WORLD LEAGUE – Kicking off in Week 15, the WFL’s Eastern Conference Championship Game is a match-up that’s been anticipated almost as much as the World Bowl it helps to set up, with some analysts even going so far as to call it the Game of the Year. Because of the playoff set-up in the World League, each Conference sends their Champion to the World Bowl, and as the two top ranked teams in the league appeared to rise out of the East, both of them 2017-18 Pro Bowl Nominated Teams, fans have been waiting for this ultimate showdown. With a Week 5 win in their regular season meeting, giving them a 1 win advantage, the Old England Patriots (11-2-0) will host the Scandinavian Stars (10-3-0) in this one for the right to represent the Conference in World Bowl 6.
This will be the second time these two meet in a playoff match, the least one being in the 2014 season when the Stars beat England 111-88 on their way to World Bowl 3 where they lost to Jerusalem. This was before the rules change in the 2014-15 offseason that set-up the current parallel conference playoff format, and the Stars returned again last season (World Bowl 5) where they lost once more, this time to the Dacusville Devils. The Patriots have just a single World Bowl appearance in their history, losing to Mexico in 2013’s World Bowl 2 in the Patriot’s rival, London Falling’s home stadium. Outside of the playoffs, these two teams have faced each other 8 times including their 2017 game, and the all-time series is split evenly 4-4.
Going into that Week 5 meeting (English Upset), Scandinavia was 4-0, while England had already incurred one of their 2 losses of the season and were 3-1, and both teams were already rising to the top in total scoring, so fans were expecting fireworks. Scandinavia, despite being a nearly 30 point favorite in the game, couldn’t get their offense jump-started, suffering scores of 4 points or less at 7 positions, and gave up the win to the Patriots, 63-89. One of the only bright spots in the match for Scandinavia was the 24 point performance by their franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 3 touchdowns on the day. They would lose Rodgers to season-ending injury the following week, but would still go on to win 6 of their next 7 on the arm of back-up QB, Carson Wentz, who would become the #2 quarterback in the league. After suffering an upset loss to Milan to close out their season, Scandinavia and their high scoring QB went on to demolish London Falling last week in the Conference Semifinal, 111-78, but in the process, would lose Wentz to his own season ending injury. Hobbled by injuries all season long, not just to their quarterbacks, but to their receiving corp as well, Scandinavia is going into the Conference Championship trusting their 3rd string signal caller, Nick Foles with the biggest game of their season.
After beating the Stars in that Week 5 match-up, England suffered an upset loss of their own the following week, 69-127 to the Buenos Aires Blue Dogs. Beginning in Week 7, though, the Patriots went on a 7 game when streak – still active – that took them to the end of the season, capturing first place and the Conference’s first round playoff bye from Scandinavia. Ironically, the 7 win streak ties with the last team to beat them – Buenos Aires – as the second longest in the League Record Book. While on their streak, Old England captured their historic 50th win in Week 10 with a victory over Dacusville, becoming the first team in the league to do so, accomplishing the feat in just 82 games. They’ve started an assortment of quarterbacks this season, none of them ranked even in the top 15, but their biggest strength has been at the receiver position, with the best tandem in the league, their Hopkins-Allen combo ranked #2 and #3 at the position, while their Raven defense is the second best in the league.
The Patriots finished the 2017 Regular Season as the league’s overall top scoring team, averaging nearly a hundred points per game, and they’ve outplayed their own average over the last several weeks, averaging 122 points per match in the last four weeks of the season. Scandinavia only managed an average of 86 per game in that same period (Weeeks 10-13) but if you swap out their Week 10 upset loss to the expansion Cali Rox, and replace it with their win over London last week to chart their average over the last four weeks directly, it improves to 96 per game. Accordingly, England is being listed as a two touchdown favorite with the game getting an over-under of 186 points, but as the Stars have shown all season by overcoming their multiple personel losses, beating the odds has been central to their success. The winner will be representing the Eastern Conference on Christmas Eve at World Bowl 6 being played this year at Paladin Stadium in South Carolina, USA, and whichever of these teams comes out on top, it should be a game that lives up to it’s build-up, with .