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SAFL – PLAYOFFS ROUND 1 – Predictions – Midnight Edition

Renegades vs Savages

It’s almost poetic justice that these two teams face each other in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Renegades are an offshoot of the Savages trying to make a name for themselves and the Savages ended up having an unexpected injury to their best overall player and QB that put the team in a hole early on in the season.

The Renegades, led by perennial All-Star QB Anwar Sadat, have had a really tough season. They finished 3-7 and ended up being the 8th seed by the skin of their teeth. Anwar took a handful of players from the Savages and did a little recruiting to form the Renegades. It’s been rough to say the least. Anwar did do a phenomenal job at QB but unfortunately the receivers, for the most part, didn’t help him out when he needed it the most. The Renegades have had more drops this season than any other team this season.

The bottom few teams were battling it out throughout most of the season to avoid the dreaded elimination 10th seed. The Renegades (and the Savages) made it into the playoffs and now they will battle each other one last time to determine who will face off against the Gators in the following game.

The numbers would indicate that the Savages will come out on top. They sport a PA of 269, which is actually right in the middle of the pact and also a Diff. of only -51. You may say well that’s not that great well if you take a look at the Renegades their PA is dead last and their Diff. is only better than the Thunders who were eventually eliminated from contention.

The other thing that the Savages have going for them right now is that they have great leadership in Hashim and Pavy and they have household names that can really put on a show if it’s their “day”. Obviously, Pavy and Hash stik out but guys like David, Joey, TK, Joel, and Vijay. When you see those names all of a sudden we are thinking that these guys are actual contenders. Pavy and David are among the top receivers in catches this year. The bottom line is that when Hashim went out they struggled and when he came back they had success.

We’ve been saying it all season..The Renegades are just not ready. They will be next year but we are predicting a Savages victory, by a wide margin.

Savages 35

Renegades 14

 

CK vs Browns

CK

Here we are, the First round of the playoffs and it has to be noted that CK has made a significant improvement to go from playing with 5-6 guys to playing with 6-7 guys. They are exactly what we would define as “a middle of the pack” team. They beat the bad teams and lose to the good ones, and now they face arguably the best team in the league. CK, led by Fabio and Anthony, made some HUGEEE strides in the offseason bringing in an All-Star caliber QB in Yash and adding some talented receivers in Joe, Joel and Fatih. They did take a big hit when Alex went down with a knee injury. Alex is a fiery player and perhaps one of the best defenders in the league which ended up making Yash work a little harder on the offense. Joe has taken up a huge task and now leads his team in receptions and in TDs and in fact he is tied with Shady for the most Tds in the season by any player in the league. Look for him to be in the running for ROY this year.

The defending champs take it easy in the regular season and then ramp it up when it matters. CK needs to try and keep the ball away from Shu and try and hope he makes a mistake they could capitalize on.

Browns

The defending champs have yet again found a way to make themselves seem “weakened” or “old” but we all know this is just a facade and a hoax. Their offense is top notch in the league and their defense is… well their offense is top notch in the league. For as long as we can remember, Shu has been the driving force of this team. Obviously, the entire league knows who he is and what he brings to the table. The consensus is that if Shu is off the field then the Browns will have to rely on their Defense, which in the past hasn’t boded well for them. The Browns did some good recruiting and were able to retain most of their talent from last year. Ricky has been a top notch player for them this year and has become one of Shu’s favorite targets this year. They did take a hit when TJ went down but other guys stepped up. Ken has had another stellar year racking up 81 receptions throughout the season helping the Browns move the ball up and down the field. The Browns are so deep this year that it might actually be causing detriment because players are biting at the bit for playing time. This is where leadership needs to step in and remind the guys what the ultimate goal is. Whether you play 100 plays or just 1, as long as your contributing and the team is finding success then you’ve done your job.

Prediction

CK has made just enough improvements in the league this year to see themselves face the dynasty of the Browns in the first round of the playoffs. They are in for a rude awakening on what it’s like to play a championship level team in the playoffs. They don’t seem to have the chemistry or the speed as a team they need to beat a team like the Browns and they will have to continue making adjustments and, as the Browns have done, get more reliable depth to compete in the future.

The numbers are eerily similar when it comes to overall record, PF and PA but the Browns do have a higher Diff at 101 as opposed to CK’s Diff of 28. The Browns’ offense is extremely potent and CK will need at least two stops in order for them to take a lead.

The Browns have seen what Yash has done recently and they’ve have keyed in to what his tendencies are and who he likes to go to. So if Yash and CK offense don’t explore other options and show some new wrinkles which might be difficult if the depth is not there. Expect the Browns to have the full squad show and have fresh legs on almost every play.

The Browns will show their experience and knowledge in this game and stamp their ticket to the Semi-Final.

Final score:
Browns – 42
CK – 25

 

Elites vs AK

Elites

This team is a tale of two.. tales. They started off on paper to be considered a top 4 team and they performed nothing like it. They lost the majority of their games to start the season and just couldn’t get it together. They finally made some roster changes, putting Yusuf in as QB, adding some mobility in that position and they turned it around getting some much needed wins and putting themselves into the playoffs.. Congratulations! The good news is you made the playoffs.. the bad news is you play AK. It’s tough to see many other teams with the ability to keep up with the athleticism of AK but the Elites might have a couple of guys to keep this game fairly close for a little while.

The Elites need to keep the ball away from AK’s offense and maybe implement some running plays because they’re going to need to drain that clock. The problem with that advice is that the Elites are going to actually have to score when they keep Sims off the field. Their offense, as of week 10, is ranked #8/10. Honestly speaking, in a game like this, the Elites NEED to have tricks up their sleeve and play with CONFIDENCE. Yes, AK is a great team but why not you? Play like you’re going to win; all of the ingredients are there, so who’s going to step up and lead this team? Marion? Anas? Rob? Yusuf? Aadil? Mike? Dex? The list goes on and on and again if you look at those names on paper you start to think why hasn’t this team seen more success this year. It reallllly makes you think.

Their defense has shown weaknesses, however, they are ranked #6 in PA, not bad, but AK will expose every part of it the more their offense is on the field. Sims is one of the best at breaking zones so mixing in a little man here and there which might make him make a few mistakes which would be the perfect opportunity for the Elites.

AK

What can you say about this team.. the most talented regular season team you will ever see in any league. They are truly a regular season dynasty (I just made that up) but AK gets that award so congratulations. If they want this narrative to change then they know what they need to do.. and it needs to start in the first round of the playoffs.. they need to prove that they’re not just the best team in the regular season but they need to prove it and win a championship.

What truly makes this team great is the camaraderie and the trust they put in each other. In the SAFL, QB’s run supreme. The victories and the losses fall on the QB’s. Sims, for many years now, has proven to be a Top 2 QB in this league and we are sure no matter where else he plays. He plays with a lot of confidence in his receivers and let’s the ball go before his guys even make the break. Walking through the halls of the SAFL you always hear players commenting on who they wish they were getting balls thrown from and Sims is one of the two names that always pop up again and again. Sims has thrown 53 TDs this year and has a healthy 70%+ completion percentage and a jarring 5 INTS all season. Mind boggling. AS much credit as Sims deserves we also have to look at the receiving core. Amneet, Harpal, Phil, Hargy, and Sukhi. Those 5 have a combined 40 TDs of Sims’ 53.

As potent as their offense is we cannot and will not forget about their defense. They have 13 interceptions and of those 5 were TDs. The strike fear into most offenses because of their man style of defense. They have a giver who gets to the QB fast. Their defense ranks #3 in PA this season. Overall, one of the best defenses in the league right now.

Prediction

Here’s the interesting part… Elites have a QB that can scramble and run for chunks of yards.. AK has great athletes but will probably have to use one to play as giver to try and contain the Elites QB, which means that will weaken their depth at defense to cover receivers like Squirrel and the Reporter. This will come down to two things. Does Yusuf have the accuracy to make throws on the run and against man which is mostly to a running receiver… does AK have enough depth and conditioning to keep up with the receivers for 5+ seconds every play as Yusuf scrambles. Hopefully, the Elites have been working on their scramble offense drills and hopefully AK has been working on their attrition. Whichever team wins that aspect.. wins the game.

Final score :

AK – 48
Elites – 20

 

Bandits vs Prime Time

One of the more interesting match-ups of the first round of playoffs comes from the Prime Time and Bandits match-up. Both teams have quality quarterback play and rely on their top two players to carry most of the load. Unsurprisingly, this game will come down to Dheeraj and Miguel vs DJ and Q.

You can argue that DJ has the best cover skills in a cover two scheme in the league while Q has proven to a timely playmaker and one of the more elusive ball carries in our league. On the other side Dheeraj is still one of the most explosive playmakers in our league who can turn a game on its head on either side of the ball while Miguel’s combination of size and speed make him a tough match-up for any team.

The numbers for these two teams have been similar except PT’s offensive has a slight edge over the Bandits, where they are ranked #5 and #6 respectively, mostly due to dropped balls for TDs on the Bandits side. With that being said expect the Bandits to have at least one dropped TD on 4th in the endzone. This will be one of the deciding factors of this game. Defensively, PT is ranked #2 in PA and the Bandits #4, again, similar but PT is a little more polished in this area too.

When DJ is there, QB Marvin has found it increasingly easier to spread the ball around especially to Q, Waqas, Rauf and Alex. Dj’s ability to spread the defense really opens up holes for the other receivers to find. Expect this to be the case this week.

For the Bandits’ offense, Jay has done a pretty decent job but the receivers have NOT come up big in important situation. Here in lies the frustration we’ve come to see from Jay as spectators. We feel if Jay can keep his emotions in check in this game the recievers might come up big when they need it the most. Defensively, they rely on a mixture of man and zone and are led by Dheeraj on that end. He has 4 INTOS 3 of which were Pick 6’s. 7 other players have 1 or more interceptions. The defense is decent but its going to come down to the offensive in this one.

The wildcard here outside of attendance could be how the supporting cast plays. The nice thing about cover two is you know where the playmakers are and the Bandits might be better off taking DJ out of the game by picking their spots carefully when throwing his way. Prime Time, on the other hand, will need to prove that they aren’t a two player pony, while Waqas and company have had their moments we have yet to see the team fully flourish without DJ or Q running the show.

Prediction:

This will be a close one as two evenly matched teams are going to duke it out. The last time we saw them play one another the Bandits took home the W. The key factor here is this time PT is expected to have DJ in the defensive backfield.We expect Dheeraj to do things we are used to seeing but the Achilles heel of this talented Bandits team has been drops, killer drops and I expect them to show their ugly head again (hopefully we are wrong). At the same juncture we have a feeling DJ and Q are going to kick it up a notch this time around and that Waqas is poised for big offensive game as the attention of the Bandits will shift to the playmakers on the team. We have PT in a nail biter but pulling away late and assuming full attendance I believe this is the beginning of a run to the semis for PT as I expect them to go back to early season form.

Final Score

PT-34

Bandits -21 

Gators vs Renegades/Savages

What a difference a season can make for certain teams. The offseason was extremely kind to Ramy and co. They found All-Star stud Shady and a sick QB in Dean and when Dean wasn’t able to make games they found a great backup in Waqas. The other great thing Ramy did was lose the dead weight and retain high-quality players. They were able to keep Will who has been a shining star this season, Omair who is tough as nails and Tommy who’s a beast on both sides of the ball. Rounding out them out is Ramy and Kunal two guys who have been in this league for a long time and know-how to win. Kunal, in fact, has won multiple championships in the SAFL early on when the league was still young.

Shady has led the league or has been in the Top 10 in multiple categories this season. Tied for most TDs and has over 50 catches. Will has over 65 catches and 9 TDs and Tommy at a strong 10 TDs and multiple interceptions.

This team is going to be very tough to beat in the 1st round. They lead the league in PA at 197 through the regular season and their offense is ranked #2 right under the Browns, pretty good company. This team isn’t lacking in any aspect. They did what no other team did this year which was beat AK and take over the # 1 seed.

If the Renegades can get passed their Wild Card game we don’t think they will put up too much of a fight against the Gators. The Gators have more speed and more highlight reel type plays. In the playoffs those factors matter.

If the Savages get passed the Renegades they will give the Gators a run for their money. The Savages do have a decent defense and with Hashim healing more and more they will have some speed out on the field. The Savages pose the biggest threat to a Gators 1st round knockout but at the end of it we will stick with the numbers.

Final Scores

Gators 42

Savages 28

Gators 55

Renegades 21

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