Coming out of a fog inducing set of Week 11 results, the 2017 Play-off picture dropped dramatically into full view in Week 12 with a host of decisive happenings. To be fair it was about 66% certain we would emerge from the penultimate round of RS fixtures with 2 Division Titles settled but as it turned out, all three were put beyond doubt, with the framework of the post season seedings, although not fully formed , very much in evidence in outline. Throw in the confirmation of two more wildcard entries.... the elimination of a 3rd side... and the actual recording of the League's 100,000 regular season point scored.... and you can see all in all, that Week 12 was a eventful one indeed. Let's start with the Titles. First to be settled was the 2 Minute Drillers retaining the Bon Accord title, which given it only needed a Drillers win or an Apaches loss to happen, really came as no surprise.. and just to underline that fact we did indeed get both a Drillers win over the eliminated Wrecking Rebels in tandem with the Braves 17-35 upset loss to coach Adamski's Steelers. Not long afterwards the Kincorth Killers uncorked the Granite Div title bubbly as they came through the tense NBC action at Heinz Field to hold off (and eliminate) the Cove Bay Pirates thanks to their thrilling 25-23 success , while learning at the same time the Arnhall Dolphins had lost 24-34 to the Deevale Desperados .. thus placing coach McGeachy Jnr and his squad in an impregnable, tie break backed up 1 game lead. Granite Division over. Last but not least was the Pittodrie Divison, which could only be decided if the Posse won.... and in keeping with the decisive tone of events Marty's boys duly held on into the wee hours of Tuesday morning to see off the challenge of the Westburn Blades 23-19. Previous results and current records already dictated the BA and Granite Div champions would get the coveted double bye week berths, with the Pittodrie grouping champions getting the 1 week off, so the top end of the final seedings are pretty much determined. In amongst all the title mayhem, coach Cruickshank's previously mentioned success over his former Town House rival coach Sutherland allied to the Laurel Lions massive 26-13 wildcard/elimination victory over the Garthdee Gryphons had a profound effect on the wildcard picture. Coach C's Dans, once 0-4, completed the RONaissance™ (TM coach Bothwell Jnr) and are now assure of play-off football and are joined in what is now a gang of 7 by the Westburn Blades, who can't fall lower than 8th spot overall. Coach Bothwell Jnr can't be thrilled by backing into the post season in this manner... but having been on the other side of that coin on more than one occasion, will not let it bother him come Week 14 !! All that means that we head to Week 13 with just one play-off spot up for grabs. The final berth will come from the Pittodrie Division, with either the defending champion Laurel Lions or the Garthdee Gryphons making the cut.. with coach Hamilton currently in pole position. A win for the Danestone based outfit... or a Gryphons loss will keep the Lions repeat ALFF Title hopes alive .. while Donny simply has to win and hope his rival falters to avoid extending a 3 season play-off drought. Coach Inkster's Cove Bay Pirates were the 3rd side to exit stage left as they came close to upsetting the new Granite Div champions but a late surge in form ensured the rookie outfit bow out with heads held high. I hope to see the Pittodrie Div newbies back for more in 2018 with the aid of one year's ALFF action under their belts. The Caledonia Express v Westburn Blades had an ALFF historic ball game moment as Blades passer Tyrod Taylor had the honor of throwing an 11 yard TD that marked the 100,000th regular season point scored. Killers WR Zay Jones could have shared the kudos.. but he was unactivated. Talking of scoring , we dipped just under the 300pt mark this week for the first time in 3 weeks but this recent "burst" has pushed the MWS up to the 25pt mark and although we are assured of one of the lowest aggregate season totals in years, their is still an outside chance QB totals will make the 1000pt mark, with kickers on course for their usual levels. More than once I have mentioned this campaign has been an atypical one... and in keeping with that theme I can't remember approaching a Week 13 with so little at stake. Hopefully our 25th play-off competition will make up for that in drama ! So... 66 game gone.. 13 remain. Nine teams still in with the chance of getting their names on the Steven Wood Trophy...
Big Plays Bag BA Banner
Wide-out Mohamed Sanu gets the Drillers on track with this amazing 51 yard TD pass !
The 2 Minute Drillers bounced back from their Week 11 lowlight to tuck away a second straight Bon Accord Div pennant with a well paced 31-22 win over the rudderless Wrecking Rebels. There was some consternation at ALFF Towers with no sign of a team submission from either coach McConnachie .. but the Argyll Apaches loss to the Scunthorpe Steelers in the other all BA fixture took the heat out of a difficult situation , removing any controversy from the final decision to just field the New Rebs same starting 8 as the last time out (although 5 had already “played” on Thursday). Going on that premise the already eliminate Rosemount based combo had leapt out to a 13pt lead on Thursday with WR Keenan Allen , K Aldrick Rosas and the Chargers defence sharing the spoils but a double blank from RB Melvin Gordon & WR Kenny Golloday prevented the 2016 runners-up from posting a more game challenging total. The Ricker entered this contest knowing he only need one win or an Apaches loss to successfully defend the BA Title for the fourth time in franchise history and made only one change to the side that had spluttered to defeat in Week 11. Out went coach favorite WR Mike Thomas and in came Devin Funchess as the Commish sought to lessen his reliance on the Saints @ The Rams fixture. WR Mohamed Sanu is too good to be classed simply as spoiler for opposing QB Matt Ryan in this fixture and the wide-out underlined that with a crazy 51 yard PASS for a TD from the wildcat formation. Ryan did strike back with his own 25 yard counter for the Wrecksters but a 06-03 win in the battle was a sign things were in synch for a 2 Minute triumph. Two receiving TD’s from Gronk , against a pair of doughnuts for on the bubble LeGarrette Blount and the aforementioned Funchess put a little pressure on the Commissioner’s key four “man” crew at the LA Coliseum ... but the Drillers unopposed grouping were methodical as they set about dismantling the 06-22 deficit. Kicker Greg Zuerlein, a 1pt scrub in that Wk 11 loss, quickly found his stride with a 50 yard FG after a swift opening drive PAT and his haul kept mounting as he added a second XP before rattling off a further 3 FG’s . RB Todd Gurley was held scoreless but was instrumental I getting his kickers total to a meaty 16pts. With the scores tied at 22-22 QB Drew Brees got on the scoresheet for the Ricker with a late 15 yard strike although he had come close to “handing” his ALFF sides Rams defence a couple of scoring opportunities. Ahead 25-22 the Drillers were assured of victory although the unsatisfactory nature of the Wrecking Rebels approach to the tie did much to take the edge of the occasion at the Drillerdome. WR Davante Adams put a layer of showboat icing on the Rickers title cake with a 55 yard TD grab at Heinz Field in the final act of the fixture in the NBC action. At 9-3, the Commissioners Crew take their 9th Bon Accord winners pennant and clinch a double bye week berth for the 7th time in franchise history. For the record the Drillers have only once gone on win the whole enchilada from that double bye slot. Holding a tie break over the Kincorth Killers the re-crowned BA champions could still secure No 1 seed spot if they win next week while coach Andrew’s charges lose... but the No 2 seed looks the most probable scenario for the founder ball-club right now. Week 13 will now be all about staying healthy and the focussing on the ALFF Points Title. The nature of this performance kept the 2 Minuter’s out in front of nearest challengers the Posse extending their lead over to their only realistic threat to 17pts. The Wrecking Rebels no show was highly disappointing and will undoubtedly have repercussions. Murmuring s behind the scenes have hinted at a possible split of the 3 year Rosemount hybrid franchise with the possible return of the Rosemount Wreckers. A Rules Revision meeting will also be required to address non submissions more tightly. The first ever season sweep in the series gives coach Rickaby a 4-2 lead in the RSS.
Coleman Cuts The Mustard
Dans RB Tevin Coleman scores on a 14 yard TD run.
We are reaching that time of the season, beloved by crooners, the world over. The time is drawing near. All the runners are on the final straight and the finishing line is just ahead. The Arnhall Dolphins went into this one on the back of a 5 game winning streak, and already had their noses over the winning line; so to speak. Their task was to match, or outdo the Kincorth Killers, in pursuit of retaining the divisional pennant. Coach Compost elected to recall Delanie Walker at wide out and went with Cantanzaro at kicker, despite his replacements, big week 1. Over Deevale way the RONaissance (C. the Kiwi Scribe), was on, and the doom and gloom off early season had been dispelled. What had looked like a possible, first round draft pick, had turned into a tilt at the bowl. Coach Crackshot brought in Tevin Coleman at RB alongside Ajayi, who got the nod in front of Drake. Larry Fitzgerald got the call at wide out as there were worried over Watkins suitability on the night. Bullock kept the kickers slot despite possible injury woes. This fixture used to be part of the Town House Troika, but sadly there is no longer a troika…or a town house for that matter. Having said that the monstrosity built on it’s site is not a hell of a lot better. This one saw the league’s #1 ranked QB go up against the #1 ranked QB unit. Vegas reckoned that the two may cancel each other out and that it might all come down to a big play. The Desperado’s were favoured by 2, despite having lost the week 3 meeting 26 – 12. This Dans side were a different animal from earlier in the season. The game started with Thursday night action, but Witten and the Lions D posted goose eggs. The Lions did have a score but it was called back on a review, Would this one come home to roost?. Come Sunday and it was down to the two QB’s to duke this one out. Carson Wentz has been the driving force in recent Dans action and he continued in the same vein. He finished with 23 of 36 for 227 yards with 2 interceptions and 2 sacks but, crucially, 3 scoring passes. He found the end zone from 17, 15 and 8 yards. The reply from Russell Wilson, showed why he has the #1 rating in the league. He finished with 20 of 34 for 228 yards and 1 interception. He scored on a 2 yard run as well as passes from 17 and 10 yards, to justify his ranking. The big difference between the 2 sides came at running back. The Dolphins saw their men come up with zilch, whilst the Desperado’s Tevin Coleman, took his chance in the spotlight and went over from 3 and 14 yards, making it a 9 point game. Jay Ajayi came close to adding another six but fumbled at the crucial moment. Bullock justified his inclusion as he booted FG’s from 31, 49 and 21 yards as well as 3 FG’s. This made it 33-12 going into late Sunday action. Delanie Walker clawed back 3 of this points with a 2 yard catch, and Chandler Cantanzaro scored on FG’s from 31 and 19 yards as well as 3 PAT’s. This one was done and dusted. Fitzgerald’s share of a 2 point conversion made it 34-24 and the Deperados could afford to have a, goose egg from Hopkins come Monday night. The season series is split and the Desperado’s lead the RSS 14-10. So how does that leave things…well here goes. The Dolphins drop to 9-3. They are in the play off phase but cannot win the Divisional pennant. They meet the Killers in week 13, and should they win, would split the series. However the Killers have a 5-0, divisional record, against the Dolphins 3-2 so the Killers are pennant winners and get the double by week. The Dolphins make the end of season party and will be get bye week that comes with the best no Division winner tag but must be worried about the lack of out field points sans Zeke. Still that could all change. The RONaissance rolls on. The Desperados are 6-6 and will get a wild card for sure. They meet the Pirates week 13 and , a win would lock that spot down; a defeat would leave them on 6-7. Then the if’s, buts and maybe’s start. If the Lions and the Gryphons win, they join the Blades on 6-7. If that scenario comes to pass then the tie breaker is between the Gryphons and the Desperado’s…and the Desperados already have that one in their sweaty, little paws. Putting it bluntly, Ole Crimson and his crew need a bloody miracle, and that has not been the way of things so far. One more week to go and the width challenged mezzo soprano will be able to burst into song. The 2017 league season will be laid to rest and the race to Bowl glory will commence. Four teams will exit and for the remaining 8….well the best of luck to you all!
Lions Make Their Case For Play-Off Football
QB Case Keenum kept the Lions alive with a 12pt showing on Thanksgiving.
Week 12 and the penultimate card of this regular season, and this is a classic “must win” scenario for the combatants. The travelling Lions had, as usual, selection issues and Coach Eagle decisively opted for Corey Clement to make his mark as RB 2 whilst the dreadful form of the Green Bay cardboard cut-out QB meant there was no place for the consequently suffering Jordy Nelson at WR3, the Seahawks Paul Richardson stood in. (Yikes that sounds prophetic). The bald Eagle was heard muttering something about how Jordy hasn’t had 100 yards total in his last 4 outings. (Start complaining when you have the GB QB on your roster)! The home town Griffins have hit a wall and needed something to revitalise their season and temper the frustrated mutterings coming from the Quahog faithful; only the GB QB taking the field empties a stadium quicker than Meg doing a strip tease on than half way line! (Funnily enough this was thought to be too close a competition to call and so the idea was shelved)! The Griffins are a tad on the light side when it comes to the running game and necessity required an immediate call up to the starting line-up of recently acquired Byron Marshall at RB 2. (What do you mean “isn’t he a Redskin?”, that sort of question became redundant in year 1 of the ALFF when related to the Griffins). A one two punch at RB featuring Bilal Powell and Byron Marshall has wet paper bags all over the world hooting with laughter; not so funny in Quahog though. The last lingering issue for head Coach Peter Griffin was whether to gamble on injury doubt kicker Jumbo Elliot or not; Coach P decided the gamble was worthwhile and he duly made the team sheet. What with this being Thanksgiving in the US we had an early start with the Thursday night featuring not one but 3 games and both sides were represented. The omens for the Griffins were not good never mind what Monsieur’s Gaiman and Pratchett might think. WR Darren Fells had a TD called back for the home side and alas that was about as good as it was going to get in these early games; the mutterings from the Quahog faithful was turning to abuse! Coach H could’ve been excused for chuckling at this point however, Kirk “Robin” Cousins is no fairy and promptly had a 2 TD performance and put 6 points on the board to give the Griffins an early lead; the chuckling stopped at this point as the Lions knew they were in for a battle. Enter career backup, journeyman QB Case Keenum who promptly matched and then doubled the output of his direct opponent to put the Lions 12 – 6 ahead. At this stage of proceedings all attention turned to the Griffins and their rushing attack, sadly despite decent blocking up front by the Quahogs they were unable to contribute much to the game other than effort and both returned the dreaded goose eggs. The Lions Corey Clement did make the team lines but not the end zone and so the scoring remained pedestrian. Did I say pedestrian? That’s simply hyperbole as pedestrians at least make some progress, even if just as a hood ornament for an impatient motorist. Things, to paraphrase a dreary and annoying pop song from the past, could only get worse and they duly did thanks to some anaemic WR play from both sides. The Griffins WR trio of Travis Kelcie, Doug Baldwin and Darren Fells all came up short and delivered a combined goose egg. The Lions WR trio of Stephon Diggs, Paul Richardson and DeSean Jackson all took the attitude “anything you can do” and duly recorded a team goose egg. With neither team having any success with their respective defences this low scoring encounter was likely to be decided by the kicking game. The visitors netted an average 8 points from incumbent kicker Ryan Succup to put the Lions ahead by 20 – 6 leaving an awful lot for peg leg Elliot to make up; he didn’t do it. A paltry 7 points for Mr Elliot meant the Griffins were caught short and fell to their 7th loss of the season. The Lions had one more card up their sleeve and in the MNF RB Lamar Miller added a rushing TD to emphasise the difference between these sides with the Lions running out 26 – 13 victors. The Griffins have had more than their fair share of injuries this season but now look unlikely to make the play offs, a 1 – 4 divisional record means things are out of their hands and even a win in the regular season finale might not be enough to see them progress. The Lions move to 5 – 7 and need only 1 more win to secure a place in the post season and an improbable 2nd place in the Division; they could still make the play offs if they lose and the hapless Griffins lose to the Posse. (All league officials will be watching the battle of The Fabulous Furry Garioch brothers in this fixture for signs of any familial shenanigans)! The league would do well to remember the words of Van Morrison, “Listen to The Lion(s)”. James 2nd straight sesaon sweep in the series gives him a 5-1 lead in the RSS.
Player of the Week
Prior to this week only the Laurel Lions ranked lower at running back than the Deevale Desperados ... but the introduction of Tevin Coleman has changed the look of the Desperate Ones ground game. This week Coleman scored twice , on running plays of 3 and 14 yards , and his 12pts not only made sure of his sides participation in the knock-out competition... but went a long way in deciding the outcome of the Granite Div title race. Tevin Coleman is the Week 12 Player of the Week.
Play of the Week
It was close run thing here between Alvin Kamara's 8pt play for the Scunthorpe Steelers... and the Drillers Mohamed Sanu to Braves Julio Jones 51 yard hook-up... but in the end I had to go for the former. Eight point running plays are just not that common and in the absence of a true game changer Kamara's amazing elusive 74 yard scamper was a thing of beauty... that deserves the Week 12 Play of The Week gong.
Hardened Steelers Cast Apaches Aside
QB DeShon Kizer scores for the Steelers on a 3 yard keeper.
Well I’m up here on this scaffolding because that’s what this program is all about; SHOCK!”. And that obscure “The Young Ones” reference is how we roll today; fast, loose and *shocking*! The 2-9 Steelers were (surprisingly?) labelled 2 point favourites over the 7-4 Apaches who faltered heavily from the get-go in their frantic scramble to stay in touch for the Bon Accord Division pennant. The Dak Attack has been terribly since the suspension of Zeke The Freak and that continued with another fat zero. Adam Thielen (still can’t get my head around him being the 3rd leading receiver in the NFL) had a crazy TD called back, so you can double that zero. We all know that 0 x 0 = nae a good start in onywan’s book! Back in Scunthorpe, Blair Walsh was recalled at kicker despite Coach Adamski previously stating that he would “never play for me again”. Sometimes these things cannot be helped. “Washout” missed one of his FGs in the contest, but his lone 34 yarder plus 3 PATs would still be enough to outdo his opposite number, as Stephen Gostkowski’s Patriots rolled right over the Dolphins, giving him just 5 PATs to show for it. DeShon Kizer did what Browns QBs have done for decades; not throw a passing TD, but he did manage to eek out a scamper to paydirt and 6 points. Nelson Agholor reeled in a 15 yarder, but was then the recipient of one of the most fortuitous plays you’ll see this year when Jay Ajayi fumbled the ball on the goal line only to have it scooped up by Nelson for an easy additional 6. Not to be outdone in the WR 9-pointer sweepstakes, Julio Jones connected on a 51 yarder from Mo Sanu on a sweet-as-a-nut wildcat play from 51 yards. He then caught a 25 yarder in space but just as it looked like his momentum was about to take him out of bounds at about the 5, he reached out the longest arm you ever did see and touched that there pylon for the score. Freakish, man. Amari Cooper hasn’t had the best of seasons in Oakland, but his lone catch of the afternoon went 9 yards for a touchdown. Over in Los Angeles, it was the Alvin Kamara Show. A 74 yard first quarter run looked destined to be stopped at the 15 or so, before the two chasing defenders collided like comedically poor evil henchmen from a straight-to-video movie like 1992’s “3 Ninjas”. He would escort a TD pass 15 yards to the door to finish his tally at 11(2). Brandin Cooks would actually out the scoring for the Geecher on a 3 point snag, but by that point the fat lady had already finished her song, hopped in the back of a taxi with reinforced axles, been dropped off at the nearest ‘Spoons and scoffed down 3 all day breakfasts. Until this point in the season, Adamski’s wideouts had totalled 18 points for the campaign, but in this outing alone managed to rack up 12. That combined with Kamara’s breakout performance and the miracle of a Browns QB putting up points meant that this was the fantasy football equivalent of dropping a stack of bricks from a great height and have them form a perfectly build house upon landing – complete with door to slam on the wavering Braves division pennant hopes. Their 4 straight losses see them fall to 7-5 and are not even assured of the 5th seed slot. At this rate, they are shaping up for a clash with the Desperados in PO Rd1. Their misfortunes seem to be closely linked to the slump of Dak Prescott, who has been flying so low you could touch his wheels. In week 13, the Steelers hope to spoil the Drillers Pennant Party while McGeachy's charges have to fend off a Wrecking Rebels side who are probably just looking forward to the first pick in 2018. The fat lady shall return, for week 13!
Killers B's Bye Title Triumph
Alshon Jeffrey scores with this critical 8 yard TD grab for the Killers.
It was celebration time for coach McGeachy Jnr as the Kincorth Killers held off the battling Cove Bay Pirates to win 25-23 and land their first Granite Division winners pennant since 2014. Going into this testing match-up against their recently improved near neighbours, the Special K were more focussed on preserving a four game unbeaten streak and staying on course for a probable Week 13 showdown against the Arnhall Dolphins but an unexpected stumble by Coach Compost’s side in the other intra-division match-up opened the door for Andrew to lay claim to the Granite Div top honor for only the second time in his 11 season ALFF tenure. With a three game lead over the best Pittodrie Div record , the Killers also made sure of a double bye week in the post season , and will likely end the regular season as the No 1 seed overall. Little Plum’s success is well deserved... but his side were pushed all the way by a Pirates outfit that has found some bite in the second half of the season... but who now sadly drop through the exit trapdoor and miss the play-offs at the first time of asking. As it panned out the Killers title clinching performance resembled a Pirates sandwich with coach Inkster’s Thanksgiving & NBC phase bread not quite covering the Killers large slice of early Sunday meat. The battling Blackbeard recalled QB Philip Rivers and RB Jerick McKinnon for the turkey day proceedings and although the latter went scoreless the irrepressible QB enjoyed his equal best outing wearing an eyepatch , scoring on TD tosses of 3, 27 and 42 yards respectively. The KK had two starters of their own on Thanksgiving , as recalled WR Dez Bryant did nothing as a surprise replacement for Golden Tate while the sides Vikings defence/special teams also came up empty. Trailing 09-00 Geacher the Younger felt the need to tweak things a little for a critical big Sunday effort. Out went rookie RB Joe Mixon as the Division leaders banked on some Patriots production with Dion Lewis landing the RB 2 slot and although the ALFF money men were clearly concerned about the eggs and one basket ramifications, they still named the Killers as slender 1pt favorites ..... excepting the Pirates to fall just a little short in their NBC comeback. With all remaining starters on the field the Killers make or break push brought dividends. After a shaky opening drive at Foboro that saw Rex Burkhead rather than Lewis as the feature red zone threat, QB Tom Brady settled down to find his rhythm. Scores of 5, 1, 15 and 5 yards (again) yielded 12 precious points for the signal- caller not only in the context of this tie, but also in TB’s individual battle for the ALFF passing title. Sadly for Andrew there nothing in that mix for Dion Lewis and with goose eggs on the board for Jordan Howard and the underperforming Mike Evans the onus grew on bell-cows WR Alshon Jeffrey and K Matt Bryant to come through. All season long these two had provide able support to their QB .. and with the pressure on they did not let their coach down. Bryant led the way with a big 10pt effort that comprised a pair of FG’s and 4 successful PAT’s but perhaps it was the wide-outs excellent 8 yard counter that resonated most back in Kincorth. The pundits pre-match analysis had suggested it might need a Jeffrey score to get the Killers home against a strong Pirates comeback ..... and how right that proved to be. With the Killers all back in the locker room they had to sit and see if their 25-09 lead would hold up against the other side of the sandwich.... the Cove sides Steeler flavoured NBC vanguard, and with an Arnhall loss already confirmed the last act of this contest now had the added the drama of being the possible Title decider... never mind the the Pirates were now effectively fighting to keep their season alive. Kicker Chris Bowell didn’t get things off to the best of starts at Heinz Field by missing his first PAT attempt wide left... but the suddenly energised Antonio Brown lifted the Pirates gritty survival effort by bagging a typical TD double... with his half of a converted 2pt attempt tagged on. Boswell meanwhile was limited to just two XP’s and with his side badly needing a FG to close the 25-18 gap. Two Cheeseburger INT’s near mid mid-field did not aid the cellar dwellers survival effort but a Le’Von Bell fumble on the 35 yard line midway through the 4th quarter was brutal. When the FG opportunity did come... albeit from 53 yards and 5 point range it was the last kick of the game... and too little too late. While the champagne bottles are cleared away at KK HQ , Andrew can enjoy the next three weeks and hope his key players can avoid injury. Three of his stars are in the hunt for individual title glory.. and although it will in truth be meaningless he will no doubt be keen to still get one over coach Sutherland next week and finish 6-0 in the Division. It was ironic indeed that a late, late Sunday comeback , or should I say the lack of one , outdid the Pirates in the end, having been on the receiving end of more than a few themselves. Given the Desperados and Lions Week 12 wins, the door would have closed on the Cove side in any case.... but this was the fifth game of their inaugural season that coach Inkster’s charges lost by a receiving TD or less. With just a little more rub of the green , a current 3-9 could easily have been a wildcard contending 5-7 or better. I will look back at the Pirates opening campaign in more detail next week. Coach McGeach Jnr swept this first series between the two coaches.
Posse's Panthers Pocket Pennant
Posse QB Cam Newton shrugs off a would be tackler on his way to a 1 yard TD.
It was the only game on the fixture card to come with the potential Title decider handle and the Week 12 Game of The Week showdown between the two 6-5 Pittodrie Division leaders duly delivered as coach Marty’s Posse held on through Monday night to win their 1st Division title in 11 years with a thrilling 23-19 hold on win over the becalmed Westburn Blades. Having beaten his Divisional rival 19-10 in a scrappy Week 3 affair, the Cove based CEO knew a win here would end his lengthy title drought, but he had to endure a tense Monday night in Baltimore as opposing K Justin Tucker set about eliminating a sizeable but not insurmountable 17pt lead with his own Houston defence charged with limiting the damage. The Blades FG artist’s grim 1pt effort in that pivotal Week 3 clash was the main reason coach Stuie’s outfit were faced with this potential Division blocking tie break and although the kicker put on a real show, including a 53 yarder as time expired on the first half… his ultimate 13pt effort (with nothing in reply from the Texans D) was just one more trademark five pointer short of preventing wild scenes of celebration in Dunlin Road. By way of consolation the combination of other results assured coach Kiwi’s side of their place in the knock-out stages , albeit as a pure wildcard. Both side had players in action over the Thanksgiving three piece and it was advantage Express as RB Latavius Murray bested scoreless opponent Evan Engram with a 2 yard TD run. Leading by six and with the scent of PDiv pennant linen in his nostrils, the Cove based CEO could not resist dusting down his recently dormant QB carousel … much to the surprise of the assorted experts. QB Cam Newton had crashed and burned at Soldier Field under the steely glaze glassy eyed countenance of his HC back in Week 7 with the suggestion he would never darken a CalX starting line-up again… but with the title on the line his Sartorial Ignorance was preferred ahead of Marcus Mariota. Kicker Graham Gano returned to his starting spot after the last round of bye weeks giving the Express a heavy Panthers lilt with Marty performing another defensive flip flop, this time going with his Texans unit. Coach Kiwi had a QB conundrum of his own as he opted to weed out the Raiders on his team-sheet, electing to start Tyrod Taylor ahead of the ineffective Derek Carr, while Jimmy Graham, a surprise Wk 11 omission, returned in place of Michael Crabtree. The pundits (and no doubt Youngblood) had fretted about the Blades “Bills exposure”… and it did not end well at Arrowhead as the Sunday action commenced . Shady McCoy reeled off a couple of decent in the open runs…but thereafter was rendered harmless by the Chiefs bend but don’t break defence. Pressured by the same group, QB Taylor was unable to bring his ground TD threat into play and was limited to just a single 11 Yard TD. That score in itself was not a huge moment in the outcome of the tie… but it did go down in ALFF history as the 100,000th RS point scored in our 26 seasons … a real match-ball moment. To be frank, the CalX cause fared little better in the KC sunshine (outdated cultural reference warning… they didn’t Give it Up either !) )… as WR Tyreek Hill’s wretched recent form continued with his 3rd straight dougnut but it was a different story up at Met Life. Marty’s confidence in his redeemed QB proved to be well founded. Newton scored with a trademark 1 yard scramble and later repeated the exercise on an all Cam 2pt attempt and his 8pt offering was well complemented by kicker Gano’s all FG, 9pt showing. A QB who can’t throw and kicker who doesn’t kick PAT’s .. it could only be the Panthers ! With 23pts in the bag for the Posse coach Bothwell Jnr need something to happen .. and happen quickly ... but the low key events at Arrowhead was all she wrote for the NZ based combo’s opening Sunday stanza quartet , with nothing from Leonard Fournette and zero for Jarvis Landry. Ahead 23-06 going into the second Sunday period the only thing holding the Posse back from going over the top now was a quiet outing for RB title chasing Mark Ingram (he did have a late receiving TD called back) and two late in-actives that meant neither Robert Woods or JuJu Smith-Schuster would get out of their civvies. The latter’s absence robbed coach Garioch of his last chance to add offensive points to his 17pt lead ,setting up the Tucker v Texans showdown we examined at the start of this report. Marty will be delighted with only his 6th Division Title and his first winning season since 2011 and will have a week off after a Wk 13 Garioch Bowl that now has way more significance for Donny than it will for his sibling. Points are more what Week 13 will be about for the new Pittodrie Div champions . Sitting just 17pts back of the pace setting 2 Minute Drillers , the Express are still in the running for their 1st ever ALFF Point Title. A high scoring win over big brother Donny would certainly be a huge event in the Posse history !! With no possibility of overhauling either of the other Div winners, the long time draft host will have to settle for a single bye week with his final seeding of 3 or 4 depending on both his own and the Apaches final RS results. Stuie must be frustrated at the way events panned out. .At 5-2 after the midpoint week, having scored big without DeShaun Watson at the controls, the Blades looked like Pennant certs. Now... having lost 3 straight and 4 of their last 5, the reality is the long time Berryden based outfit have rather limped into the post season and could actually fall to 3rd spot in the Division if they lose to the Lions in Week 13. That said , you have to be in it to win.. and the Blades are certainly in it. It would only take a step up from Fournette or that mid ranging WR crew to light a fire under a possible Westburn ALFF Title push. Marty’s 2nd season sweep in three seasons gives him a 17-15 lead in the RSS.
Sleeper of the Week
Coaches Inkster & Bothwell Jnr both had noteworthy sleepers that could have changed the play-off landscape significantly ... but were trumped by good old Mad Fish. Needing to win to stay in the hunt for the Granite Div title and a double bye week , the Arnhall Dolphins head honcho stuck with a Kansas City defence that has seen him alright... but has gone off the boil of late. Had he gone with his back-up Carolina unit instead , coach Compost would have netted a huge 12 additional points... beaten the Dans 36-34 (throwing them back into wildcard purgatory) and be looking at a Week 13 showdown with the Kincorth Killers for the No 1 seed. Instead its the Week 12 SOW for coach Sutherland and his Kitty Cats D. With Zeke due back in Wk 16... now having to play in Week 15 for sure could be a problem for the coaching Umpire.