We're hitting that critical point in the season where the wheat is separating from the chaff, only this year teams are self-selecting to be this year's chaff and others loading up to be premium wheat. At this rate we may end up with eight clear playoff squads, most of which have made moves to establish dominant 2013 lineups and eight squads battling for the worst four in an effort to select Teddy Bridgewater, the likely #1 overall 2014 NFL draft selection. Philosophically it actually makes sense, if your team isn't lining up the way it needs to make a strong run, why not put your hand in the hat at the lottery pick(s) that is Bridgewater & Mariotta, guys who can lead your franchise for the next 3+ years. So thanks to major deals the past week, the composition of the league has shifted, so here's our week eight previews.
Blak Jesus (3-4) vs. Delta Mad Dawgs (5-2) - If BJeezy wants to keep their playoff hopes alive, they need to win this upset. BJeezy entered '13 with dreams of a playoff run around a strong nucleus of young players (Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, Lamar Miller, Darryl Richardson among others) that have universally underperformed. It's a credit to some ingenuity by the personnel group that they've cobbled together three wins and remain in the playoff mix. DMD has put together their standard squad, an underrated group that is a tough out and has had a strong run of success that puts them in a prime playoff position. Buoyed by good quarterback play (Matt Ryan & Carson Palmer) and great production from Fred Jackson is leading DMD to the promise land. Tom/Stephen often take a lot of personal attacks but history shows they are slightly above .500 and have several titles to go along with it. Odds have DMD running away 102-68, my gut says it will be that ugly.
Pomona Stoned Hens (1-6) vs. South Whore (1-6) - In a battle to ensure "worst four" status for the playoff rookie tourney, the two teams vying for the worse record face off. Both squads have talent though neither saw their studs step up and none of their "bets" stepped up. So that leaves our commissioner (owner of South Whore) playing one of the original franchises who has fallen on hard times despite great talent the past few years. Odds makers are predicting a South Whore victory 92-83 but my guess is it's closer but stays as projected by the computers.
Naughty Thoughts (3-4) vs. Beavercats (3-4) - Beavercats were favored prior to the blockbuster, but thanks to dumping Tom Brady, Chris Johnson & Antonio Gates, the disparity has grown and there's a lot less firepower but the oddsmakers still don't have this as a cakewalk. Mostly that's because the Beavercats have received underwhelming production from D. McFadden, S. Smith & M. Colston and been hit hard by season ending injuries (A. Bradshaw, J. Jones, D. Allen & now J. Finley). This will remain a dogfight, with the loser likely selling and the winner carrying on a little bit of hope into week nine. It also pits two of the oldest, original franchises so there is a rivalry that goes back to middle school in this one. Odds have Beavercats winning 91-72 but this one will be closer than projected.
Short Bus (5-2) vs. Los Frijoles Pintos (5-2) - The primetime matchup featuring two conference heavyweights will be nationally televised. The rivalry here is deep, starting back when tempers flared in '98ish and one owner hit the other, breaking ones wrist. We won't go into all the gory details but let's just say it wasn't pretty and lives on in our memories. So to say this is just another matchup would be grossly under representing the game, neither will admit it but this one means a lot, it's bragging rights, it's another leg up on securing a playoff spot and it ensures the other can't hold this game over the other. Oddsmakers are putting Short Bus on top 122-107, given the recent injury situation for the beans, the smart money is on the Bus to take it straight up.
Engel Shiz (5-2) vs. BINGO (2-5) - Up until three pm this afternoon this looked like two teams that could swap records because the momentum was moving in the opposite direction of their respective records. But a blockbuster that landed them Tom Brady among other studs changes the complexion of this contest and could be a turning point for both teams. Engel Shiz is looking to keep up with the Bus in the hunt for the #1 seed in the AFC while BINGO is hoping to stay in the playoff hunt but a loss here would start to push their hopes to the chase for the "breakdown" spots that will be an uphill battle given their up & down performance this year. Oddsmakers are projecting a big win 130-102 for Engel Shiz, the weeks' highest projection but also a strong showing for BINGO.
Isotopes (6-1) vs. Monkey Fust (2-5) - The surprise of the league, the Isotopes have the best record in the PAFFL and are doing it in a workmanlike manner, winning by playing tough, defensive minded, close games week in and out. Built in the mold of their owner, they trot out no superstars but plenty of flash, this team reminds me of their last title winner in '04, if they maintain their injury free ways, watch out. On the other side you have the respectable, tough minded but under manned Monkey Fust. Building is the name of the game for the Monkey crew, they got off to a decent start but a string of losses has them looking at rookie tourney positioning with six weeks to play. Even with that said, odds have Isotopes winning another low scoring contest, 91-68, to maintain their lead in the AFC conference.
Team Kitty (3-4) vs. East Bay Funk (4-3) - These squads are moving in the opposite direction, and this has the look of a total blowout, maybe the worst of the weekend. Throw in the friendliness of the general managers of these teams and you have the makings of a tier 2 network television crew and a likely dud of a contest where one squad is looking to throw the game and the other hungry to take another key step forward to securing a 2012 playoff spot. Is there anymore to say, the odds makers say all that needs to be said, East Bay Funk rolls big in this one 110-43.
Strongfighters (5-2) vs. Fuego (3-4) - There are four teams in the AFC already at five or more wins, all of them are favored to go to six plus wins, in contrast the NFC only has two teams at five wins, one at four and two at three. Has there been a shift in power between the conferences? Maybe, so far the data isn't conclusive but there is more parity and open races in the NFC, while the AFC playoff spots maybe clinched following this weekend, leaving only seeding left to decide. Both teams need this game to keep pace but Fuego needs it more given the state of their roster and the tightness in the playoff races. Oddsmakers are projecting the Strongs will take this low scoring affair 94-80, my gut says Fuego will make it closer than that and pull it out in a tough matchup.