So the big day is almost here. Seems like the weather is going to agree too (touch wood) so I hope to see you all in Ostend for the game.
Belgian Bowl XXV preview : Antwerp Diamonds v Brussels Tigers
Poll results :
Antwerp Diamonds : 42%
Brussels Tigers : 58%
Taking a “last second win” as a 3 point victory, a “normal win” as a 10 point victory and a “blowout” as a 20 point victory, your average predicted margin of victory was therefore the Tigers by 4.
As usual, I’m going to take the FFL side of things and talk about what the Diamonds are going to have to do in order to take the trophy back to Berendrecht.
The Diamonds can’t afford turnovers. They don’t take a lot of risks on offense in general, but I think it would be fair to say that they’ll have to try a few things against the Tigers that they otherwise might not. Whatever these plays might be, they can’t result in the opponents ending up with the football. Turnover margin is in general a very good indicator as to who’s going to win football games, and in a final, where players get a bit tight at times, it’s even more important.
Antwerp missed two field goals, dropped a two point conversion and had another conversion picked off against the Bulls. Those are 10 points (12 if you include the fact that the second two-point conversion was returned all the way for two points for the Bulls) that the Diamonds could have had but didn’t. They ended up winning a nail-biter 12-9, when if those things had gone their way, they’d have won the game comfortably 22-7. Finishing drives with tochdowns instead of field goal attempts will be high on the Diamonds’ list of things to do. They can’t afford to leave points on the field, as the Tigers are clearly capable of scoring enough points to win football games on their own.
In any game, each defense will get a few chances to make an interception. It’s going to be up to the Diamonds defensive backs to grab hold of those opportunities (and the ball) when they come.
The other part of this is that the Diamonds can’t afford to give the Tigers extra opportunities by giving away penalties.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Antwerp need to make sure that they don’t beat themselves through poor discipline and not taking advantage of the situations that arise.
This stems partly from turnovers, and partly from the kicking and return game. A couple of nice blocks on a kick return take an ordinary return and turn it into a good one. Each 10 yards further that a punt goes is an extra first down that the opponents need to make in order to score. The Tigers have a great punter, and it’ll be up to the Diamonds to counter that both with their own punter, and with their punt return.
The wind in Ostend is always stronger than everywhere else, not just affecting the ball after it has been kicked, but even as the ball is falling from the punters’ hand to his foot. Good technique will be required to avoid shanking the ball sideways.
TE/KR Joris Verhelst. Gets open when he needs to but must take advantage of every single ball he sees.
S Joshua Vanderaa. Will be required to help against the Tigers running game but can’t forget about the pass.
QB/LB Sergio Borra. Must avoid turnovers on the offensive side of the ball while preferably causing fumbles while playing defense. The Diamonds go as Sergio goes – fortunately for Antwerp, he was the FFL Iron Man MVP this season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Tigers like to run the football and the Tribes had no answer for that, so let’s see how the Diamonds go about stuffing the rushing game of Brussels. It’s going to take all their physicality, and yet they’re going to have to walk a very fine line because too many penalties will kill Antwerp.
Each week I pick against the Diamonds, and each week they make me look like an idiot. Tigers by 10.
There are really two things that I’m looking forward to on saturday. 1 – Great football on the field. 2 – The crowd making plenty of noise. Let’s make a great day of it. Until then