With our official 25th birthday looming, Week 2 saw our first round of intra Division fixtures and the action was more in keeping with our long tradition of high scoring competitive games with the Blades v Gryphons fixture grabbing the headline in terms of both scoring and comeback thrills. Donny's narrow 31-30 success saw his charges top a trio of sides to retain undefeated status with the Kincorth Killers and Arnhall Dolphins rounding out that already short list. With Week 1 stand-outs the Caledonia Express getting knocked off their perch by the Laurel Lions the Gryphons are the only side with an outright lead in their (Pittodrie) Division although the aforementioned victories for coach McGeachy Jnr and Mad Fish has already created a 2-0 v 0-2 rift in the normally uber tight Granite Division. Over in the Bon Accord Division the Drillers victory over the Apaches ensured a 3 way tie for bragging rights in that traditional powerhouse grouping and it has to be said despite the pre-season pundits labeling the Braves as the BA favorites .. through the opening 2 weeks it's the Steelers and the Commissioners crew who looked the more rounded sides. At the other end of the spectrum new boys the Cove Bay Pirates are still looking for their first win and coach Inkster's fledgling franchise are joined on 0-2 by the suffering Deevale Desperados and Wrecking Rebels. Both the last two named squads are currently riding franchise worst losing streaks extending back into the 2016 regular season and badly need a change in fortune if the campaign isn't to get away from them early. The Pirates just need to hang in their and build on some solid QB output. On a wider League outlook a two week sample is always too little to draw significant conclusions... but QB, WR and Kicker scoring seems patchy at best thus far with RB's looking to build on their surprise 2016 recovery... with rookie talent a significant factor. But as I said... early days. As we go to press the transaction wires are humming ... so expect to see a few roster changes as coaches across the League move to strengthen their squads and adjust to injuries... where as always we have seen big names like David Johnson already out for significant time. Finally... read on to see more detail... but having not had a coach name a starter from ANOTHER teams roster in his starting line-up in 25 previous seasons... Week 2 will go down in ALFF mythology as the week it finally happened... not once .. but incredibly TWICE. It all involved the Apaches and Arnhall Dolphins and their respective D selections... which both got badly wrong. All I'm going to say is coach Zimmer... and let you draw your own conclusions !! 12 games in ... 73 to go... all 12 teams with eyes on the prize. This could be YOUR year.
Drillers Put The Brakes On Apaches
Drillers RB Todd Gurley just gets the ball across the plain on this 18 yard grab.
Some things just never get old – unlike yours truly who won’t see 30 again, or 40 or 50..I’m sure you get the picture – the Huns and/or the Tims getting humped by, well, anybody; England failing at anything, the Pats getting caught cheating and then protesting their innocence, MP’s getting caught in an expenses fraud or indeed in some sexual misadventure with a porcupine and…….. the ALFF meeting between the 2 Minute Drillers & the Argyll Apaches. To call this an annual event is to miss the actual scale of this fixture for this is game number 44 (all time) in the sequence! What did Vegas make of this latest encounter? Well the bookies saw the Drillers as 2 point favourites but I’m guessing that despite that nobody saw the Commish darken a turf accountants doorway with lucre in his mitts. Perhaps the bookies factored the wear on tear on the respective coaches over this long rivalry as a reason for their favouritism; the suspicion that the Commish has aged better than his counterpart the Geacher is pure speculation. A warning to all readers - should you continue reading this article u may shockingly find that the aforesaid speculation has some substance to it. To the teams then, the Drillers made just one change from their opener bringing the Rams D in to replace the Bills; the Apaches had an enforced change at RB – what with the Cards D Johnson having surgery - & in came newly acquired Kerwynn Williams, then came a bit of a head scratcher from Diesel as he swapped out the Denver D for their Dallas counterparts. Not a bad move I hear you say. Okay, what if I were to suggest that the Apaches don’t hold the rights to the Dallas D then? Aha! Anyone heard using the term senility is being rather harsh….it’s not as if he’s the only one that’s done this, is he Coach Sutherland? The game? Not one of the classics from these juggernauts but they were pretty evenly matched when it came to the play of the respective QB’s; long standing Drillers favourite – and a personal nemesis - Drew Brees had an average 6 point outing as did the Apaches Ben Roethlisberger. The RB battle was a tad one sided as the Drillers Todd Gurley had a 9 point night whilst teammate L Blount (a very personal favourite of the Commish) had a wholesome zilch; The Geacher had zero productivity from his tandem of K Williams & L Bell…and I do mean zero! His WR trio of B Cooks, J Jones and T Y Hilton had to do better didn’t they? Anyone responding positively to that proposition simply hasn’t been keeping up with events concerning the QB’s actually throwing to these unfortunates; goose eggs all round. As long as the Drillers WR’s M Thomas, R Mathews & D Adams didn’t make hay then the game could hang on Defence/Special teams where the Apaches had the advantage in the latter but lacked the former! A lone TD grab by Adams had the Drillers ahead by 18 – 6 and with the valid Drillers Rams D matching the tally of the AWOL Apaches D with another zero we came down to the kickers. Dan Bailey had a net 7 point night including a 2 point bonus score giving the Drillers a 25 – 6 lead and putting them in a seemingly unassailable position; many a team have been made to rue such a situation when ace cheat S Gostkowski has been the kicker stepping up to the challenge. Alas for the Apaches a 12 point outing was only enough to make the score look respectable and leave the Drillers winners by 25 – 18. The Drillers win stops the only division winner in week 1 from establishing an early lead; 3 sides in the Bon Accord Division are now 1 – 1; it’s also their 3rd win on the trot in the series and they lead the RSS by 26 – 16. The good news for the Geacher is that his D faux pas didn’t cost him a 6 point’s deduction…just the merest hint of a red face though!
Dolphins Flip Despite Selection Slip Up
Arnhall WR Delanie Walker ends a 1 yard run in the EZ.
It was a distinctly maritime affair as the Cove Bay Pirates entertained the Arnhall Dolphins and they were looking to find their sea legs after a relatively inauspicious ALFF debut for Coach Inkster. I was going to make further terrible nautical puns and musical references, but they really don’t read well, so just get yer lugs roun’ “Singing The Dolphin Through” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and – if you are feeling rowdy - “Friggin’ In The Riggin (Good Ship Venus)’” by the Sex Pistols. My Lord, what a pointless departure right off the bat! So yeah, some football happened at the weekend. The Pirates opted for Thomas Rawls in at the second RB slot and Matt Stafford was brought in to steer the ship. Devante Parker and rookie OJ Howard both returned from their hurricane enforced bye-week and Chris Boswell completed the overhaul in place of Steve Haushka at kicker. The Mad Fish seems a little more settled in his line-up (Or does he? More to follow) as Ty Montgomery came in for Isiah Crowell and swapped KC for the Denver defence. … wait a minute? … the “Denver” defence? … *flicks through Arnhall roster* … Ummmmmmmm, there’s something fishy going on down at Dolphins HQ. For the good readers, I shall elaborate: The Arnhall Dolphins elected to play the Denver D – but they belong to the Geacher and the Argyll Apaches. Tut tut, Mr Fish. The Commissioner’s slide rule was out, but only to be used as a rudimentary birch for a wee wrap across the wrists, as the Phins had 3 available defences on THEIR roster and this was just put down to an honest mistake. No 6 points to be docked in this case. But that’s not the end of it! I need to point out that the Apaches did the EXACT SAME THING this week and “stole” the Dallas D from the Pirates! Come on, lads. Don’t make us put you back in “the box”. Lorks a-lordy, so much digression! So the Pirates placekicker, Boswell, made a stellar case for the starting spot with a 14pt showing with boots from 46, 29, 37 and 43 plus 2 PATs, but the rest of the roster went eerily quiet. For the Phish, Delanie Walker somehow RAN in a score from a yard out for 6, which was swiftly added to by Chandler “Bing” Catanzaro – who couldn’t BE on a worse NFL team – fro 46, 40 and a pair of PATs for 8. Russell Wilson continued to underwhelm, even against a “poor” defence like the 49ers, only returning 3 points for his side with a 9 yard sling to Paul Richardson. Ty Montgomery continued to look like a featured back in Green Bay and contributed in Westhill to the tune of a 1 yard run and a 1 yard pass for 9 schmeckles. Jason Witten did what he has done since the dawn of time (seemingly) and took a pass over the middle to notch up 3 points to setup an almost impossible task for Matt Stafford on Monday night. Unfortunately for Coach Inkster, the Giants were beating themselves, so Staffie didn’t need to do much to eek out a W. His 2 TDs from 27 and 7 were enough to contribute, but not enough for an ALFF victory. 29-20 was the final in this one, but it was pretty eventful. Props to Coach Matty for not being afraid to make the changes necessary, but it wasn’t quite enough this time. The RBs and WRs stayed dry again this week, but that win is a-comin’, baby! As for the Mad Fish – try and be a little less “Mad” next week and stick to picking your own players ;) RSS is obviously at 1-0.
Pride Restored As Lions Maul Posse
Ryan Succop boots this 40 yard FG for the Lions.
Whilst it would be an exagerration to frame this game as a "must win" for both teams, it certainly going to be a season shaper if the CalX had won. Coach Marty's team are the leagues highest scorers averaging 34 points per game and they look like this year they may put up a serious challenge in the Pittodrie Division for the first time in a few seasons, and a victory here would have given them the outright leadership of that division and had the double whammy of putting last years champs, the Laurel Lions in rock bottom position and after two games firmly behind the eight ball...but it was not to be as Coach Hamilton discovered a wee bit of form after last weeks sub-par performance. Ryan Succop was the main man here with a thirteen point showing for James, with the Tennessee kicker hitting three out of three field goals and four extra points. Tampa's Jacquizz Rodgers ran in from the one yard line, Eli Manning threw a solitary touchdown from the 18 in a tough day at the office for him...more on Eli later.... and Martavius Bryant snared a 25 yarder against a disappointing Vikings side. For Marty, Mike Gillislee scored what will soon become his statutory game touchdown, Terrance West rumbled in from the four and Graham Gano garnered nine points for Carolina in their snore-fest with the Bills. Coach Garioch must be disappointed with Cam Newtons zero-point sub-par performance in the same game, and with a QB rating of 83.9, the Panther's main man has to up his game if the Express are live up to their early season promise. Final score Laurel Lions 25-21 Caledonia Express. Marty has pennant favourites Westburn Blades up next but he can approach this game with a great deal of confidence, but I say this with one caveat; I remember writing a report on a CalX game a few years ago and suggesting that Marty change the name of his team to the "Unlucky Caledonia Express", such is the propensity of them to consistently find that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Sometimes Coach Marty seemed to shoot himself in the foot and at other times there seemed to be a queue the length of George Street lining up to do it for him. I would not be one bit surprised next week to find the Unlucky CalX as the leagues top scorers with a positive points differential but be 1-2. Such is life sometimes down Cove way, but as long as there is Tyreek Hill, there is hope. I must confess to be concerned with the Lions ability to pose a real repeat threat this year... Eli Manning looks to be on the wane, and after a career which has probably exceeded his own expectations, and one where he seemed to be doomed to exist to be forever in the shadow of his brother Peyton, he may be in his last year as a Giants starter. I am reminded here of the nickname of former Aussie test cricketer Mark Waugh, twin brother of the much better and former Aussie captain Steve Waugh. Like Eli Manning, whatever Mark did in his chosen sport, whatever he was able to achieve, he was always gonna be compared to his brother, and not favourably either. His nickname was Afghanistan. Why? Because he was the "forgotten Waugh." Then there is one of todays scorers, Tampa Bay running back Jacquizz Rodgers. There is a strong possibility that he is just keeping the seat warm for Doug Martin who will be eligible to play again in three weeks time. Up next is the Division leaders the Gryphons...no call on this game for me, it'll be a squeaker. Till next week, ciao.
Player of the Week
Chasing the Sleeper has a long and largely painful history..... but this week we something of an expection. To be fair Steelers rookie RB Kareem Hunt was not actually the SOW in Wk 1 ... although he came mighty close. Coach Adamski rightly inserted the exciting ball carrier this week... and was rewarded with two rushing TD's .. including a 53 yard eight pointer. Kareem Hunt is the Week 2 Player of the Week.
Steelers Hunt Down The Rebels
Kareem Hunt scores for the Steelers on a 53 yard run.
The 2017 ALFF regular season started off with a low scoring weekend, bar the Posse who went off with a bang. Week two was eagerly awaited to see if this could be improved. Opening week action saw both the Steelers, and the Wreckers come to grief, and both sides were looking for an improvement. Coach Meek almost bagged the, week one sleeper award, for not including Kareem Hunt in the team, but did not make the same mistake again. He was in the backfield along with Marshawn Lynch. Jameis Winston got the QB slot after his, storm affected, bye week. Kelvin Benjamin took the 3rd WR slot, as Brandon Marshall found himself benched. The Rosemount Coaching Combo opted for just the one change to week ones side; Rookie kicker Rosas was preferred to Fairbairn (also a rookie….this is something of a Rosemount thing). The Rebels had ended 2016 with 5 straight losses and added to week one’s defeat, they were looking to get back to winning ways. None of the sides figured in Thursday night action, with the majority of the work being done Sunday. The, respective QB’s managed to cancel each other out, on the night. Winston went 18 of 30 for 2014 yards and a 13 yard passing score, whilst Ryan went 19 of 28 for 252 yards and a 3 yard pass. Even steven’s but it was not to last. Marshawn Lynch, got back in the groove with a 2 yard run, which was then cancelled out by Gordon’s, 1 yard plunge. The Breakout came from Kareem Hunt as he romped in from 53 yards for his first score, and then went over from the 2 yard line to add 14 to the Steelers total. The Steelers wide men failed to trouble the scorers, but the same could not be said for the Wreckers. Gronkowski, busted up all sorts of records, as he reeled in a 53 yard effort to keep them in the game. At 9 points it was still winnable. Blair Walsh tried to ice the game and scored on FG’s from 25 and 27 yards, as well as missing a FG attempt. That left Rosas needing 15 point, come Monday night to full this one out of the bag. In the event, it proved to be far too much. He iced a 25 yard FG and a PAT but that was all she wrote, and this one was carved in stone. The Wreckers drop to 0-2 and have now lost 7, straight regular season games. They come up against the Drillers in week 3 and will want to get back to winning ways, before gaps open up. They know there are no quick fixes to be had. The Steelers move to 1-1 and lead the RSS 3-2, having taken the last 3 fixtures. They may have unearthed a diamond in Hunt, but time will tell. They will want more from their wide man, but will be happy to have won this one. They take on the Apaches in week 3 action, and will want to keep the momentum going. He will need to have Winston healthy, as he has 2 rookies for back up, but the backfield looks to be the key to this side. Look for lots more points from the starters this week. See you in seven
Brady Bunch Sink Desperados
Mike Evans pulls in a 13 yard counter for the Killers.
The Kincorth Killers went head to head with the Deevale Desperado’s in this Week Two, fixture, with both clubs coming off differing week ones. Both clubs had been hit by hurricane related decisions in the opening week action, and were looking for a little calm after the storm. The Killers opted to go with an all Bears backfield (sic... honestly !). Rookie Tarik Cohen was asked to fill the boots of Adrian Peterson, whilst Mike Evans came in, out of the rain at wide out. The Desperado’s had also suffered from storm issues, and had posted a low score, on their way to an 8th consecutive, regular season defeat. They looked to remedy this with some changes. No Thursday night starters were named (which proved to be a sage choice) but in came his Fins contingent. Ajayi got the call in the backfield, Landry took one of the wide berths and Antonio Gates was also suited and booted. This one looked like it would revolve round the 2 QB’s and this proved to be a fact…but not the whole story. Tom Brady bounced back from a week one disappointment and lit up the scoreboard with 12 points. He went 30 of 39 for 447 yards and scoring passes from 19, 53 and 13 yards (as well as 2 sacks). Aaron Rodgers had to come up with a reply. He went 33 of 50 for 343 yards, but the difference was that he only connected on 2 scores. A 33 yard pass and a 1 yarder. He also managed to get sacked 3 times, throw an interception, and had a fumble that led to a defensive score. That put the cat amongst the pigeons, and Crackshot now needed something special. Ajayi came up scoreless, but 2nd year man Derek Henry ran in for a 17 yard score. and is beginning to look like "the man" in Music City. Antonio Gates tagged on a 7 yard catch to give the Dans a slight edge. Howard and Cohen and that all Bear backfield failed to score for the Killers but their wide men picked up the slack. Mike Evans scored on a 13 yard catch; Dez Bryant on a 3 yarder and Alshon Jeffrey on a 16 yarder. The Killers were starting to pull away. They iced the game courtesy of Matt Bryant. He connected on FG’s from 51 and 53 as well as 3 PAT’s, meaning that Crosby needed a bucket load. In the event he was limited to a 28 yard FG and 2 PATs and this one was toast. The Desperado’s have now dropped 9 straight, and are 0-2. It is not the end of the world….as yet, but coach Cruickshank is already looking for possible replacements, to try and kick start his season. Week 3 sees them tangle with, old rivals, Mad Fish and his crew. The Killers move to 2-0 and are on a 6 game, regular season streak. The Brady/Bryant axis helped them win this one, and there are likely to be plenty more points from these two. Having all 3 wide men score is also a plus and the younger Geacher will be pleased to see this level of return given his wideout focus in the draft. They will meet the Pirates in week 3 action and will be looking to keep the winning sequence going. As long as everyone stays fit, they have to fancy their chances. The next few weeks will tell. So back in seven and let’s see where things go. CIAO
Double Devonta Does Donald
RB Devonta Freeman scores his 2nd TD of the night for the Birds.
The biggest game of the season thus far provided us with the first real thriller of the year as the Garthdee Gryphons roared back in the CBS phase to complete a memorable 31-30 comeback win . Coach Kiwi looked to have put this one away with a very competitive Oakland inspired 30pt offering but Bayler top pick Devonta Freeman upset the Antipodean applecart with a massive TD double at Lambeau Field in the wee hours of Monday morning to turn a 19-30 deficit into a critical Divisional 1pt win. This battle of two 1-0 outfits was always going to guarantee the eventual winners at least a share of the early Pittodrie Division lead but with the Posse losing out, coach Donny's boys stand alone at 2-0 astride the Div standings. The immediate post draft analysis rarely mentioned the long becalmed Garthdee outfit as bona fide ALFF Title candidates ... but here we are after two weeks with the Crimson One tied with two other ballclubs on 2-0 and his squad ranked No 1 overall. The pre-game mood in Baylerville was somewhere short of upbeat as Wk 1 hero Caleb Sturgis went on IR and the given the late timing of his injury Donny had no alternative but go with old stalwart Nick Folk. Charles Sims in place of Darren McFadden and the introduction of Travis Kelce at WR3 completed the changes to a Birds starting eight that had accounted for the Drillers in Wk 1. Coming off a low scoring success last time out coach Bothwell Jnr inserted RB Leonard Fournette at RB2 while Martellus Bennett was preferred to Tyler Eifert , presumably on the grounds the latter was facing the Texans D. A defensive flip flop .. Seattle in... Atlanta out.. was one of those decisions that could loom large come Wk 13. Perennial kicking title threat Justin Tucker was the expected platform for a Blades success in the eyes of Vegas but his sub par 6pt effort took some of the sheen off an excellent scoring ALFF debut from rock carrying rookie Fournette. It was no choice stand-in Nick Folk that took the honors , with something to spare, in the kicking department, and with Travis Kelce getting on the first phase scoreboard (15 yard TD grab) it was advantage Garthdee leading 16-12. The pendulum then swung strongly in a southern direction. While Birds QB Kirk Cousins could only add 3 to his sides total with a lone 11 yard TD toss, QB Derek Carr lit up the evening with no fewer than 3 TD passes... ALL to Blades team-mate Michael Crabtree. Ahead 30-19 with only Freeman to come in opposition the clever money was on Youngblood... but as we have seen the overall No 3 pick had a completely different world view ... scoring on runs 1 and 2 yards respectively to seal the deal for Donny. Coach Garioch is 2-0 for the first time since 2012... not having won a game in the opening two weeks in the past 3 seasons straight. Its way to early to start talking about Title wins... but an end to a 4 consecutive PDiv basement finishes run.. ending a 3 year play-off drought .. or a first winning season since 2011 are all looking achievable targets for the Gryphons right now. Stuie will be left to rue that change at defence ... but will just have to chalk this one down to serendipity. With Fournette added to the line-up and that Raiders combo looking hot they are still a side regarded by many as THEE side to beat this term. Donny's 3rd straight win in the fixture gives him a 16-11 lead in the RSS.
Sleeper of the Week
Stepping nicely over the mess of the two... yes TWO.. ineligible defences selected this week.. (must be an age thing !)...the only game changing Sleeper belonged to coach Youngblood.... and in keeping with the theme it involved defence. As per above, Stuie swapped out his defences in Week 2 , preferring a combative Seattle against a young Rams team... with Atlanta patrolling that traditional turnover wilderness Lambeau Field. Right on cue it was nul point from the ball hawking Hawks... and yes you guessed it... his benched Atlanta D scored on a 15 yard fumble return. Those net -6pts earn coach Youngblood and his Atlanta D their first 2017 SOW prize.
Play of the Week
There was not much on offer regards plays with brackets after them... but despite the pain opted for the Killers Tom Brady's 53 yard hook up with the Wrecking Rebels Rob Gronkowski. The 12pt play only helped one side to victory in Week 2... but was good enough for Play Of the Week.