IFFL – The Association’s International Fantasy Football League is one of the first to head into the post season every year with their playoff format begining in week 12. The first round of the playoffs in the IFFL are the two-week, cumulative points division championship matches in the league’s 3 divisions. Now, with the games underway the hopes and dreams of six international cities rest on the fate of their teams in the week 13 second half of these contests. Bitter divisional rivalries have been renewed in two IFFL divisions, while in the third a new challenger has emerged. With the first half in the books lets recap how we got here.
The fairytale continues for the hot Istanbul Lions (6-5-0). Leading into the penultimate rounds they needed to keep on winning, and also needed the Scottish Claymores to lose to the mighty Crusaders to secure their historic first playoff berth, and everything played out perfectly for them. The Europa Division was so tight that the Lions climbed from 4th to 2nd in the final week to set up a divisional match up against the powerhouse AF#17 Cardiff Crusaders (9-3-0) whotook care of business in the final weeks of the regular season to go into the playoffs as a firm favourite on the back of a five game winning streak.
As the game began, Istanbul jumped out to an early lead on the back of Thanksgiving Day performances from the likes of Julio Jones and Tarik Cohen, setting up a nice opening day buffer against a Cardiff team that rested on Thursday. The Lions extended their lead through the early slate of games, with Chubb and Mayfield having a field day against the lowly Bengals. As the 4pm matches commenced the Istanbul Lions had a commanding lead and threw the gauntlet down to Cardiff: come at us and play catch up football, and that’s exactly what they did. Over the next 3 hours the Istanbul lead was erased by Rivers, Lindsay, the Luck to Hilton combination, and a solid performance by Aaron Jones on the screens of NBC. Hopkins vs the Texans DST on MNF would be all that would separate these two teams after a marathon bout, with the Lions holding onto a slim 7 point lead at the close of play.
Previewing the week 13 second half shows that both teams will have their challenges. Istanbul will be starting without their star halfback Fournette who is now suspended for fighting in week 11, and will likely be without DeSean Jackson as well as he battles an injured thumb. On the other side of the ball, the Crusaders may be without Marlon Mack who is currently in the concussion protocol, though the team is sitting pretty to weather this storm with the Mack handcuff, Hyheim Hines. The Crusaders will also have a refreshed Travis Kelce and a Rams DST fresh off the bye to reinforce this battered team. Will the Istanbul fairytale continue, or will Cardiff show why they finished the regular season as the IFFL second seed and the best team in the division?
1st Half Stats:
- Cardiff: 602 yds pass; 275 yds rush; 373 yds rec; 1250 total yards
- Istanbul: 494 yds pass; 112 yds rush; 367 yds rec; 973 total yards
With the New Orleans VooDoo (6-5-0) taking care of the Chicago Red Stars in the final round of the regular season the defending division champ Los Angeles Dragons (5-6-0) were assured of the second spot in the division, even with a loss, setting up a mouth watering rematch of the 2017 Divisional title game and a chance for the VooDoo to enact a little revenge on the Dragons for last year. The Dragons managed to draw first blood on Thanksgiving Day, but did not make the most of the opportunity. Matt Stafford’s weak performance left LA in a bit of a hole at QB, with the
VooDoo playing Dak Prescott and Drew Brees in the later Thursday games. By the time the turkey was devoured on Thursday night New Orleans were well on their way to avenging last year’s loss to the AF #1 ranked team from 2017. With Carr and Jordy Nelson failing to score and as the late afternoon games progressed, the dessert got sweeter for the VooDoo as their duo of Chargers RB’s racked up the points. The end result, a handy 82 point lead over last years division champs.
Leading into next week all eyes will be on Melvin Gordon who is listed as week to week with the VooDoo. Fortunately, New Orleans also have the LAC back up, Austin Ekeler. For LA its a must win and a must win big, kind of game so they will be hoping that TJ Yeldon makes the most of the Fournette absence.
1st Half Stats:
- New Orleans: 460 yds pass; 211 yds rush; 275 yds rec; 946 total yards
- Los Angeles: 430 yds pass; 96 yds rush; 301 yds rec; 827 total yards
In the Pacific Division things went according to plan for the reigning League Champion AF#20 Perth Panthers (6-5-0) in the final round of the regular season with a win over the Melbourne Maulers in the All Australian Derby, while conversely, things started to get a bit shaky for the AF#1 Hawaiian Beach Bums (10-1-0) as the 2018 year wrapped up. Hawaii’s undefeated season came to a crashing halt when the KL Tigers played the role of spoiler and handed the Beach Bums their first loss of the season after posting their lowest score of the year (162 points), although they did managed to hold onto their top spot in the Association rankings.
In the second redux game of the IFFL 2018 playoffs, the much fancied outfit from Hawaii had looked like they had an excellent chance to prevent Perth from defending their 2017 crown, rbut things have not started out well for them. The Bears stack of Burton, Howard, Parkey and the DST in their line-up did not distance themselves enough from the Panthers’ Kenny Golladay at the start of Thanksgiving Day, and any thoughts of extending that lead were wiped away by monster performances by the Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey (59 points) and Jameis Winston (55 points) in the early Sunday games – the pair accountes for the first ands second highest scoring individual performances in the league last week. The 79 points achieved by Perth this week at QB (Manning/Winston) is a huge improvement on the -5 total points Perth achieved at the position last week (Fitzpatrick/Bortles). Heading into Sunday night the Panthers held a handy lead as Cook (Hawaii) and Adams (Perth) exchanged blows, but the performance of Lamar Miller with 162 yards and a TD on MNF turned a comfortable Panthers lead into a 103 point halftime advantage that could lead to a terrible loss for the AF #1 ranked Hawaii team.
With no injuries for either team it will come down to match ups and who comes off the bench in the second week of the divisional playoffs, though Hawaii have given themselves a significant mountain to climb after posting their lowest score of the season.
1st Half Stats:
- Hawaii: 839 yds pass; 129 yds rush; 230 yds rec; 1198 total yards
- Perth: 609 yds pass; 374 yds rush; 303 yds rec; 1286 total yards