29 – Thursday mailbag

The FFL blog is entering into unknown territory – the LFFAB and BFL! I feel just about as clueless as when I wrote the first blog all those months ago – I was just getting comfortable with all 8 FFL teams when suddenly 5 of them are replaced by 3 teams from the Southern Conference I haven’t seen in rather a long time, if at all (and when I did see them, I saw them only as a Tribes supporter, meaning I wasn’t really paying attention to them, no disrespect). Oh well, I’m just looking at it as another opportunity to see some good football, it’s just that these games have more meaning. It’s my favourite time of the year – win and move on or lose and go home!

Games this weekend

@ Charleroi

Brussels Bulls (#3 FFL) v Charleroi Cougars (#2 LFFAB)

@ Anderlecht

Brussels Black Angels (#2 FFL) v Louvain-la-Neuve Fighting Turtles (#3 LFFAB)

Computer rankings

I have made a full BFL wide version of the computer rankings, and here they are.

1 – West Flanders Tribes : 2887

2 – Brussels Tigers : 2884

3 – Brussels Black Angels : 2485

4 – Brussels Bulls : 2220

5 – Louvain-la-Neuve Fighting Turtles : 1627

6 – Charleroi Cougars : 1599

7 – Bornem Titans : 1293

8 – Antwerp Diamonds : 1005

9 – Liege Monarchs : 477

10 – Gent Gators : 465

11 – Limburg Shotguns : 461

12 – Leuven Lions : 235

13 – Andenne Bears : 100

The observant amongst you will have noticed that Gent have flipped over Limburg from the FFL standings. This is possible, although a bit tricky to explain just by words. You’ll either just have to trust me or ask me to explain in person.

Match predictions

Brussels Bulls v Charleroi Cougars

Alright, let’s get stuck in. I don’t have a lot of information about the Charleroi Cougars. I can tell you that they finished second in the LFFAB with a record of 4-2 (I know that the standings say 4-3 but as far as I understand the rules, because the Phoenix forfeited the season, the games Tournai played became null and void, as if they were never played). Their most important game of the year was their first, when the beat the Fighting Turtles 14-6 which was ultimately important for taking second place. They played the Tigers twice and got caned 48-0 and 47-0. The Cougars are mostly a running team with a dangerous halfback who gains good yards behind a big offensive line.

The Bulls haven’t played since April 17, when they pounded the Shotguns 53-0, so they should be as healthy as they can be at this point in the season. This is a team that’s only gotten better as the season has gone on, and that doesn’t bode well for Charleroi. The Bulls have dominated the line of scrimmage against virtually everybody this season, and if that continues on Sunday then they’ll be half way into the semi final.

In order for Charleroi to win this one, they’re going to have to be very tough inside and not miss their tackles, because the Bulls have a variety of backs who are all dangerous and can make you pay if you don’t take them down quickly. On offense they’ll want to grind it out, just as the Bulls do, and try to take time off the clock in order to limit the damage Brussels can do.

Match quality : 69.3%

Bulls chance to win : 66% – Cougars chance to win : 34%

Computer says : Bulls by 9. I say : Bulls by 24

Brussels Black Angels v Louvain-la-Neuve Fighting Turtles

The Turtles have plenty of experience, despite being a relatively new team to the BFL (this is their first playoff appearance – same applies for the Bulls actually), especially around the defensive line. Their quarterback plays kicker and by all accounts he’s an excellent punter as well. They play a rather balanced game, with dangerous receivers.

For the Black Angels, everything begins with the defense. In their 8 games this season, they have 6 shutouts (including the last 4 games), so the Turtles are going to have to figure out a way to get some points on the board. They’re also going to have to at least limit the Angels power running game and force some stops on third down. If they can keep it low scoring they can turn it into a battle of field position.

I’m sure the boys from Brussels will look to get on top early and force the Turtles into making more risky plays in order to stay in contact. They’ll do it with a heavy dose of the running game mixed in with a few passes of various distances so the Turtles can’t just jam 8 in the box and try to stop the ground game of the Angels.

Match quality : 47.4%

Black Angels chance to win : 70% – Fighting Turtles chance to win : 30%

Computer says : Angels by 12. I say : Angels by 19

By the way, “Match quality” is a stat that comes out of the TrueSkill rating system. A higher rating means the two teams are ranked close together, and are both good. A good way to think of it is as the probability of the game being a good, tight one.

Mailbag

Lots of people, from all over the place

“When is the All-FFL team being announced?”

Monday, May 30. However, I am also up for creating a little tension, and so there will be certain announcements to do with the team on Monday, May 16 and Monday, May 23. But I’m not telling yet what they will be!

Klaas Allosserie, Izegem

“I have one stupid question in mind and one rather good thought: 1. How on earth does Bill Russell deserve a statue in Boston??? And 2. Angels Old played against Angels New, that’s about as great as it gets!”

Bill Russell = overrated 😉 As for old vs new, that sounds like one hell of an idea!

Bram Wydooghe, Izegem

“Which substances do they screen in the doping tests? Is alcohol in the list? If that’s the case, I’m glad I never had to undergo one…”

I think I saw a list many years ago, don’t remember where. The thing was so damn long it was almost an encyclopaedia of chemicals! I don’t think alcohol could be classed as performance enhancing though. I can imagine an offensive lineman being flagged for false stars every play because he can’t stand still!

Outro

This has been the hardest column to write since the first one, and it’s cost me blood, sweat and tears to even get this far (OK, that was poetic license). Bottom line is that Wildcard round is a round full of wildcards, which I’m sure is fun if you’re playing but not fun if you’re writing. Did you know that no number 3 ranked team has qualified for the Belgian Bowl? Let’s see how many of them have the chance to be the first next weekend. Thanks go to my man in the world of LFFAB, Lawrence Jones!

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9 Responses to 29 – Thursday mailbag

  1. Chubby says:

    For a blog article that you struggled to write, it’s good 🙂
    As for the doping tests, we asked them when Bene was waiting to give his “donation”, alcohol apparently wasn’t on there. Sounded a bit weird but then again, drinking a few beers before the start of a game doesn’t seem like a very good idea 🙂

  2. Dennis ( Turtles) says:

    I just want to make some clarifications :

    It’s the second season for the turtles and the first playoff appearance.
    It’s not our QB who kick and punt but our TE.

    Thank you for the work. It’s always a pleasure to read this blog.
    See you sunday ! 🙂

  3. Chubby says:

    No surprises in the play-offs so far.
    Remaining are 3 teams from Brussels and the Tribes.

    We’ll have a very tough day in Izegem trying to defeat the Bulls.
    It will be exciting !

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