IFFL – The most anticipated match of the season in the IFFL, was also the biggest match of the year in the Association, featuring the AF#1 Los Angeles Dragons against the AF#5 New Orleans VooDoo in Week 9. No pair of teams ranked higher than these two had yet to face each other in the Association in the 2017 season, and many expected fireworks from the two highest scoring teams in the International League. In the end, though, it was a low scoring fizzle of a match, with both franchises posting uncharacteristically low scores as the VooDoo could not hex Los Angeles who pulled off a 167-81 victory. Both teams were playing short of a quarterback in the qb starved IFFL, so that position canceled itself out, while the signal callers they did start, each posted mediocre outings. New Orleans suffered a particularly bad day at
the skill positions, including a -10 point performance from a starting halfback and an abysmal 302 yards rushing and receiving combined from 7 starters, and will fall to 6-3-0 on the season, 2nd place to Los Angeles in the Americas Division.
The LA Dragons, run by AF Registered Coach Joey Drakor, were helped along on their win by a 30 point performance from halfback Todd Gurley and another 28 points from receiver Doug Baldwin, and also got a boost from their Rams defense who put up 28 points in the win. They’ll advance to a 7-2-0 record, remaining number 1 in the division and the league, and stand a good shot at holding onto the AF#1 spot on theWeek 9 Top 25, but it’s the second week in a row that the World League transplants put up sub-par numbers and some are already pointing to a new contender in the IFFL, rising to overtake the Dragons, one that’s actually beaten them already.
The Venice Killerwhales, 2015 IFFL Champions, posted a big-statement win over Los Angeles in Week 8, slaying the Dragons 258-133, and they put an exclamation point on that win with their Week 9 performance. Going up against the League #3, their own division leader the AF#13 Scottish Claymores, Venice had another big weekend, breaking the Claymores 221-177 to advance to a 6-3-0 record. With the win, they overtake Scotland for control of the Europa Division and rise to 3rd overall in the league. It was the fourth win in a row for Coach Blueshoes’ Venetian Orcas, and they’ve averaged an unbelievable 214 points per game over that stretch. Having beaten the League #1 and the League #3 in back to back weeks, Venice is making a strong case that they are the team to beat in the IFFL.
In the expansion Pacific Division, the veteran Perth Panthers made a strong showing against the Kuala Lumpur Tigers, coming out as the bigger, big cats in the 209-137 victory. That’s 4 wins in a row for last year’s South Division Champs, and they advance to a 5-4-0 record, now in the lead in their new division. The Hawaiin Beach Bums lost a close one 129-137 to the Chicago Red Stars, slipping under .500 to a 4-5-0 record and dropping out of first in the Pacific Division.
With two weeks left in the regular season, the division races are shaping up and heating up. In the Americas Division, the most likely scenario is a Division Championship featuring a rematch of this Dragons-VooDoo battle. At 7-4-0, the Dragons have almost assured themselves a spot in the Division Championship and can clinch that spot with either a win OR a Rochester loss in Week 10, while New Orleans will clinch there own spot with a win AND a Rochester loss. Rochester needs help to make it in, needing a pair of wins, AND a pair of losses by the VooDoo OR a pair of losses and some very low scores from the Dragons. Their 1-2 division record doesn’t help them much in the event of a standings tie, however they’re also not far out of the conversation for the Points Wild Card spot.
Playoff scenarios for the Europa Division get interesting after Venice’s upset victory this week over Scotland. The perrenial powerhouse Cardiff Crusaders have had a rough season, but got a Week 9 victory over Istanbul, 157-97 to match their Scotish rivals in the standings and slip ahead of them by division record. With the Killerwhales sitting at 6-3-0 and the Claymores and Crusaders each at 5-4-0, and with division records and division points totals coming into play, none of these teams can afford a loss over the next two weeks without risking being shutout from the Division Championship.
Melbourne’s Week 9 win against Rochester, 181-171, keeps their own postseason hopes alive, and prevents Perth from clinching a ticket to the Division Championship, but the Panthers can secure their spot next week with a win OR a a loss by their Australian rivals. Despite their loss to Chicago, Hawaii also has a clear path to the post season. The bad news for all of these teams, though is the schedule. Perth must finish the season with games against Venice and New Orleans, and Melbourne draws Los Angeles and then Scotland. Hawaii might have the easiest route, playing New Orleans and then Kuala Lumpur who’s been eliminated from contention, but itching to play spoiler.
No matter what, the next two weeks should be thrilling.