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South Asian Football League (SAFL) – Playoffs – Round 1 – Predicitions

It’s the playoffs. There’s no room for okay.

-David Robinson

The playoffs are the playoffs. You just play who is put in front of you.

-Steve Nash

I don’t want to just go to the playoffs, I don’t want to go to the playoffs and win the first round,

second round, and not win the whole thing because it’s bittersweet.

-Allen Iverson

#8 THUNDER VS #9 COBRA KAI

THUNDER

If we sum up their season, it’ll be worse than watching paint dry. It’s been an utter disaster and embarrassment. Their problems are as glaring as a bright sunny day. They simply can not score. It’s inexcusable that a team with this talent level can’t average more than 14ppg. There’s just no innovation in their predictable pedestrian offense. We understand that Justin is a rookie…at the same time, it’s flag football. It shouldn’t be this difficult and painful to score. Their offense stalls in the red zone and they’re heavily reliant on Jesse. They also drop an ABSURD number of passes unlike anything we’ve ever seen. They’ve dropped deep and short passes. They’ve even dropped simple dump off passes. Their offense is a complete mess. Defensively, they’ve been much better lately. They’ve given up a very respectable 19 ppg in their last 3 games. Can their defense stop Cobra Kai’s offense? Can they put up enough points to edge CK? Thunder Pros – Speed, experience, improving defense. Weakness – Offense, QB position, dropped balls

COBRA KAI

In their inaugural season, CK has done fairly well in establishing a franchise for the long run. They have a tough, gritty leader in Fabio that will do anything for his players. The main problem with this team isn’t necessarily their talent or continuity, it’s their attendance. They’ve struggled mightily when they don’t have 7 heads. Their leading receiver Anthony had a great regular season leading the league in receptions. To be fair, most of his catches were on check downs or short plays. He has good hands…but is he elite? The jury is still out. Rumors have it that Anthony has a broken bone in his foot and it’s limiting his mobility. The second leading receiver is Brian with 40 catches. He’s also had a good season. He’s a shifty player with good hands. Cobra Kai does have some talent as we’ve mentioned. If our stats are correct, they have 9 players that are eligible for the playoffs. The question is, who will show up? Attendance issues can disrupt chemistry and continuity. Can they avenge their first game blowout defeat against the Thunder? CK Pros – 2 solid receivers, solid leadership. Weakness – bad attendance, lack big play ability, inexperienced in playoffs

MATCHUP

The 8 vs 9 playoff matchups are arguably the most exciting games. They’re the first game to kick off the playoffs and they tend to be very competitive and exciting. As we all know, every team enters the playoffs 0-0. What does that mean? Every team has a shot! If we wipe the slate clean and look at both teams on paper as objective as possible, the Thunder have the edge on talent and defense. The Thunder don’t score many points, but they’ve shown some glimpses of lock down defense. And we all know what wins championships and games– DEFENSE! Cobra Kai’s chemistry and attendance issues may come back to haunt them. We’re not sure if they can crack an amped up Thunder defense looking to notch their 2ndvictory in what seems like ages. If we look at the matchups…QB talent is as even as it gets. They’re both below average QBs. Fabio has more TDs and completions than Justin. Offensively – CK averaged 3ppg more than the Thunder, which isn’t saying much. In this game, we think the Thunder’s offense will show up and put a complete game together given their talent. Defensively, the Thunder are a much better team. They’ve played very good defense the last 3 games while CK is giving up the most points in the league. Can the Thunder find a way to score on CK as they did earlier this season? Does CK have an answer for Jesse? Speaking of Jesse – who will guard or contain him from CK? We believe Jesse and the Thunder defense will get the job done and advance.

Thunder 32 – CK 18

THUNDER/CK VS #1 AK

AK

AK has arguably had their best season to date. These guys have the best offensive and defensive team in the league. Their only loss came much earlier in the season against the Savages and Sims and Richie didn’t play. They are the clear cut favorites to win the championship. They’ve defeated their arch-rivals Browns twice this season and right now they look unstoppable. Their best players Sims and Richie are in the MVP convo. That lethal combination is arguably the best in the league and look for them to make a deep playoff run. AK is rooting for a close game between CK/Thunder. The winner of that game will be very tired going into a dangerous matchup against the best team in the league. Honestly, AK isn’t worried one bit about either team. We believe they will seek and destroy and advance. AK Pros – superior balance, athleticism, speed, best overall team. Weakness – Rely on man defense 100% of the time.

THUNDER/CK

Boy will it be an impossible mission for any of these teams to upset AK. Right now the only way any of these teams would beat AK is if AK, 1. Doesn’t show up 2. Sims, Amneet, Richie don’t play 3. Thunder/CK bribe AK to not play in some monetary illegal way. As you can clearly see, neither team has a shot. We’d say that there’s a 0.05% chance that either team will advance after this game. If Thunder and CK combine their teams, they still wouldn’t be no where near as good as AK. All jokes aside, this game will come down to pride, effort and will for Thunder/CK. Can they at least be somewhat competitive? If we were to root for a matchup, we would like to see Thunder vs AK. We believe Thunder pose a better challenge given the talent on the Thunder roster.

MATCHUP

This game won’t be close. It’ll be very interesting to see how Thunder/CK perform. In our opinion, they have to come out angry, focused and loose if they want to be in this game. They also have to take shots down the field. We wouldn’t be surprised if AK comes out just a bit flat and then takes over the game in the 2nd half. AK is superior in all facets of the game. This will be a blowout of epic proportions.

AK 55 – Thunder/CK 13

#2 SAVAGES VS #7 ELITES

SAVAGES

The Savages have had a great season. They went on a very impressive winning streak and seemed to be the team to beat. Unfortunately, it looks like Anwar is hurt and they ended up losing the last 2 games. They added Joey and Lutalo that have changed the dynamic of this team. They’re more athletic and explosive. Talent kills in the SAFL and that’s exactly what the Savages have done – recruit elite level talent. We all know about the Savages woeful playoff history. They win games in the first round, but can’t win the big one in the 2nd round. This is one of the best all-around teams in the league. When healthy and focused, they can compete with anyone. We’re not sure what’s going on with Anwar. Is he nursing an injury or is he resting? We know one thing..if Hashim is the QB and he’s taken out from his WR position, they will be in trouble in the playoffs. Savages Pros – excellent athleticism and balance, veteran QB, playoff experience. Weaknesses – Rely on zone quite often, we’d like to see them go man more often, inability to go past the 2nd round of playoffs, focus.

ELITES

It’s amazing how far this team has come. We gotta give credit to Anas who’s done a great job as their QB and captain. They went from being a laughing stock to a respectable 4 win team. They’ve certainly had some ups and downs this season. They had Aldo as their QB and got off to a hot start. Then they went on a losing streak, lost Aldo for the season and have now won 2 straight games by less than 6 points. One victory was a miracle against the Thunder and the other was a solid well earned victory against the Underdogs. Right now they sit as the 7th seed and have a date with the Savages. Elites Pros – young, jubilant, energetic. Weakness – not enough athleticism and speed, inconsistent QB play.

MATCHUP

This is another game that really shouldn’t be that close. The Savages are too talented across the board. They’re too athletic and too fast for the Elites. The entire league knows that the Elites will likely play cover 2/3 against the Savages. If this is true, the Savages will pick apart that zone. Elites can’t play man against the Savages, but they will have to try. They need to mix up their defense and confuse the Savages. We just don’t see that happening especially during the playoffs. What do the Elites need to do to pull off a major upset? They need to keep the Savages offense off the field somehow. That’s easier said than done. Earlier this year, the Savages mercied the Elites 39-13. We expect the same result here.

Savages 38 – Elites 12

#3 GATORS VS #6 BANDITS

GATORS

The Gators finished the season strong winning their last 3 games. It’s amazing what this team has accomplished with their limited attendance. Their greatest weapon is their QB Ritchie who can carry a team on his back. Newcomer William has been a good addition to the team adding athleticism on offense and defense. Also, the leadership of Ramy has to be commended. He’s done a great job adding talent to this team while keeping the core intact. Attendance has somewhat hurt this team from adding more wins. Our concern is that if a game is close, do they have the stamina and endurance to last the entire game? As we all know, playoff games require a lot of energy and focus. Can the Gators successfully maintain their energy the entire game? Gators Pros – QB, leadership, solid defense. Weakness – Severe lack of depth.

BANDITS

The Bandits have been this year’s Jekyll and Hyde team. They started out 0-6 and looked like a bad team. Then they played the Thunder, Elites and CK and notched 4 victories. Some will say the record is due to their easy schedule at the end of the season and some will say their victories were gritty. WE will say that the return of Dheeraj propelled this team to the 6th seed. That’s right – Dheeraj played in both games to close out the season and the Bandits easily won both games. Dheeraj gives this team a great dynamic on both ends of the field. He looks healthy and ready to take this team for a deep playoff run. We also have to commend Jay for doing a great job as their QB. Bandits Pros – Grit, determination, Dheeraj. Weakness – Lack of talented depth, defensive lapses.

MATCHUP

This is a very intriguing matchup. Both of these teams closed out their respective seasons on winning streaks. If there was ever a game that has upset potential written all over it, it’s this one. If we compare rosters, the Bandits may actually be more talented. The biggest difference separating these teams is Richie. We believe he’s the X factor. If he plays well, the Gators will win. If the Bandits are able to figure out a way to lock down the Gators receivers, the Bandits will pull the upset. Look for William to defend Dheeraj this game. Gators have the better QB and defense. This should negate Dheeraj’s big play ability. Gators also have the better offense. We can’t pull the trigger and predict an upset here. Although we really really want to. The Gators have beaten much better teams while the Bandits have beaten teams that have a combined 24 losses. We all have seen QBs carry a team in the playoffs. Richie is just better than Jay.

Gators 36 – Bandits 20

#5 UNDERDOGS VS #4 BROWNS

UNDERDOGS

We really thought this team would be a contender based on the off season editions. Frankly, they’ve been a bit disappointing. The net points is only 30 and their record is 5-4-1 which is barely above average. Their biggest victory wasn’t necessarily a victory…it was a tie against the Savages. They also finished the season in a crushing defeat against the Elites. It’s a game they had no business losing. Talent wise, the Underdogs should be a much better team. Waqas has had a great season. He doesn’t make many mistakes and is completing 68% of his passes. Defensively, the Underdogs have given up the 3rd fewest points this season. At the same time, they rely on their zone defense too much and should go man more often. They have the depth and talent to do it, so it’s a bit surprising they don’t utilize this scheme more often. Underdogs Pros – Youth, athleticism. Weakness – Inconsistency on offense and defense, underutilization of their speed, closing games.

BROWNS

This has been a crazy rollercoaster season for this team. First they get off to a great start and dominate the league, then there was a potential brawl against AK, and then there was the game against the Gators that the refs had to call due to bench players relaying derogatory and inexcusable remarks to the ref. It has been a mess this season for the Browns. The issues aren’t with their offense and defense, it’s with the personnel and leadership. Leadership has to come down hard on those individuals that may have cost the Browns 2 important games. We’re not saying they would’ve beaten AK in their first matchup this season, but the mini-brawl left a bad mark on this franchise and it’s been downhill since. They’ve lost 3 in a row…when’s the last time we saw the Browns lose 3 games in a row?? The Browns have also been awfully quiet in the league and chats. We haven’t heard a word from them in weeks. This can be a quiet storm brewing or it could be something else. We’re not sure exactly what’s going on with them right now. Browns Pros – Legendary QB, best WR in the game Nafi, elite offense. Weakness – defense, leadership.

MATCHUP

We don’t think the Underdogs expected the Browns to fall to the 4th seed. We believe the Underdogs thought they would likely play the Gators which is a more favorable matchup. Nevertheless, the Underdogs will play against an angry and hungry Browns team. This is a bad matchup for the Underdogs. Historically, they haven’t played well against them. As we mentioned before, Underdogs NEED to play more man against the Browns and stop relying on the zone defense so much. If they mix up their coverage schemes against Shu, they may pull off the upset. We’ve said this many times before and stats show we are somewhat right…if Underdogs hold the Browns to 35 points or less, they have a decent shot at winning the game. Can you imagine if the Browns are ousted in the 1st round and lose 4 straight?? No we don’t. Matchups: Browns have the better QB and offense. Underdogs have a much better defense. Can their defense contain the Browns to 35 points or less?? That will be the key. Browns will win in a close game.

Browns 40 – Underdogs 26

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