Another exciting round of games in the books-- except for DVY @ FAR, really tragic we couldn't see RB Donaldson suit up there. Concussions are no joke I guess...
Shreveport at Durham (-6) - GM Raven Hawk and the SHR front office are wizards. After losing to BKN 3-34 in the regular season, the Pride came out swinging and had young QB Woodford seeing ghosts. 4 interceptions! Talk about playoff jitters... Once they started getting through the BKN offensive line, the Orange and Black was incredibly effective at baiting bad throws from the Brawlers. Those turnovers (and pick six) would be key as the BKN defense put the clamps on RB Russell and SHR's receivers.
DUR had a bit of a scare against OMA last week. The Bulldogs struggled to make up the electric talent that is WR Hindman and QB Ortiz's incompletions were passes I think he would've caught. Still, WR Dolfinger was able to step up and be the hero with a 52 yard catch and run TD that put DUR on top. The stout defense (that almost NEVER uses double teams) was able to limit the damage by WR Stone, but WR Dole and TE Duran weren't going to be stopped.
The Bulldogs enjoyed regular season success against the Pride with a late burst of offense breaking the game open in the fourth quarter. Before that though, it was a tightly contested battle between two excellent teams. Injuries may play a part here as WR Hindman and DE Horton will be missing for DUR. OMA looked far less pressured in the second half after DE Horton went to the locker room and I think DUR will be missing that veteran presence on the field (though he will be on the sidelines).
I feel like 6 points is a bit much to be giving up here so I'll take SHR +6, expecting DUR to win though, probably on one big fourth quarter play if history is any indication... DUR 27-24.
Las Vegas at Fargo (-3) - I wouldn't think any team that kicked 5 field goals would have beaten the Kodiaks, but that's what the Rounders did last week. A normally deadly red zone offense got stopped multiple times by an active defensive unit that laid it all on the field. Despite the heroic efforts of LB Mannix and CB Lincoln, ALA would be outdone by the front 7 of LVS. At least Jimmy didn't get injured!
Looking forward to this week's matchup, I must favor the Sodbusters. Week 3 saw this line set at LVS -3 and that was with FAR missing LB Almeda and Sutter while LVS still had CB Strzelczyk and RB Gmerek and we know how that went! ALA's WR Farley was able to exploit a secondary missing one of their better cover corners and FAR WR Crabtree will likely see the same success. He caught 10 balls for 117 yards and two TDs even though the LVS DEs hammered QB Woodard. They'll have to do the same and then some this week.
We might look back on this season and think "Man, the Sodbusters really got lucky with those injuries to their opponents," but give credit to Fargo for getting here again. I'll lay the points with the Sodbusters and look forward to backing them against DUR in the CFL Bowl: FAR wins this one 30-24.
Good luck everyone!
Gotta say, the Pride really pull out all the stops when they need to... never would've expected the Attack to go down like that! QB Barker didn't look like a choker in the regular season but maybe he just wasn't ready for the playoffs.
All of these semifinal games have exciting angles and great matchups, but I think two have value...
Death Valley at Fargo (-8) - RB Donaldson didn't break RB Fulton's regular season rushing record thanks to CLE and DET stonewalling DVY's ground game, but he got back to business against ELP. In spite of QB Buckley's two interceptions, the Copperheads led wire to wire and claimed an impressive win. The cost might have been a second round exit though, as RB Donaldson will miss the remainder of the playoffs after LB Richardson brought the wood.
The Sodbusters have have the upper hand in this matchup-- 4-1 since 2056-- but I'm reminded of an old saying, "Good teams win, great teams cover." FAR has struggled at times to cover, going 7-9 ATS (many of these coming late in the season against low energy teams) with a straight up record of 12-4. Still, they're a dominant offensive team led by the holy trinity of QB Woodard, RB Holzer, and WR Crabtree. Questionable defensive playcalling and unfortunate turnovers has at times required the offense to pick up the slack, but even with 2 interceptions and 1 fumble they beat DVY 23-9 in week 13.
It won't get any better for DVY missing their best player. The line in week 13 was FAR-5 and I know RB Donaldson is worth more than 3 points here. I'll lay 8 in what should be the Sodbusters free pass to the Conference Championships. FAR wins 33-20.
Alaska at Las Vegas (-1) - Injuries have not been kind to the Ring of Fire. The Rounders have had some time to adjust to life without RB Gmerek and CB Strzelczyk but this one might be a bridge too far. There's some bad blood here and I look forward to the fireworks.
QB Marischen leads the Kodiaks to yet another playoffs appearance and looks to be in top form. Jimmy's efficiency has dropped a bit this season as WR Farley was re-integrated into the offense and as the CBs they've faced become more and more athletic, but he finished the season with 25 TDs to just 1 INT which simply hasn't been done. (Yes, SAO's QB Springer had 1 INT in 2046 but he didn't play the full season.)
LVS has won the last 4 times these teams met and ended QB Marischen's season early twice(!) in 2057 and 2059. This pass rush is a modern day cheat code in the CFL and an efficient offense backing it up leads to dynastic numbers. But if there's any vulnerability here, it will be that rookie RB Rayburn simply doesn't have the gravity that RB Gmerek does-- before the injury, defenses couldn't cheat away from the run.
The H2H doesn't look great but if there's any time to back the Kodiaks in this matchup, it's today. QB Marischen will have a hell of a time getting away from DEs Omar and Anagnostis but he held up encouragingly well against BKN and LAS. ALA defeats their demons and wins this one 22-17.
Omaha at Durham (-4) - Bonus pick! I'm done betting against DUR, lay the points and enjoy the free money. The Bulldogs roll on, 27-20.
Good luck everyone!
Time for the playoffs! The wildcard matchups don't look particularly exciting... Boise City without QB Doser and Shreveport with whoever they want to start at QB probably don't have a chance. But there are two games I do llike...
El Paso (-1) at Death Valley - From the Western conference, the first game I'll be capping pits the two 10-6 teams and a small spread but there's more than meets the eye here.
The Copperheads fired off 3 wins in a row and got the final stamps with a win against the Wolfpack but this team isn't passing any eye tests. RB Donaldson is still a monster, but dud games against CLE and DET showed that he could be stopped. Easier said than done of course, as both of these teams have excellent defensive fronts anchored by huge tackles and fast linebackers. Luckily for him, the Rockets don't have those tools-- yes NT Brennan can be a monster but he's been banged up more often than not and looks questionable for this game.
The Rockets dropped 3 of their last 4 games and limp into the playoffs as a wildcard. I think 12-4 was certainly within reach all things considered, but the suspect defense was exposed time and time again. QB Sullivan will need to do most of the heavy lifting and put points on the board to outpace a slow and methodical gameplan from DVY. Since the Copperheads don't really have strong defenders in the middle, expect WR Rodriguez and TE McKenzie to be the primary targets attacking the safeties.
I'll always favor the more team with the more repeatable game plan, so DVY catching one point seems good to me. I like RB Donaldson to have a strong outing and for the Copperheads to win the TOP battle and keep the ball away from an offense that can explode with points. DVY 26-20.
Omaha (-1) at Kansas City - The Storm missed the playoffs last year but bounced back in a big way in 2060. GM ternvig surrounded QB Grueneich with some nice weapons in the offseason and tossed the tattered remains of their run game into the garbage. Grueneich's usage is tops in the league-- the Storm have replaced a big chunk of their run plays with screens and short routes-- and the team is top 10 in just about every passing metric. Yes, they may have benefited from what looks to be a rather easy schedule in hindsight, but they did beat DUR and DVY and should not be underestimated.
The Arrowheads finished 11-5 but play on the road thanks to the DUR bogeyman. GM jjsmitty made all the right moves in the offseason and improved across the board. Rookie RB Johnstone provides reliable yardage while shifts in the defense with LB Nordland brought a historically poor run stopping defense into the top 10. A focus on the secondary helping against the run has other metrics dipping slightly, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with the team. They're just in a division with a monster and a win here brings them closer to a rematch with the Bulldogs.
WR Dole will be healthy for this tilt and I don't think anyone on KCY can really keep up. Double teams are necessary in my mind, but then TE Duran and WR Stone can just go off. RB Johnstone may also see a heavy workload as keeping the ball away from QB Grueneich will be a priority. The Storm found little success in their week 4 meeting and I fear it will be a one-sided affair again: OMA 32-20.
Good luck everyone!
CFL Power Ranking based on FFF ranking formulas and system.
Congratulations Durham and GM Steel for winning the top spot of the 2060 CFL Power Rankings
Best possible score: 140pts
Worst possible score: - 130pts
Explanation of the ratings:
For those newcomers to the CFL and unfamiliar with the CFL Power Ranking/FFF rankings, these are based strictly on a formula using stats pulled straight from the game, ie wins and losses, Points for and against, turnover margin, in-game power rankings and strength of schedule. I only input the data into my spreadsheet, ie I have no power over the outcome. They are relative rankings, basically comparing your team stats to the rest of the league. They are not THE definitive rankings, at the end of the season the best team is winner of the CFL Bowl, not the team ranked #1 in the rankings. The main point is just to spark off discussion and add to the league in general.
It's getting hard to make that money... 1/3 last week, 30/42 on the season.
Interesting to see a team has finally stopped DVY's RB Donaldson but CLE has always been one of the best run stopping defenses in the league so it might not be something other teams can look to replicate.
Tennessee at Shreveport (-5) - It seems like every season the second meeting of these two teams shapes the playoffs for the Eastern division and I've probably talked this matchup to death. No matter who is on what team, this is a pure 50/50 and I'm always taking the underdog and the points. Give me TEN to win this slop fest with some individual brilliance from QB Porto: TEN 27-20.
Durham (-2) at Omaha - There's a world where OMA doesn't make the playoffs and I think that starts with another loss to DUR. The Bulldogs ought to be cruising towards the playoffs and I think there might actually be value on the Arrowheads getting WR Dole back. Keep an eye out for any last minute healthy scratches on the DUR side before placing a bet, but at these odds I'll take the Arrowheads at home: 30-28.
Los Angeles (-8) at Honolulu - HON's dreams of a repeat are dead, but they can play the spoiler for an Outlaws team in the WC hunt. A few things need to break their way, but this should be an easy win at least. HON is preparing for the worst with QB Fryday out with a possible career ending injury and we saw three different QBs play in the last three weeks. The defense is still alive and kicking, but with no reliable way to put points on the board, I'm going to lay the 8 points. The Outlaws should pull away over the course of 4 quarters: 30-14.
Good luck everyone!