As the often crucial mid season stretch kicked off in Week 5 there was a distinct hint of some separation in all three Divisions, helped undoubtedly by the first “even share” of wins in a Inter Division fixture card this season. Victories for the Scunthorpe Steelers (still unbeaten) and the 2 Minute Drillers saw those two establish themselves as the front runners in the Bon Accord Division while coach Taylor’s Broch Bobcats put some daylight between themselves and the still chasing Kincorth Killers following a win for the former over the faltering Caledonia Express while the younger Geacher’s side were thumped by a new look Laurel Lions. Speaking of the Lions, coach Hamilton’s side are now 3-2 and the first Pittodrie Div outfit to post a winning record at any stage this term. The Westburn Blades emerged from the pack of 1-3 outfits in that same grouping with a highly entertaining high scoring win over the starcrossed Wellington Rising in our first ever NZ Bowl and they look to be the Lions main threat for the PDiv pennant. The JL8 ended a three game slide to knock off the Argyll Apaches leaving both sides tucked in 3rd place in their respective standings. Four ball-clubs are stuck at 1-4 and as such outside the current play-off berths but the aforementioned Rising in particular are a way lot better than that record suggests and will surely shake things up as they chew through the next few weeks. Things could be more challenging for the Arnhall Dolphins, Caledonia Express and Garthdee Gryphons. That said every side has shown flashes of scoring potential… the ones at the lower end of the standings now need to strive for consistency… or be prepared to make some changes. Scoring was way back up there this week, with the running game in particular the most profitable area in a 349 point all position total. RB’s aggregate totals are currently well ahead of the QB position and on season projections heading for levels not see since the days of feature backs such Priest Holmes, LDT and the likes. Will it continue ?? Time will tell. Transaction activity continue at a high level . Bye weeks start biting hard over the rest of October and beyond testing every sides depth with next week’s fixtures the last of the first “half” of the Divisional match-up’s … often giving coaches a pretty clear picture of just where they stand. I added a first Title Watch of the season last weekend… and will update the column on a weekly basis from here on in. 30 games down… 55 to go.. and the ALFF Title dream is still alive for all 12 coaches.
Birds Not Keeping Up With The Joneses
There's no stopping Aaron Jones as he backs in for his 2nd TD.
I must confess that personally, and as my alter ego "The Diesel", that I doubted the wisdom of Adamski drafting Aaron Jones as a #1 pick way back in September, and I said as much at the time, and I was apparently not alone in this as most draft boards had him as a #8 at best running back, a third or maybe fourth round prospect, and strictly a second tier runner. But what do I or they know? The square root of jackshit, that's what, because whatever we thought we knew, Adamski knew much better. The Packers runner has been a revelation this year and after his four (that's 4!) TD showing on Sunday he sits atop the ALFF RB scoring charts, and only DeShaun Watson and Greg Zuerlein are ahead of him in the overall scoring. Jones took the game by the scruff of the neck as he ran in from the 18, 3, 5 & 1 yard for 107 yards PLUS catching seven for 75 yards. Fantastic effort, and if the Steelers had given the rest of his roster a day of, the endeavors of his running back would have been enough to beat four other teams, all on his own. The Steelers made two changes to their line up for this week five encounter with the Garthdee Gryphons, Devante Adams out to injury meant a debut for Marqise Brown, and the Oakland D flipped with the Jags D. The Commish wrote in his primer to me for this game that there is "concern over Mahomes " as this was his two straight weeks he has been more or less shut down. Let me say that if Coach Meek shares the Commish's concerns, he can email me ANY time he wants and he can take whoever he want from my roster in a trade. And any amount also. The KC QG only managed one TD, a 27 yard toss and debutant WR Brown snared a 11yarder. Greg Zuerlein finished off the scoring with a three field goal two extra point performance for a total of 41 points that Garthdee, who are the league's lowest scoring team, had no chance of getting near. None. Remember that old chestnut, what goes around comes around? Guess who the last team was that had a running back that ran for four TDs? Yep, our very own Coach Donny when his Marshawn Lynch did that feat in week 10 of season 2014. The Birds, who brought in Ito Smith and Sterling Shepard for the bye-weeking Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golloday have the highest scoring wide receiver cadre in the ALFF but somehow that has translated into the lowest team scoring overall, so it doesn't need a Poirot to exercise the little grey cells to see where the Gryphon's problem lies. It actually gor a wee bit better for Donny in this department scoring wise as Jimmy G was back after his bye week and threw for two TDs, and James Connor had his second rushing touchdown of the year, but the rest was all a bit *meh* as Adam Theilen caught two TDs and Eddy Pineiro making his ALFF debut added three extra points. Final score at The Furnace was Garthdee Gryphons 21@41 Scunthorpe Steelers. The Birds are now 1-4 and they need to start winning soon, but next up for them is the Pittodrie Division leaders, the Laurel Lions. Defeat here would see the Gryphons slide back to three games in arrears with seven games left... now that is not fatal, but it is certainly life threatening. For the rampant 5-0 Steelers and surely play-off bound Coach Meek, week six sees The Game Of The Season (So Far) with a game against the Drillers, and what a game that could be.... a victory for Scunnie will open up a two game gap on their nearest and most dangerous divisional rivals, and THAT is a lot in the uber compete Bon Accord Division. Till next week, ciao.
Elementary Dear Wellington !
QB Desean Watson was electric with 5 TD's for the Blades.
When this whole shebang started back in 1992 I might just have bought the idea the League would be still be going some 27 years later…. but had you’d said our celebrated rivalries would have morphed from Garioch Bowls , Central Exchange Bowls, through the Toons Hoose Trifecta to Geacher Bowls’ and finally to feature two head coaches based In Wellington NZ… THEN I might have got round to being a lot rude and asked for proof of marble completeness. Yet… here I am describing NZ Bowl 1. Now to be truthful the game was not all it claimed to be as by all accounts Stuie skipped the Antipodes to indulge himself in a short doze of good Scots air ( anywhere north of the Central belt just about qualifies… and I think Ale might also be a consideration) …. to avoid being mercilessly taunted by Darren as he drew level with his “in Hemisphere” rival on the 2-3 mark after a sound beating……. but if you’ve followed the Rising script thus far, you might already have figured out that’s not quite how it worked out at the Knife Drawer as the Blades inflicted another heartbreak loss on the rookie outfit with a tight 35-32 decision in this bragging rights bonanza. So how did it go down under ?? Well….. the scoring all came in the opening period of action on Sunday with one big performance on either side of the ledger. Blades QB Desean Watson is undoubtedly a huge talent but unfortunately plays most weeks behind a O line in NFL terms that seems to feature optional blocking. As it happened this week he had the good fortune to be playing against defensive genius Dan Quinn’s Dirty Birds. It seems Dan has (and only ever had) one song on his Mp3 player and Defence by Spearing has fortunately gone out of fashion. If you want a truly side integrity challenging experience, go and check out highlights of DeSean’s 15pt, 5 TD performance which seems to feature the Atlanta secondary following DeAndre Hopkins around the field en-masse leaving the likes of Will Fuller and Darren Fells the freedom of NRG Stadium. Now Stuie might have thought his passer’s efforts would be a match-winner in their own right… but in truth it wasn’t even the highest individual score of the match-up. That honor fell to top Wellington RB Christian McCaffrey. This one man offense ( Ron Rivera DOES like to flog his top talent to death … Ok… Ok… NFC South bias rant over (but he does … doesn’t he !))… rattled off rushing scores of 5 and 84 yards with an 18 yard scoring grab the meat in a tasty 17pt sandwich…… which meant this one would be decided by the best supporting cast. Rising QB Kirk Cousins shook off his poor recent form (you really don’t want to get me started on Mike Zimmer !) to record 6pts on scores of 15 and 9 yards but he was matched in the points column by another Westburn bellcow RB Mark Ingram, who made it 4 fruitful outings out of 5 with a 4 yard ground TD . Elsewhere it was doughnuts a go-go … meaning this one was effectively settled by the kickers. As it turned out that proved to be game set and match to Youngblood thanks to a stellar 14pt offering from recently installed Zane Gonzalez that edged out rival Josh Lambo’s two FG , 3 XP, 9pt contribution. The Blades improve to 2-3 with their first non Div win of the term and stay tucked in just 1 game back of the Laurel Lions. The mainstays of this team are there to see , but don’t be shocked to see coach Bothwell the Younger attempting to bolster a WR crew that is languishing near the basement of the standings. For Darren his inaugural season nightmare continues. That’s 3 times NZ’s newest ball-club have lost by a FG or less in a high scoring encounter and although clearly too good to be considered as at risk of missing out on the post season , next week’s clash with the Argyll Apaches has a must win quality about it if the Rising are to have any chance of being anything but a pure wildcard.
Cooper Ends Drillers Turn In Fins Barrel
Wide-out Michael Thomas extends the ball for a vital Driilers score.
It’s six years since the 2 Minute Drillers won the last of their 5 ALFF titles and one significant part of why the Commissioners Crew have dropped off has been finishing a game or two lower in the overall standings that they would have really expected to. A recurring theme for the Ricker over that period has been a bad habit of losing a critical game to the Arnhall Dolphins …. even when Compost’s side weren’t having a good season. Well this year the Drillers finally got the job done… coming though a late Sunday scare to record a tense 34-31 success over his rival for the first time since 2011 ( yes you read that right). Both coaches tinkered around the edges of team selection with kicker the main theme in both camps. The Umpire had no choice but field newly acquired Chris Bowell in place of byeing Matt Prater while the Commish , still struggling to get anything but 6pts from his incumbent flipped back to Jake Elliott . A fit again Damien Williams slotted in at RB2. The Drillers romped out to a 12pt lead on Thursday night as RB Todd Gurley recorded a 2nd straight 2 TD outing but the Drillerdome faithful have been burned by the Fish too often in recent times ( and by Zeke Elliot in particular) to start any premature chicken headcount. Vegas had suggested with 2 key Raiders in his starting eight facing a ferocious Bears D at Totting Ham, the Beechgrove Garden squad were in for lean pickings… but a swift 12 yard TD run by RB Josh Jacobs suggested Compost’s ongoing hold over the Drillers may still be in play ! The RB would repeat the dose in the latter stages of the London contest effectively wiping out the Thursday advantage established by Gurley with a 2 yard scoring plunge but significantly the ball carrier’s success came at the expense of a polo mint for QB Derek Carr. The Driilers for their part, got production out of Carson Wentz with an 11 yard scoring toss but while K Jake Elliott did “break” that sequence of 6pts offerings from the incumbent… it was only by an additional XP .. giving the BA Div outfit a less than game changing 10pt haul from two key Eagles. Happily for the Drillerdome coaching cabale WR Michael Thomas lived up to his twitter handle and delivered scores of 14 and 12 yards respectively but just when it seemed the Drillers might escape the opening Sunday phase with a defendable 28-22 lead a late Chris Bowell 33 Yd FG boosted his final tally to a useful 11pts and Arnahll were well within striking distance at 25-28 with Zeke to come. As well as the earlier Raiders observation the ALFF pundits had suggested the Drillers may need WR Amari Cooper to “pinch” a score off direct opponent Zeke Elliott at Jerryworld but in truth it looked like neither might get on the board as the Cowboys offence spilled and spluttered against the Pack…. But just when it seemed running the ball was off the table due to the clock and size of deficit situation, a bizarre sequence of flags got the Pokes down on the 2 yard line. Right on cue Zeke converted the opportunity and the stunned Ricker looked as if would have to get something from NBC pairing Daniel Williams & Demarcus Robinson at Arrowhead. However with time getting short Amari Cooper broke free on the sideline and spun through one last tackle to score on a 53 yard reception and restore the Bon Accord outfits 3pt advantage , which proved to be the winning one. As it turned out the Commish’s KC pairing came up double blank in the NBC stanza. The Drillers improve to 4-1 but have the imposing Steelers in their path next time out in a game that will be pivotal in deciding if the Commissioner’s crew are going to be legitimate double bye week contenders or scrapping for the lesser seedings. Rumours of Bandit level action behind the scenes to make changes to the 2 Minute Roster continue to reach reliable ALFF sources. The Dolphins drop to 1-4 despite posting their highest score of the campaign but at least on this form have something to build on. With the JL8 up next Mad Fish has the chance to get right back in the wildcard mix. Caoch Sutherland’s lead in the RSS has been cut to 8-6.
Home Guard Ration Book Now Empty
JL8 ball carrier Carlos Hyde scored a 1 yard TD for the JL8.The Week 5 fixture makers unveiled a battle of the ALFF old (home) guard and with the respective sides in rather different form the result could be very important to the future success or failure of these sides. The Zappa Family Trust brought back RB Lavvy Bell (doesn’t he know that Gase is an over-rated ass that wouldn’t know what to do with a RB if he had a whole team of them?) and introduced Joey Slye and the family stone as their kicker after the unfortunate (ha, ha, ha ad infinitum) injury to Goat Jowls. Zappa Family trust I hear you query, well the “w” in Dweezil is apparently silent and if you are still puzzled don’t worry about it just go back and listen to your latest Taylor Swift shite or Ed Sheeran’s latest bout of plagiarism and imagine yourself cool! Following their latest loss the Walmington-On-Sea junta brought back WR T Y Hilton in place of D J Metcalf and the much in demand Jets D returned after their bye and will now be a fixture come what may. Despite the win last week the Apaches were considered 2 point underdog in this fixture by the Vegas brain trust; needless to say this didn’t sit well with the superstitious JL8 head honcho who could be heard to mutter “whenever they have my boys as favourites we’re doomed”! Both sides had runners in the TNF action and their respective performances gave credence to the Vegas suggestion that this would indeed be a tight contest. The JL8 got the ball rolling when WR Cooper Kupp had a TD but this was cancelled out late in the proceedings when Chris Carson did his best to drop a late score for the Apaches but did secure the catch after a nervous bobble. Worryingly for the WR challenged JL8 the dropped D J Metcalf also had a TD catch in the TNF, which could well have made all the difference in this contest, and lead to a voluble outburst from their head coach about the capricious nature of the footballing gods..were he to believe in such arrant nonsense. On paper the QB battle looked like a sure fire win for the JL8 but as we all know the games aren’t played on paper. In any event the JL8 trigger man Lamar “action” Jackson had another less than stellar outing managing just the single TD in what should have been a “shooting fish in a barrel” encounter. Over Argyll way Jacoby Brisset should have had his work cut out for him in a tough match-up but the Colts slinger surpassed expectations and finished with a 2 TD return giving the Apaches an early 9 – 6 lead. The RB battle turned out pretty much as expected with the Apaches tandem of Bell and Carson having a barren evening but for the previously mentioned catch for a TD by Chris Carson. The JL8 aren’t exactly scoring freely but the RB pairing of Henry & Hyde has been fairly consistent so far this season and the dynamic duo came up with the goods again as both players found the end zone once apiece to give the JL8 a 15 – 09 lead. If the Apaches were to turn things around then the WR battle was the most likely place for this to happen and the trio of Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks and Keenan Allen were selected for just this sort of task. Alas for Dweezil only the cheat contributed to their tally as Cooks and Allen were held scoreless leaving Edelman the sole contributor with a single, short TD score. Surprise, surprise the WR challenged JL8 trio of T Y Hilton, Jason Witten and Cooper Kupp replicated this feet exactly with only the latter troubling the scorers as described previously. The Apaches – like their JL8 counterpart – must have fancied their chances of getting back on track with the kicking battle in light of the QB injury down New Orleans way which was expected to seriously hamper the scoring opportunities for the JL8’s kicker. In the end Will Lutz did a serviceable job and delivered a solid if unspectacular 7 points to the JL8 coffers whilst Joey Slye didn’t get his coach to dance to the music with a somewhat underwhelming 4 point return. When the Jets D failed to boost the flagging JL8 the scene was set for the Apaches and their LA Chargers D to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat; when they duly scored the deficit was down from 9 to just 3 points and the noises coming from the Walmington-On-Sea area was of the squeaky bum variety. (Okay I admit having just been to Rishi’s for one of the best curries I’ve ever had and that may have contributed to the squeaking; did I say might? The duvet had to be tied down)! Any road up despite the nervous tension the Apaches failed to get that second defensive score and the JL8 squeaked home with a narrow 25 – 22 victory, pretty much the way Vegas envisioned. The Apaches drop to 3-2 & lose ground to the Steelers & Drillers but 22pts is their best score since Week 1 so they may not be as good as their record suggests and consequently they could struggle to contain the Rising next week; that said if anybody had predicted that the Apaches season would be reliant on Jacoby Brisset and Joey Slye I think that the Dweez would have had them sectioned! The JL8 snap a 3 game losing streak and move to 2 – 3 but must be concerned with their lack of output from the WR position and the up and down nature of their QB play. The JL8 own the RSS 20 – 07.
Express Derailed By Matty Ice
Phillip Lindsay adds a 4 yard score for the Bobcats.
The Caledonia Express found themselves travelling to New Bellslea for a week 5 match up with the Broch Bobcats. The old Bellslea was one of the coldest places on earth. The last time I visited was in May one year and it was that cold that even the penguins were complaining about the chill. The Bobcats were planning a warm welcome, and were looking to bounce back from a week 3 defeat. This meant the first changes of the season, for coach Rudi, with Austin Hooper and Golden Tate coming in as wide men. The Posse also decided on changes with coach Marti bring in week 5 signing Raheem Mostert as his 2nd RB, and recalling Goodwin after his bye week. The Bobcats were favourites by 1, with it all hinging on a big play. This one kicked off in Thursday night action with the Posse’s Goff, facing off against Myers for the Cats. The Posse passer has been all over the shop this season and great things were being hoped for. He finished with 29 of 49 for 295 yards; 1 interception and 1 touchdown pass of 9 yards. Three points was little to show for his nights work. Myers connected on a 43 yard FG and 3 PAT’s to give the Broch boys an edge heading for Sunday. The Bobcats needed a big night from Matty Ryan and he supplied it. He finished with 32 of 46 for 330 yard; 1 interception, 2 sacks but, more crucially he connected with is wide men for scores from 14, 9 and 29 yards. He also added a 1 yard running score as well as a share of a 2 point conversion….which went to Austin Hooper. 17 points on the board. Phillip Lindsay added a 4 yard score to bring the Bobcats to 29. The Posse replied with a 35 yard catch for Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster and Mason Crosby did his bit with FG’s from 36 and 38 yards as well as 4 PAT’s. This left the Express 13 points back with 3 men to come on Monday, including week 4 hero, Nick Chubb. However the freeze appears to have settled in and Marty could only watch as his trio came up scoreless. This one had slipped away. The Bobcats moves to 4-1 and have sole ownership of the Granite Division, for the first time ever. The also face a MASSIVE challenge in week six when the clash with the Killers. The Posse drop to 1-4 and last week’s winning season must seem light years away. Alarm bells might not be ringing at the Cove Bay Headquarters but they must be wondering where it all went Wahoonie shaped. Chubb got them 20 points one week and nought the next. Consistency would appear to be the key. The last thing you need is your team playing like this year’s Miami side (or, god forbid, this year’s Redskins). They tangle with the Blades in week 6, and with the Blades coach due in Aberdeen for drinkies, come Friday night, this one could prove to be a season definer. 1-4 is still do-able, but 1-5 makes things so much harder. So heading towards the half way stage of the season and no one is out of things yet. Just the way we like things.
Lion Teamers Crush The Killers
Debutant Auden Tate hauls in a 2 yard counter for the Lions.
Bold moves are not frequently rewarded with oodles of upside in the fantasy world but coach Hamilton came up smelling of roses this weekend as his heavily reworked Lions combo posted the equal highest score of the season in a 47-16 shellacking of the becalmed Kincorth Killers. Five changes in his starting eight accounted for 27pts for the Pittodrie Div leaders with only Shady McCoy (starting at RB 2) failing to chip in to a Pride feeding frenzy . The Killers, looking to bounce back from a surprise Week 4 drubbing at the hands of the Caledonia Express, had very few answers to a second straight unexpected Pittodrie Div outfit 40 plus firestorm. Jamesie had a useful 3pt start out of WR Tyler Lockett on Thursday night and if the points tally didn’t look that impressive then the quality of the 13 yard TD reception was a portent of the top drawer Lions performance to come at the Den. Looking for a way to arrest his downward points spiral the Laurel HC finally pulled the plug on top pick Aaron Rodgers, and was just as ruthless with RB pairing Sony Michel and Marlon Mack , although to be fair, the latter was an injury doubt. Wide-out Mo Sanu and the Green Bay defence were also asked to warm the bench. In came QB Josh Allen, new look RB duo Leonard Fournette and Shady McCoy, with newly acquired WR Auden Tate getting his first mention in the starting mix and his first ever ALFF start, while the Philly defence completed the sweeping changes. The effect in the points column was immediate and across the board. A pair of short TD tosses from Allen, a 1 yard TD blast from Fournette and a 2 yard counter from debutant Tate offered up 15 welcome points for the PDiv leaders but the best of all was reserved for the Philly Defence who amassed only the 2nd defensive double dipper of the season thus far, that featured a 51 yard pick six from LB Nathan Gerry and a 44 yard strip/fumble return from CB Orlando Scandrick. Throw in a season best 14pt offering from kicker Justin Tucker and an a 11 yard TD from Zac Ertz ( all three remaining starters scored).. and suddenly the Pride had posted their highest points total since Wk 8 last term … and all was done and dusted before the start of the late Sunday action. The story for the visitors, shall we say… was something a little different. Coach McGeachy Jnr took the approach that has worked reliably for him in the past and stuck with an unchanged eight… trusting the guys who had seen him romp out to a 3-0 start and installed as co-early season favorites to rediscover their mojo. Unfortunately for the GDiv challengers the mojo search party are still in a job. The Special K were 00-47 down by the time QB Dak Prescott got them on the board with a 40 yard TD and even though he followed that with a 53 yard six pointer, the glut of goose eggs across the card meant not even pride could be salvaged at that stage. Even Harrison Butker’s middling 7p effort in the NBC phase was a little below his usual standard. Coach Hamilton’s win, his first ever over Geacher the Younger at the 5th attempt, lifts his ball-club to 3-2, to stay one game ahead of challengers the Westburn Blades in a PDiv race that is threatening to split in two. The “team” nature of this effort was more in keeping with their opponents normal MO and bodes well for a tilt at a first PDiv pennant since 2016. Andrew may need to re-evaluate his best side at the moment on the back of rare back to back defeats but there is too much firepower in this side to stay in the doldrums for too long with a chance to crop the Division leading Bobcat’s tails next week the ideal time to rediscover form.
Sleeper of the Week
Given he has lost three very close contests thus far coach Butter has always been in the frame for SOW consideration… but this week he’s landed his first in the category. Only Darren can tell us if he considered wide-out Allen Robinson in his quest for a new WR3 before opting for Miles Boykin… but had he gone for A-Rob the Rising would have grossed 6 extra points and won 38-35.
Player of the Week
Four rushing TD’s performances have become increasing rare since the NFL moved toward protecting QB’s with 5 seasons since we last saw a ground Quad. This time round Scunthorpe Steelers ball carrier Aaron Jones added his name to the illustrious list with scores from 18 , 3 , 5 and 1 yard respectively to land the Week 5 Player of Week award. Special mentions here too for the Blades Desean Watson who showcased his talent when not running for his life… and the Rising’s Christian McCaffrey… 2 rushing TD’s including an 8pter and a 18 yard TD grab are usually POW material…. Just not this week.
Play of the Week
Talking of Christian McCaffrey… you might think he would get the Week 5 Play of The Week gong for his 84 yard TD scamper…. but then you’d be wrong !! Kincorth Killers QB Dak Precott’s 53 yard strike to 2 Minute Drillers WR Amari Cooper ( the lone 12pt play of the week) came as time was running away … and handed the Commissioner’s crew a last gasp win over the Arnhall Dolphins that changed the complexion of both the Bon Accord Div and the Granite Div grouping. If anyone thinks there’s some sort of Cajun based bias going on against the Black Cat here… then I’m going to put the gris gris on all of ya’ll !!