Both games this weekend feature teams that should be reasonably closely matched, so we can expect some good football. And not to forget that the second game in St Agatha was my pre-season #1 game not to miss this season. Let’s take a look at the games and talk about what might happen.
Weather forecast for Sunday
8°C, cloudy and possible rain
Antwerp Diamonds (0-1) vs Leuven Lions (1-1)
Last 5 years : Diamonds 4, Lions 2
Last match up : March 25, 2012 at Berendrecht – Diamonds 14, Lions 10
Leuven come into this game on a high after beating the Tribes 22-20 for their first win since February 2011, and will look to continue their improvement against a Diamonds team looking to make a better impression than they gave in their last game.
Antwerp peeled off just 80 offensive yards against the Bulls, averaging only 1.3 yards per rush throughout the game. The Lions so far this season are conceding 213 yards per game on the ground. Given that Antwerp have had the week off and hopefully gaining a couple of backfield players from sickness and injury, I’ll expect them to make big steps forward in their ground attack.
Leuven also lead the league in interceptions and turnover margin, so Antwerp would be wise to protect the football at all times. LB Jan Caelenberghe is having a whale of a season, leading the league in tackles, while S T’Jonck is the only player in the FFL to have more than 1 pass deflection (he has 4).
On the other side of the ball, the Diamonds defense played very well in their first game, but rotten field position really killed them. Although having said that, the Bulls had much more success in the air than on the ground, and Lions QB Baete sits currently second in the league in yards per completion with 17.1, which could be a good sign for Leuven.
The Diamonds offense needs a bit of spark. Should RB Smet return this week, he can provide that, otherwise it’ll again be up to the likes of TE Verhelst and QB Borra to get the job done.
Prediction : I’m in a fair bit of doubt here. Leuven have that winning feeling but have given up a lot of yards this season. It’s that typical “Diamonds are experienced but the other team is fast” kind of game. I like the match up, I think it’ll be a great game and I can see either team winning, but – Diamonds 20, Lions 14
Brussels Black Angels (1-0) vs Brussels Bulls (1-0)
Last 5 years : Angels 4, Bulls 1, Ties 1
Last match up : March 18, 2012 at Gent – Bulls 7, Black Angels 0
Talk about games that are hard to predict, this is a tricky one, no doubt about it.
The Bulls won the first game of the season against Antwerp, but the game was closer than the score suggested. The boys in blue and yellow scraped their way to just 112 yards of total offense, and gave away an amazing 119 yards in penalties.
Meanwhile, the Angels hammered Gent last weekend, and looked pretty good while doing it, QB Noel in his first career start looking like a veteran, and HB Banza causing chaos all over the field on both sides of the ball.
But the Black Angels are not as big as they have been in years past, and the Bulls aren’t the team you want to play when you’ve slimmed down. It should be an almighty struggle along the line of scrimmage, all game long. As long as the Angels offensive hogs can give their quarterback some time, the Bulls defensive backs will have to deal with the FFL leader in receptions and yards, WR Thomas Bouron.
Two things worry me about the Bulls. 1 – they played three different quarterbacks against the Diamonds, and I don’t know of any team that plays better this way as opposed to just having one starter. 2 – Last year’s MVP, Ben Acheson, rushed for just 7 yards on 7 attempts against the Diamonds.
Prediction : I’m going a bit against the trend and taking the Black Angels here. I like their balance of air and ground attack, and they can still definitely play defense. The Bulls have great special teams, and if they want to win this game, they’ll need some big plays out of this unit. Black Angels 21 – Bulls 14.
FFL Fantasy Football Challenge
After last week’s disaster I’m determined to come back strong, so I’ve chosen four players this week who all made the All-FFL team last year.
QB – Bram Baete (LEU)
HB – Rashidi Banza (BBA)
TE – Joris Verhelst (ANT)
DEF – Quentin Mees (BB)
QB – Kevin Noel (BBA)
RB – Ben Acheson (BB)
WR – Floris Vanhoof (LEU)
DEF – Sergio Borra (ANT)
Even if I lose this week, at least I won’t be taunted by Mr Rashidi that I should have picked him!
A word on the stats
I’m always happy when people correct me if something is wrong on the stats. Because I have to watch the games from so far away as opposed to the sideline, there are always going to be a few mistakes (the Black Angels numbers are particularly hard to see from distance). But keep the corrections coming, it’s all about accuracy.
I must say that it’s been great to see so many people out at the games so far, so I hope it continues this weekend when we should have two cracking tilts*. I’ll be up in the press box, keeping an eye on things from there. Until Sunday
‘A tilt’ is an Aussie word, in this case meaning ‘a game’.