So here we are with just four games left in the FFL regular season. Two Flemish teams (Tribes and Angels) have punched their playoff ticket, and with one more victory, the Tribes will win their sixth straight Flemish Championship, but also the Bulls would clinch the third and final spot without playing.
Meanwhile down south, it’ll be the Brussels Tigers, Charleroi Cougars and Louvain-la-Neuve Fighting Turtles representing the LFFAB in the playoffs. Likely first round match ups are Turtles @ Black Angels and Bulls @ Cougars, but we’ll have more clarity on that after this weekend. Funny that the LFFAB is already finished so far ahead of the playoffs.
Games this weekend
@ Anderlecht – 12:00 – Bornem Titans v West Flanders Tribes
Since 2000 : Tribes 7, Titans 0
Last match : April 17, 2011 – @ Izegem – Tribes 31, Titans 14
I had big hopes for the Titans this season, and I’d kind of predicted this game to be a preview of the Belgian Bowl, which is now rather unlikely at best. All teams have injuries but the Titans have been pounded in that area, however I just feel like they haven’t clicked yet. To me they seem to give up too many big plays and not make enough themselves, I mean that they’re a good, solid, workmanlike team but not explosive, despite the fact that they’ve got some rather dangerous offensive threats.
Take their game two weeks ago against the Tribes as an example. They played well to lead early after giving up a kick return touchdown, but in the second half they gave up yards on the ground in chunks, and as well as that, the Tribes averaged 15.3 yards per catch, the Titans just 9.4. They’ve somehow got to get WR Vermeir the ball so he can make things happen, be it on a reverse or a screen pass or something.
The Titans defense played well against the run in the first half but got blown out by RB George in the second, averaging 11.8 yards per carry after half time two weeks ago, and I don’t need to tell you that that’s not how you win football games. I know that he’s really hard to stop but Titans will have to do a better job of containing both him and QB Vermaut on the ground – the two combined for 212 of the Tribes 231 yards on the ground in the last game.
I expect to see the Tribes just doing what they usually do – a balanced offense mixed with a hard nosed defense led by LBs Jamin, Stepman and DeGrendele. Look for the Tribes to try and bust this one open early with long passes, they just missed on a few last time and I bet they like their chances.
@ Anderlecht – 15:00 – Brussels Black Angels v Limburg Shotguns
Since 2000 : Black Angels 1, Shotguns 0
Last match : May 2, 2011 – @ Izegem – Black Angels 33, Shotguns 0
The Shotguns started the season pretty well but have cooled off the last few weeks, including being mauled 53-0 by the Bulls two weeks ago. Overall their defense is ranked last, giving up 26.8 points per game, and this week they’re up against the number one ranked defense, the Black Angels who conceed just 3.7 per contest.
Once again they’ll be relying on their spread passing game to cause some confusion in the Angels secondary, but what they have to do most of all is to protect their quarterback, as the Angels love to bring pressure around the outsides. QB Saffo is going to have to make good reads and get rid of the ball quickly, and then it’ll be up to the Shotguns receivers to make plays, although he can definitely gain yards on the ground as well if he breaks containment.
As for the Shotguns defense, they’re going to have to make all of their tackles, because you can’t go around giving FB Banza and RB Trouillez extra yards and expect to be competitive. The Angels are known for their bruising running game but don’t forget about their underrated passing game – they can still make things happen in the air.
I’ll be interested to see if the Shotguns are able to mount anything at all on the ground. One comment I hear a lot about them is that they’re too one-dimensional.
Man v Machine
The computer has : Tribes by 15 and Angels by 25
I have : Tribes by 21 and Angels by 38
OK, here’s one I promised a few guys.
It was my first training in Ostend with the Tribes and some big dude (Titi) was saying a whole lot of stuff to me I didn’t understand (I hardly spoke Dutch at all when I started playing, let alone West-Flemish). After he’d left another big guy (Pizza) came up to me and said, “The next time he says something like that to you, you say ‘houd een keer je mulle’ “. So, later on Titi said something else to me and I said it. He stopped, smiled, slapped me on the back and said “That’s what I like to hear!”. Later on I asked someone what it actually meant!
I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend’s games. I’m interested to see what the Titans learnt from their first game against the Tribes, and how the Black Angels deal with the very different offense of the Shotguns.
I talked to my Dad on the weekend and he gave me another great Dad football quote. You can use it at virtually any time, no matter if what happened was good or bad -“It was definitely good for football”*. Until next time
* Say you just threw a pick-six, you can say “Doesn’t matter about that, it was definitely good for football”.