Happy Thanksgiving BFL! After enjoying a feast of football on Thursday, The Dope has finally awoken from his food coma to reflect on last weekend’s games, as well as pass comment on the crucial games this weekend. After The Dope’s worst predictions in BFL history last weekend, some teams will be hoping that the opposite day trend continues for a second week running.
After this week’s games, there are only two weeks of the regular season left and whilst the only certainties are that the Rage are definitely in the play-offs and the Winos will be in the consolation half of the draw, positions 2-9 are still for anyone to win…or lose.
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Team Jones (5-6) @ Waterton Winos (2-9)
Team Jones’s GM remarked in a press conference a few weeks back that he would be taking nothing for granted against the Winos. Noting the team’s luck (or lack thereof) this season, the GM stated that he would not be totally surprised if the Winos were to turn them over. The controversy over the previous week’s game, that was finally made official as this publication went to press, saw the Winos pick up their second win this season.
David Johnson is just putting further distance between himself and the rest of the Team Jones for the team’s MVP at this point. 197 rush, 863 yds, 10 TDs are Johnson’s season totals thus far, but The Dope thinks he might be in for a tough matchup this weekend against one of the top Ds in the NFL, so expectations will have to be adjusted somewhat. Stefon Diggs did not suit up for his game this week and it makes sense given his stats last week that there was something amiss for the previously impressive wideout. As Team Jones approaches it’s brutal final two games, they need Diggs back to have any chance of making the playoffs. The GM should be praised for continuing to monitor the waiver-wire and picking up some great players – Kam Chancellor’s 8 total tackles made a big impact and helped out the team’s defense last week. If he continues to work his magic, they may just be able to cope.
The Winos will perhaps be the playoff spoiler for the final time should they win this game, as their last two games of the season are against the teams currently ranked #1 and #2 respectively, so if the #1 seed is wrapped up by the time they play the Rage, the team’s impact will be neutered.
The Dope’s Prediction: Normal service resumed after last week’s anomaly and the Winos lose once again.
Orlando Rage (9-2) @ Dezzy Does Dallas (6-5)
(Rage lead overall series, 2-1)
Can it really be a surprise that the team’s #1 ranked team won convincingly two weeks in a row, picking up consecutive player of the week awards? It certainly was to the Rage’s GM, who was stunned by the team’s late turnaround against the #2 ranked Dallas Sucks last week. Robert Kelley, formerly of Team Jones, slotted into the team immediately and rewarded the team with an outstanding performance that made up for the rest of the offense being anonymous. Kelley did not have the best of times in his week 12 appearance, which has left the door open for this week’s opponents. The Rage appear to be living up to the mantra of “defense wins championships”, with two defensive stand outs breaking 20 points last week – Jason Pierre-Paul and Harrison Smith. With the wealth and depth of defensive talent available to the Rage’s GM, there is every chance that if the team’s offense slows down, the defense will pick up the slack.
But wait, is that the Dezzys music? After five consecutive weeks of forgetting what winning feels like, the league’s former #1 team picked up a victory to reverse its slide that was close to seeing them end up in the Plunger Bowl for the second consecutive season. Rashad Jennings, who has been passed around the league like a Kardashian at the NBA All-Star Weekend, had the most impressive performance of his young career so far and is being tipped to run rampant on one of the worst teams in the NFL this weekend. On defense, former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith showed signs once again of what made him one of the league’s elite LBs, when he formed part of the Legion of Boom, with an impressive performance.
Some members of the BFL press pack have remarked that the Dezzys are one of the teams who might have timed their playoff run perfectly and evening up their overall series against the Rage would certainly show the rest of the teams in the chase for the final playoff spots that they mean business. Whilst it would require a mathematical miracle for the Rage to lose the #1 spot at this point, the Rage GM would like to wrap up home advantage as soon as possible. But, he may be waiting another week.
The Dope’s Prediction: Dezzys continue the good run with a second win in a row. The champagne for the Rage is put on ice for another week.
The Super Touchdowners (5-6) @ Cleveland Clowns (6-5)
In the closest game in BFL history and one that was being reviewed right up until this publication went to press, the Touchdowners loss by .2 point to the Winos shows that anything can happen in the BFL. It could prove to be an important score line in the context of the playoffs as instead of this being a matchup between two teams on 6-5, a loss for the Touchdowners would perhaps put them out of contention. It’s a good thing that they have an offense that has petrified the Clowns GM this week. The Clowns GM noted that it feels dirty to root against his man crush Tom Brady this week, but he would hope that the Revenge Tour™ takes another detour this weekend against a team where he has averaged 236 yds a game over the course of his legendary career. Antonio Brown bounced back from an underwhelming game (stats wise) in week 11 with a 3 TD performance already in week 12. On defense, TST should expect a good performance from Keanu Neal and for Ndamukong Suh to show the reasons why he was as highly coveted as a free agent a few years ago.
What of the Clowns? Whilst their own offense is worthy of giving several teams nightmares, it was the team’s D that let them down last week. No IDP broke the 20-point barrier and only one player broke the 10-point mark, Eric Reid, and after tearing his biceps, is done for the season. The Clowns GM has been hard at work this week, working out players and trying several different combinations on defense to try and make the most of the matchups. And it has already paid dividends, with the team’s linebacker duo already hitting at least 13.5 points each. Since breaking his barren TD spell, Le’Veon Bell has been showing once more why he remains one of the best RBs in the league and has already put in some magnificent numbers this week. Moving forward, the Clowns will be watching Jordan Reed’s progress throughout the week in earnest, as he suffered an AC joint separation this week that put the TE’s playing time this season at an end.
This could be one of the highest scoring matchups in the league this season. The Dope believes that the Clowns’s changes on defense this week are enough to put them in contention, but it might not be enough.
The Dope’s Prediction: Touchdowners put the game out of sight for the Clowns early and spend the rest of the week eyeing up their final two opponents.
Dallas Sucks (7-4) @ Maryland Cookies (5-6)
Dallas Sucks led for a while against the Rage last week, but once the Rage put their foot on the gas, they were gone faster than the Republican Party’s disapproval of our new overlord President-Elect Trump. Jay Ajayi came back down to earth in the last two weeks, but is positioned to be shot straight back into the stratosphere this weekend by facing the worst rushing defence in the NFL. It was a bewildering performance from the rest of the Sucks offense last week that had several members of the press scratching their heads. The loss of Luke Kuechly, for at least one week after a frightening reaction to a big hit and the subsequent concussion, is huge as the young defensive stalwart’s elite production solidified the team’s D. A strong outing from Khalil Mack once more would alleviate fears about the team going forward. It’s possible but incredibly unlikely for the team to get the #1 seed, but looking to confirm the #2 seed and the easiest route to a potential shot at a rematch with the Rage in the Bridgend Shiva Bowl is the team’s goal from now and until the end of the regular season.
The 2015 Bridgend Shiva Bowl runners-up however are looking to simply make the winning side of the equation. It was the Cookie’s worst performance since losing to the Winos in week 4 of 2015, in the midst of the Winos’s incredible start to the season and the Cookies’s run that saw them start that season 1-4. A lot like their old rivals the Clowns, it was the Cookies defense that badly let them down in week 11, with only one player breaking the 10-point mark. Ezekiel Elliott put him some average numbers in week 11, which was disappointing for the league’s leading rookie, but bounced back with a bang already in week 12, showing no signs of reverting back to the mean. Ben Roethlisberger, back in at QB for week 12, has already delivered some great numbers for the Cookies to build on this week.
The Dope told me that the Cookies will be hurting defensively this week, fearing that even with Dallas Sucks losing the likes of Kuechly (a member of the Cookies 2015 playoff run), Vontaze Burfict and Alec Ogletree are two of the very best in their position and it’s an uphill climb for the Cookies to do well against them.
The Dope’s Prediction: Dallas Sucks puts distance between them and the chasing pack and moves further to ensuring the #2 seed.
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…
Maesteg SheepSkins (5-6) @ Shotgun Shenanigans (5-6)
At first glance, a meeting between two 5-6 teams at this stage of the season being nominated for the game of the week would lead some of you to ask whether it was just turkey that the Dope has overdosed on over the past few days. But, both these teams enter this game with wins under their belt. The SheepSkins are the hottest team outside of the Rage in the league, and the Shannys are looking to emulate their 2015 finish that saw them win 3 of their final 4 games to reach the playoffs. The Dope understands that several members of the press were going to roll with storylines regarding the team’s fortunes since the A.J. Green trade, but with Green out for this week with a hamstring injury (which depending on who you ask, is either a season-ending tear, or just a strain) the story will be told elsewhere.
The SheepSkins are rolling and have been whispered in some quarters as a potential playoff dark horse should they make it that far. But of course, you win the whole thing, first you must get in. With top back Melvin Gordon and wideout Julio Jones out of last weekend’s games due to their bye weeks and The Usual Suspect out injured once more, the SheepSkins were expected to struggle. Pierre Garcon, come on down! The veteran WR rolled back the years with a splendid performance, averaging just less than 20 yards per reception and adding a stop in the end zone. Landon Collins continues his incredible transformation from zero to hero. He was the worst-graded safety in coverage in 2015. In 2016? Numero Uno. The SheepSkins look in great shape this week with Gordon and Jones back in the starting line-up, Zach Brown expecting to lead a great defensive performance once more. The status of The Usual Suspect is worth monitoring between now and game time – despite words in the SheepSkins dressing room that Gronk has advanced well this week in his recovery, it’s still not certain he will start.
The Shannys late season surge in form in 2015 has been discussed a lot this week and obviously there is still hope that last year’s bronze medallists can make it back to the Promised Land. Last week’s performance was the best since their week 7 victory and started with Russell Wilson showing he still has all the goodies to make it to the playoffs, even catching a TD pass to aid his team to victory. DeMarco Murray had another decent outing and The Dope’s biggest sleeper in the 2016 BFL draft has certainly paid off for the Shannys so far this season. Kurt Coleman’s best performance of the season, coupled with Dont’a Hightower’s six total tackles, sack and forced fumble was more than enough to carry the Shannys to victory last week. Von Miller returns from a bye week and the Shannys are hoping that he can regain his form to chase down his personal best sack record from 2012.
The projections and the Las Vegas sports books have this down as a dead heat, but The Dope believes that all it takes to separate these two teams is a great performance from one’s the team’s elite backs. It’s a close thing between the two RB #1s, but The Dope is fairly confident in his pick.
The Dope’s Prediction: DeMarco Murray has the better game of the two elite backs and carries the Shannys back into the playoff conversation.
The Dope’s Week 11 Predictions: 0-5
The Dope’s Overall Predictions: 27-28
From the Commish’s Desk…
* A reminder that the trade deadline has now passed. Therefore, no trades can be proposed, accepted or upheld from now on in.
* For the n00bs, a heads-up. If you don’t make the playoffs proper, there is a “consolation bracket” that will determine the final rankings in weeks 15 and 16, so you still have something to play for, even if it isn’t the Shiva Bowl, or trying to avoid the Golden Plunger. Checkout the “Projected Playoff Bracket” under the Schedule tab on the mobile app and the Standings tab on the website to see how it works and who you could face.
* Keep on locking in your Pigskin Pick’em and Eliminator Challenge picks from between now and the end of the season. If there’s interest, I will setup a Bowl Mania group where we can pick the winners of the various college football bowl games that will take place over late December and early January.
Cheers again for waiting around for this here publication guys. As always, hope you enjoy reading it and good luck in your games this week.