SUPER 16 – Both games in the Week 14 Wild Card Round in the Super 16 this weekend stayed close, with the finish in each of them uncertain until the end, but the eventual outcomes opened up the very real possability of a Cinderella Team and a Dark Horse Franchise both making it to the Super Bowl to face each other. As late as Week 12, Steel Curtain (7-6-0) and the Who Dat Saints (7-6-0) were each just 6 win teams that weren’t even a part of the projected playoff picture, but both of them turned on the scoring, swept into the playoffs as the 2017 Wild Cards, and now have defeated the powerhouse Dawgs of the North and the Defending Super Bowl Champion Fins. Both Wild Card games.
Game 1 featured the Who Dats as the #4 scoring team in the league vs the #7 scoring franchise, The Dawg Pound (8-5-0), who return to the post season as North Division Champs for the second consecutive season. A high scoring shootout was expected from these two explosive teams, like the 253-212 Week 11 shootout that the Cleveland Dawgs prevailed in, as they’ve won all three previous meetings between these two clubs. The Saints, though, were favored team in this one. and they got off to an early head start, puting up 82 points on Thursday night behind their hometeam players, forcing the Dawgs to play catch-up. The Who Dat Saints held onto the lead throughout the day Sunday thanks to their defense putting up most of their scoring to stay ahead, including double digit scoring from almost all of their IDP’s. By Sunday night, on the strength of their special teams and their lead halfback, meigzoh’s Dawgs had managed to close the gap on the Saints lead, yet couldn’t get in front of them, falling a single point short of a lead change. The Who Dats mopped things up with another 7 points in garbage time on MNF to take a 177-169 victory and advance to the semifinals.
In Game 2, the defending Super Bowl Champion Northern Fins (8-5-0) were facing East Division rival Steel Curtain (7-6-0) for the third time this season, after beating them in both of their earlier meetings. Those games were in Weeks 6 and 8, when the league’s Steeler franchise was a 3 win team, averaging 175 points per game (Wks 1-9), but it was an altogether different team facing the Fins in the Wild Card Game as Steel Curtain finished
their season with 4 straight victories (Wks 10-13) and a 236 point per game average. The defending Champs were on a bit of a hot streak themselves, though, finishing the season to clinch the East Division Title with back to back 200+ point performances, and they struck early and often on Sunday, beginning to run up the score on their challenger. By the end of the afternonn games, the Northern Fins controlled the game by a lopsided 130-28 point lead, with neither team having played their hometeam players. When Steel Curtain’s Steeler’s took the field on Sunday Night Football, they came roaring back from the deficit, posting 205 unanswered points, including 60 points from their quarterback and a 10 point contribution from an opposing linebacker, flipping the score to a 233-130 point lead for the Killer Bees. Monday Night Football rolled around for the Fins’ chance to make a dramatic comeback in primetime, but despite a win by their parent organization Dolphins on the field, they could only turn that success into 73 points, losing to Steel Curtain by a final 235-203 score.
Steel Curtain and the Who Dat Saints came into the league together prior to the 2016 season and both went to the playoffs in their rookie seasons, the Who Dats by way of being the first South Division team ever to unseat Birds of Prey as Division Champions, and Steel Curtain by way of the Immaculate Stat Correction. In those 2016 playoffs, Steel Curtain was one and done after losing to Dawg Pound, but the Saint franchise made it all the way to Super Bowl V, losing to the Northern Fins, and while the seeding worked out backwards in this year’s playoffs to recreate those playoff rematches, the Wild Card Round has demonstrated that these two are perhaps the two hottest teams in the league right now. In last week’s update, AF posted:
“With Steel Curtain in the #5 spot and the Who Dat Saints in the #6, they may be the two most dangerous teams in this season’s playoffs, both of them with hometeam franchises that are getting hot at just the right time.”
and their Week 14 wins would seem to back up that assessment. As the lower seeded team, the Who Dat Saints will travel to the desert to see if they’ve got enough angels and holy water to cool off the #1 seeded Arizona Firebirds (10-3-0) and Steel Curtain takes the trip down to Dixie to iron things out with the league’s winningest franchise Birds of Prey (10-3-0), setting up a semifinal round that’s seated with the top 4 scoring teams of the season. Expect fireworks.