s what is going to happen.
I don’t need to tell you that this is going to be tough for Antwerp, but there are several areas where they can make an immediate improvement. They’ll welcome back a couple of offensive linemen who were suspended for the last game, and they were sorely missed, as the Angels defensive line spent the whole game in the Diamonds backfield. This left the Antwerp backs with no room to move. Also on defense they should be far better prepared for what they’ll see.
As for the Angels, more of the same will suffice. They scored on offense, defense, special teams, with starters and with backups last week. They also have a goal this week, win and they’re in!
@ Leopoldsburg – 15:00 – Brussels Bulls v Limburg Shotguns
Since 2000 : Bulls 1, Shotguns 0
Last match : March 14, 2010 – @ Anderlecht – Bulls 35, Shotguns 14
The Bulls still sit in fourth place in the FFL, half a game behind the Titans, and that means that every game is crucial for them, as one slip-up could be fatal. The Shotguns, on the other hand, aren’t eliminated from playoff contention but they must win this game, and it wouldn’t hurt for some other results to go their way as well.
For the Shotguns, if they want to pass the ball, then they’re going to have to protect their quarterback, as the Bulls defensive line are among the best going around. Their quarterback has the ability to carve up any secondary, but he can’t do it while lying on the ground. The Shotguns’ defensive line have an equally important job to do slowing down the Bulls ground game and their multitude of running backs.
The Bulls caused turnovers all over the place last week, and by getting pressure on the quarterback they’ll be looking for more of the same this week. On offense they play a very controlled running game, and it has been most effective so far in combination with a sneaky dangerous pass game.
@ Izegem – 12:00 – Gent Gators v Leuven Lions
Since 2000 : Lions 5, Gators 2
Last match : February 20, 2011 – @ Gent – Lions 23, Gators 0
It’s official, the loser of this game is going to be the strongest team in the FFL*. Both teams have injuries, both teams had at least 50 points hung on them last week, and both teams are going to try like hell to avoid having the number one pick in the 2012 FFL draft, as it were.
I think this will be definitely a game worth watching. Gent try to balance it out on offense but must do a better job of protecting the football, so hopefully for them they got all their turnovers out last week. Leuven’s defense will want to muscle up after being torched for 50 points and forcing the Tribes to punt just once. That’s not a question of one or two players needing to improve, but the whole defensive unit will need to pull together.
It’s a similar story for the Lions offense. Their coaches will want to instill some confidence back into their offense so they can get the chains moving and the scoreboard ticking over against a Gators defense that was too flexible against the run last week. The Gators have an opportunistic defense but are inconsistent, and it’s this that the Lions will want to take advantage of.
@ Izegem – 15:00 – Bornem Titans v West Flanders Tribes
Since 2000 : Tribes 6, Titans 0
Last match : May 2, 2010 – @ Izegem – Tribes 42, Titans 23
The Tribes defense has stepped up recently, dominant in registering shutouts in their last two games, but this time they’re facing a potential playoff team who scored a truckload of points themselves last week. Most of the Titans’ points came on the ground last week, and it’s just that facet of the game that the Tribes pride themselves on, with their surprisingly quick linemen and solid linebacking core. So going air mail could be a nice option for Bornem, but they’ll have to deal with the Tribes pass rush before they can consider taking shots downfield.
The Tribes offense are one of the most balanced going around, and it’s just that that’s so tough to defend. They have so many weapons that eventually you’ll find yourself not being able to stop them all. However they are weakened along the offensive line with a couple of more inexperienced players being called on to fill in, which the Titans might be able to take advantage of. The Titans will want to force turnovers at every opportunity, and they have the sort of defense that can do it. Look for the Tribes to sprinkle in a variety of reverses and play actions to keep the defense on their toes.
Man v Machine
Bad news for the computer as it missed another game, giving it 8 in total. I nailed all 4 for the second straight week giving me 11 overall.
This week I have : Angels by 35, Bulls by 27, Gators by 6, Tribes by 17
This week the computer has : Angels by 13, Bulls by 15, Lions by 2, Tribes by 11
“Do you think the BFL should be divided into 1st and 2nd divisions?”
Hmmm.. That’s definitely the trickiest question I’ve been asked all year. I am a fan. Not just of one team or one player but of all teams, and all players. I don’t like to see teams being pounded 50-0, the players who lose don’t like it and mostly the players who win don’t like it either.
Fact : The top 4 teams (Tribes, Angels, Titans, Bulls) are a combined 12-1 against the bottom 4 teams with 6 shutouts and an average score of 33-6.
You obviously can’t ask the better teams to not play so well, so what you need is the lower down teams to play better. Is this achieved by putting them in a second division? I don’t think so. It would stop most blowouts, that is true, but I don’t see how this would help the teams who’d end up in the second division.
And besides, you’re talking about the whole BFL, and I don’t think the FFL would really consider joining forces with our French speaking friends in the south. I may be wrong, I guess, but that’s my impression.
You could try to improve the level of coaching, football’s awareness level to attract more players, dare I suggest teams sometimes train together? Have a daycamp or something, not during the season, obviously. One comment I get a lot from players of many teams is “we don’t train much”, or “we never have enough people at training”, as if they think other teams do (as in, the Tribes). Trust me, in my 4 years there, I could count the number of times we ran full 11v11 with all seniors at training on one hand, and any coaches from that time will tell you about how frustrated I used to get at the quality of the trainings that we did have.
I bring it up often, but a reason I started trying to do this All-FFL team was to give people something to shoot for. Consider it my contribution to trying to raise everybody’s game. I played All-Star games and for Belgium and they were some of the best experiences I had playing football. They don’t exist any more and that’s sad because I know for myself I set out every season to be the best in the country in my position. Making a team like that was the confirmation I needed so I knew I had met my goal.
Guess I’m getting a bit off track here! The short answer, therefore, is no, because I don’t think you help the teams who would end up in division 2. If you’ve read through all that, you deserve a new section in the blog!
Picture of the week
Tribes LB/CB Van Marcke makes a tackle on Lions FB Grenson. This photo was taken by another ex-Tribes player, Lorenzo Janssens. Check out his other awesome photos and galleries here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/tribe98/collections/72157625897776800/
Not surprisingly, I’ll be in my second (or third, depends on how you look at it) home town of Izegem this week. And guess what people, it’s going to be nice weather again! Have a good game, everybody. Until next time.
* ‘The strongest team in the FFL’ is not a compliment. It means they have to hold all the other teams above them in the standings.