Dragon Roar; 5 Teams Punch Playoff Ticket

IFFL – The freight train that is the 2017 AF#1 Los Angeles Dragons pulled off another spectacular win – their 8th – in Week 10 in the IFFL, beating the Melbourne Maulers 239-93 to better their record to 8-2-0, and in the process they’ve clinched a playoff spot for the Americas Division Championship Game.  Led by the unlikely quarterback tandem of  Case Keenum and DeShone Kizer, the Dragons put up over 500 yards through the air and scored 5 passing touchdowns for 74 of their over 200 points, with another 4 touchdowns receiving.  With one game left in the regular season, the transplant franchise from the World League (2015 WFL Champions) now have an 8-2-0 record and remain the #1 team in both league standings and in total scoring, and were ranked the best team in the Association on the last AF Top 25, as they get closer along on their quest to become the first team in the Association to win a Championship in two different leagues.

The Dragons opponent in the Americas Division Championship will be the AF#5 New Orleans VooDoo who secured their own spot with a 175-127 victory over the Hawaiin Beach Bums.  The VooDoo improve to 7-3-0 on the season and have a 2-1 division record which gives them a standings tiebreaker over the Rochester Grizzlies who are 1-2 in division play.  New Orleans and Los Angeles faced each other in Week 9 in what should have been an epic game, the biggest match-up of the season in the Association between the AF#1 and AF#5 teams but turned out to be an 81-167 dud of a loss for the VooDoo.  Now they’re set to take on Joey Drakor’s Dragons again, this time in the two week, cumulative points Division Championship Game for a rematch that will hopefully live up to these teams’ high scoring reputations.

Rochester handled their must-win match this week, beating the Cardiff Crusaders 176-110, but for them to stay alive, they needed a win and a New Orleans loss because of the tiebreaker status.  They’re record will go to 6-4-0 with one game remaining.  Likewise, the Chicago Red Stars, last season’s IFFL Championship Runners-Up have been mathematically eliminated from the post season, their current record a 3-7-0 after losing to Scotland, 111-167 in Week 2.

On the other side of the world, in the league’s expansion Pacific Division, the Perth Panthers, last year’s South Division Champs, have also cashed a ticket to the post season and a seat at the Pacific Division Championship Game.  Their Week 10 win over the powerhouse Venice franchise was a statement 213-168 point performance, powered by 4 rushing touchdowns and over 250 yards on the ground.  The win was the fifth consecutive victory for the Panthers, with 4 of those 5 breechinig the 200 point mark, including a record breaking 252 point outing in Week 6 vs Cardiff.  Going back to last season, Perth has now won an impressive 13 of their last 20 games, with one of those 7 losses being the single point loss that eliminated them from the playoffs last year in the semifinal round.  They’ve had nearly 12 months to ruminate on that 1 point that kept them out of the 2016 IFFL Championship, by now they must be like a big, stalking black cat, ready to explode into the 2017 playoffs.

The Panthers’ opponent is set as well for the Pacific Division Championship Game, but one that backed into the spot with a Week 10 loss.  The expansion Hawaiin Beach Bums provided New Orleans the victory they needed to secure a post season berth, stumbling 127-175 against the VooDoo, but Melbourne lost their game against the Dragons, too, leaving Hawaii with a 4-6-0 record and Melbourne at 3-7-0.  Owing to the Maulers’ 0-3 division record and Hawaii’s 2-0 standing within the Pacific Division (their final divisional game will come in Week 11 vs Kuala Lumpur), Melbourne cannot overtake the Beach Bums for the playoff spot.  Hawaii has played an up and down campaign throughout the 2017 season and come into the Championship game vs Perth as historic underdogs, but that’s just how they like it; they were underdogs when the two teams met in Week 4 and they delivered a 169-135 defeat to the Austrailian Black Cats.  They were underdogs in Week 2 as well when they dropped an even 200 points on Los Angeles to to give the juggernaut Dragons one of their just two losses on the season.

In the Europa Division, despite their Week 10 loss to Perth, the Venice Killerwhales, the 2015 IFFL Champions, can now lay claim to a spot in the Division Championship Game.  With their 6-4-0 record and 2-1 division record, Venice also has the second standings tiebreaker – total division points – covered, with 524 of them.  A perrenial powerhouse in the IFFL, Coach Blueshoes’ Whales beat the #1 Dragons and the #3 Claymores in back to back weeks before stumbling against Perth.  For the league’s Welsh and Scottish rivals, it all comes down to the regular season finale next week.  The AF#13 Scotish Claymores improved to a 6-4-0 record in Week 10 with a 161-111 victory over Chicago while Cardiff  took a loss to Rochester to even out at 5-5-0Istanbul captured a 160-131 victory over Kuala Lumpur, but with a 4-6-0 record, they’ll remain on the outside looking in.  The Claymores control their own destiny, facing Melbourne next week to close out their season, a win will put them into the Division Championship Game.  Cardiff draws the tougher route, finishing the season in Los Angeles against the Dragons, and a Crusader loss would send both Scotland and Venice to the Division Championship regardless of whether they win or lose in Week 11.  If Cardiff can slay the mighty Dragons, though, AND get help from a Scotish loss, they’d tie with the Claymores at 6-5-0, and in that scenario, they own the tiebreaking division record, 2-1 to Scotland’s 1-2.

The Wild Card slot is still in play, as well.  Under the new playoff format in the IFFL, the three Division Champions (the three winners from round 1) will advance to the semi-finals, along with a fourth team, the Points Wild Card.  The Points Wild Card is based on total regular season scoring, which is still in flux untill the conclusion of next week’s games, but as of right now, that list is 1) Los Angeles 2) Scotland 3) New Orleans 4) Venice 5) Perth 6) Rochester.  Based on current scoring totals, the way it would work is, if Los Angeles loses the Division Championship to New Orleans, they would get new life with the Wild Card spot.  If Scotland fails to make the playoffs, OR if they make it in, but lose, AND Los Angeles wins, it would bypass the Dragons and fall to Scotland.  If Los Angeles wins, Scotland makes it in AND wins, New Orleans would receive the wild card draw.  The Dragons have a total season scoring total of nearly 2000 points through Week 10, but the next 5 teams – Scotland through Rochester – are separated by a total of just 98 points, so all of those teams’ Week 11 scores are going to be hugely important in the Wild Card Race.  We’ll know in just 6 more days.