BAFA National League Roundup – Week 13

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Business end of the season now with a few teams completing their season (for better or worse) and most teams with just one 2 games left to go. Some changes at the top of some divisions which will course affect seedings as we head straight for the playoffs.

Let’s see what happened in week 13, where yes, it was unlucky for some:

Prem North

Leicester Falcons 6 -38 Manchester Titans
Merseyside Nighthawks 6 – 30 Tamworth Phoenix

In the battle at the top, the Tamworth Phoenix readily dispatched the Merseyside Nighthawks 30-6 to take control of the division and put themselves in pole position as a #1 seed for the postseason.

Manchester Titans returned to the Titans many will recognise after their win away to the Leicester Falcons, winning 38-6.

Next week sees the Titans host the Phoenix where Manchester with a win, would top the division at the death with the H2H record (don’t forget to check out podcast with Sam Bloomfield the Manchester Titans QB from when they defeated the Titans!). Certainly a nailbiter in store there! Tamworth will be looking for retribution from earlier in the season when the Titans handed Tamworth their first lost in over 35 regular season games stretching over a few years!

At the bottom, we have a 3 way tie going in to the final week. Any 1 from Edinburgh, Sheffield or Leicester could face the drop. Edinburgh face Leicester so the winner will be safe (outside chance of a tie? Surely not!), whereas Sheffield face Merseyside so look up against it. Get your tiebreaker rules out.

Prem South

London Warriors 58 – 0 London Olympians
London Blitz 42 – 0 Kent Exiles
Bristol Aztecs 30 – 0 Farnham Knights

Three fixtures, three home wins as the London Warriors do what they do best: Post shutouts or 50 burgers. This week was no different, doing both in the pummelling win over the Olympians 58-0. Similar theme throughout the division where were big wins for the Blitz and Aztecs at home, both teams posting shutouts too.

Warriors will be the #1 seed from the South and will play the loser of the Tamworth/Manchester game. London Blitz are confirmed as the #2 seed from the south and will face the winner of the same game.

Down in the basement, Farnham need to beat the Kent Exiles to have any chances of survival otherwise it’s the trap door for them. They have the H2H after their win vs the Exiles earlier in the season so a nervy game in prospect there.

NFC 1 North

East Kilbride Pirates 0 – 5 Northumberland Vikings
Glasgow Tigers 40 – 0 Gateshead Senators

Huge result in East Kilbride saw in scoreless until the 4th qtr. More flags in this game than outside European Parliament in Brussels saw some good drives being instantly killed with holding penalties (East Kilbride) and some unsportsmanlike conduct calls (Northumberland).

Tensions were running high throughout this slugfest and with the way the standing were prior to the game, EK Pirates could have afforded a loss by less than three points. Funny that the first score should be a safety being conceded by them! The Vikings defence was the real MVP here especially Connor Joyce who was immense. The Vikings showin why that defence has only conceded 31 points all season. Multiple times the Pirates got inside the redzone but came away with nothing. On offence, the Vikings then were able to muster a field goal which will give them the H2H vs the Pirates BUT there is a massive game next week where Aberdeen come down to Northumberland where a win for the Vikings will see them take the division crown from under the noses of the Pirates. Tense stuff.

A real treat that this game was a live stream too.

Hoping to catch one of the Vikings coaching staff on the podcast later this week! Eyes peeled for that.

Elsewhere in the division, the Glasgow Tigers put a whooping on the Gateshead Senators 40-0 which confirms Gateshead’s winless season, going 0-10 and a relegation to NFC 2 North for next year.

NFC 1 South

Chester Romans 60 – 0 Doncaster Mustangs
Sandwell Steelers 42 – 0 Shropshire Revolution

More shutouts and 50 burgers here with Chester getting the 50 burger and the shutout vs Doncaster and Sandwell continuing their unbeaten season with a 42-0 win over Shropshire. Title already confirmed for Sandwell Steelers, they just keep on rolling into the postseason.

Like Gateshead, Doncaster have a0-10 season confirmed and they’ll be falling through the trap door for 2020.

SFC 1 Central

Berkshire Renegades 6 – 37 Solent Thrashers
Oxford Saints 18 – 55 Sussex Thunder

Solent Thrashers are confirmed division winners after their 37-6 win over Berkshire Renegades and their final fixture vs Hertfordshire is no longer the winner takes all it could have been. Sussex Thunder secured a 55-18 win over the Oxford Saints.

Both the Berkshire Renegades and the Oxford Saints have away trips on final gameday weekend with both looking nervously at the other game to see what’s going on.

A win for Berkshire sees them safe, whereas defeat would require a defeat by Oxford to stay. Oxford need to better Berkshire’s result to stay up.

SFC 1 East

Bury Saints 30 – 12 London Hornets
Ouse Valley Eagles 24 – 14 Colchester Gladiators

A costly loss for the London Hornets away to the Bury Saints 30-12 sees the Cambridgeshire Cats sit in the driving seat for the division title. Cambridgeshire just need to defeat the bottom placed Colchester Gladiators next week to secure the title. A loss for the Gladiators will see them relegated.

NFC 2 North

Carlisle Sentinels A – W Dumfries Hunters (Away walkover)

No fixtures this week due to Carlisle forfeiting earlier in the year so we wait for next week where Dumfries need to beat Clyde valley to try and peg them back in the race for top spot.

(PS: Inverclyde Goliaths travelled to Dunfermline as the Dunfermline kings got their associate process off and running. The Goliaths ran out 38-0 winners, but I am sure the Goliaths will remember how hard they were pushed by a team that could potentially be facing them next season. More to follow on that.)

NFC 2 Central

Leeds Bobcats 6 – 36 Halton Spartans
Morecambe Bay Storm 12 – 28 Knottingley Raiders

In a battle at the top, the Halton Spartans defeated the Leeds Bobcats 36-6 to take the division crown with a game to go. These two teams head and shoulders above the rest but Halton winning the 2 H2H games are the difference this season.

Furness Phantoms and Morecambe Bay Storm will be trying to win their last game in 2 weeks time to avoid the wooden spoon in that division.

NFC 2 South

Humber Warhawks 42 – 20 Crewe Railroaders

Just the 1 fixture where the Humber Warhawks secured their 3rd win of the season over the Crewe Railroaders who are still to find a win this season and are now confirmed bottom with 2 games to go. Shoutout to the Social Media guy for Humber, some very entertaining stuff on there (Twitter:@humberwarhawks).

The Birmingham Bulls have that division sewn up.

SFC 2 West

Torbay Trojans 52 – 20 Cornish Sharks
Worcestershire Black Knights 0 – 47 Bristol Apache

Torbay Trojans keep the heat on South Wales Warriors after a convincing 52-20 win over the Cornish Sharks. The Bristol Apache kept themselves on the heels too with a 47-0 victory over bottom placed Worcestershire Black Knights. Realistically, both Torbay and Bristol will need a slip up for South Wales to see the pinnacle of the division. South Wales Warriors face the Cornish Sharks in what will seemingly be a straight forward assignment but with the finish line in sight, who knows?

SFC 2 South

Bournemouth Bobcats 52 – 0 Hastings Conquerors
Jurassic Coast Raptors 16 – 68 London Blitz B

London Blitz B do their best London Blitz A impression as they stomp all over the Jurassic Coast Raptors. With that win, take the division title.

A check in on Hastings in their quest to score a point will go on to next week after being shutout to the Bournemouth Bobcats 52-0. Just 2 games left to try and get a point on the board.

SFC 2 East

East Kent Mavericks 14 – 23 Essex Spartans

Just the 1 fixture this week saw one of the closer games and it was still a 2 score game. (not many close ones this week up and down the country) the Essex Spartans win away from home at the East Kent Mavericks 14-23. The Spartans keep their 100% in tact with 3 left to play there down in the South East of England.

I wonder how the new A14 Road project is getting on, I have to go down that way in August…

So there’s your review of week 13. Hope you enjoyed it. In the battle between the 50 burgers and the shutouts, the shutouts win 9-6 (Field Goal game!). Just the 1 game that finished within 1 score which isn’t perhaps the best but who knows, maybe there’ll be more next week, you’ll have to wait and see.

For the latest standings in table view, because let’s be honest, we love looking at tables (that’s why IKEA exists!) visit http://dblcoverage.com/adult/bafa-nl-adult-standings/ .

Don’t forget to keep your eyes out for some Britball podcasts this week too!

Back next week!

Worst to First Candidates

By Andy Goddard (@godsy1985) – 16th June

The National Football League is meant to be one of parity (tell that to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots). In 2018 the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts all reached the playoffs after having losing records in 2017. It is one of the great things about the NFL, the possibility of going from being the worst team to lifting the Lombardi trophy is real. So who are our candidates this year? Let’s look at four teams that finished at the bottom of their respective divisions.

New York Giants

The Giants had an awful 2018 season with a 5-11 record but the emergence of Saquon Barkley was a big plus with his 1307 rushing yards and 721 receiving yards. The play of Eli Manning was much maligned but when you look at the stats, he may not have been as poor as advertised. Eli’s QB rating was 92.4 which was the forth best of his career and his 66% completion ratio (for 4,299 yards) was the highest of his career. (http://www.nfl.com/player/elimanning/2505996/careerstats). There is no doubt that Manning has lost some mobility though. He was sacked 47 times in the 2018 season (a career high) and the offensive line needs some attention but it is fully expect that the Giants will be a run heavy team in 2019. Barkley is primed for another phenomenal season and with the addition of Golden Tate at wide receiver they still have weapons even without Beckham Jr. In 2018, the Giants lost eight games by 7 points or less and lost their final two games of the season by just a single point! When you look at their 2018 season in more detail, they weren’t far away from a 9-7 record which could have seen them reach the playoffs!

The Giants also have two big advantages in 2019. Their strength of schedule is ranked as the 27th most difficult and the NFC East is wide open. Whilst the Philadelphia Eagles should improve (as long as Wentz stays healthy), the Dallas Cowboys may go backwards and the Washington Redskins are potentially starting a rookie quarterback. If they can upgrade the pass rush (which ranked 30th in sacks) they should have a great shot at reaching the playoffs in 2019!

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have a talented roster that have been under-utilised for years but with new head coach Zac Taylor now at the helm, could the Bengals improve of their 6-10 record in what is normally a tough division? The AFC North has lost a huge amount of talent from the Pittsburgh Steelers, has gained a mass of talent in Cleveland and has a seemingly sketchy playbook and an ageing defence in Baltimore. There doesn’t appear to be a clear favourite in the division and this may open the field up for the Bengals to surprise a few people. For this to happen the Bengals will need to improve massively on what was one the weakest defences (yardage wise) in NFL history, ranking fifth all time in yards allowed (https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny.fcgi?id=xNW3M). Cincinnati will be hoping that the coaching change can address this situation. There is plenty of talent of the offensive side of the ball with the serviceable Andy Dalton throwing to A. J.  Green, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert as well as having Joe Mixon in the backfield, they seem to have a balanced attack if it can be exploited to its full potential. 

With the AFC North in a stage of transition its very easy to see the Bengals finishing at the top of the pile, however, it is also very easy to see them finishing in last place once again!

New York Jets

The New England Patriots may have won the AFC East in 16 out of the last 18 seasons but they can’t win forever, can they? Coming off of a 4-12 season, Adam Gase is now the head coach (replacing Todd Bowles) and the team have made some great moves in both free agency and the draft. Le’Veon Bell is a stellar running back with his patient style but questions remain over whether sitting out the whole of last season will have impacted him in any way. Then there is second year QB Sam Darnold who, at times last season, looked very much like the franchise player that the Jets needed. Darnold did have his struggles (as most first year QB’s do) but if he does make the transition to the second year, similar to that of Mitch Trubisky at the Bears, the Jets are well primed to cause teams problems. With the drafting of Alabamas Quinnen Williams (defensive tackle) ‘Gang Green’ may have found a run blocker to play at nose tackle in a 3-4 defence that’s Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams is reportedly staying with.

The New York Jets also have one of the easiest schedules in 2019, tied at 27th. The only problem here is that they are tied with the New England Patriots (https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/2019-nfl-strength-of-schedule-patriots-and-redskins-have-it-easiest-raiders-face-roughest-ride/). Winning the AFC East maybe very difficult in 2019 but it wasn’t long ago that the Jets went into Foxboro for a divisional playoff game and came out victorious. The 2019 season may be slightly too early but the Jets are building a strong team for the future and it would not surprise me to see them in the playoffs in 2019.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags plummeted after reaching the 2017 AFC Championship Game finishing last season with a 5-11 record. However, there is no last-place team that is better equipped to rebound. They still have a talented defence that finished fifth in the NFL in 2018 (http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?tabSeq=2&defensiveStatisticCategory=GAME_STATS&conference=ALL&role=OPP&season=2018&seasonType=REG&d-447263-s=TOTAL_YARDS_GAME_AVG&d-447263-o=1&d-447263-n=1) and they have upgraded where they needed it most, quarterback! For the last two seasons many people have wondered what this team could be with more functionality at QB. Nick Foles has shown that he can produce on the biggest stage and the 2017 Super Bowl MVP can also call on running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette had a poor 2018 season that was hampered by injury, suspension, and by his own admission, being in ‘sub-optimal shape’. With a healthier o-line and improvement in fitness, the LSU man will need to produce with more consistency for the Jaguars to have a chance. 

Head coach, Doug Marrone has also had a big change up of his coaching staff with 8 coaches either joining the Jags or being promoted from within (https://www.jaguars.com/news/official-defilippo-named-oc-staff-finalized). One major problem for the Jaguars could be the strength of the AFC South. The Texans, Colts and Titans all had winning records in 2018 with two of the three making the playoffs. Whilst the division is relatively open, it’s up for grabs because all of the teams are good. However, if Foles can reproduce his performances from Philly and Fournette can get back to his 2017 form, the Jaguars should get back to the playoffs.

Best Chance?

For my money, the Giants and the Jaguars have the best chance but what do you think? Will any of these teams even make the playoffs or is there a better candidate out there? Let us know @Full10Yards

 

Where Do They Go From Here; LA Rams

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Los Angeles Rams.

Don’t forget to check out the NFC West podcast where we talked to a fan from each team and got their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

It’s hard to determine whether or not this was a successful season or not. I guess with a gun to my head that you’d have to call the season disappointing overall despite the Super Bowl appearance. The reason I call it a failure is not only the performance in the Super Bowl, but also the luck involved in getting them there (more on that shortly) and the fact that they pushed all their chips into the middle for this season with their signings on defence.

Suh, Talib et al were all drafted in to make a Madden Ultimate Team in effect and just came up short. Yes, they’ll be among the favourites again in 2019 but you wonder if this was their boat sailing? Sometimes, you only get one chance.

Let’s rewind back to the regular season, stormed out to an 8-0 record before their humbling by the New Orleans Saints in a high scoring 35-45 affair with nearly 1000 yards of offence in the game (not one for Lee). Other season highlights was of course the week 11 slobber knocker in LA (which should have been in Mexico) which had over 100 points to its name.

There was a slight wobble after the bye in weeks 14 and 15 with losses @Chicago and at home to a Nick Foles led Eagles, costing them the #1 seed. None the less, a #2 seed and a 1st round bye, they proved too strong for the Cowboys (though you have to wonder whether if Zeke converted on that 4th down, how it may have played out).

The NFC title game will forever be remembered for the non PI call which would’ve let New Orleans run the clock down to a few seconds and Lutz to kick a chip shot, but that is now why coaches will be able to challenge these calls in 2019. Some like it, I hate it but it’s happening. Make your own judgement call on whether it is good for the game.

The main storyline over the latter part of the season on top of the charge to the biggest game of them all was Todd Gurley’s injury niggles. CJ Anderson was signed from week 15 and produced a stand out performance in his absence which trickled in to the post season. His rumbled over Dallas with a 100+ yd performance and a couple of touchdowns which leave many scratching their heads as to why he wasn’t re-signed. It was later released that Todd Gurley has arthritis in his left knee and we all knew that the Rams were playing it down and Todd Gurley telling a few white lies about him playing soft. No-one ever really bought it though because it told on the field with the amount of snaps CJ Anderson saw. It remains to be seen what lie ahead for the highest paid RB in the game in terms of next season’s workload. Dynasty owners, hold your breath.

Housekeeping

The Rams own pick number 31 for being Super Bowl runners up.

They hold no 2nd round picks but 2 3rd rounders (pick 99 is compensatory) along with a pick in rounds 4,5,6 and 7.

The Rams’ pursestrings are a bit tight with around $5m cap space at this moment.

Outgoings

LaMarcus Joyner, Roger Saffold, Mark Barron and Ndamukong Suh and the main names out the door.

Incomings

Replacing them are Green Bay legend with the long golden locks Clay Matthews, Eric Weddle and his great beard and clearly the biggest signing of them all, Blake Bortles. You watch him get turned into Dan Marino by McVay.

Outlook for Next Year

Pretty much as you were for the Rams with a few pieces being changed. The Rams will be expecting to visit the big one again and go one better.

Cooper Kupp, who seemingly was the glue that kept this team together should be back and raring to go and a lot of eyes will be on Todd Gurley and his knees. Expect a top offence once more with plenty of points to go around everywhere. The Rams will play a winners schedule as well as the NFC South and AFC North. Added on top, a trip to London to take on Zac Taylor who was employed by the Rams in 2018.

Prediction

There may well be stiffer competition in the NFC West in 2019 with the Seahawks and also Jimmy G being welcomed back by Kyle Shanahan. Should be another division title for the Rams but the division plays hard. Another season of double digit wins if Gurley’s war wounds are nothing too serious and Sean McVay does Sean McVay things on the Rams offence. To the post season, the Rams will once again be a juggernaut to stop, but someone will.

Fantasy Football

Jared Goff – later rounds – low QB1

Todd Gurley – 1st round pick (buyer beware) – RB1, if fit and firing.

Brandin Cooks – 3rd/4th Round pick – WR2 – potential bargain

Cooper Kupp – 5th round – low WR2 – PPR machine

Robert Woods – 4th round – WR2

Tight Ends – no chance!

Where Do They Go From Here? Texans

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Houston Texans.

Ben Rolfe joined us to talk about the Texans’ season in our AFC South Exit Interviews podcast a few weeks ago, why not go and check that out too?

How Did Last Season Go?

Well, a story of two halves really (well, 1 quarter and three quarters to be exact).

First 4 games, the Texans were staring down the barrel of 0-4 until Frank Reich hands them an overtime victory with one of the more questionable decisions of the year, going for it on 4th down inside their own territory and who’d have known that at that point both teams would’ve made the playoffs. That sparked a 9 game win streak to put them in control of the division. A few wobbles at the end vs those pesky Colts and the Eagles but it was a fairly comfortable division title in the end for DeShaun Watson and co. 11-5 gave them the #3 seed when at moments, it looked as though the Texans could snatch the #2 seed.

However, they were to meet the Colts once more at home and were comfortably beaten in the Wildcard round.

If you asked Texans fans what they would take at the start of the season, you’d probably be looking at around what they achieved, maybe a divisional round game.

Housekeeping

The Texans have picks 23, 54, 55, and 86 in the first 3 rounds of the draft.

After the Free Agency Frenzy, the Texans have the 3rd most cap space (excluding Clowney’s Franchise Tag) at this point.

Outgoings

Not much in the way of outgoings for the Texans.

Make your own mind up on whether that is good or bad.

Demaryius Thomas has been cut…moving on.

Incomings

A few ins for the Texans, mainly on defence. Two CBs in Boddy-Calhoun and Bradley Roby are in, as is Safety Tashaun Gipson. Expect the Offensive Line to be beefed up in the coming weeks and months to help DeShaun Watson take less than the record setting 62 sacks (hopefully no bus journies to Jacksonville next season).

Outlook for Next Year

DeShaun Watson enters his third year as the signal caller and they will have to face a division winner’s schedule. They’ll be expected to sure up the offensive line for their franchise QB and also hope for more health from the likes of breakout star Coutee and Will Fuller in order to keep Hopkins, one of the best in the league, free from double coverage. If all these things happen and the O-Line improves, expect another divisional title for Houston and as a real shot in the dark, DeShaun Watson in the conversation for MVP *John Cena Audience GIF*

Star DE JJ Watt is getting into the back nine of his career so will want to keep making lasting impressions for the City which he holds dear to his heart but it is going to be a tricky division once again and it will most likely come down to the divisional games vs the Colts to decide division winner (don’t @ me Jags fans).

Prediction

Even before we know what the offensive line is going to look like in Houston, it would be a fairly big shock if the Texans don’t make the playoffs in 2019 but with such a tricky division, they’ll need Watson and Hopkins to be at their best and the Offensive line to not be a cheese-grater. As a whole, the top half finishes for offence and defensive ranks stand them in good stead despite the few injuries here and there that they had so I think they get to 9 wins… just depends if that is good enough for a playoff berth. Looking forward to seeing if they face the Colts in a week 17 tussle.

Fantasy Football

DeShaun Watson – mid round draft pick – around the QB4-8 range

Lamar Miller – 5th round pick – RB2

DeAndre Hopkins – 1st round pick – WR1

Will Fuller – 6th round pick – low WR2/high WR3

Keke Coutee – late round flyer – WR4 with WR 3 upside

Exit Interviews – AFC West

We made it to Friday folks! AFC West time and we have a great pod today which sees us take a look at the Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos and Raiders.

Plenty of talking points so we grab fans for each of those teams to take a look and break it all down.

Our thanks go to all those that contributed!

*Denver segment recorded prior to the Flacco trade…

All down to Drew

Drew Brees is the reason there is a podcast today. Why? We’ll tell you in the podcast!

We recap a set of divisional games that were not up to scratch for one of us but look at why the lower seeds got stuck in the ground.

Roger has a couple of plays from the weekend to run the rule over (28:14) and we are joined by a SUPER Bears fan with some #swag for the Full10Questions(42:31).

We close out with which broadcasting duos we like and dislike (55:24).

Let’s get divisional

Friday podcast! Things are heating up so Tim brings the heat on what Kliff Kingsbury has ruined for him and why Nick Foles is like a 17yr old.
Lee gets the Foxboro’ jitters with the Chargers travelling to New England and we both again give the Eagles a reason to defy all the odds.
Adam joins Tim to rue the double doink costing us our bets from the Wildcard round but look towards the 4 games on the weekend.
Before that, NEW SEGMENT alert, The Full10Yards Warm Welcome and an update on the HC vacancies.
Enjoy!