We’re about to witness SAFL history tomorrow Saturday December 15, 2018. The statistical champs are taking on the defending champs. AK Santaali comes into the game on an unprecedented run of success. They have won 19 regular season games over the past two years and suffered their only defeat when their dynamic QB did not show. On the other hand the defending champions Browns hit a few bumps this season but persevered and here they are trying to become the first three-peat champ in league history. This is the story of a team built in a lab versus the team built on legend. This matchup will either give the empiricist bragging rights or will give the normative theorists victory. Who will win? Let’s find out:
AK entered the league in 2015 and quickly captured the championship. Their blend of skill and speed overwhelmed the league. Then the league adjusted and they were a .500 team the following year. Yet, they still made the Finals! They then added two dynamic players which transformed their team. They went from being one of the better teams to the best team. Statistically. Even stylistically. In 2016, they lost to the Browns in the Finals. In 2017, they lost to the Browns in Finals. They did not not improve their team in the interim.
The Browns entered the league in 2013. They proceeded to win the the championship in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017. After not winning in 2015, the Browns redid the bulk of their roster and added the best singular talent in league history as well other dynamic players. They adjusted to maintain their brand of winning.
AK Santaali and the Browns clearly have the best offenses. They score in a variety of ways. Let’s examine what each team does well when they have the ball. AK has a staple look that they repeat with slight variations. This is tricky for the defense because the AK receivers run hard and fast. The AK quarterback usually can make an easy throw because the receiver is usually wide open. No team has more explosive plays than AK. They like to run to stretch the defense and have a middle fill in with an outlet short in case all else fails.
The Browns also have a favorite play. The Browns rely on the defense making an early commitment. There are two slot receivers who cut off their routes at the edge of the defenders and come back to their quarterback. If the defenders move up then the Browns’s quarterback will throw over the top.
The Browns have the edge in quarterback play. While the AK QB can make all the throws he struggles to get throws into the intermediate areas. The Browns QB cannot consistently throw deep but has enough juice to keep the defense honest. The Browns QB has been called the GOAT for a reason. He is the superior QB.
The AK receivers are fast and athletic. They blow by their defenders to create easy throws for their QB. But they have trouble against bigger defenders. We’re nitpicking here because it’s the Finals. But AK receivers are good. Really good.
The Browns receivers have better hands than the AK receivers. They are not as fast but they are fast enough. They are also physically bigger than the AK receivers. Combined with their QB, the Browns have the overall edge on offense.
AK has lead the league in defensive points allowed for two straight years now. It’s no confidence that this has happened after they added the two dynamic players after the 2016 season. AK exclusively plays man to man defense. They are the only team in the league that can do this. They are also great at pulling flags limiting the opposing team’s big plays.
The Browns at best are mediocre on defense. They have to play zone defense not by choice but by necessity. They simply do not have the foot speed to play anything else. They also aren’t always on the same page when playing zone. We’ve observed them pointing fingers at each other when things don’t go their way. Their flag pulling is also suspect.
AK has shown great camaraderie so far. We’ve yet to see them point fingers at each other even when someone does something stupid on the field. But their intangibles can’t hold a candle to the Browns. The Browns treat each like family. And while family may fight they always support and help each other.
So who going to win this epic battle? The smart money says AK in a runaway victory. They are faster, more athletic, play better defense, and pull for each other. They have a pretty good QB running the show. There should be favored big by any reasonable person. They beat the Browns twice this year already. They don’t fear the Browns. They expect to win.
The Browns have advantages over AK in QB play, the Cheat Code, and pedigree. We don’t understand how the Browns QB continues to play this well with a seemingly broken body. He’s somehow playing even better in the playoffs. In money time. The Browns have the self described cheat code. A human being who should be able to move as dynamically as he does. Only the Browns QB can guard him by making bad throws. The Browns pedigree is unmatched in the league. They mainly care about the playoffs. The regular season are data points and reps.
AK has been called everything from the greatest team ever to the most dominant team ever. They are the irresistible force. The Browns don’t look like athletes. They have no business winning this year. But we’ve heard this song before. Many times. The Browns continue to defy the odds because they have the “it” factor. Until the Browns are toppled for once, they are the favorites no matter what the numbers say. We are picking the defending champs to do the unthinkable and three-peat.