2016-04 Dope Sheet

Just one team now stands tall and without a defeat to their name after three weeks in the 2016 BFL Season. By contrast, there is also one team without a win to it’s name, but as a wise man once wrote of the Bridgend Football League, the only thing that’s for sure is that nothing is for sure. There are some very intriguing games this weekend, highlighted are the rematch from the 2015 Andrex Golden Plunger Bowl, as well as a bitter old rivalry restarting once more. As always, The Dope is on hand to prognosticate.

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Maesteg SheepSkins (0-3) @ Orlando Rage (2-1)
The SheepSkins struggled once more last week, partly due to injury (Arian Foster and Antonio Gates are both unlikely to suit up for this weekend and their production was missing last weekend) and partly due to underwhelming performances. Julio Jones and Charles Clay combined for the magnificent score of 1.5 points and no matter how high powered your offense is, you need all of your players to be pulling their weight if you are to have the best chance of victory. The A.J. and Julio show is over before it even began, with Green now on the Shannys. Mark Ingram’s 77 yards and a TD was a highlight and expect a similar outing this weekend. Free agency pickup Zach Brown’s 12 TT may have won him a starting place, even when the likes of Clay Matthews return to fitness.
It was a miserable weekend for the Rage, being humiliated at home by the winless Super Touchdowners. The much vaunted defense that carried the team in the first two games was punished massively and the stuttering offense, despite standout performances from the #1 RB in the league at the moment, LeGarrette Blount, and waiver-wire pickup Charles Sims, did not really get started. Bashaud Breeland leaving early on with a high right ankle sprain, not to return, put the writing on the wall and the team will hope that his replacement, Stephon Gilmore, can step up in his absence. What looked like an easy two games last week, is no longer looking like certain victories, and the Rage’s season might threaten to capitulate if after the 2-0 start, they end up at .500.
The Dope’s Prediction: The SheepSkins pile further trouble on the Rage, getting their first victory and the Rage begin to look extremely vulnerable.

Dezzy Does Dallas (3-0) @ Waterton Winos (1-2)
(Overall series tied, 2-2)
The two teams who contended for the Plunger Bowl last December face-off once more with contrasting fortunes…
The Dezzys remain the only undefeated team, besting Dallas Sucks in their acrimonious rivalry. In the process, the Dezzys GM picked up the Hyundai Player of the Week for the first time, a honour that the Dezzy’s GM was delighted to achieve. The DeAngelo Williams hype train slowed to a halt earlier than anticipated, but the astute pick-up of Christine Michael more than made up for it – 106 rushing yards and 2 TDs will do that for you. Everson Griffen is already on pace to have a career season and this will be music to the ears of the Dallas GM. We have yet to see the best of the legendary wide-out Larry Fitzgerald this season, and he is due a good performance soon. Will this be that week – The Dope believes it could be.
There was interference on the line when The Dope spoke regarding the Winos, but the words “Drop” “Injured” “Players” were made out. The Dope refused to comment any further.
The Dope’s Prediction: Dezzys stay undefeated, and the question now becomes “Who can stop them?”

Maryland Cookies (1-2) @ Team Jones (2-1)
Just like in 2015, the Cookies finally got their first W in week 3 and the hallmarks of that trademark high-powered offense were back, with the Cookies collective getting the nostalgic feels from last year. Trading for Aaron Rodgers paid off in a big way and it could have been worse for the Shannys last week, with Rodgers notably taking his foot off the throttle towards the end of the game. Jeremy Hill’s 97 rushing yards for 2 TDs and another Ezekiel Elliott rookie masterclass was a sight to behold. Ameer Who? With A-Rod on a bye, Big Ben is back in at QB for this week’s bout and provided his offensive line can hold up the pocket to offensive pressure, he can score big this week. Captain Consistent Paul Posluszny continues to gobble up the tackles and shows no sign of slowing down, despite his age placing him at the tall end of the league’s linebackers.
It was a close run thing for the highest scoring team of week 3 and Team Jones were pipped at the post. T.Y. Hilton’s second highest scoring game of his career (8 receptions for 174 yards and the game-winning TD) capped off a glorious performance by the Team Jones front eight, averaging just over 17.5 points each. Kwon Alexander returned to his week 1 form (7 total tackles and a pick-six) and might become one of the candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year if his performances continue to hold up as the season continues. Benardrick McKinney, in for the injured Brian Cushing, is another name to look out for after an impressive performance with an increased workload in week 3.
The Dope’s Prediction: In the closest game of the weekend, Team Jones sneak it right at the death with a strong performance from Stefon Diggs.

Shotgun Shenanigans (1-2) @ The Super Touchdowners (1-2)
There are already whispers of “Not Again” around the Shannys dressing room after an unpleasant week 3 performance. Carson Palmer looked more like 2011 Oakland Raiders Carson Palmer last week than 2015 Arizona Cardinals Carson Palmer, as he was crushed from pillar to post. Palmer is now on his third team in as many weeks, being passed around more often than my 2004 The Girl Next Door DVD. The QB of the Week this week is looking like Kirk Cousins and the Shannys have cottoned onto the “pick whoever is playing against the Browns” strategy. A.J. Green comes into the team via trade and may solve the issue of a top wide-out that the team might need to end up with a playoff finish once again this season. A shout-out must go to the performances of DeMarco Murray (114 rushing yards, 1 TD) and Doug Baldwin (164 receiving yards, 1 TD), proving that you can take some comfort in defeat.
After being written off by the press, the Touchdowners produced a stunning performance to embarrass the Rage at home, taking their first win of the campaign. And there is no doubt who the star man was – Marvin Jones’s 205 receiving yards, including a 73 yard bomb, destroyed the Rage, landing the highest individual points in the league so far this season. Strong 2 TD performances from Shady McCoy and Emmanuel Sanders also propelled TST to within touching distance of the Player of the Week honours. Marvin Jones went slightly under the radar, as many expected Golden Tate to be Megatron’s replacement, but now that the attention is firmly on him, will teams adjust their game plans to deal with the fourth-year receiver? Or will he continue to run riot over unsuspecting defenses in weeks to come?
The Dope’s Prediction: The Marvin Jones express starts to build up further steam and the Super Touchdowners go from 0-2 to 2-2.

The Game of the Week is presented by Advance Auto Parts, the official automotive replacement parts supplier of the BFL. Service is our best part…
Dallas Sucks (2-1) @ Cleveland Clowns (2-1)
Despite a different lick of paint for one of these teams, this is one of the oldest and most caustic rivalries in the league. And as the only meeting of two teams with winning record this week, this was an easy pick for Game of the Week.
As expected, Dallas Sucks found it difficult after losing Adrian Peterson. Spencer Ware was underwhelming, despite good numbers. The trade for Carlos Hyde looks to have paid off however, as his 103 rushing yards and 2 TDs made up for the loss of Peterson. Corey Graham put in a very strong defensive performance with 4 total tackles, a sack and an interception. Luke Kuechly continues to be the anchor of the defense and his 13 TT was just another day at the office for the young defensive stalwart.
The Clowns GM admitted to being far more nervous than he had any right to be as the game against the Winos drew to a close. But, luckily for them, Jordy Nelson was able to do Jordy Nelson-like things, and a 101 receiving yards for 2 TDs helped get them over the line. Coming off his strong week 2 performance, Eric Decker was expected to perform well, but he was deemed surplus to requirements and sent to the Shannys in the Carson Palmer trade. Derrick Johnson’s stunning performances continue and another 100+ tackle season will keep him in the conversation for among the top defensive players in the league.
The Clowns can now play their trump card, as Le’Veon Bell returns to the league this week after sitting out his three game suspension for missing a league-mandated drugs test. The 24-year old is expected to pick up from exactly where he left off and the Clowns will hope that in a league where the running backs are blowing up like a Samsung Galaxy S7, the extra rest (even if it was mandated) could carry them to further glory. In any case, Bell is likely to be getting a lot of action this week and provided he avoids injury, is going to a massive plus for the Clowns from here on out.
The Dope’s Prediction: The Clowns ride the Bell Train and show why they are defending champions.

The Dope’s Week 3 Predictions: 3-2
The Dope’s Overall Predictions: 9-6

From the Commish’s Desk…
* An update on the Pigskin Pick’ems and Eliminator Challenge groups…
** Very close race in the Pigskin Pick’em, with a three way tie between Dai, Lewis and Pete in first place with 28 points, Matthew and Rhys in close second on 27, with Nathan still in play on 25. All it takes is one good weekend to put yourself in contention for that one!
** There are just three perfect players in the Eliminator Challenge – Matthew, Nathan and Rhys going 3-for-3 so far.
** Make sure to get your predictions in before each slate of games to be in with the best chance of winning – even if you forget to put in a pick for the Thursday game, you can still pick the Sunday games.

* Now the real fun begins, as from now until week 11, as well as week 13, there will always be at least two teams on a bye week. For the very first time, the London teams do not necessarily get a bye week immediately after their games, further testing the water for the inevitable London Monarchs NFL team. You could coast for the first three weeks by not changing your line-ups (no prizes for who this means), but from now on, it’s extra important you adjust your teams to reflect the bye week players to make sure you have the best chance of winning your weekly matchup.

* Thanks to everyone, and Karl in particular, for the love shown for The Dope Sheet earlier this week, amongst other things. Glad to know that I’m writing for an audience that appreciates it. If you want anything included, want to write a passage or something, just let me know and I’ll be glad to put something in.
* I’m off to Wembley once more on Sunday with Simon and Paul for the Colts-Jaguras game. Hope that because it’s a divisional game with two coaches on the hot seat that we might get a decent game. My pre-season pick of the Jags to win the AFC South still might happen, even if it’s only because everyone else sucks rather than their own superiority.

Good luck to everyone in week 4, may all your wide receivers never drop the ball. Except Mike’s. May they drop more balls than Scarlett Johansson walking into a classroom of teenage boys.

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