The immediate post draft buzz and the early season machinations seem to be distant memories now as we end the long haul up the hill that is the opening six weeks battles reaching that balancing point of the regular season, the Week 7 plateau of fixtures. With six weeks ahead of a downhill plunge to the RS finishing line this moment in time gives us the unique opportunity to take stock of where we are… with an ability to look ahead and see where we think we will be regards the post season picture. More often than not Week 7 sees a bit of coming back together as those lower down the pecking order find their fighting form but this time round it was a bit more pivotal with an electrifying Laurel Lions comeback win over the cursed Wellington Rising having a marked effect on not just the Bon Accord & Pittodrie Division races but on the overall wildcard picture itself. Lopsided win for the Scunthorpe Steelers and Broch Bobcats added to that Laurel Lions success meant all three Division leaders escaped this round intact, with the 2nd named still 2 games clear in the Granite Division which saw all 4 sides collect a Week 7 win bonus, while the other two hold just the one game advantage. The first two named are locked together on 6-1 records with both looking very strong for double bye week berths come December although the 2 Minute Drillers still have their destiny in their own hands in the BA grouping at 5-2. The Kincorth Killers complete a short list of only 5 sides above .500 at this juncture and although the best of the rest are just one game clear of a hungry pack of 3-4 ball-clubs that are scrapping for the those last play-off briefs. Neither the Wellington Rising or Garthdee Gryphons are fatally wounded at 2-5 but they are outside wildcard positions at the moment and have a lot of work to do to stay alive. It’s possibly a little too early to speculate but with the Caledonia Express limping toward an early exit, it conceivable it might need a 6-7 record to make the post season party with just a chance the poorest 6-7 outfit could be eliminated. Remember bye weeks are NOT accurately spread in terms on numbers and impact on specific teams.. so some ball-clubs might still have some major bumps in the road to come .. and injuries (god forbid) can change fortunes in a heartbeat. Looking back at the draft it’s fair to say that at this half point, only Ezekiel Elliott (No 2) , Aaron Jones (No 11) and Lamar Jackson (no 12) qualify as uncontested solid picks with some genuine candidates (injuries aside) for the All ALFF Bust select ! On the points side of things we are well course for another 4000pt campaign with QB totals on track for a 1000pt season which is quite remarkable given the number of injuries at the position while RB totals could break the 1000pt mark for consecutive seasons for the first time since 2006. Strangely WR scoring is on for a historic low .... with the chance numbers will be the lowest ever bar the 1992 campaign when we only had 8 teams. The number of QB rushing TD's are my only explanation ! As is the tradition at this point we do the "if the season ended now” thing... which would looks a little like this. Double Byes weeks – Scunthorpe Steelers & Broch Bobcats ... Single Bye weeks Laurel Lions & 2 Minute Drillers ..Wildcards Kincorth Killers, Westburn Blades, JL8 and Arnhall Dolphins. First use of the soap...Argyll Apaches, Wellington Rising, Garthdee Gryphons and Caledonia Express. As always the Week 7 picture rarely paints a picture that fits neatly into the Week 17 reality. Two sides have been 3 and 4 at this stage and gone on to win the win the whole enchilada with many more at least getting the playoffs with just 2 wins. It might be a long shot... but it still could be your season !! ENJOY.
Hardened Steel Blunts Blades
RB Latavius Murray scored a TD double for Scunny.
The Scunthorpe Steelers survived the loss of their talisman quarterback , an injury to RB Alvin Kamara and with Davante Adams & Sammy Watkins still out, ultimately tested the lower depths of their WR depth chart and still somehow found a way to blast the maddeningly up and down Westburn Blades 45-12 to quickly get back on the winning trail. Coming off a critical Wk 6 loss to the Drillers the assorted ALFF pundits were widely predicting coach Adamski’s side would hit the skids after Mahomes found his knee cap sticking round the wrong side of his knee joint with just 3pts on the board on Thursday and when it became apparent that Alvin Kamara would not take part in the Week 7 proceedings at Victorinox Field it was no shock the recently in form Blades were named as 3pt favorites. How wrong the experts were !! Coach Meek did have the luxury of calling in Latavius Murray for the sidelined Kamara in a direct Who Dat swap at RB but the inclusion of Robby Anderson and Keke Coutee at WR was more the act of a HC with less than few options. Of the 3 newbies only Anderson failed to contribute…. and that was more down to a full on Sam Darnold sh*tshow than it was down to the wide-out himself. So where did it all go right for the Sowf London based combo ?? It didn’t hurt that Kicker Greg Zuerlein rediscovered his magic touch with a 15(2)pt offering that had a swift 55 yard FG as an opening statement to quickly banish thoughts of second straight 1pt outing and he was supported, as he frequently has been this term, by RB Aaron Jones who got on the board with a 21 yard scoring grab. A 23 yard pick six from Jags DE Yannick Ngakoue inflated Scunny’s total to 27pts late in proceedings at Paul Brown ( Andy Dalton’s sh*tshow might actually have been worse than Darnold’s considering he is a 9 year vet) but if any single score summed up this alleged contest it was Keke Coutee’s 4 yard TD run. Blades mainstay QB Desean Watson had a real tough time moving the ball this Sunday … but with the sun getting low at Lucas Oil Field (ok ok… it’s a Dome. Sheeeesh don’t get so picky !) the passer worked the ball to the 4 yard line….. prime territory for a DSW rushing score. … but wait .. no… !! A Watson lateral to Coutee saw the latter skip in for his 1st ALFF score …. a play with a potential 12pt swing….. and the rest as they say was history. By the time Latavius Murray barrelled in twice at Soldier Field with a hugely impressive up the gut running performance both camps had already accepted this game was done. The script for the homeside was less easy on the eye. DSW did actually manage a score after the Coutee catastrophe , a 4 yard TD toss that WAS forward …. but the ever lively Zane Gonzalez apart (9pts ) it was otherwise a big Kiwi omelette show. RB Mark Ingram was active in the redzone but didn’t get the rock over the line but more concerning for Youngblood was the carries non scoring RB David Johnson leaked to Cards back-up Chase Edmonds. Coach B the Younger fell foul of chasing the SOW (as most of us do !) with Stefon Diggs joining WR team-mates Evan Engram and D J Chark in Nada Nirvana and even got nothing from his Niners defence in a Maryland monsoon that seemed to scream cheap defensive score !! As it turned out the Steelers proved to be the only side in the Bon Accord Div to get a mark in the win column this week and as result climb to 6-1 , only half a game from sealing their post season participation. Adamski now firmly has his eye on retaining the BA Division pennant with every indication he is in line for at least a single bye berth. The Blades drop to 3-4 and suffered the further in-glory of seeing rivals the Laurel Lions snatch an unlikely Monday success and pull a game clear in the win shy PDiv. With a low key outing at both QB & RB, the League’s No 12 WR crew were sadly exposed.. although it’s hard to see they could have done much more than put lipstick on this Week 7 pig. The RSS between the two is now tied at 3-3.
Late Lions Show Pride To Roar Back
RB Sony Michel put the Lions ahead for the 1st time on Monday.
In arguably the most pivotal result of the season thus far the Laurel Lions snatched a dramatic 41-36 twice come from behind win over the disbelieving Wellington Rising in a nerve tingling MNF finale at Met Life. Having taken a TD double from opposing RB Sony Michel that turned a 34-23 lead into a 34-35 deficit right on the chin, coach Butter’s top ranked New England defence have the NZ fans in party mode with a game changing safety …. BUT … the Lions Michel would not be denied and duly sealed the victory with his 3rd TD on a truly dramatic night. Just to add to overall spectacle, Michel wasn’t even on the field for the fateful 3rd and 1 ( all James White to get there) … but a Brady time-out saw a change of call and it was the Lions sideline that was in raptures as Michel run off right tackle to deflate the Tawa Towers faithful for a 2nd time. Coming a lowly Week 6 offering Jamesie was not too hands on in his approach to the fixture , Josh Allen returning as QB after his week off and WR Mohamed Sanu coming back in at WR3 the two Lions match-up changes. Darren had a little more to consider with team MVP Christian McCaffrey on bye week duty but a timely return to fitness for fellow “retainee” Saquon Barkley allowed the Rising selection committee the luxury of sticking with a 4WR set that included Allen Robinson & DeDe Westbrook with injury concerns over Alshon Jeffery and T J Hockenson playing a part in those selections. Vegas had actually listed the Danestone based outfit as 2pt favorites with the “out” that Leonard Fournette red zone woes would boost the home side… and as if by magic that’s juts how the early action panned out. The big back had more than one opportunity to blast in from the 1 yard line and didn’t, leaving opposing kicker Josh Lambo to mop up with a 21 Yd FG, the prelude to a season best 13pt offering. There was some success for the visitors QB Josh Allen who managed a rather unusual 8pts with a pair of TD tosses ( 20 and 3 yards) the first of which came with a successful run on the ensuing 2pt attempt but generally it was all Wellington out of the gate. QB Kirk Cousins continued his recent rich vein of form with a 2 straight 4 TD effort that only lacked in that none were of the bonus point variety while fit again Barkley chipped in with a 7 yard TD run. Add in the aforementioned Lambo baker’s dozen and suddenly it was 31-08 in the NZ’s combo’s favour. Into the second Sunday phase the Lions faired a little better with K Justin Tucker and WR Tyler Lockett combing for 15pts ( 12 from the kicker) at a drizzly Seattle but a garbage time 7 yard counter for Allen Robinson looked to have put the Rising just out of touch at 34-23. A double blank for Zac Ertz and his defensive team mates in the NBC phase left us with the Sony Michel v Patriots D finale that turned out to be pure ALFF theatre. The Lions success was all the more sweet in that they were the only PDiv winners of the Week 7 program and they now improve to 4-3 and move a game clear of the hot and cold Westburn Blades in a grouping that may ultimately only provide one post season participant. Coach Butter saw the chance to join a throng of ball-clubs (that would have included the Lions) on 3-4 snatched cruelly from his gasp in yet another high scoring loss. The first year NZ ballclub are averaging an incredible 36.14pts a game yet somehow occupy bottom slot in the BA Div. To say the ALFF Gods have not smiled on them to this point is a huge understatement. Darren’s squad are still in the driving seat for the ALFF Points Title although the Kincorth Killers and Scunthorpe Steelers are warming up their challenges BUT it’s in the all important W column that the Tawa Towers team simply have to improve. 2-5 is not down
JL8 Leave Drillers Feline Flat
QB Lamar Jackson gets his usual rushing score for the JL8.
Let’s face it this has been another stressful week chez moi, the ongoing – and now costing the insurance company thousands of pounds – feline problems have taken their toll but then to find out that the JL8 were 3 point favourites with the Vegas mob was almost too much to take; note to the uninitiated, when my side is favoured by the bookies I normally get seriously gubbed. Fortunately the JL8 had, an all too rare, fully fit roster and accordingly brought back RB Devin Singletary – a no-brainer as he was up against the Miami Dolphins in the real world - & had T Y Hilton & Tyreek Hill on duty filling WR spots, the first time they’ve been on the field together this season which probably explains the bottom of the heap WR returns so far this campaign. The Commish had a much more difficult selection process to mull over before submitting his team lines. Injury issues & the dreaded bye week were the order of the day; no member of the family stone being available meant the Commish had the less than thrilling option of (untrusted) Jake Elliot performing the kicking duties and despite being game time decisions both Todd Gurley & Amari Cooper found their names on the team sheet which left the head Coach with a quandary at QB, keep faith with Carson Wentz or give the spot to Jacoby Brissett. In the end Wentz was narrowly preferred, presumably on the assumption that this fixture wouldn’t end up as a QB battle. With both sides having a runner in the TNF – don’t ask the Commish for his opinion on the quality of TNF unless you have hair desperately in need of drying – the Drillers came up empty when RB Damien Williams, a very late injury concern, went under-utilised and ended up the proud owner of a goose egg; the returning Tyreek Hill (I’m not going to run the risk of falling foul of the legal profession by mentioning children or abuse anywhere in this article, so there)! had pretty much 1 reception in the game but it was over 50 yards and did merit a visit to the end zone to put the JL8 up by a score of 6 – 0. The QB battle promised much but in the end the difference between the JL8’s Lamar Jackson and the Drillers Carson Wentz was simply the manner of scoring, the latter had his lone TD through the air and the former had his via his regular rushing TD; not a lot to see here but the JL8 increase their lead to 9 points 12 – 03. The major surprise in the battle of the RB’s was the abject failure of Devin Singletary who failed to score against the hapless Dolphins; yes I know I’ll need to repeat that again as even I’m finding that hard to swallow; a player selected for an ALFF team who was up against the Dolphins in the real world failed to score. Nah I’m still not buying it! Fortunately team-mate Derrick Henry rebounded from his failure last week and managed his now customary rushing TD. The Drillers remaining RB Todd Gurley had a question over his fitness but the Commish had his own question “how did the zebras not see him score after a heapy-on at the goal line”? The answer was he did and the zebras didn’t so the Todsters sole contribution was a rather tasty over the shoulder catch for a receiving TD. The JL8 now had a pleasing 18 - 06 lead but knew that despite the earlier 6 points from Hill their WR crew have been becalmed this season, in the doldrums if you will, so when D J Metcalf failed to score panic could be heard rapidly approaching from the distance until T Y Hilton added a score to ease the fear and give the soon to be ex-champs their highest WR tally of the season. (Yes I know 9 points isn’t anything to write home about but it could be something to build on, probably quicksand, but I’m striving for optimism). The Drillers triplets of Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and Michael Thomas left the Commish low on optimism but for the latter who has been Mr Consistent since the Saints drafted him; unfortunately the torpor affecting Mr’s Cooper & Ridley was contagious and a rare zero points outing was gained by all 3 WR’s leaving the JL8 with a shocking 21 – 06 lead. With neither defence troubling the scorers, in fact the JL8’s Jets defence didn’t turn up yet still matched the Drillers Dallas D point for point – or more precisely no point for no point. This left just the kickers to come and probably meant that the Commish had a dilemma as the JL8 were fielding his beloved Saints kicker Will Lutz whilst the dreaded Jake Elliot was next up for the Drillers. In the end the latter had an untrustworthy 4 points while Monsieur Lutz nailed 10 points to send the JL8 faithful home with a shocking 31 – 10 win. The Drillers short term affair with the top of the BA Division came to shuddering halt with their lowest scoring outing of the season – fortunately the non-selection of Brissett wasn’t significant as he’d only have put a better complexion on the loss. The Drillers drop to 5 – 2 and lose ground on the Steelers but their other 2 divisional rivals lost so this result can be dismissed as a blip. The JL8 move to 3 – 4 but failed to make any ground on their divisional rivals, who all won, but did close the RSS to 10 – 17 in what was their first win over the Drillers in their current guise.
If It Aint Broch
KR Cordarrelle Patterson takes this 102 yard KO return to the house for the Bobcats.
The 2019/20 ALFF season reached the halfway point and, in horse racing terms, we are rounding the last curve with the, long, final run in to the finish line. Six weeks to go and things are hotting up. This week saw the Broch Bobcats got head to head with the Argyle Apaches. The Bobcats have had a great start to their freshman season and went into this one with just the one loss to date. They made only one change to week 6’s side with Golden Tate in for Randall Cobb. The Apaches had lost 2 straight and were looking to get back in the saddle. The QB carousel was set in motion and Gardner Minshew III became the 5th starter in 7 games, for the Geacher’s side. Thursday night action saw this one lead off but Philip Lindsay failed to trouble the scorers, giving coach Taylor some concerns. Sunday came along and this one went…..well, along. Matt Ryan came out of his clash with and injury and failed to put up any scores. He finished with 16 of 37 for 159 yards, 1 interception and 5 sacks. Gardner Minshew did not fare a lot better. He finished with 15 of 32 for 255 yards and 2 sacks. He did, however connect on a 2 yard pass and shares a 2 point conversion. Ekeler got the Bobcats on the board with a 31 yard catch but also had a rushing touchdown chalked off after a, controversial, revue. De Hopkins tagged on a 4 yard catch and Hooper connected on a 10 yard pass. Not a lot in this one until the Bears special teams broke the game open with a 102 yard score on a kickoff return. The Bob’s managed to get some clear blue sky between them and the opposition as Myers booted over from 34, 31 and 35 (was the last score really required at that stage of the game?). He also notched a PAT. That left it at 25-4 heading for Monday night, with the Apaches having their New England guys to go. That left them in with a chance as long as things went as expected. Nugent scored on a 34 yard FG as well as 4 PAT’s but Edelman and Bell did not figure in the points scoring and this one was done and dusted. The Apaches have now dropped 3 in a row and fall back to 3-4. They find themselves #11 on points and must wonder where they will come from. The QB carousel has done them do favours and they need to get back to the races. They are still in with a wild card shout and can consolidate that with a win over the Posse this coming weekend. The Bobcats move to 6-1 and tied for best record to date. The one black cloud on the horizon is the injury to Matt Ryan, who’s status has still to be confirmed. They meet the Lions in week 8 and the next two weeks could be huge for coach Rudi and his charges. Like I said earlier; six weeks of the regular season to go, and from here on in it does not get any easier as the bye weeks and injuries take their toll. This is the time for lucky white heather and sticking pins in effigy’s of your opponents players. Still a bit to run but here we go.
Kincorth Rediscover Their Killer Instinct
WR Marvin Jones hauls in his 1st of 4 TD's for the Killers.
The Killers quest for a fourth Bowl success has somewhat stumbled recently with three losses on the bounce for the Portlethen based outfit, but Coach Geach The Younger came back with a vengeance and seriously bit Donnie's arse in the process. (Stop! Don't imagine that scenario, leave it there... once seen, you will never unsee it) It was a day when everything clicked into place for the Killers, and yes, Lady Luck smiled on Little Plum. Actually, she burst out laughing and rolled around the floor in hysterics. Where to begin. Let's start at WR where all Andrew's starters from last week were for a variety of reasons unavailable and Hunter Henry, Mike Williams and Marvin Jones (a combined total of two starts going into this game) came in as replacements and Jones had a day of the ages, a day to remember. The Detroit wideout caught FOUR touchdowns, from the sixteen, the three, the ten and the two yard line to finish up with twelve points for the day, and he is only the seventh Receiver in ALFF history to score 12 without the aid of bonus points. Now coach Geacher Jnr is a Chartered Accountant, but even he would have had a frazzled brain trying to count and keep up with his scoring from Ford Field as Dalvin Cook ("too injury prone" his auld fella said, "don't retain him") ran in for a pair of short yarders to add to Jones's score. Twenty four points from one game, and that total on its own would have been enough to beat half of the other ALFF teams on Sunday. C'mere, there was more to come, as the Baltimore D returned an interception then a fumble all the way to the endzone. Enough? Nope. Harrison Butker had a trio each of field goals and extra points, Dak P ran for one TD and threw for another ("don't draft Prescott" his auldfella said "he's a one season wonder" You may see a recurring theme here) and Joe Mixon snared one from the two yard line. Sixty points for the Killers, a franchise record and the ninth outfit to join the "Sixty Club". Apologies to Coach Garioch for his lack of a mention so far, but maybe Donnie has already filed that game under "Didn't Happen, Bad Dream". For Donnie, James Conner was on a bye week in came Kerryoot Johnson, and Eddie Pineiro (was he not in "The Sopranos"?) returned as kicker, but, but, but..... didnae matter. The rain washed away any points that the Gryphons were hoping to get at the Fedex, and the rest of the scoring won 't take much time to describe. Top rated wideout Adam Thielen did his hammie in when scoring his TD and is rated doubtful for this week, the 'Aint's D scored a safety and Eddie Pineiro (maybe it was "Goodfellas"?) contributed five points. Final score Garthdee Gryphons 12 @ 60 Kincorth Killers. What now for Donnie? 2-5 with a week 8 encounter with the Drillers on the horizon then the Zillionth Garioch Bowl is not a happy place to be. The Birds need to start winning, and soon. Despite the win, the Killers have the seemingly unbeatable Steelers next... that's a humdinger, and I'm sitting on the fence with that one ,then an inter divisional week 9 clash with the champs, JL8. That's all folks!
Dolphins Back In The Swim
Ezekiel Elliott blast in from the 1 yard line for Arnhall.
Yowsah!. A week 7 fixture between two, cellar dwellers….well you know what I mean. Neither side had expected to be in their current positions once they had completed their drafts. Then along comes Dame Fortune and bites you where it hurts. The Dolphins were sitting on 2-4 and coming off a week 6 win. They brought Carr and Jacobs back after a bye week; this also applied to Fitzpatrick and Doyle out wide. The Vike’s D was in for Pittsburgh for the self, same reason. The Posse had a great 2018 /9 season but had not expected to regress in the way that they had. They brought in Freeman for Chubb (bye), Goodwin was back after injury, and Hardman occupied the 3rd WR slot. The Rams D got the call as well. Thursday saw the Express get a kick start as Hardman caught a 21 yard pass to get things moving. Not the greatest of starts but you take what you can. Sunday was the night for it all to happen…or not as the case may be. Coach Marty had opted to go with Kyler Murray at QB, not realising that Jared Goff was also suited and booted. That one was to cost…and how. Murray finished with 14 of 21 for 104 yards and 2 sacks as his side went with a ground offence. None of the scores came from him. Things progress from bad to worse as Fuller went down in the 1st quarter and was quickly followed by Goodwin. The Posse’s hopes were tossed, right out the window when Devonta Freeman was ejected from the game. The Dolphins got on the board with Elliot’s 1 yard lunge and then moved ahead with Jimmy Graham’s 3 yard catch. Matt Prater connected on a 46 yard FG as well as 3 PAT’s to make it 15-3 with the Posse running out options and people. Mason Crosby found himself confined to PAT’s and connected on 6, whilst the Rams D scored on a fumble return. This game was done and dusted with all the Posse crew back in the locker rooms and trailing by 3. All that was left was for the Dolphins to close the game out with Derek Carr; which they did. He finished with 22 of 28 for 293 yards and 1 interception. He connected on passes of 10 and 7 yards for 6 points and this one was history. The Posse drop to 1-6 and last year must seem a light year away. Losing 3 of your team on the night did not help in the least. Realistically Marty cannot afford to lose too many more games and make the play off party. Week 8 sees them tackle the Apaches in what may be a, must win, situation. The Dolphins make it 2 in a row and now lead the RSS 18 to 8, even though this was their first win in the fixture since 2016. Coach Compost is swopping his cricket flannels for deck shoes and cocktails as he heads off on a booze cruise, but will need to keep a weather eye on the horizon. The Rising are next up, and a chance to get back on an even keel. A defeat would not see the ship heading for the rocks but certainly into dangerous waters. Seven down and six to go and no one out of things…yet! Just the way we like it.
Sleeper of the Week
It looked as the Lions omission of Aaron Rogers would be the big story here but outside of a special mention the focus remains at the position …. But shifts to the Caledonia Express. In a week where lopsided wins were the rule ( with one exception) one Sleeper would have made all the difference… and handed Marty a play-off life line. Had the Cove based CEO gone with Jared Goff instead of rookie Kyler Murray his side would have netted 12 additional points that would have turned a 15-21 loss into 27-21 win. Instead it’s a Week 7 SOW prize winner for Marty and Goff.
Player of the Week
Not hard to work this one out. Laurel Lions RB Sony Michel simply had to score at least twice to turn round his sides pivotal game against the Wellington Rising … and is turned out he actually had to add a third score to win the game for a second time. With 18pts and scores from 3 , 1 and 1 yard Sony Michel is the Week 7 Player of the Week.
Play of the Week
No single play has been bigger in its impact than this weeks Play of the Week. Sony Michels' 1 yard slice early in the MNF 4th quarter put the Lions one game in the tight Pittodrie Division....and kept the Wellington Rising from creating a 5 team log jam at 3-4.