If nothing else Week 9 has to go down as one when the form book held good across the League, with the sides in scoring form largely continuing on their merry way… while the rest still struggled in this latest round of intra-Division match-ups. There were exceptions but we shall get to them later. The “big” clash of the week was the Apaches v Drillers and while you could argue both are in fact in form sides, it was the Commissioner’s crew who came out on top of a tie that was a high scorer. As a result the Bon Accord Div’s new leaders snapped up their post season ticket and they were joined in the play-off mix by joint Granite Div leaders, the Arnhall Dolphins and Kincorth Killers both who won against sides in the lower half of that split grouping. With four 7-2 sides now sure of knock-out play the elimination trap door is creaking under the strain of ballcubs with less than 3 wins. The formbook in the Pittodrie Division is marginally less polarized than the other two Divisions and a little more up and down. In relation to the aforementioned exceptions, PDiv leaders the Westburn Blades just squeezed home against the fading Garthdee Gryphons to get to within half a game of the post season but did so by scoring just 16pts . Coach Kiwi has to be concerned that his side just don’t look as competitive sans Deshaun Watson. The Caledonia Express coasted to a win over the Laurel Lions to stay firmly in the PDiv title hunt but the pressure is now on coach Hamilton who simply has to find a way to win at least three of remaining fixtures if he is not to suffer the ignominy of an early bath in his first title defence. In the other exception the Wrecking Rebels finally got that first mark in the win column in what was truly an ugly low scoring affair with the disappointing Scunthorpe Steelers. Although the Double Mac’s will be delighted to get the winless monkey off their backs , in truth neither side emerged from that clash with much credit and it will be a major upset if both are not eliminated sooner rather than later. The ALFF Point Title race took a swing towards the 2 Minute Drillers who took full advantage of the Blades lowish output to take over as points No 1 but with 4 games to go and as many as 5 sides within 40pts of each other there is a lot of water to flow under that specific bridge. This week’s 242pt total was the 2nd lowest of a points sparse campaign (not surprising with 3 kickers posting zero and one side incurring a no defence penalty) and now it’s definitely a case of just where this low scoring season will slot into the bottom end of the season by season scoring charts. With just 4 weeks of RS football left all 12 sides are still in theory at least still in contention… but one more week of form results and the elimination trapdoor will get busy in a hurry.
Drillers Ram Home Advantage To Beat Braves
Todd Gurley scores on a goal line plunge for the Drillers.
In a game that might figure high in the significance column come Wk 17, the 2 Minute Drillers booked their post season ticket and established overall control of the Bon Accord Division pennant race with a high scoring 36-30 win over the never say die Argyll Apaches. Facing down their long time rivals without recourse to a kicker that could put points on the board, the Braves had the Drillers camp on edge as they battled back late Sunday through QB Dak Prescott but the Commissioner’s crew proved to have done enough in an early Sunday points blitz to ensure they secured a massive tie break enabling season sweep in what is shaping up to be a double bye week dogfight. Neither coach had skin in the Thursday game so team lines were very much a weekend affair. The Commish welcomed back his Rams contingent (Gurley, Zuerlein and D) after their week on the sidelines and seriously considered starting Jared Goff against a injury hit Giants D but decided to stick with Brees. Mohamed Sanu was preferred to Devin Funchess (after a similar Week 8 "wrong" choice) while Davante Adams returned to replace the Watsonless Will Fuller (Tom Savage... nah...). The Braves were a week behind their opponents on the players missing schedule.. with Bell, Cooks, Thielen,& Gostkowski all forced to sit out this pivotal contest. Geronimo felt pressured to go with a 4WR set bring in Wille Snead as a potential spoiler... but it was Sunday morning discovery that back-up kicker Cairo Santos was on the injured list (oops) that made the headlines in Twitterland and beyond. The ALFF money men had listed the Drillers as 3pt favorites on the basis the kickerless & bye week blitzed Apaches having too many hurdles to overcome and it looked as if Vegas had got it spot on as the slow developing early action suddenly exploded into action. After a Greg Zuerlein and Sanu had combined to give the 5 times champions a 04-00 lead the Drillers scoring machine got into top gear. With the Rams in full flow Greg The Leg went on to add another swift 11pts, two of which were PAT's tacked on to Todd Gurley TD rumbles. QB Drew Brees , a step down form his usual top 3 form, also got in on the act with a 33 yd TD toss (that was mostly Alvin Kamara) before hitting paydirt with a more typical 36 yarder. All the Braves could muster in response was a nice 45 yard counter from evergreen TY Hilton but with just 3pts on the board Geronimo looked well beaten at 03-33. However as the clock ticked down in the early period action a rather bizarre if not downright outlandish final few minutes changed the whole complexion of events. TY Hilton broke free on a long reception but somehow was not touched down by the Texans DB and turned his stroke of fortune into an 80 yards TD. The Ricker’s stunned disbelief was tempered a little by a late 47 yard FG for Greg The Leg ( Mr McVay... 47 yard FG in late Q4 while leading 48-10 ... not excusable even when its MY kicker!!) but there was more to come. Mike Wallace pulled in a 1 yard counter in Nashville garbage time… and even more dramatically, with the coasting Eagles in “play the back-ups” mode , Nick Foles (remember him !?) was allowed to run a passing play… and was promptly strip sacked for a 19 yard fumble return for a TD by Braves LB Brandon Marshall. Suddenly a 33-03 canter had turned into a slightly more open ended 36-18 contest. True the 18pt deficit was all on Argyll’s last man standing Dak Prescott .. but when the 2nd year followed up a 6 yard scoring strike by rushing in untouched on a 10 yard keeper there was a growing feeling an impossible comeback may be on. That perception lingered with the Pokes back in scoring position inside the Kansas City red zone , where another rushing score would have brought the Apaches back within a passing TD of their opponents but the Cowboys went the Zeke Elliott route and the Drillers had weathered the storm. Prescott did score again on a 7 yard toss but by then the clock was a major factor and the defending Div champions held on to record a hard fought success. With a play-off berth in the bag for both HC’s the run in is all about the pennant and the likely associated bye weeks. The Ricker knows he only has to match his opponent from here on in to retain his Bon Accord Div champion status but with 3 ties versus sides with only 4 wins between them in his run in, the Geacher must still fancy his chances. A Week 10 tester v Pittodrie Div leaders the Westburn Blades could be a banana skin for the BOD outfit’s title ambitions. With the Granite Div also featuring two 7-2 outfits in a Divisional shoot out it’s not impossible one team (of the four) could finish around 10-3 and NOT get a bye week. Either way both Drillers & Apaches are in decent form with a post season re-match a strong possibility. The Drillers were the only side to score more than the Braves on the Wk 9 scorecard with the two rivals combining for over 27% of the aggregate weeks total. The win hands coach Rickaby his first ever back to back season sweeps in the series and pads his overall RSS lead to 27-16.
Pirates Plundered By Le Crazy Poisson
Arnhall RB Ezekiel Elliot blasts in from the 2 yard line.
No, before you ask I don’t have any French qualifications, just access to a keyboard! I should also give a warning that though this article does not contain nuts there may be some oblique references to those critters that live the life aquatic – there will not be anything from the movie of the same name, well not intentionally, as I’ve never got around to seeing it! Okay then first nut up is, sorry first up is the Fish that is mad, the Percy Thrower of the ALFF. (Note to the young ‘uns of the league, Percy was for many years the resident green fingers on Blue Peter…a television show for children…from the 60’s until …I think it finished recently. Okay recently to me means this century)! The Mad Fish is enjoying a fine season with his bunch of reprobates and convicts though the latter is a bone of contention with reasonable minded people but more on this anon. At 6 – 2 and possibly on the way to his first ever successful Granite Division title defence, the Mad ones team is a fairly settled entity but for the punishment hanging over the head of their star RB Zeke Elliot; and a funny shaped head it is too. Due to his latest stay (of execution, hopefully as this little piece of detritus is currently my second least popular in the game!) by the courts on his 6 week suspension (6 weeks! - he wouldn’t last 6 minutes with the type of suspension I’d give the little shit)! He was available for selection this week and was therefore in the starting line-up. Ty Montgomery returned at RB 2 and with D Walker back from his bye the Dolphins were set for the fray. Over at the Pirates, Head Coach The Melancholy Squid is having more than his fair share of problems in his first season and with a 1 – 7 record his squad is 3 games off a wildcard berth; in short he probably needs to win out to join the sea food platter, that’s the play off bun fest for non-aquatic life forms! Alas he was getting no help from the fixture makers as he clearly had selection issues as a result. QB Cry Me A Rivers was on his bye and was replaced by M Stafford and a 2 RB set was implemented with O Darkwa and D Washington taking those berths; the final change was at kicker with S Hauschka replacing the noted diarist Mr Boswell. Okay that’s the cast (sic) out of the way, what about the action? (Sidebar; how cocky and perverse of The Mad Fish to take a sailing holiday in the Mediterranean at this crucial stage of the season; the image of a Marlin at the wheel of a sailing ship quaffing from a bottle of Australian red under an azure sky is burned into my brain!) The QB battle was a cagey affair and ended all square; 2 TD’s apiece for R Wilson and M Stafford lead to a score of 6 all. The first inklings – sorry it just came out – of disaster for the Pirates came in the battle of the RB’s; the Cove Bay Boys had an uneventful night and netted the dreaded caviar, that’s right the fish eggs or zero to us land lubbers. It wasn’t an awful lot better over Arnhall way as T Montgomery fell over a cliff(t) on his way to produce a null output but things improved, if controversially, when nascent criminal Z Eliot took advantage of his stay and barrelled his way into the end zone to rub sea salt into the Pirates wound! Next up for the Phins were the experienced trio of J Witten (drinks oot), D Walker and D Thomas, though they didn’t set the ling(fishy term for heather) on fire the latter did manage a single TD to give their side a 15 -6 lead. The Melancholy Squid needed a big time response from his wide receivers but due to the lack of the reliable, but on his bye, Antonio Brown confidence was at a premium; though O.J.Howard and M Goodwin failed to catch on, C Beasley had a TD double for a 6 point haul to close the score to 15 – 12. When neither side had a score from their respective defences it was going to come down to the kickers to settle this one. The Pirates were reliant on S Hauschka to grab victory from the jaws of defeat but he was left flopping about on the side-lines after his paltry 3 point effort was only just enough to tie things up at 15 all. It pains me to say this but the Mad Fish and his insouciant demeanour wasn’t ill founded and his kicker (ironically a former bird; a Cardinal) landed a 10 point knockout blow to the minnows and netted the Fish a comfortable 25 – 15 victory. The Arnhall Dolphins move to 7 – 2 and sweep the season series, ensure themselves of a play-off berth and are battling the Kincorth Killers for that elusive Granite Division title. The Pirates at 1 – 8 are even more melancholic now and have only the slimmest of chances of making the post season. The Dolphins lead the RSS 1 – 0 but the Melancholic crew just need to remember that it’s not over until Michael Ball sings!!
Express Deliver As Lions Fade
QB Marcus Mariota scored twice as the Posse outscored the Lions.
Well here we are. Week nine of the 2017 ALFF season. Yes week NINE!! Time flies when you are enjoying yourself. It was not all that long ago that we congregated at Chateau Cove for the draw, and went away with our respective picks. Yet here we are. Four weeks of the regular season to go, and all 12 teams still in with a chance…..although in some cases this may well be slim/fat. Take your pick. This week’s fixtures saw the 2017 champion Laurel Lions take on the Caledonia Express. Coach Hamilton went into this game on 3-5, knowing they needed a win to keep the repeat as a viable option. He opted to recall Manning, Murray, Nelson and Succop, after their bye weeks and introduced, newly acquired wide man Richardson as the 3rd WR. Marty and the Posse also went for changes. Newton was benched after a few less than impressive performances and Marcus Mariota was given the nod. West replaced Gillislee, on a bye and Jared Cook, newly signed got the call to replace Ju-Ju Smith for the same reason. The Express were on 4-4 having dropped 2 straight. This one was down to Sunday night action. The Lions Eli manning opened the scoring with passes of 5 and 10 yards for 6 points. He finished with 20 of 36 for 220 yards on the night. Mariota replied with a brace of scores of his own, finding his men from 16 and 11 yards. His final stat was 19 of 28 for 2168 yards, with 1 interception and 3 sacks. Both sets of running backs than proceeded to raid the goose egg factory, leaving the game in the hands (sic) of the wide receiving corps. Ted Ginn Jr roped in a 36 yard catch but was outshone by Tyreek Hill’s 56 yard catch. The Lions found…more goose eggs, and this one was slipping away from them. The Express moved further ahead as their Texan’s D scored on a 34 yard fumble return to make it 21-6 and this was all but done and dusted. Succop scored on a 48 yard FG as well as 2 PAT’s but this was never going to be enough and Gano’s 8 point haul (FGs from 31 and 45 with 2 PAT’s), closed the game out. This Posse win squared the 2017 series at a game apiece. The Lions had won game 1 25-21 but could not repeat that feat. They drop to 3-6 and are in danger of missing the play off stages. They need to win at least 3 of their last 4 games, but results elsewhere may impact on this. Zero points from his outfield went a long way to explaining this defeat. Week 10 sees the Killers come calling, and things will need to be fixed for that game. They have managed sub 20 point performances in 4 of their last 5 outings. Not the form of a play off team. The Express move to 5-4, with Marty having reached 5 wins for the first time since 2013. They are a game back in the pennant race and still have a shot at the title. They are also 3-1 in their division and could be about to make the step up. Tyreek Hill has been a massive player for them, and looks to have a lot more in the tank. This Express team may be the real deal. Time will tell. In the meantime week 10 will see them clash with the Desperados, as we begin the sprint towards the finishing line. Ten down and 4 to go. Remember Time flies like and arrow, but fruit flies like a banana!! Catch you in seven.
Player of the Week
Not a real difficult call in the Player of the Week stakes. Drillers K Greg Zeurlein has been a significant factor in the new BA Div leaders staying on track to retain their BA title. This week he score a huge 15pts in a must win game that might play a big part in the final post season seedings. Greg's 6 PATs and FG's from 26, 46 and 47 yards win the FG artist the Week 9 POW award.
Play of the Week
There's a saying about small acorns making things grow and in the absence of a play in brackets this week making the slighest bit of difference I looked a bit further down the foodchain. It wasn't the Westburn Blades finest hour... but they won by the narrowest of margins... and in doing so prevented a 3 way tie in the PDiv they may have found hard to come out on top of. LB Bobby Wagner's endzone sack of direct opponent QB Kirk Cousins not only scored the precious 2pts that made all the difference in this mega tight showdown... but set the tone for a Seattle D that had to scrap all the way to contain the battling passer. Wagner's safety is the Week 9 Play of the Week.
Walsh Woes Hand New Rebs A Win
RB Chris McCaffrey strolls in for a 4 yard Wrecking Rebels TD.
A little under 2 years ago the Scunthorpe Steelers faced the Wrecking Rebels in ALFF Bowl 23 with young kicker Blair Walsh playing a prominent part in the latter's ultimate Title triumph. Fast forward to 2017 .... and oh how the circumstances have changed... for both ball-clubs ... and the kicker. The second 2017 RS meeting of these two Bon Accord Division rivals was nothing more than an Elimination Bowl in which the Wrecking Rebels finally caught a break as they sneaked past their comatose opponents to win 13-09 and end the longest regular season losing spell in ALFF history. Blair Walsh was again prominent ... and helping the hybrid Rosemount franchise... but that's because as a Steeler he missed all three FG's attempted over the course of the evening, dooming Adamski's struggling combo to a loss that will likely prove fatal. Up until this week's match-up the coaches McConnachie had not enjoyed a slice of RS win pie since scraping home 18-12 (13 RS losses ago) against the Garthdee Gryphons in Week 6, 2016 and they had to overcome the lack of a defence to finally end their 2017 famine. In truth , if this had a been a boxing match it's doubtful the New Rebs would have been allowed to fight in the first place. In some coaching disarray this term , the Big Mac's had again contrived to reach that point in the season where their draft strategy of running with just one defence reaching the tipping point of the bye week.... and yes.. you guessed it , no defence had been signed in the interim. Apply "McConnachie's Rule" ... meaning the winless Rebs would start with -6pts. Throw into the mix the third year outfit were missing only regular scorers Melvin Gordon and Gronk thanks to bye week considerations .... and were thinner than Kate Moss at WR.... it seemed there was a real prospect the Rosemount Place based side may struggle to get back to zero. Their ultimate team selection featured C J Anderson in place of mainstay Gordon , three WR's who wouldn't see the field ( Ertz was a late inactive) but did include a change at K where incumbent Ka'imi Fairbairn was averaging less than 3pts a game .. and had yet to kick a FG. Replacement Aldrick Rosas had fared little better in his opening season spell as starter.. but the move would prove significant. Over on the other side of the ball , things were not much more positive for coach Meek. A run of three straight losses had left the usually competitive Steelmen out in the cold in the BA pennant race and just fighting for survival. Not surprisingly Adamksi stayed with emerging RB Alvin Kamara and his all rookie RB attack after the young Saints scoring debut but ironically it was the one change he did make... listing Blair Walsh ahead of the recently ineffective Giorgio Tavecchio at K that set up his undoing. Vegas has suggested the game would be ugly .. and the ALFF money men were not wrong. The Steelers had set the tone on Thursday with a goose egg for WR Kelvin Benjamin at Met Life. Conventional wisdom suggested the wide-outs surprise NFL trade to Buffalo would improve his output... but as it turned out, to Adam's chagrin, the Bills belatedly decide to leave KB in his civvies (making that 4 WR's out of six on the score-sheet who would not see the field). All the scoring, such as it was came in the early Sunday "action". Given they had only three warm bodies on show the New Rebs actually got a decent return. QB Matt Ryan has been that average no frills QB he truly is and wiped out the -6pts on the starting scorecard with a short TD double in Charlotte. At the same location RB Chris McCaffrey added six more on a 4 yard run and although the Giants were pounded in New Jersey, kicker Aldrick Rosas managed to boot a 50 yard FG in between two PAT's to pad the Wrecking Crew's total to 13pts. The Steelers were pretty much focussed on the Superdome where Alvin Kamara built on his growing reputation by scoring on a 33 yard TD reception... and a 4 yard run.. but QB Jameis Winston's 2017 woes continued with as he was shown to the bench without troubling the scorers after a first half battering. Somehow WR Nelson Agholor didn't get on the scoresheet in the Eagles 51pts scoring frenzy at Lincoln Financial Field but with Kareem Hunt, Amari Cooper , Blair Walsh and his Oakland D to come Adamski had to be confident he was going to overcome the 09-13 deficit. Hunt came close on a couple of runs at Jerryworld but came up empty and then the Sowf London coaching crew had to watch as Walsh pulled not one, not two but THREE FG attempts wide left. To add insult to injury the kickers struggles meant Seattle went for 2 on both times they got in the Redskins endzone... leaving the overall score unaltered. With the pressure on Cooper and the Oakland D to come through in the NBC phase neither could deliver .. to hand the coaches McConnachie the unlikeliest of triumphs. The New Rebs improve to 1-8 and although still technically alive would need to win out.. and rely on a large slice of results going their way. Vegas are not anticipating a late rush of clever money on the Rosemount side to make the final eight. The Steelers 4th straight loss sees Adamski slide to 2-7 and miss out on the chance to bridge the gap to a wildcard berth. With the Lions , Gryphons and Desperados all losing the gap remains at 2 games... but with now just 4 games left the margin for error is shrinking fast. A first post season miss since his rookie campaign now seems the most likely scenario for the crestfallen coach Meek. A split season series leaves the RSS tied at 3-3.
Killers Mixon It Up Over Desperados
Rookie RB Joe Mixon reaches the ball into the EZ to score for the Killers.
The RONaissance™ experienced a setback this week at the hands of the King of the Korth, as the Dans divisional woes continued against the Killers. With Brady on a bye for our junior Geacher, Jay Cutler was in at QB (pretty like-for-like if you ask me), Tampa subbed for the Vikes D and All Day returned at running back. On the other side of the field, the Ronster Truck welcomed back the RB duo of Henry and Jones after their bye week and Cooper Kupp was welcomes to the ALFF fray after some solid performances for the LA Sheep.The rise of Carson Wentz has been well documented, but most would wouldn’t have fancied him to do too well against the vaunted Broncos D. Those people were (much to my sorrow as a Broncos fan) wrong. Wentz and his Iggles hardly needed to break a sweat when they were constantly being put in scoring position and taking full advantage. TDs from 32, 15, 27 and 4 yards were all well and good, however, two of those were caught by opposing Killer, Alshon Jeffrey, for what would turn out to be a very important 6 points. DeAndre Hopkins’ contributions seem to be about to take a downturn with the loss of DeShaun Watson at QB, but the replacement Mr Milquetoast still managed to squeeze out a 34 yarder to the superstar wideout. Down J-ville way, Joe Mixon managed to eek his way through the “SACKsonville” line to put up 6 for Andrew and, at this point, keep it a contest. The extra point was attributed to the Dans’, Randy Bullock, however during my research for this article I found he was actually ruled out of week 9 and did not play with rookie Marshall Koehn being given the simple task of a lone PAT. Sorry Dans fans – you literally just lost a point for reading this! Matt Bryant hasn’t been been afforded as many opportunities this season as he was last and this time around he managed to nail a 53 yarder but only a couple of PATS for 5 puntos. Derrick Henry was stuffed for the majority of the day, but delivered in ALFF terms with a sole TD run, so going into late Sunday we were quite finely poised at 21 (after my adjustments) to 19 to Deevale. The one man to decide where the W goes? That would be the fan favourite, the saltiest of the salty, the incomparable; Mr Jay Cutler. Going up against the Human Colander – that is the Oakland D – anything could happen. Well, the good news went in favour of Coach Andy to the tune of 3 mid-range TDs for 9 points, to tie things up for the Killers at 28-21. Coach Andrew’s side move to 7-2 joint top of the Granite Division and are making a strong case for their first division pennant since 2014. Pencil week 13’s clash with the Arnhall Dolphins into your calendar as that could be a big ‘un! Division match-ups have not proven fruitful for Ronnie’s side, who are now 1-3 within their grouping, but they are still hoping for a wildcard berth having clawed their way back into contention over the last few weeks, but 2 more wins may be necessary for that. Deevale still lead the RSS 10-7.
Razor Edge Win For Safety First Blades
Justin Tucker boots a crucial 49 yard FG for the Blades.
Coach Kiwi went form one end of the fantasy spectrum to the other as he followed up his heartbreak high scoring Week 8 loss to the Arnhall Dolphins by fighting tooth and nail to scratch out a tense Division defining 16-15 win over the stalled Garthdee Gryphons. Donny came with inches of a last gasp Kirk Cousins score that would have opened a sizeable 8pt lead deep into proceedings late Sunday in the Pacific NW but Stuie's Seattle Defence just touched undrafted WR Josh Doctson down short of the goal-line. Westburn then just .. but only just.... turned a 13-15 deficit (going into the NBC phase in Miami) into a 16-15 lead thanks to QB Derek Carr's lone score of the evening (a 44 yard pass) and it was then all down to last man standing Darren Fells , strutting his stuff at Lambeau Field on Monday night. The big TE was very active in a strong offensive Detroit effort.... but sadly for the Bayler a score that would have forced a tight three way 5-4 log jam atop the Pittodrie Division just wouldn't come. Earlier, coach Bothwell Jnr had to give credence to the existence of the near mythical old Bothwell curse ( a regular Berryden visitor back in the day of papa Bothwell) as he promptly had to deselect QB Deshaun Watson after the League's form player went out for the season after suffering a non contact knee injury in training. Derek Carr was swiftly re-installed as starter with Leonard Fournette and rising rookie Evan Engram also back in the NZ outfits starting line-up after bye weeks. The Crimson One had little room for maneuver but bar the return of his resting Arizona defence stuck with the same eight that had faltered against the Braves just 7 days earlier. Shady McCoy's recent form has been a major factor in the Youngblood's rise to No 1 in the Points standings , so his fat goose egg Thursday night at Met Life did not auger well for the Div leaders fortunes. The mood in the southern hemisphere blackened considerably when the late breaking news at Sunday kick-off was all about Leonard Fournette's late in the day disciplinary benching... guaranteeing a double blank for the League's No 1 rushing attack. Could the Blades overcome the double blow of losing their top two scorers (other than a kicker) ... curse... what curse !!?? Well the answer was yes... but by the narrowest of margins. With ailing top pick Devonta Freeman extending his Gryphons scoring famine to 5 games on the bounce the early Sunday phase was effectively reduced to a kicking contest with the Birds Jake Elliott edging opponent Justin Tucker 09-08. However a garbage time 10 yard TD grab from WR Evan Engram in Stuie's 2nd visit to Met Life of the match-up ensured it was the Div leaders who held the upper hand going into a critical late Sunday period with the action in Seattle taking centre stage. Defences dominated, meaning slim pickings for Jimmy Graham on the Westburn scorecard... and more of the same for Kirk Cousins, Chris Thompson and Doug Baldwin for the Baylerville crew. In a bruising battle of wills the Blades Seattle defence forced a score by sacking the Birds signal-caller in his own EZ to record a safety but Kiwi's joy was cut short by a late 30 yard counter from on form Doug Baldwin and the news that Travis Kelce (the "other" Gryphon in late action) had pulled in his ubiquitous 3 pointer over in Jerryworld. Ahead 15-13 the Bayler could only watch on as the last few acts described above played out... and coach Bothwell came back (and held on) to record a win that defined the Pittodrie Div with just 4 games to go. Coach Kiwi's charges improve to 6-3 and now stand just half a game from a play-off berth. This was clearly not his outfit's best performance but with Leonard Fournette (surely ?) due back next week still have a trick or two up their collective sleeves. With 4 sides ahead with a 7-2 record, a double bye week may still be a long shot for the NZ based combo... but a win over the Drillers in Wk 10 could prize that door open a little. The Mythical Creatures drop to 4-5... having lost 4 of their last 5.. and are in danger of fading out after great start to their campaign. Right now they still sit in the final wildcard position and on paper still have winable match-ups to come but unless something unexpected turns up the Birds fate now hangs on the form of RB Devonta Freeman. A late return to form from the ball carrier could yet keep the Bayler's hopes alive. Just to underline how tight things have been for both ball-clubs this season, this game was the second between the two decided by just one point, the Gryphons having won their Week 2 encounter 31-30 in what proved to be a split season series. Donny's lead in the RSS has been cut to 16-12.
Sleeper of the Week
I did mull over listing Marshawn Lynch (or Giorgio Tavecchio) here given the Steelers painful low scoring loss to the Wrecking Rebels but there was higher impact Sleeper this week. Had the Bayler gone with back-up QB Jacoby Brissett instead of incumbent Kirk Cousins he would have netted 9 additional points. That would have turned a 15-16 Divisional loss to the Westburn Blades into a 24-16 win .. and set up a tense 3 way 5-4 tie in the Pittodrie Div. Instead Donny is now looking nervously over his shoulder... and gets the Week 9 SOW award.