SUPER 16 – Football fans know there’s something different about football in December; it’s the time of the season where the true contenders really begin to separate themselves from the pretenders as teams begin the final push toward the post season. for fantasy football, though, that time of year comes a month early: November Football. In the Super 16, week 9 begins that time of the year, with 5 games left in the regular season, the playoffs are practically just around the corner, and every week from here on out, team’s 2018 campaigns will be made – and broken. The next five weeks will be season defining for many teams, with must-win games, and matches that will clinch a post season ticket for teams, as well as others that will end their 2018 hopes. With that in mind, the league is naming all 8 of the S16’s Week 9 match-ups a Game of the Week. Here’s the Fight Card for this weekend. (Click on any match for the Game Center)
A season that started out so promising for these two ball clubs – on e coming off of a thrilling league championship win in Super Bowl VI and the other returning their All-Pro quarterback after a 2017 season lost to injury – has turned into a race for next year’s #1 pick. But lost seasons are one thing and pride is another, and this pair has 5 games left to crawl at least partway out of the basement and finish on a positive note. Arizona and Indy have faced each other 3 times before (2013, 2015, 2017), and Arizona leads 2 games to 1. They have alternated wins in the series, with the Firebirds winning the match last season, and Indy being more than 40 point favorites in this year’s match with both franchises operating at bye week strength.
1 Eye being ranked #2 in the league and BowMen all the way down at #15 tempers the drama of this twice-annual divisional match-up, but takes nothing away from the heat of the rivalry. The One-Eyed Bandit can clinch a post season appearance this week with a win – can secure the West Division Championship with a win and a Broncos loss – and though the BowMen have no playoff hopes in this lost season, they would certainly love to deliver a Raider loss to their fans. The pair came into the league together in 2015 and debuted in a game facing each other in Week 1 of that year. BowMen destroyed 1 Eye in that opener, 213-97, one of just 3 losses the Raider franchise had in their inaugural season (9-3-1); BowMen had 5 (8-5-0). They’ve played each other a total of 7 times, with 1 Eye leading the series 5-2, including a narrow, 1 touchdown win in week 3 of this season (229-222). It was one of three times the winner in this series was decided by less than 20 points, and twice by less than 10. This one got started in a Thursday Night SimulPlay and currently sits at 47-42 in favor of 1 Eye, although the BowMen are whopping 37 point favorites.
This one is the very definition of must-win for each of these franchises. In a season that started out with the Dawgs among the preseason favorites to make a run at the title, they’ve been beaten down by their schedule, considered one of the toughest in the league this season. Now they need to win every game the rest of the way and get lots of help to have a shot at making it into the post season. The Broncs have shown flashes of potential this year, including a week 5-7 three game run where they consistantly scored at one of the highest clips in the league, but they ran up against the juggernaut that is WRATH OF ODIN last week and it was like hitting a brick wall. They need this win, along with an upset loss by 1 Eye to have a shot at challenging their hated Raider rival for the West. They’ve faced each other just a single time before now, a match that the Dawgs won 191-171 in Week 7 of last season; Vegas has the Broncos favored by just a field goal.
Odin has plundered their way through the league this season after relocating from the Bears, and are now one of just 3 teams remaining undefeated in the entire Association. The schedule has been kind to these Norse Warriors as they are the league #1 in scoring and then #15 in being scored against which has led to one sided victories, one after another, and another, while the Eagle has battled to maintain a .500 record in the circular firing squad of the East Division. Eagle has landed remains in a standings tie for the division lead and has as good a shot as any other team in the East of taking the title, while Odin can clinch the North Division this week with a win and a Motor City loss. Unique this season for bye weeks in the S16, this pair will be facing each other both this week and next week as well, with Eagle at bye strength now, and Odin without their hometeam players in Week 10. Members of the S16 since 2012 and 2013, respectively, Odin and Eagle have, amazingly, only faced each other 1 time. In Week 2 of 2016 Odin – playing as BEARMINATORS – defeated The Eagle by the smallest possible margin, 138.00-137.50, and in this rematch they are an almost 100 point favorite while the Eagle’s hometeam player rest. Will this be a Philadelphia miracle, or just another notch on Odin’s battleax?
This match-up promises to be far more exciting than these teams’ records would indicate. Both of these franchises have been at the top of the league in scoring in two of their last four games and both are backed up against the wall needing to get a week 9 victory. Motor City is the only North Division team that can catch WRATH OF ODIN and the Steel Men are already right in the mix for the East Division title. Historically, each team has been much stronger in the second half of the season than the first, and they both possess a number of players with gamebreaking abilities. These two have only faced each other once before, a Week 4 engagement last season that the Pittsburgh franchise won handily, 217-157, and they’re favored this week by 34 points. But the Kitties’ exciting rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes has singlehandedly produced scores that topped 34 points in 7 of 8 outings, and his projected total in this one is just 24 which would be a season low for him. His high is a whopping 71 points so if he gets hot on Sunday, look out, we could have ourselves a shootout.
A lot of what the ultimate outcome will be in the East Division title race will hinge on this week 9 match-up. The Fins won the division the last two years in a row, and are just two seasons removed from winning Super Bowl V, while the Jaw Breakers have seen far less success in the league. The 2018 season though has been heartbreaking to watch for Jaw Breaker fans, as their toughest opponent has been the schedule monster. Twice in the last three weeks they’ve made it into the Association Top 25, and they’ve been at the top of the league in total scoring all season, currently at #4. Unfortunately, they’ve also been at the top in points scored against (currently #6) and have been plagued by inconsistency. The league’s Jets franchise matches up well statistically, though against the Dolphin squad, counter to the latest line putting them as 40 point underdogs, and with a 1-3 division record but with this and two more division matches on the horizon, could be the dark horse to take the Eastern title. This will be a SimulPlay match between this pair of division rivals, their second of the season after the fins won game 1 in a 226-202 shootout. The history between the two is long and storied, with both teams coming into the league together in the 2013 expansion and were each other’s very first opponent in the Super 16 – the Jaw Breakers won that one while still playing as RG3PO. Since then, they’ve faced off 11 times, including another SimulPlay contest earlier this year that served as the Week 2 Game of the Week, and the Fins lead the series 7 games to 4, but in double-divisional SimulPlay matches like this, anything can happen. Multiple of the Jaw Breakers offensive starters project to find themselves in high scoring situations this week, and the entirety of their special teams and defensive straters are home team players that will be on the field, personally engaging with the Fins. For that last reason alone, this should be one you’ll want to watch live with plenty of popcorn.
AF#16 Birds of Prey (5-3-0) vs WTF HOUSTON (4-4-0)
The marquis match-ups of the fight card this week center around the S16 South Division that’s proving to be the most competitive it’s ever been. The South teams are ranked 3rd (BIGDOGs), 4th (BoP), 5th (Who Dats), and 6th (WTFH) in the league going into this week, and looking at the landscape of the rest of the league right now, it’s more likely than not that both Wild Cards could come out of the South. That would still mean, however, that one of the four would be left on the outside looking in, giving every game in these final five weeks a must-win feeling. That’s particularly true of the divisional games like the ones this weekend. These two charter league teams faced each for the first time on opening weekend of the brand new Super-16 all the way back in Week 1 of 2012. The outcome of that game was a 178-154 Birds’ victory, and since then, they have met 13 times, with BoP overwhelmingly being the team to come out on top. In 14 games, Houston has only beaten the Birds twice, but one of those victories came earlier this year in a week 4 explosion of scoring that Houston came out on top of, 258-225. It was one of the highest scoring game totals in league history, and this week’s tilt has a more resonable over/under of just 297 with Birds of Prey favored by a couple of touchdowns. If Houston could pull off another victory, though, it would allow them to finish out division play with a 3-3 record, while, for the Birds, currently with a 1-2 division record and 2 matches still ahead of them, a loss – and the 1-3 division record that would go with it, could be disasterous.
vs BIGDOGINTEX (5-3-0)
In a rankings quirk, the Who Dat Saints come into this match with the higher Association Power Rating, while BIGDOGINTEX carries the higher position in the Super 16 league standings. Ranked 3rd in the league, this is the best position the Big Dogs have ever been in their S16 career, and they’ll need to give the best they have to beat the Who Dats who lead the historical series 3 games to 1. The Saints franchise are currently 5th in the league in scoring, but that ranking is deceptive. After starting the season 5-1, scoring over 200 points in each of their wins except for one (where they scored 193), they’re currently on a 2 game slide in which they’ve produced just 157 and 171 points. The Big Dogs, however, are the flipside of that coin, starting the season colder, but topping 200 (including a monster 283 vs Steel Curtain) 3 times, and winning 4 over the space of their last 5 games. With their 2-1 division record, BIGDOG has their eyes firmly set on the South Division title, but the Who Dats carry the same 2-1 division record and only one can come out on top. No matter the week 9 outcome, this battle will only be partly decided when the dust settles as this pair will close out the regular season against each other in a Week 13 showdown that could wind up being a de facto Division Championship Game.