Week 13

 

Atypical is the reputation and tag that the 2017 campaign has worn with some justification and little changed as our regular season finale served up little in the way of drama other than the last wildcard berth on offer and some last minute excitement in the individual title races. In the  lowest key Week 13 since 1995, when all 8 play-off spots were already filled, the Laurel Lions made it through to the post season party invite list as the last wildcard entry but it took a 22-27 Gryphons loss to the Caledonia Express to close that deal  as the defending champions went under tamely to a potent, play-off ready looking Westburn Blades. Outside of those two all Pittodrie Div clashes the sub plot was all about potential minor seeding shuffles. The Kincorth Killers opened the door to the 2 Minute Drillers grabbing No 1 spot by losing heavily to the confirmed No 3 seed Arnhall Dolphins but the Commissioner’s crew uncharacteristically fluffed their lines as they were outpointed by a bullish Scunthorpe Steelers. The Cove Bay Pirates also made a noise on their way to the exit as coach Inskter signed off with a thrilling 23-20 win over the play-off bound Deevale Desperados, with the last play of the 2017 RS breaking a tie and effectively assuring us of our first regular season campaign since 2014 without an OT period. The Argyll Apaches quietly did what they had to do to make sure they qualified as the best of the 1st Rd participants. In the end everything slid seamlessly into place with not a whiff of needing complicated rule applications to separate sides into their respective order. As things stand the seedings do favour a repeat Title winner with both coach McGeachy Jnr and the Ricker just two wins from getting their hands on the Steven Wood Memorial Trophy again... but with the “second tier” seeds occupied by coaches Sutherland and Garioch Jnr , the chances of a first time winner are still a strong possibility. Looking back as we traditionally do at the midseason predicted outcome, the halfway point assertion that the Apaches, Blades, Killers and Drillers were the most likely names on the Steven Wood this term, look only about half right with clever money going on both the Arnhall Dolphins and the Caledonia Express at this stage. The return of Zeke Elliott in Week 16 (and maybe Aaron Rodgers too) are an intriguing sub plot to our 25th knock-out bonanza ... with maybe the Apaches a dark horse to go all the way from a pure wildcard berth, as an indirect effect of  the return of Elliott.  History tells us now we have reached the pure knock-out stage... everything that has gone before now counts for nothing. Remember LFF Bowl 24 was contested by the No 2 and No 8 seeds , with no fewer than 5 of the 8 sides participating falling at the first knock-out hurdle.  Moving on to a points based view the 2 Minute Drillers completed the (near) formality of clinching their 8th ALFF Points Title as they almost went point for point with the Caledonia Express (who had a 17pt gap to close)  and although its rare , be aware the Commissioners crew are one of only four sides to have completed the Points and ALFF Title double. Remarkably the final few scores of the last NFL action (by the Cove Bay Pirates) saw us scrape over the 3744 pt mark... which is only significant in that it means the MWS was 25pts (but only just !) but our run of 6 straight season 4000pt campaigns came to crashing halt by a whopping margin.   The final total of 3748pts was the lowest since 2006 and the 5th lowest ever for a 12 team/13 week season. Clearly  no positional scoring records were broken, but while scoring across most positions actually  held good to their 2106 totals , the gains made by the RB group last term disappeared and fell  back massively to 717pts (from 924pts) to the lowest aggregate total EVER.  Given that wide-out output fell off a cliff in 2016.... the staying there hardly qualifies a banner year for that position either!  In last campaigns conclusion's, I suggested perhaps a small crop of  stronger O lines may flag a historic reverse of the decline of the RB position (in fantasy terms) but it now looks as if 2016 was a blip rather a trend !  Overall there was a healthy two new Division winners and two teams in the post season mix that missed out in 2016, which again suggests we are still on the right lines  in terms of parity but given the outright split we had in two groupings I am STILL of the opinion  some minor Divisional re-alignment would not go amiss. At this stage we take leave of our four departing coaches, so thanks to coaches McConnachie, Inkster, Adamski  and Donny  for being  a big part of our 26th season.. and I sincerely hope you will be back for our true Silver Jubilee in 2017.  Finally... as is the custom.... a Jerry Jones  ego  sized thank you to my team of hand picked assortment of cliche jockeys, hacks, scribblers and tripe pedlars, which this year overcame , in no particular order, even more old age, extreme distance, the Campbeltown Dog Ate My Homework (on at least three occasions) ,   hangovers, lack of exciting content , and consisted of the Crimson Haybaler, Geronimo , Coach Kiwi and Desperate Dan. I do say this every year but we couldn't do this without you guys... even if in some cases we still don’t understand it once we’ve read it !! As always ..... 78  RS games gone... and now it's winner takes all,  on a game by game basis through 7 play-off match ups. May the best team win . ENJOY !

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Lynch Nicks It For Steelers

RB Alvin Kamara please both coaches with this 2 yard TD run !

 

ALFF, regular season, headed into week 13 with most of the questions regarding post season participation having already been answered. One or two teams still to have their fates decided. This one was a little different. The Commish and his Drillers had already made the play off party and were looking for some icing on the cake. Should they win and the Killers were beaten, then they had the chance at the #1 seeding. They were also looking to retain the points title. The Ricker opted to go with some changes. In came Austin Ekeler for his first ALFF start, in place of Blount, in a tactical change. He got the nod ahead of Alex Collins to line up alongside Gurley. Michael Thomas was back in place of Sanu as the coach did not fancy the latter’s chances against the Vike’s. The Jag’s D was thrown in to replace the Rams unit. The Steelers had already been eliminated and were playing for pride. Coach Meek decided to play Marshawn Lynch in place of Hunt, and Jordan Matthews came in for Amari Cooper as a wide man. Tavecchio got the nod ahead of Walsh at Kicker. This one was all about Sunday action. Drew Brees has been something of a fixture in Drillers sides over the years, and has shown his worth on many occasions. He went 25 0f 34 for 269 yards with 2 sacks and a touchdown score, with a 10 yard pass to Thomas, to put up 6 for the Commissh. Over the other side of the park was DeShone Kizer, in his rookie season, but he kept up with Brees as he went 15 of 32 for 215 yards with 1 interception and 3 sacks, but scored on a 28 yard passing play. The game breaker came from the backfield of the Steelers. Alvin Kamara ran in from the 2 and the 20 for 6 points and then Marshawn Lynch went on a 51 yard rumble to add another 8. Agholor’s 27 yard catch made it 26-6 for the Steelers, but would it be enough? The Commish has had lots of points from Todd Gurley, this season and was looking for more of the same, but on this occasions he and Ekeler, posted a pair of goose eggs. The Drillers did pull back 3 courtesy of a, Funchess 24 yard reception, but it looked like, too little too late. Kicker Greg Zurlein has been a major source of points this season and he set about closing the gap. He connected on FG’s from 51, 20, 24 and 41 yards as well as 2 PATs (he actually missed another), for 16 points, but it was not enough. Tavecchio saw the Steelers home with a 39 yard FG and 3 PATs, and this one was done and dusted. The Steelers finish on 4-9 and split the 2017 RSS. They will have the 3rd pick in the 2018 draft (sometimes that’s more of a hindrance than a help). They finished 3-3 in their division, but the damage came against the rest of the league. They also become the first ALFF side to get, bonus, rushing scores from 3 players different in one season. In this case Lynch, Hunt, and Kamara, who might just turn out to be the find of the season. The Drillers and the Commish finish on 9-4 and miss out on the #1 seeding, thanks to this loss. The fact that the Killers also went down will, possibly, niggle a bit, as will some of the changes that were made. Sometimes, second guessing becomes an art form. They book end their season with losses; weeks 1 and 13 seeing them score 25 points and lose. They have been over this course on numerous occasions. Records show them as having won, double, bye weeks on seven occasions, but only once did this lead to winning the whole shooting match. The Drillers have won the title on 5 occasions, and number 6 is a, strong possibility. They also retain the Points title, becoming the first side to do so, twice.  One cloud on the horizon is week 16. Should the Dolphins make it past week 15 they will collide with the Commish and his crew and that week could see the return of, scoring machine, Ezekial Elliot, so anything is possible. So 8 sides left and 4 weeks to go. The best of luck to all who are still on board, and commiserations to all those who have disembarked. To the latter…just remember…there is always next year. This is the Crimson Haybaler signing off for another year. Catch you all in 2018

 

Phins Find Form In Finale

Delanie Walker piles on the Arnhall points with a 24 yard counter.

Week 13, the last of the regular season, and this was supposed to be the Divisional decider, well it was until the Phins fell victim to the dawdling Dans recently meaning that the result of this game bore no influence on the pennant.; the Kincorth side had an unassailable divisional record. Having wrapped up the Division, the Killers had already been crowned as champs; there was however that little but inescapable driving force of pride to be considered. The Killers had won the previous encounter and the Head Gardener of the Phins was determined upon revenge. That said Auld Compost made a surprise change to his side with the very low scoring Julius Thomas coming in for Demaryius Thomas; I say low scoring but I believe he had made one end zone visit previously this season; for Arnhall’s NFL counterparts in Miami that’s a big time return for a TE. The Killers also made one change that was equally surprising, known quantity Dez Bryant making way for Bills rookie Zay Jones. (I suppose, actually I don’t have a theory as to why this switch was made; it could be that neither NFL parent team has a starting QB but that’s just unfounded idle speculation). So, with nothing of intrinsic value at stake except their head to head records, to the contest; if that’s the correct term. The QB battle was one that I and many neutrals found amusing if not entertaining. The Phins Russell “God bothering imbecile” Wilson had an excellent 9 point night against a strong defence whilst Tom “I’m the oldest starting cheat in the league” Brady did his best Karen Brady impersonation and was pointless! Maybe that’s a sign of old age creeping in, perhaps he’s forgotten how to cheat; yes I know that’s unlikely but he’ll have some excuse, he always finds one when under pressure (sic). The RB contest was intriguing as both Coaches had also entered their players in the goose egg competition. Coach Compost would’ve been shocked at the success Derv and his boys had here as both Dion Lewis and Jordan Howard were flawless in the goose egg category but Isaiah Crowell and Ty Montgomery came through for the Arnhall boys and matched their performance. Goose Eggs all round at RB then and no change to the score with Arnhall ahead by 9 – 0. Contrast, now there’s a pleasing word and it will be used when describing the respective play at WR and sadly not in a way that will go down well in that shady realm of the city known as Kincorth or Kinkers to its natives. Surprisingly the addition of Julius Thomas was an inspired move as pre-game the soon to be ex-Dolphin was handed a map and shock, horror, he can read; this resulted in the extraordinary spectacle of him finding the end zone for a score. Team mates Jason Witten and Delaney Walker were inspired to such a degree that they followed the bread crumbs left by their colleague and likewise found the end zone. I don’t recall covering any game before in which all 3 WR positions were filled by TE’s and all 3 scored but I’m sure the editor will correct me on this – he did sensor me last week after all (that's a bald bear faced lie... he,he .. editor)! The Killers, now 18 points down needed some response from their WR trio or this game was going to get ugly and I mean Arnhall Dolphins ugly!! The Killers must have had some confidence in Alshon Jeffrey, after all he was in the hunt for the individual WR title, but alas apart from having a TD called back he was held in check and never really threatened thereafter. When team mates Zay Jones and Mike Evans became fully paid up members of the Goose Egg club the jig was up and an Arnhall Ugly was in full swing. With neither defence scoring the contest between the kickers became symbolic of the actual contest as a whole, only pride was at stake. Could the Killers at least win the kicking battle? Ever reliable Matt Bryant blootered a solid 9 points for the despondent Kincorth side but Chandler Catanzaro had his game face on for the Phins and he wasn’t about to lose his head to head thus he promptly answered with a disheartening 12 points. A 30 – 9 victory gave the Arnhall Dolphins a franchise best regular season record of 10 – 3, the 3rd seed and a bye week. The Killers simply didn’t turn up but as there was nothing meaningful at stake they could not care less; they still have the divisional title (their 2nd) and a 2 week bye but came up just short of their franchise best 11 – 2. This game also decided the ALFF QB title with Russell Wilson coming out on top, but the good news here is that he beat Tom “try cheating father time” Brady so everybody’s happy!  The Killers retain their number 1 seed and lead the RSS 12 – 10. For those of you who like a flutter I hope you didn’t follow the Vegas View which had installed the Killers as 3 point favourites; the basis for this was the expectation that the Cheats would run the ball with Dion Lewis being the beneficiary. This was half right as they did indeed run the ball but via Rex Burkhead and not the Killers Dion Lewis. The previous statement proves the axiom “Never trust the Patriots”. The Phins are in good shape and await the winner of the Blades v Dans clash unless the Lions beat the Apaches. The only real concern the Killers have is their 2 week bye, by the time that passes the cheats could be in a position to rest Tom Brady though as events described above would indicate maybe that isn’t such a bad thing as Coach Derv might pull an “Eli” and bench the scunner anyway. Remember unless you didn’t make the play offs, it’s not over until Michael McIntyre sings. (Maybe then the appellation of comedian would have merit)! A split season gives coach Andrew a 12-10 lead in the RSS. Additional Commissioners note :- The Arnhall Dolphins join the 1998, 2 Minute Drillers as the only side to finish 10-3 and not win their Division.

 

 

Slashed By Blades ... Lions Limp On

Jimmy Graham hauls in a 5 yard YD grab for the Blades.

The Westburn Blades shook off their recent lethargy and made life uncomfortable for their opponents as the Pittodrie Division  All Blacks swept the Laurel Lions aside with an lopsided 28-12 victory. Coach Hamilton had to endure a nerve shredding Sunday night into Monday morning to see if the battling Garthdee Gryphons could snatch away the last wildcard berth but the Pittodrie Div outfit fell just a little short  to hand the 5-8 Lions the last ticket to the post season party. Ultimately, with the Birds losing, the result made no difference to either ball-club … but with the Commissioner having first dibs on the League crystal ball neither HC had any way of knowing that going in. When the game kicked off the equation for coach Hamilton was a  plain “Win And Your In” story and the defending champion in his own words very much went to his ‘big guns’, despite the poor seasons some of them have had. Tough looking NFL match-up’s forced Mufasa to bring in 2017 RB enigma DeMarco Murray to join Lamar Miller in the Lions recently improving running game , while Jordy Nelson was recalled in place of DeSean Jackson with a preferred Chris Hogan still on the injured list. A more relaxed Stuie (if Scottish stereotypical St Andrews Day pictures of him swigging Irn Bru dressed in  his kilt on an Antipodean balcony are anything to go by ), pretty much pencilled in as the No 6 seed , saw the now only non retired Bothwell recall back in  favour Derek Carr at QB , swap out  WR Jarvis Landry with Marvin Jones, while adding the newly acquired Robby Anderson at WR3. With No Thursday action (bar Stuie’s teeth curling Irn Bru binging) the game played out largely over the two Sunday periods... but in reality was all but settled early. Case Keenum again proved to be a solid if unspectacular element of the Lions attack with a pair of short TD tosses (2 and 6 yds) but with nothing from WR Stefon Diggs and kicker Ryan Succop accounting for all of the skinny 6pts harvested by Titans duo Succop & Murray, all the signs pointed to a low points total for the anxious wildcard chasing combo. RB Lamar Miller’s run of recent scores came to a crashing halt... meaning,  with not much left in the tank , James’ charges had just 12pts to show for themselves .. with their season on the block. Across the line of scrimmage , with little or no pressure on, The Blades were being clinical. RB Leonard Fournette returned to scoring form with a 5 yard TD run to take the onus off scoreless Shady McCoy and WR duo Jones & Anderson, while kicker Justin Tucker enjoyed his best outing of the year too date with a massive 16(3)pt total that featured 5 XP’s and a triple FG provision that had a  51 yarder as the highlight.  When Jordy Nelson, the only coach H starter out in the second Sunday period, failed to answer a  9 yard Derek Carr TD,  leaving  Youngblood 25-12 in front, with largely bit players left to come.... this one was effectively over. As it turned out Jimmy Graham won his head to head with Laurel’s Paul Richardson in a direct WR battle in the NBC phase in the Pacific NW to make it 28-12 while the two opposing defences fought out a scoreless draw that would have warmed the heart of  Catenaccio aficionados. Despite this result the Lions limped through as No 8 seed  with a closing 5-8 record on the back of 2 intra-Divisional victories over the identically 5-8 Gryphons. On this showing coach H knows his grip on the Steven Wood Trophy is tenuous at best and he will have to find some more consistency to make any post season impact. The Laurel Road based head honcho  used up his last get of jail card for the season.. with a repeat of this effort sure to end his tenure as defending League champion. RB Demarco Murray continues to drive the Danestone based coaching crew crazy… any time he’s in, he’s stinks the whole running game up… yet leave him out and he’s SOW material. If the coach and player can get in synch, Murray may provide the support Keenum & Succop need to make this side play-off ready. With the Argyll Apaches waiting for them in Round 1, someone has to provide inspiration, or their 2017 knock-out competition experience may be a short one.  The Blades move on to their 5th straight post season competition as No 6 seed with their 7-6 overall record their 5th  straight winning campaign… out of 8 winning seasons in total.  Having snapped a troublesome 3 games losing streak with their second 28pt showing in three games , the NZ based combo seem to have rediscovered their mojo at just the right time.  They will now face an in- form Deevale Desperados who are a different side since coach Kiwi’s boys defeated them 27-23 in Wk 4. With Fournette looking back to his pre-disciplinary best and the QB unit showing flicker of life Youngblood should have some confidence his side can launch a deep run in the post season.  A first ever season sweep in the series gives coach Bothwell the Younger a 4-2 lead in the RSS.

 

 

Player of the Week

Posse WR Tyreek Hill has been a contender for the ALFF WR Title since Week 1 .. but looked to have lost his way over the back end of the season. Without  a score since Week 9 and having been largely swallowed up by the pack , Hill exploded in the 3rd quarter of his final RS game to not only put up the points that would win him individual glory... but also play a huge part in the final play-off berth. Tyreek's 9(3)pt effort , made up of 79 and 40 yard TD receptions win him the last RS Player of the Week award for 2017.

 

 

Play of the Week

The regular season opened up with Posse WR Tyreek Hill  featuring in the Play of the Week column... and we almost signed off the regular season with a nice Hill "Wally Dug"... the receiver's amazing  79 yard TD catch and run. However... overall one other play may ( at that's only a may ) prove more significant. Scunthorpe Steelers RB Marshawn Lynch was recalled  by his HC to face the 2 Minute Drillers in the Steelman's last outing of 2017. Lynch promptly rattled off a 51 yard , eight point scoring run that proved the difference in a 32-25 Scunny victory that denied the Commish the No 1 seed. Lynch's TD was the 8th , eight point running play of the season, and was also significant in that Adamski became the first coach in League history to have 3 different RB's get a bonus rushing TD in the same season ( Hunt & Kamara were the others).

 

Play -Offs Round 1

Argyll Apaches (5)  v Laurel Lions (8)

Westburn Blades (6) v Deevale Desperados (7)

 

Play -Offs Round 2

Arnhall Dolphins (3) v TBC

Caledonia Express (4) v TBC

 

Play -Offs Round 3

Kincorth Killers (1) v TBC

2 Minute Drillers (2) v TBC

Back To Homepage

 

Double Cheeseburger Too Much For The Mac's

Le'Veon Bell takes advantage of VERY sloppy defending to score on a 35 yard reception.

In a season that promised so much -and still might deliver something- Coach Geacher The Senior after a four game losing streak signed off with a victory over the disappointing Wrecking Rebels who seem to have thrown in the towel a tad early this season. Coaches McConnachie fielded an unchanged team whilst Geronimo rang the changes....current Apache's Hall Of Famer QB Ben Cheeseburger returned to replace the hapless and Zekeless Dak Prescott whilst a concussion on Doug Martin meant a ALFF debut for Titan wideout Corey Davis in a 4WR set. The early Sunday games saw the Apaches get into their stride very quickly when Gostkowski rammed up 13 points with three field goals  -including one from the 50- and two points after and when Denver's Justin Simmon's  scored on a 65 yard interception return, that was games abogey for the Rosemount crew, Incidentally, that *D* score is only the second TD  that the Apaches defence have scored in two seasons. I can also exclusively reveal (copyright Gerry MacNee, The Voice Of A Football) that Stephen Gostkowski is to be inducted into the Apache's Virtual Hall Of Fame where he joins fellow kicker Adam Viniatieri, Cheeseburger, Clinton Portis and Hines Ward. He's in good company. The Rebs reply was somewhat muted..... Keenan Allen scored for Mikey, a seven yard snare and Christian McCaffrey got his now customary receiving TD , this week from 21 yards out. Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas padded the scores with a 52 yard field goal and two points after, and thus brought the curtain down on a disappointing Rebs season. From a personal point of view, I do hope that both Coaches MacConnachie make it back for next year, I really do. Well it was all done and dusted before Monday night, but Cheeseburger showed up anyway with a pair of TD throws, one to fellow Brave LeVeon Bell to make the final score Apaches 28-13 Rebels. So the Apaches, the Diesel's pick for the Bowl are still in it, albeit with the #5 seed allocated to them, not the #'1 as seemed to be their destiny for much of the season, and they will face the defending champs, the Laurel Lions. One would think that the Kintyre based outfit will be the Vegas favourites what with an average of six points per game better than the Lions, but football's a funny old game, Saint. On another note, a second Geacher Bowl is a possibility, but if it happens, chances are it will be in the Bowl-Bowl, if you get my drift. Finally with this my last report for this season, the Diesel in me would like to point out that he called seven out of the eight play-off teams correctly, only missing out on the Steelers and getting the Lions wrong AND calling it correctly on one out of three Divisional winners, whilst the other two tipped hit second place. The Diesel, as you know is a modest man, and not one to blow his own trumpet, but next year he'll be using the Pen Name "Satchmo'"  It's been fun, again, and I for one will be back next year, and maybe as defending chumpion (sic)! The Diesel has willed it! Ciao baby!

 

 

Pirates Steel Themselves For A Late Flourish

Pirates wide-out Antonio Brown get his side to within 1pt with this 6 yard score.

Alright guys, you’ve had your fun over the last few weeks, but now it is time to PAY THA MAN! “The RONaissance™” was trademarked for a reason; it’s probably the smartest thing I have ever come up with, and I include the “Strawberry Cheesecake Bagel” in that statement! There was nothing really at stake in this one though, as the Dan’s secured playoff action last week as the final wildcard while the Pirates were mathematically eliminated in week 12. With a win Ronnie’s rabble would have carded their 5th winning season in the last 6 – but that wasn’t to be. Still, if the 30-29 week 6 thriller was anything to go by, this one was going to be tighter than a witches - whatever that is supposed to mean..? As it would turn out, yes it would be pretty darn close. QBs Phil Rivers and Carson Wentz were symmetrically and surprisingly poor in their encounters against the Browns and (weakened) Seattle D’s respectively. Rivers got the yards but could only muster a solitary 7-yarder and the story was much the same for Wentz, who’s sole contribution came on a 27-yard strike. Jerrick McKinnon was the beneficiary of the ol’ goal-line dump pass to stick the Pirates’ noses in front before 4th receiver, David Njoku, dragged a defender into the endzone for a 28-yard bullet over the middle. The ageless (well, he’s 34) Larry Fitzgerald would claw things back to 09-06 in favour of Coach Matty’s side going in to Monday Night Football. So it was all pretty quiet to this point, but MNF representation was pretty high in this one, and with the spoils expected to go Pittsburgh’s way it was perhaps expected that this match would be the Pirates’ to plunder. However, it would appear that the Bengals did not receive their copy of the script. A.J. Green was on fire early on with two first half scores supplemented by two Randy Bullock PATs and two field goals to swing the contest back in favour of the Desperados. Then came the second half, and the script finally made it to the Cincinnati and the Bungles duly capitulated under the lights. Antonio Brown had gone into this week 1 point ahead at the top of the wideout charts, but was unceremoniously usurped by Tyreek Hill’s 9 point performance in KC. He would have to do with second spot behind the big play specialist after bringing in a short pass for a score. Chris Boswell’s 3 late field goals and two PATs ensured that the spoils would go to Pittsburgh and to Cove – both of whom won by 23 – 20 with comeback wins this week, leaving the first ever season series between the two is split 1-1. And so the Cove Bay Pirates finish with a “3 wins out of the last 4” flourish, which will surely put the taste of blood in the mouth of Coach Matty Ice and have the Pirates ready and raring to go for next season. I shalln’t say too much more about the debutant franchise as our exhalted Commisioner will pay a respectful synopsis below, but the final 4-9 standing is very harsh. A few results could have gone either way, but that is the beauty of the game. Nil desperandum for the Desperate one though, as his midseason sprint was enough to allow him to stumble over the line and into the playoffs where he will face a hot-or-not Blades side who have backed up into the playoffs after a hot start. Fortunes have flipped for the two sides since a tight one in week 4 went the way of Wellington. Onwards unto the the Thunderdome known as The ALFF Playoffs – “Two man enter; one man leave!” Good luck to our remaining participants, but, in the paraphrased words of Paul Pogba: “if you could all just suffer horrific season ending injuries to your star players now so I can win, that would be great.” Coach Kiwi – Over and out!"

The Pirates storming finish put a more "realistic" sheen on their inaugural campaign. Matthew's side only dropped below the 20pt mark on 3 occasions and had they played (for example) the Arnhall Dolphins schedule, would have won at least 7 games with another 3 going OT periods I have not worked out. That said they did fall into the classic mold of a team just one player short of getting over the hump. By using a second highest 21 players overall no-one can accuse the first year HC of not trying ! Coming in cold with an early draft slot is always challenging and it remains to be seen if Matthew will pick a WR in a similar slot in 2018. Up until the last three weeks Antonio Brown, as the 2nd player taken was a total bust but the Pirates cause was not helped  when intriguing 2nd Rd pick Dalvin Cook was lost for the season in Week 4. Third and  Fifth Rd picks OJ Howard and Hunter Henry looked like solid additions to bolster his Brown led WR corp... although both maybe had more PPR upside.. and 4th selection Philip Rivers was arguably a steal at that stage.. if his early season form did not quite support that reasoning. Steven Hauschka at No 7 rounded out what was in essence a decent first ALFF draft... although the peaky nature of the kicker's output was a contributing factor to the Pirates shaky start and once he switched to the more dependable Chris Boswell (and the Steelers picked up) the results started to flow.  With one year's experience of the more black & white nature of the ALFF system (as opposed to PPR). Picking in the No 2 slot I fully expect coach Inkster to be challenging for honors in 2018. Thanks Matthew I hope you enjoyed it, and will be back for more next term.

 

 

Birds Plucked As They Fail To Climb Play-off Hill

QB Marcus Mariota gets the Express on track with this 9 yard TD run.

A season that had started so brightly ultimately ended in more early  exit tears for coach Donny and his Garthdee Gryphons , as the Week 4 stand alone  Pittodrie Division leaders crashed out of contention with a cruel but  hard fought 22-27 loss to sibling rival Marty in the second ,  and last Garioch Bowl of 2017. The Bayler had to secure success and hope coach Kiwi could do him a favour by knocking off the Laurel Lions....and although the Blades did their bit... the Birds could not arrest an alarming two year losing sequence  in the all Flying Garioch Bros fixture,  to  slither out at 5-8 on the back of a two loss tie break  to the aforementioned Lions. Locked in as No 4 seed Marty had little to play for other than the bragging rights in the oldest ongoing rivalry in the League  although he did have a sniff of glory in the ALLF Point Title chase if the 2 Minute Drillers were to come up small in Week 13. That said, going into this 41st RS all Garioch meeting , he could not resist one more spin of his QB carousel recalling Marcus Mariota in place of Dome bound Cam Newton in an otherwise unchanged side from the eight that clinched the Pittodrie Div pennant in Wk 12. On the other side of the ball the Crimson One had little room for manoeuvre but did unexpectedly plug in previously unused WR Jamison Crowder to partner QB Kirk Cousins in the Thursday night prologue. Cousins, who could have catapulted himself directly in to the individual passing Title race with a double digit offering, offered up a 2 TD contribution but did not hook-up with team-mate Crowder on either scoring toss , leaving the pundits to reason  the Birds had come up  a little short and were up against it versus the 3pt favorite Express. Although Marcus Mariota quickly tied the scores on Sunday with a swift 9 yard TD run in Nashville,  the opening sequence of events in the Meadowlands  initially gave the Gryphons some  cause for optimism. A timely 1 yard TD breenge by RB Bilal Powell restored the Birds 6pt advantage  while WR Travis Kelce totally eclipsed the WR title seeking Tyreek Hill by scoring first on a 22 yard TD grab and then following that up with a 36 yard counter. Leading 18-06 the Bayler was daring to hope but the ALFF Gods have a history of first inflating the bubble before applying the pin... and so it was here. Tyreek Hill’s stunning 79 yard TD reception put him bang on course to become ALFF receiving champion and was quickly followed by a more sedate 40 yard counter and all Donny’s early gains were abruptly swept aside. A score at this point from the long dormant Devonta Freeman might have reinvigorated the Garthdee ballclub but the early season pacesetter was held firmly in check by the Vikings D in Atlanta . A late 24 yard TD toss from Marcus Mariota completed the Posse’s comeback  from their opening  setbacks and brought the scores level.  Tied at 18-18 and heading into the late Sunday stanza, and with the news from the Lions game highly encouraging the mood in the Garthdee Rd HQ was still  relatively upbeat with regular contributors Mike Baldwin and Jake Elliott still to come in the NBC phase.... as long as the Posse did not stride away through RB Mark Ingram and K Graham Gano  in the late Sunday events in the Superdome.  Ingram (another Posse starter in the running for individual title glory) looked in the zone and came within  one block of a huge eight point score... but he did get his reward  with the subsequent 2 yard TD run. After that it was pretty much the Alvin Kamara show.. and worryingly for coach Marty, Gano was held to just to just PAT’s .. three of them to be precise.  Was 27-18 a winning  position ??? Well.. it spelled the end of the CalX’s ALFF Points Title dreams  but from a Gryphons perspective trailing by just 9pts and with the Lions out of it bar a defensive avalanche, the play-off berth was there for their last two men to grab. Unfortunately (for the Bayler)  that’s not the way it turned out. A mixture of  poor clock management by the Eagles coaching staff and a fumble through the endzone by Wentz either  side of half time limited Elliott’s initial total to just 3 pts (on a 26 Yd FG)  leaving the  Garthdee outfit still on the outside chasing a 21-27 deficit. On the  very next drive after Wentz’s butter fingers horror it looked like Doug Baldwin had worked the  Mythical Creatures  to within just  a FG (at 24-27) with a  48 Yd TD grab.. but on further review it was ruled the Gryphons wideout had just touched out of bounds  at the 1 yard line and another “chance” had gone. The Eagles then immediately worked the ball into FG position.....  but trailing 17-3 with more than a quarter to play ... to  Donny’s dismay ...  unsuccessfully went for a 4th and 3 from the 25 yard line.  A late Elliot PAT did close the score to 27-22 but that’s as close as it got. Posse wide-out Juju Smith-Schuster  provided a  final violence laden, nasty tasting  doughnut in last action of the game. The Posse finish a very healthy 8-5 , to equal their best season performance since 2011 , in this their first winning campaign in 6 years. With the Pittodrie Division pennant flying proudly over Dunlin HQ and the club sporting it’s first individual WR Title winner in Tyreek Hill since Jerry Rice in 1994, 2017 is proving to be a heady one for the Cove head honcho.  After the luxury of one week off Marty now faces his biggest test.. how to end a 24 year play-off hoodoo.  The Birds, 5-8 for a 2nd straight time,  miss out on the post season  for the 4th year on the trot... and sadly for Donny with a 5th straight 4th place finish in a Division he dominated for the six years prior to this awful run. From a position of strength at the conclusion of Week 4, standing 3-1 at the head of the Div standings, averaging a League best 30.5pt a game , the wheels came off big time for the founder owner. His last 9 games yielded just 2 more victories with an  average score of just 19.5 pts over that second period. So where did it all go wrong ??  You don’t have to look too far past 1st pick Devonta Freeman to find at least part of the answer. The 3rd player taken overall (1st RB) was on fire through the opening 4 weeks of the season before going MIA  with not a single point added to his 30pt total through 4 games. Indeed the Birds would see only 12 more points on the ground  (including the 6 this week) in their remaining  9 fixtures. Align that to the previous observations on the Mythical Creatures fall from their Week 4 plateau, throw in Donny’s uncanny habit of having unusual in-game kicking injuries , his usual heavy dose of other “normal” injuries  and you pretty much get the overall picture. Doug Baldwin was a reach as No 2 pick overall but understandable given the hard to fathom run on receivers that was in progress . Third Rounder Jordan Reed is an All ALFF Bust select contender  but of a glut of players taken before the nibbles were up for grabs only 4th selection Travis Kelce and Kirk Cousins ( 6th Rd)  proved to be the genuine article. When Freeman dipped .. it was really all on Cousins and Kelce and a kicking game that somehow survived the early loss of Caleb Sturgis, Jake Elliott proving to be one of the better pick-ups on the transaction front. The big fade out is not an unfamiliar story  in Baylerville.... depth of roster arguably again a contributing factor. Donny will draft in the No 4 slot in the 2018 draft. Marty’s second season sweep on the trot reduces Donny’s overall lead in the RSS to 23-18.

 

 

 

Sleeper of the Week

With coach Donny unable to muster a Sleeper that would have kept his season alive the Sleeper focus switched to other matters. Time will tell if being seeded No 1 or No 2 will have much bearing on the Drillers fortunes.. but the Commish definitely missed a trick this week. In his pre-match considerations it was very much a toss up between pick-ups Austin Ekeler and Alex Collins for the RB 2 slot.. with the former getting the nod. Had the Drillers supremo went with Collins instead he would have netted 12 additional points... beaten the Steelers 37-32 ... and secure that No 1 seed. Instead the Ricker ends the regular season as he started it .. with a loss and the Sleeper of the Week prize.