Week 13

I know we have had some great regular season finale’s before … but there has never been quite like this before as  two Division  pennants, a bye week berth and  the last three wildcard spots went down to the very last NFL match up of 384 through 13 weeks.  It’s probably easiest to describe events as they unfolded , most of which played out  in a quite astonishing, tense down to the wire Monday night  crescendo in Seattle. On Sunday the 2 Minute Drillers cleared up any doubt about the single bye week berth by fluffing their lines against the Scunthorpe Steelers … which meant the losing side in the Granite Div play-off would secure that “consolation” prize but really that was the only decision cast in stone with just the Vikings @ Seattle to come. The Granite Division Title decider between the Broch Bobcats & the Kincorth Killers was effectively over early on in the Monday night proceedings as RB Dalvin Cook took the latter out of range  in what was ultimately a 32-25 win, that secure the Div pennant and the No 2 seed spot, while fixing coach Taylor’s   side as the “best wildcard” single bye week, but the Pittodrie Division pennant and the last remaining wildcards went deep into the night. There was just over a  single quarter left when the Westburn Blades finally edged in front of the Caledonia Express on their way to a low key 13-10 PDiv securing success thanks to QB Russell Wilson by which time it had become increasingly clear that the Arnhall Dolphins faint hopes of overhauling  the JL8  in a must win clash for both GDiv wildcards seekers were essentially  over. With just one wildcard berth now up for grabs the results were still stacking up for a highly improbable and tie break stretching Garthdee Gryphons Houdini act ( we are talking 5th tie break, strength of schedule material here!) …although even a safety for the Fins Minnesota D could have pushed them ahead of the Baylerville outfit ….. BUT with just  7 minutes left the Wellington Rising closed the door on both the Arnhall Dolphins & the Birds as they finally put away the already eliminated Argyll Apaches 21-15. What a finish !!! In the end it was all very ordered with,  for the first in League history,  the top eight scoring ball-clubs advancing to the post season with the four lowest exiting stage right. As had seemed likely from around mid-season 6 wins indeed proved to be the magic number to survive into December. In the end the seeding’s slipped effortlessly into place also,  which certainly did not look possible right up to the dying moments of the final game  with the Commissioner’s fabled slide –rule actually called on for once to separate next years draft order between the 5-8 Gryphons & Arnhall Dolphins… who also finished level on points scores… with Donny’s harder schedule paradoxically dropping him to the 4th slot. History tells us now we have reached the knock-out stage it’s not who performed best over the 13 weeks that always gets his name on the Steven Wood…it’s who has the staying power over the last 4 hurdles, with plenty scope for late season bloomers and that little slice of luck that can win a knock-out tie.   Even this week the Kincorth Killers looked likely to be dubbed new Bowl favorites…. But an injury to Dalvin Cook late on Monday night showed how fickle fate can be at this stage of the season. Moving on to a points based view the Kincorth Killers outlasted the JL8 to land their 2nd ever success in the  ALFF Points Title with ominously  coach MecGeachy Jnr the last HC to combine the  Point & ALFF Title in the same campaign. The final round of scoring actually stood below 200pts for the week going into the MNF denouement with an all time low weekly tally a highly likely scenario, but that late flurry avoided that becoming reality although the final 248 tally was the lowest of the season. With two low aggregates in the final three weeks any top end scoring records were off the table. In the end we did make it through the 4000pt barrier which is now pretty much the season standard. The QB aggregate of 1028pts was a slight drop off on the meaty 2018 level but in this season of the back-up QB that’s somewhat remarkable and right at the death the passing totals overhauled the RB aggregate for the first time this season…… the ball carriers falling just 2 scores of hitting the 1000pt mark but still the 2nd best in the past decade. Most notable of all was the inexplicable drop at WR. The 601pt total was the lowest since 2008 and the 3rd lowest ever for a 12 team League. The only explanation I can offer is the focus on offence holding penalties impacted the passing game (resulting in an increase of rushing at QB). Two of our three Division’s sported brand new winners  which is a very healthy outcome and with 3 no-shows from the 2017 knock-out competition making it through this time round,  again underpins  my belief that we do have parity right on most levels… but with the PDiv languishing (yet again) with just 22 wins for the season ( 12 are built in) I really will be pushing for some re-alignment.  At this stage we take leave of our departing coaches, so thanks to coaches Garioch Snr, the Geacher, Compost and Marty for being a big part of our 28th campaign, with the drama of our Monday spectacle night  showing just how important every game can be. As always I trust you will all be back for more in season 29. Finally…. as is the custom… a Bojo lie counter  sized thank you to my hand picked  star chamber of trash writing ,  cliché reliant, garbage regurgitating ,  Fake News pedlars and scribes which this year was less drama queen/diva  like than in previous years , with more and older age, lack of time despite being retired, feline health ,  hangovers,  curry binges , modern technology and visits back to the UK  being the main impediments. The scribes themselves are of course the Crimson Haybaler, Geronimo , coach Kiwi and the Doom Meister. I know I say it every year … but it’s a fact… … we truly couldn’t do it with out you guys , even if in again in cases the tangents and outdated cultural references are more entertaining than the ALFF content ! 78 games gone… and now it’s “Just Win Baby” or your season is done !! May the best team win. IT'S PLAY-OFF PARTY TIME !!

 

   

 

Steelers Roll As Drillers Dither

QB Patrick Mahomes puts the Steelers ahead on this 13 yard TD run.

With a single berth as best wildcard up for grabs the 2 Minute Drillers season long struggles at QB & K came to a calamitous head as the Commissioners Crew found a way to lose 21-25 to the bemused Scunthorpe Steelers. The Ricker could have fielded any one of his other two players at either position (i.e one of four) and coasted to the 4th seed slot… but a meagre 3pts each from Brissett & Slye sealed the BOD outfits fate and left them with a pure wildcard tilt at the  ALFF League title that looks to be well beyond their current capability. With the Steelers already confirmed in the No 1 slot and the 2 Minute side also assured of play-off football this tie was always only about the Drillers chasing down that single bye week… with maybe a little bragging rights on the side. Both coaches had two starters over the Thanksgiving fixtures but it was low key either side of the ledger as Alvin Kamara & Julio Jones v Amari Cooper & Michael Thomas proved to be a doughnut orgy.  By the time we came round to Sunday , the starting line-ups had a familiar ring about them. Adamski, coming off two straight defeats, had the bonus of welcoming back Mahomes, Kirk & Zuerlien  after Week 12 byes, while his Jax D replaced the recently struggling Oakland. The Commish thought long and hard about his picks… ultimately deciding the Eagles recent struggles might not translate into points against Miami … with Curtis Samuel’s switch with Calvin Ridley the only Driller alteration. The drama in this one was all on the bench with the outcome decided in short shrift over the two main Sunday periods. Steeler QB Patrick Mahomes was not at his best and needed a 13 yard TD scamper to win the passing duel with Jacoby Brissett 09-03.  The Drillers Tampa defence offset that setback with a 14 yard  fumble return for a TD .. but it was advantage Scunny in the kicking stakes as Greg Zuerlien comprehensively outpointed Joey Slye 10-03 as the Panthers struggled horrible against the Redskins (WTF ??!!).  WR Davante Adams returned to form to add six more to the Div champions scoreline  on TD catches of 8 and 17 yards respectively and while Curtis Samuel responded with a 4 yard counter of his own that made it three offensive positions the visiting side had come on top in. Only at RB did the Drillers get the better of their opponents with Todd Gurley’s 1 yard run the only rushing score of the game… but the underused runner did have the Commish out of his seat with what looked to be a second and winning 23 yard TD run… but an offensive holding call took that off the board to leave the Ricker to stew in his non-selection juices , and the 25-21 result  never further in question. Other than avoiding  a  season sweep and improving to a League best 10-3 the outcome was little more than window dressing for the Sowf London club as they now go through that quite familiar routine of sitting back for two weeks and watching what the opening two rounds will spit at them.  The good news for coach Meek was the return to scoring form of WR Davante Adams & kicker Greg Zuerlien but there has to be some nagging doubt around the Furnace about recent form as they sit out their two week lay-off, with only one truly convincing performance in their past 4.  Having a still hungry KC and or a return to form either of his dual threat running attack seems almost a must if Adam is to go all the way in what would be his 2nd straight Bowl game. The Commish needs to urgently review what he thinks his best starting eight looks like and get away for the situational mess at QB he’s seems to have landed himself in. Instead of a week off the Drillers are pitched straight into  a clash against the Laurel Lions in Rd 1 … with both sides capable of unpredictable output. Vegas may have issues with a line on that one !! A split season series leaves coach Rickaby 8-6 ahead in the RSS.

 

Kirk Is a Knock-Out As Welly Boots The Braves Again

QB Kirk Cousins throws his play-off clinching 58 yard TD toss.

The Wellington Rising left it late before emerging from the ashes to clinch the last wildcard berth in the final minutes of the regular season with a stirring 21-15 Monday night win over the hapless but injury hit Argyll Apaches. Trailing 14-12 with time running out and the Garthdee Gryphon poised to snatch the last brief available,  QB Kirk Cousins struck with a timely 58 yard strike that (with Bailey’s XP)  put the re-energized NZ combo 18-15 in front. However  with opposing kicker Bailey capable of of tieing things up again with one single FG  it took a  short 2nd Cousins counter from 3 yards to bring home the Boot Boys bacon ( vegetarian options available on request !) and move the fledgling outfit into that coveted last wildcard slot.  In a final inglory for the already eliminated  Braves, Bailey missed the subsequent XP to give the scoreline it’s final look.  Coach Butter was under no illusion here that he needed to win to extend a challenging rookie ALFF campaign and although his side struggled in large parts, they ultimately got the job done, although one does have to wonder what might have happened had Argyll  QB Baker Mayfield not left the battle early with a hand injury . Earlier the Rising had opened their first visit to the Reservation with a 10 yard TD from lone Thanksgiving starter wide-out Allen Robinson. Coming off the Thursday action, Vegas predicted this might be closer than  many projected with the Cousins v Bailey showdown on Monday night the obvious key match-up with Christian McCaffrey’s running threat seen as enough  to get the visitors over the line. The return of passer Cousins (after a bye)  was the only change to a Rising side that stayed on track with an upset win over the Steelers in Week 12  but the same could not be said of the “playing for pride”  Apaches. Geronimo had   Chargers duo Melvin Gordon & Keenan Allen back after their week off but QB Baker Mayfield was named as starter again despite Philip Rivers being available.  Greg Olsen was given only his 2nd opportunity of the term at WR 3 while K Dan Bailey was another returning from what was a heavy Week 12 bye week for the Argyll outfit.  The opening Sunday stanza, like much of the NFL in Week 13 did not go quite  as expected. There were some givens….Saquon Barkley and opposing RB Le’Veon Bell scrapping out a dull 0-0 sticking out like a Drew Brees thumb there… but CMac’s goose egg at home to the Redskins was a stunner , leaving Darren’s only meaningful contributions to come from  Jacksonville. Even that looked to be very limited as the Jags struggled big time to move the needle with Nick Foles behind centre but a desperation 53 yard FG (they were 25-00 down at that point) from Josh Lambo gave the Faux Kiwi head honcho some much need hope before WR Dede Westbrook not only snagged a 3 yard TD catch (from Apaches back-up Gardner Minshew) but tagged on his share of the resulting 2pt attempt. Those 9pts were all she wrote for the Rising at this stage as George Kittle struggled to make hay in the Baltimore monsoon, so clearly there was to be no repeat of the Week Six, 54-23 turkey shoot between the two sides. Fortunately for the Tawa Towers crew the Apaches did little to take advantage, although to be fair, their early Sunday options were limited.  QB Baker Mayfield did get the scoreboard turning over with a swift 22 yard strike before having to leave the field with a hand injury but as we have seen it was nada for Le’Veon Bell while Greg Olsen just added to the goose egg pile.  On paper , Geacher  the Elder’s charges were better placed to ramp up in the later Sunday action with their Chargers double act but while Keenan Allen rose to the challenge scoring on a 19 yard catch and vault  , there was nothing to write home about from Melvin Gordon. It there wasn’t so much as stake in terms of the last wildcard berth this game would have went the way of Eldorado ( BBC flop soap of the 80’s kiddie winkies)  but instead it was more like a bit of RTA rubber necking for the majority of us as the “action” moved to the NBC period. Julian Edelman is possibly the closest thing the Braves have to an MVP this term and it was his 20 yard grab in the endzone  that cut the visitors lead to 12-09 as the Rising’s top rated  Pats D extended their scoring famine to 5 games on the bounce (7 for a TD), setting up the CenturyLink Field climax we had described at the top of this summary.  The champagne will have been flowing on the flight back to Antipodes with some satisfaction in the  Boots camp that their first post season berth was solidified by the man the Apaches don’t rate  .. Kirk Cousins. That’s twice the Vikes passer has put the Campbeltown outfit to the sword this term scoring 27pts in the process. I don’t know about you but a new BA Div rivalry can only be a good thing !! Darren’s reward for hanging in there to get to the party is an intriguing Rd 1 match-up against 2019 dark horses and defending champion the JL8. Welly will need to up there game for that clash but I will be shocked if their No 1 ground game is held scoreless again, and happily Christian McCaffrey’s last match zero did not stop the runner from bagging the individual RB prize. The champion QB v the champion rusher  will be an interesting match-up to watch. Geacher The Elder  already slipped out last week but came close to getting a free drink ( fact check required !) from the Bayler  as he came close to playing the spoiler. A final 4-9 record is the poorest the Argyll outfit have posted since 2013 and ranking dead last  on points there really is nothing to suggest their record was anything other than a true reflection of their true place in the pecking order. Indeed with two scratchy victories with scores of 18 and 13pts respectively there are ample grounds to suggest they actually over-performed in terms of record.  The 2019 term will not go down  as a banner year with the Apaches medicine men. Given Big G had a stable of young QB’s on his retained list his draft day focus was clearly on bagging a top runner and loading up on WR’s. Given the Campbeltown side finished the campaign 10th at QB, 11th at RB and 10th at WR … then clearly something went amiss. 1st Round selection Le’Veon Bell (4th player taken overall) was effectively a bust and it must be said Keenan Allen as a second rounder was something of a stretch with the likes of Adam Thielen and Amari Cooper still on the board. Geacher the Elders mancrush on Brandin Cooks was on full display again in Rd 3, but once again the undersized wide-out flattered to deceive (been there done that) and is a shadow of the player he was in his first few seasons in Black & Gold. RB Miles Sanders was something of a rookie punt in the 4th Rd that did not pay –off this time round (but may do so in the future). The selection of Robert Woods in Rd 5 was not in itself a howler given his form over the past two seasons…. but considering his Rams team-mate was taken just two rounds earlier it has to go down as “strange choice” with Kenny Golloday still on the board amongst others. Round 6 selection Julian Edelman proved to be the best of the bunch in Big G’s early round “WR frenzy”. However it was the 7th round targeting of old “Goat Jowls” that went the furthest to harm a strategy that was predicated on his young buck QB’s piling on the points. Gostkowski was on the slide last term with missed XP’s becoming an issue and he looked a  notch poorer this term (on a lot less opportunities) before injury came a knocking. The Braves never did get their kicking game sorted out after that. With only two rooks added on draft Day (Sanders & Deebo Samuel) it will be intriguing to see who makes the Apaches retained list , especially at QB. Mike will pick in the No 2 slot in 2020.

 

Killer Kincorth Best Bobcats In Title Showdown

Killers WR D J Moore hauls in this 13 yard counter.

Coach McGeachy Jnr completed a take your breath away title success as the Kincorth Killers salted away their 2nd Granite Div Winners pennant in three seasons with a controlled 32-25 win over the becalmed Broch Bobcats. Back in Week 8 the GDiv newbies appeared to be on the verge of securing a first season Title success standing 3 games clear at 7-1 to the Specials K’s 4-4 but in a dumbfounding run in,  the Brocher’s could only dig out one more victory while the more seasoned KK put together a League best 5 game winning streak to bag the flag and the overall 2nd seed with it. The only saving grace for a shell-shocked coach Taylor on  a tough RS finale, was the 2 Minute Drillers did not win and thus he avoided dropping all the way to the 1st Rd as a pure wildcard. Andrew’s side are not big on letting their opportunities slide by and it was very much a case of “Same again Lorraine” here. Dak Prescott did the groundwork on Thanksgiving by outscoring opponents Randall Cobb and the Chicago Defence by 7pts to nothing  and while some pundits speculated if that haul was maybe 2pts shy of where the Killers might have planned to be … the fact the passer go there (in an otherwise forgettable display) without hooking up with opposing wide-out Cobb was arguably worth the “shortfall”. Into Sunday and the Double K could smell blood. Geacher the Younger has stuck by RB Joe Mixon despite some patchy form and was rewarded when it mattered most with a 5 yard TD run. WR D J Moore, has done that awkward dance at WR3 as the KK selection committee have swapped him and Marvin Jones in and out just in time to the miss the one who scores… but after missing out on the latter scoring on Thursday (“Aaarrrrggghhh!  Marvin Jones scores.  Ffs.” was the message the Commish received), the once again promoted Black Cat receiver made amends by holding on to a swift 13 yard counter. The only negatives vibes emanating from the Kinkers Krewe were a goose egg double from WR duo Mike Evans (gone suddenly quiet)  and Odell Bust Jnr but with Butker & Cook to come later,  16pts in the hipper were well received at the Slaughterhouse at this point. On the other side of the LOS, Rudi wasn’t idly letting his Division title hopes go down the tubes. The Bobcats had reverted to a  traditional 2RB set with the return of Austin Ekeler but perhaps more significantly  had dumped QB Matt Ryan and inserted Ryan Tannehill. The former Dolphin  played well again at Lucas Oil Field but his 2 TD contribution was a bit less than needed to put pressure on his opponents especially with RB Kenyan Drake & WR Golden Tate coming up empty. With Harrison Butker transforming a 16-06 Killers advantage into a 26-09 one (allowing for an Austin Ekeler 30 yard TD catch) in the late Sunday period,  the writing seemed to be on the wall …. and it spelled “ Kincorth Killers GDiv Champions Ya Bass”. As an aside Butkickers’s effort secured him a 2nd straight ALFF Kicking Title. An NBC phase DeAndre Hopkins 6 yard TD pass (sic) did close the gap a little to 12-26 but any thoughts last Cat standing Jason Myers might rescue the situation in Seattle on Monday were swiftly extinguished by Dalvin Cook’s very timely and prompt 2 yard TD scamper right off the bat on the opening series . In the event the Bobcats specialist bit a 13pt hole (3 FG’s & 4 XP’s)  into what had become a 20pt lead.. and the full stop could added to the wall art mentioned above. Andrew’s success has seen a lot of clever money shift to the 3 times champions as they have been here and done it before. Almost all their key players look likely to be active right down to the wire with the only potential negative the effect of weather in December on Harrison Butker… and how injured is Dalvin Cook after going off on a cart late in proceedings on Monday.  Both times the Killers have secured a  top two berth they have gone on to secure the Steven Wood…. Nuff said. The Bobcats now have a week off to lick their wounds a little and will open their first knock-out competition as No 4 seeds, where their  opponents will be the “best” survivor from Rd 1. Coach Taylor’s largely unsung WR corps have ended the season as the No 1 ranked unit but a drop off at RB and to a lesser extent QB has been the root of their late campaign fade out. Time will tell if the rookie HC can address that in time to make a post season splash. The first season series between the two was split.

 

 

"Phins Can Only Get Better" Quoth The Thali Man

Derrick Henry powers in for a 13 yard JL8 score.

Crunch time in the ALFF and I’m not talking about my experience of sitting at the same dinner table as Compost either! The reality of the situation was that only 1 of these sides was to continue with a personal interest in this season’s competition; if the Arnhall Dolphins lost they’d miss the play offs for a second straight year and if the JL8 lost Head Coach Captain Mannering would be reliant on results elsewhere to determine their fate. There was also the chance of a season sweep for the Arnhall franchise and the Ex-Toon Hoose Bowl bragging rights were also up for grabs to boot! (Should the Dolphins win the dreaded spectre of the Commish’s slide rule was looming). The sides were also coming into this crucial match-up in distinctly different form, the seemingly dead in the water champs have been on a fine recent run of form whereas the Dolphins have lost their way of late and last week their only points came from their kicker so the optimism down Arnhall way was distinctly muted. Despite rumours of his recent passing I can confirm that it wasn’t our Thali Man that left the building it was another more famous (hard to credit I know) Ian Sutherland that departed this earth last week; Coach Compost is free to continue his sailing or cruising as the polis know it. Back from dodging the Bobbies in foreign climes Coach Compost had some selection issues but they got resolved quite quickly when his long suffering wife Jan managed to find his “lucky” pin! In the end the former Blue Peter gardener made only the 3 changes to last week’s inglorious bastards and like your scribe you may be forgiven for expressing some surprise at the shape these changes would take. In came the Vikings D who looked to have a difficult game in prospect but the real shock came at the other 2 changes, both of which were WR’s. In came evergreen (probably why the constant gardener chose him) Larry Fitzgerald and TE O J Howard; this came as a pleasant surprise to the JL8 as there was no place for the severely under-utilised but free scoring Chris Godwin. (Sidebar: At our monthly curry this past weekend the thorny subject of Sleeper Of The Year was raised, it was suggested that the coach who would become the recipient of this award would surely know he was going to win it and for which player if he even had half an eye on events as the season progressed; it should be noted at this juncture that Compost is a former manager and thus appeared somewhat oblivious to the suggestion that Chris Godwin was a good bet to win it, and furthermore it appeared to come as a greater shock to him when it was revealed that he was on the Arnhall roster)! The resurgent JL8 toyed with benching MVP candidate Lamarr Jackson on the basis he would face a stiff 49ers defence whilst team mate Private Sam Darnold Ridley (Godfrey to those of an uncertain age) was up against the less than imposing Bungles; haven fallen for that trick with disastrous consequences earlier in the season the doomsters stayed with the Raven. WR Tyrek Hill returned at WR for Cooper Kupp leaving the JL8 with a problem at RB2; Carlos Hyde was up against the cheats in the real world and was unlikely to be very productive so, and whisper this, Darius Guice was briefly considered for a rare start but as with the QB situation the JL8 stuck with what has recently been a winning formula. The early action on TNF saw the Dolphins fielding kicker Matt Prater and RB Ezekiel Elliot who, if victory was eluded, would be making his final bow as a retained player for the Arnhall side; the JL8 also had their kicker Will Lutz on parade for Thanksgiving. Mr Lutz, or the silent C as he is known down in the barracks, had another productive evening netting a solid 14 points for the JL8, his direct opponent Matt Prater however was less successful managing a sub-par 8 points in response but the real kicker (pun most definitely intended) was the failure of the spoon man; Zeke had a night to forget and his zero point outing made him the Thanksgiving Turkey! With a 6 point lead going into the QB battle the JL8 heid doomster was pretty confident that his lead would be extended after this particular head to head and for once that confidence was not misplaced; Lamarkable Jackson had a solid if unspectacular, by his standards, 9 point outing whilst the soon to be a free agent David Carr managed just the 3 points in response. It could be argued that the latter was fortunate to even manage those 3 points particularly when you consider that teammate and lone remaining RB Josh Jacobs fared even worse in a 1 sided shellacking in the same real world fixture and netted himself a festive goose egg. The doomsters could probably put this game out of reach when their RB’s took centre stage and sure enough Derrick Henry managed his customary TD but as expected Carlos Hyde hit a brick wall in the shape of the NFL’s top defence and ended up with his own goose egg. (Sidebar: I’ve not worked it out yet but that league best defence must be cheating – it’s in their DNA - if you know how they’re doing it send a letter to the league offices)! No owner likes to leave points off the board and the 2 TD night by the unselected Guice was annoying to the JL8 supremo but his selection would’ve been a reach so this is not the time for self-recrimination; at least not down Walmington-On-Sea way. With a 29 – 07 lead the JL8 needed a performance from their much maligned WR’s to put the game to bed and quash the possibility of an Arnhall comeback, I think we all know how this goes then; Tyreek Hill, D K Metcalf and Jarvis Landry might have stayed in the changing rooms for all that they contributed and each of the aforementioned received a pristine goose egg. (I’m not transcribing all the muttering coming from Walmington but suffice to say “of course Cooper fragging Kupp scored didn’t he” was a part of it)! Could the Arnhall WR’s flourish and give their MNF Vikings defence a realistic target to strive for? Up stepped the unlikely trio of O J Howard, Larry Fitzgerald and Chris Godwin, sorry I meant Emmanuel Sanders to perform heroics for the beleaguered Arnhall supremo. Could they do it? Well unless “heroics” is a three part harmony song then the answer is a resounding no! All 3 joined the goose egg club meaning it was a clean sweep for the WR’s in this game leaving the scorers to shout about futility and its definition. With the JL8’s New York Jets D failing to boost their lead it left the field clear for Dolphins and their Vikings D with a target of 3 TD’s for a tie and any score on top of that would provide that much needed victory. If dear reader you are feeling any tension about the outcome of this fixture based on the possibilities just described then I suspect you’ve been paying the same attention to this seasons events as Coach Compost; 4 scores from a D in the one game hasn’t happened this year & I’m not sure it ever has. When the dust settled the Vikings D did manage an early TD to at least put a better complexion on things but it wasn’t enough to prevent the JL8 from securing the crucial victory by a 29 – 17 score line. This win not only prevented the season sweep but secured the JL8 with the number 5 seeding, thanks to results elsewhere, and a seat at the post season bun fight. The JL8 still have a chance to be the first ever ALFF side to win back to back trophies but the poor returns from their WR’s will be a major hurdle to overcome if this ambition is to become reality. The Dolphins are paralleling their real world counterparts and only have next season to look forward to though the good news for the Arnhall Hoover is that there are numerous curry nights between now and then with all the more places for him to indulge in his taste for a good Thali!

Commish add on - Old Compost’s season was a strange affair. A grim opening 3 weeks was a tale of injuries at QB and struggles to get it right at kicker (where injuries were also a factor)  but they did have a  mid season 4 game  purple patch when largely fuelled by a Raiders upturn, QB Derek Carr and RB Josh Jacobs added a match winning element to bolster the solid base provided by Zeke Elliott and Matt Prater.  When the Raiders lost momentum with no WR oomph to help out… so did the Westhill mob as they faded out with a closing 4 game losing streak. A 12th ranked QB unit and a 12th ranked WR were the root cause of the Fins second straight play off miss on the trot….. and most of that can be traced back to Mad Fish’s draft. After we all got over the shock of seeing Ian two years on the trot, he settled in to the now normal Arnhall format. There was no 1 pick,  with Ezekiel Elliott on the retained list,  and while the power runner never contended for the title itself he was certainly value for money in his final season before hitting the free agent market. Indeed there is an argument the Umpires top 5 picks were the best of anyone (really !) on the day.   Rookie RB’s  Josh Jacobs & David Montgomery either side of Ben Roethlisberger picks 2 thru 4, set up what should have been a very solid foundation at two key positions with the future also factored in. Adding  his back up QB in the 5th Rd is very much a coach Sutherland “thang” and Cam Newton was certainly a little bit more than a high ranking back-up and in truth at that stage he should have been set….. but who could have known both The Cheeseburger and his Sartorial Ignorance would be gone for the season by week 3 ? That’s when Compost’s late first half draft picks came home to roost. With his WR’s list still devoid of names the Westhill based HC (with 3 rock carriers already in the bag) went for Royce Freeman with pick No 6 which meant to no-one’s surprise (bar perhaps Ian’s ) there was pretty slim pickings when he finally went WR at pick No 7. OJ Howard as your WR 1  should have been red flag that even by Arnhall standards it would be a struggle at the pass catching position. So.. in summary injuries preety much wrecked what in all rights should have been a more successful Arnhall season… but the owner may need to rethink his draft strategy ( time for a new pin Ian.. they are not expensive !!).

 

Gryphons Tame Pride Over Time

Birds WR Kenny Golloday streaks for 75 yard TD and the receiving title.

In the end the Bayler was right about his oft quoted “light at the end of the tunnel” being a big old freight train but for well into the dying moments of a frenetic Week 13 finale it seemed  as if was something altogether better was in the offing as the Garthdee Gryphons exited with a flourish on the back of a 21-20 OT victory over the title denied  Laurel Lions. While the Crimson One suffered the anguish of what might have been despite a win on the night….at least coach Hamilton had the succour of still making it to the play-off’s thanks largely to the JL8 large-ing it up over the Arnhall Dolphins, even if his Pittodrie Div hopes lay in tatters. So how did this all play out you ask ? Well the encounter opened on Thanksgiving with Jamesie knowing it was a simple win and hope the Blades slipped up… while Donny needed just about everything to go his way to sneak into the play-offs at 5-8. A wee hint things might be falling into place for the often luckless Garthdee supremo , came as  early as the first Detriot offensive play of the 3 game holiday programme when 3rd string Motor City QB David Blough (who ?) hit Gryphons WR Kenny Golloday on a double clutch out and up route  to romp 75 yards to paydirt (and the individual receiving title). The big receiver remained active throughout the evening , which prove significant later in proceedings, but did not add to his total. When it came round to the full team selections the Gryphons selection committee as is there norm , opted for the conservative approach, welcoming back Travis Kelce after his week off and steering away from “questionable”  players James Conner & Adam Thielen in favour of incumbents Dion Lewis & MVS. Coach Hamilton was a little more bold. We already knew there was a QB change coming when Josh Allen was not suited up on Thursday making Aaron Rodgers instatement one of three big passer changes this week in Title deciders ( wish I had changed mine !!), while Mo Sanu returned as the WR3. All the scoring (after Thursday came in the opening  Sunday action.  4 TD tosses from top pick Rodgers (8, 37, 17 and 1 yard) was the Lions best contribution and with none of those pulled in by MVS on the other end it was very much job done for the now veteran passer. Justin Tucker as Vegas suggested was limited a little by the conditions at M&T Bank Stadium but while his 8pts left him short (again) in the individual Kicking stakes it looked like it might good enough to get the Danestone based outfit close to theta much needed win. The Baltimore weather, of course affected the Gryphons Niners duo of Jimmy G and Tevin Coleman  with the QB’s 33 yard strike the only takeaway from Donny there but out of nowhere kicker Dustin Hopkins, re-instated only recently on the basis he was slight less worse than Eddy Piniero came up with a huge unexpected 11pt offering in Carolina.  Most of us expected the Redskins kicker to be a non factor again …but FG’s from 25,  42 and 36 yards plus two XP’s had the scores level at 20pts apiece. At this stage it still looked like Lions were in control with Sony Michel, Mo Sanu and Tyler Lockett (if fit) still to come and the Mythicals done an dusted… but the Pats pair double blank in Houston ratcheted up the tension as we moved to Monday night. James needed Lockett to score while not letting (The Blades) Russell Wilson get more than 6pts to snatch the Div title….. while Donny just needed to hold on and pray the Apaches could hold off the Wellington Rising in the last “other game” that needed to go the Bayler’s way. Well….it was deep into the 3rd quarter (00:05 to be precise) when a Wilson bomb effectively ended the Lions title hopes … but Lockett was not the recipient and was rarely seen as he turned in a blank forcing this game OT….. but what about the Rising ?? Could they fail and let the Gryphons in if they won OT ?? Well we were just 12 minutes from the end of the RS when the Rising in the shape of Kirk Cousins closed that door … but the Birds were determined to go out on a high. Kenny Golloday’s 4-158 was the lone scoring effort in the recording setting 5th OT period of the season ( 3 of which featured the Lions), handing the Crimson One a hard fought 21-20 triumph. So… it turned out to be much ado about nothing in the end with both coaches having to feel a little disappointed. On the other hand coach Hamilton should  be mighty relieved that the Arnhall Dolphins didn’t win, as he would have lost out in a 3 way tie break (with the JL8 & Wellington Rising ) on points scored and bounced out. His sides ups and downs have prevented the Pride from outpacing the Blades in the Div and will need to be sorted if a meaningful play-off run is to be put together.  A Rd 1 clash against Week 1 conquerors the 2 Minute Drillers awaits. For the Bayler it was a frustrating end to a  6th straight campaign with no post season reward. His 5-8 record was a big improvement on his grim 2018 effort but ultimately just a win short of making it to the knock-out phase. A Week Four 12-13 loss to the Argyll and a 28-30 setback at the hand of the Blades in Week 12 stand out as two games that could have made a huge difference to the Mythical Creatures season……  and I will get to their traditional injury hoodoo in a bit.  Their WR crew was the true highlight with Kenny Golloday picking up the individual title honor, which team-mate Adam Thielen looked on course for until his Week 7 injury. Jimmy G and the passing game was solid if not spectacular after a slow start . The ground game never really clicked other than one huge outing by Tevin Coleman … but it was his 12th ranked kicking game that really cost Donny big time. Nine score of 5pts or less make it hard on the team to win consistently. Looking back at his draft I have to say overall No 1 pick James Conner was the player I coveted at the No 5 slot but the combination of his own fragility and the premature exit of the Cheeseburger had a major limiting effect on what I can only describe as an otherwise excellent pick. Indeed coach Garioch Snr’s top end draft was as good as he has put together in many a year and probably deserved  a better output. 2nd Rd pick Travis Kelce was right up there on everyone’s draft board (still not sure why he is not producing !) while next selection  Adam Thielen was a beauty before a dodgy hammy slowed him down . 4th rounder Kerryon Johnson was another highly touted who did not quite come off (before he too was injured) and while Duke Johnson was arguably Donny’s weakest top half pick-up, it was almost best upside back available at that point. Kenny Golloday ( 4 picks from being a Driller !) was another inspired wide-out pick. There-after things get  a  little murky but 8th pick Tevin Coleman and 10th rounder Jimmy Garroppollo proved to be the foundation of the Birds late season pick up.  The Baylerville outfit do see to have something of an injury curse… and while I have pointed out in the past at this stage of the season before that drafting longer in tooth players does increase that risk, I do have to say that was not really a factor this time round. The only real criticism I can level at Donny’s selection in 2019 is he again ignored the rookie pool and will draft with a clean slate again in 2020 … so no great keepers to bang on about. The Bayler will pick no 4 in the 2020 draft. Donny’s first season sweep over his Div rival cuts Jamesie’s lead in the RSS to 6-4.

 

 

Wilson Russell's Up A Pittodrie Pennant Pass

QB Russell Wilson steered the Blades to the PDiv title.

Well here we go, folks. As Ol’ Blue Eyes crooned on many an occasion…. “And now the end is near”. Damn right it is. Week 13 is over and done with and the regular season has had a fork stuck in it and been pronounced “Done”. It has to be said that it went all the way to the wire before it was over and saw some teams hopes came to an, abrupt, finish. The Caledonian Express had already been eliminated and went into this one as, potential, spoilers. The Posse had blown hot and cold (although mostly the latter), for most of the season, and were looking to go out with a win. Coach Marty went with only one change to week 12 and brought back Mecole Hardman after his bye week. The Posse Heid Bummer made a point that, no matter who he picked, the points would come from those still on the bench. Sods Law! The Blades were looking to clinch the pennant and needed to, not only, win, but also have the Lions lose. Kiwi brought in Wilson for Watson at QB in, something of a surprise move, thus ending Watsons QB title quest, and went with a 4 WR set. Diggs was back after a bye and Scarboro dropped out. Gonzalez was handed the kicking duties. Week 6 had seen the two sides meet with Stuie’s charges coming away with a 41-32 win. 16 of those points came from Watson and Johnson, neither of whom featured this time around. The Posse led off on the Thursday, but managed to get only 3 points from Drew Brees. He finished with 18 of 30 for 184 yards and just the 1 score. This one was beginning to look like a squeaker. It proved to be more of a, sphincter clencher, by the time Sunday action finished. I use the word “action” advisedly, in this case. When the “stoor” had settled the Posse found themselves with a 10-4 lead. They added to the Brees score, courtesy of a Rams 31 yard interception, and a PAT from Maher. They, like the Blades, saw nothing from their backs and, bar one exception, the same from their wide men. The sole score card from Mark Andrews with a 20 yard grab. Zane Gonzalez was restricted to a PAT. It is not often that the kickers end up with one a piece. This left Wilson to try and win the game, come Monday. Had Stuie gone with Watson, the game would have been in the bag, but second guessing has a way of coming back and biting you on the arse. Wilson finished with figures of 21 of 31 for 240 yards, 1 interception and 2 sacks. However he connected on a 60 yard throw and then a 13 yarder, to snatch this one at the end. The Posse finish the year on 3-10 and grab the #1 pick for 2020 (Good grief it sound like something from Sci-Fi).This is the 4th 3-10 season for Marty in 28 years, and he will know where things went wrong. He leads the RSS 19-17 but the gap is closing. This years report card will read…must do better. The Blades make the play off party, but with a fair bit of, huffing and puffing. They had actually qualified as the Lions lost in OT, so the win made it a, double lock. They win the Pennant for the first time since 2015 (when they also finished 8-5) and get their first sweep over the Posse since 2014. They make the #3 seed (it would have dropped to #4 with a loss) and head for a bye week. This will give Stuie a chance to decide on his optimum side. They have the #1 QB game but must decide who would be at the helm. Watson could have been a contender for MVP, had he made it all the way. Horses for courses is the old adage, and sometimes the, wise choice is not, the best choice. So best of luck to the 8 teams left and Sayonara and best wishes to the 4 who miss out. Pretty sure they will all be back again when September 2020 come around.

 

Sleeper of the Week

Incredibly there was no single sweeper that would have altered the play-off picture in terms of participants or Div titles… but the 2 Minute Drillers could have re-jigged the single bye week spots. Normally the SOW is a selection process but clearly I can't be trusted on that front on this evidence..!! So go ahead YOU pick the SOW out of the following….

AAAAAT QB…. instead of Jacoby Brissett  who scored 3pts… Kyle Allen 12pts or Carson Wentz 10pts….

AAAAAT RB….. instead of Jonathon Williams 0pts , Peyton Barber 14pts….

AAAAAT K…. instead of Joey Slye 3pts… Jake Elliott 11pts or Brandon McManus 15(4) pts.

 

Player of the Week

Given the way things panned selecting a Player of the Week was always going to be influenced by the critical events on Monday night .. and while the Blades Russell Wilson might have captured the prize on the basis of the sub-plot of the impact on the QB title race… as it turned out his winning effort proved to be moot in the bigger picture. Therefore .. the final RS Player of the Week award goes to Wellington Rising passer Kirk Cousins… who’s double TD 9pt effort at the death go his side into the play-offs.

 

Play of the Week

The final RS POW was very nearly the first scoring of the week but Kenny Golloday’s prize will be the individual WR gong. Right at the death the Gryphon was usurped by the Rising’s Kirk Cousins  58 yard strike (to un-signed  Laquan Treadwell). Kirk’s score lifted the Rising from the exit pile to the last wildcard berth… they don’t come much bigger than that.

Stat Attack

WR Larry Fitzgerald passed Terrell Owens (155) to go 2nd on the WR RS appearance list.

 

 

Play-Offs Round 1

JL8 v Wellington Rising

2 Minute Drillers v Laurel Lions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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