0327 – May 2

Mailbag

Remon Lavrijssen, Antwerp : “As for the food, The “brown-shack” next to the dressingrooms was the place to get burgers, beer and other snacks. Luckily someone pointed it out to me or I’d have had the same problem.”

Yeah, I guess I just missed it, I spent most of my time on the other side of the field. I didn’t see/hear/smell anything when I went across and I didn’t see anyone with food at all, plus people told me that there was nothing. So I’m sorry about the C’Mon man, but it must have been very well hidden.

Kevin Van Hauwaert, Bornem : “Here we go with the celebration thing again! I’m maybe the biggest opponent of this rule, but if it’s in the book, it’s in the book. We teach our guys not to go too crazy while scoring. But it is not an easy task in an emotional game that is football. I really think next season there has to be a distinction between taunting and celebrating (the dive in the endzone must be allowed!!).”

As I understand the rule, you can dive into the endzone providing it’s required to get into the endzone (as in, you’re trying to avoid a tackle). I hate the rule too, but it’s in and they’re going to flag it. Suggest everyone watches footage of Barry Sanders scoring touchdowns and watch how he handled himself – that man was all class.

Game preview

Brussels Bulls vs Gent Gators

Last five years : Bulls 3, Gators 2
Last match : April 22, 2012 in St Agatha – Bulls 31, Gators 7

Much like last year, the Bulls already own top spot in the playoffs with one game to spare, so the question becomes then will they rest players like they did last year? (You will recall that Antwerp upset the Bulls in the final game last year to qualify for the playoffs.) I guess that they will rest some players, or at least let the back-ups play more than they normally would, at any rate, so does this open the door for the Gators?

Well, perhaps. Gent were able to pound out the yards against the Diamonds but struggled when in the red zone, and against a physical Bulls defensive line I can see this being a problem again. They’ve got clearly the most impressive passing game going around, their TE Dufour has already broken the league record for receptions with 20, and the league’s all-purpose yards leader, WR Lezy, is just one behind with 19 (third in the league is actually Bulls WR Roudebush with 14). But we all know that the problem with passing is that it’s inconsistent, especially against a defense that’s tied for the league lead in sacks.

The Bulls are constantly able to run for 3-5 yards, keeping the chains moving until they’re able to hit a receiver for a big play, QB Njufom clearly leads the league in yards per attempt (8.9) and yards per completion (19.7), not to mention quarterback rating (77.2).

Computer says : Bulls by 32
I say : I don’t think the Bulls will let themselves be so surprised like they were last year, and they’ll get the job done on the way to a perfect regular season. Bulls by 21

Antwerp Diamonds vs Izegem Tribes

Last five years : Tribes 6, Diamonds 0, Ties 1
Last match : April 1, 2012 in Anderlecht – Diamonds 7, Tribes 7

The old rivals meet again. If ever there was going to be a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust game, then this is it (though having said that, the game is to be played on the main field in Izegem, so hopefully there won’t be much dust to be seen). These two teams are ranked last and second last in pass yards, and are second and third in rush yards.

The quarterbacks, Wauters for the Diamonds and Huysman for the Tribes are still new at the position, and both are perhaps better runners than passers. However it would be a mistake to think that they can’t throw – but what it really comes down to is game management for these guys. Don’t try to do too much, just protect the ball and keep the chains moving.

The Tribes defense has given up a lot of yards (240 – last in the league) but play considerably better on third down (23% – 3rd in the league), so their key is putting the Diamonds in third and long situations, and letting LB Vanmarcke do what he does – tackle people.
It’s actually a very similar gameplan for the Diamonds. They know that the Tribes rush a lot, and they’ll want to do a better job stopping it than they did against the Gators.

I say this every time when I expect a close game, that special teams can make a difference. CB Humphrey showed last week against the Black Angels that he’s extremely dangerous with the ball in hand.

Computer says : Diamonds by 2
I say : I disagree, computer. I think the speed of the Tribes special teams can really make a difference, and dare I suggest that home field advantage could play a part? Tribes by 3

Brussels Black Angels vs Puurs Titans

Last five years : Black Angels 6, Titans 0
Last match : March 25, 2012 in Ostend – Black Angels 29, Titans 12

Now this is an interesting matchup, the battle for second place – two of the toughest teams out there face off to see who gets a home game in Wildcard Weekend and faces the Liege Monarchs, while the loser (likely, but not certainly – see the Playoff Scenario section underneath for details) has to play the Fighting Turtles away.

I think the key matchup in this game is easy to find. The Titans lead the league in rushing (185 yards per game). The Black Angels lead the league in run defense (34 yards per game). Something has gotta give.

Angels QB Noel is quietly having a nice season, leading the league in touchdown passes (6) and second in passing yards, so although Brussels are known as a ground and pound team, they can take to the air if required – I like their balance.

Titans LBs Meersmans and Lagae might be the most well known defenders in the league, but keep your eyes on Angels LB Dosunmu as well, not just a great tackler but really has a nose for the football too. But I’m sure we’ll be having a discussion about these guys when we talk Defensive MVP in a few weeks time.
The other thing that Lagae brings to a game is his leg – he’s one of the leaders in punt average and kickoff average, and in a game like this, every yard counts.

Computer says : Black Angels by 5
I say : I think the Angels defense can find a way to get the job done. It won’t be easy though, because the Titans have multiple backs who can hurt you. Also I think that the Angels can get more done in the air than the Titans can. Black Angels by 7

Playoff scenarios

The result of Bulls vs Gators isn’t relevant to any playoff scenarios so we can ignore it here.

– If the Titans win : The Titans are in the playoffs, and will have the number two seed, the Black Angels number three. Antwerp are eliminated from the playoffs

– If the Black Angels and Tribes win : The Diamonds are eliminated. Black Angels will finish second and Titans clinch third place

– If the Black Angels and Diamonds win : The Black Angels finish second. Puurs and Antwerp are still alive for the final spot in the playoffs

– If the Titans and Black Angels tie : Antwerp are eliminated but the seeding of the Titans and Angels isn’t certain yet

Bottom line : Antwerp must win against Izegem. But if Puurs beat Brussels, then the Diamonds are eliminated anyway.

FFL Fantasy Football Challenge

So this is it, the final teams for the Challenge.

Team Dale

QB – Noel (BBA – 7)
RB – Acheson (BB – 3)
WR – Lezy (GNT – 5)
DEF – K Meersmans (PUU – 1)

Team Klaas

QB – Killens (GNT – 2)
RB – Lagae (PUU – 8)
WR – Roudebush (BB – 4)
DEF – Humphrey (IZE – 6)

Outro

Thankfully, someone came foward to take the stats of the Titans vs Black Angels game. His name is David Corijn, a player for the Fighting Turtles. Yes, those guys who play in the LFFAB. You may have noticed that this is the FFL Blog. Do you guys get my point?
If you see David at the football, taking the stats – buy the man a beer, he deserves it.

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