Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In Progress: Champion's League Playoff Preview

As the scramble for playoffs spots comes to a close, the battle lines are being drawn.  We take a look at how things are shaping up in the gamedayritual Champion's Leagues.

Unitas Conference

The playoffs are set in the Unitas Conference, with all four divisions being sewn up before the start of action in Week 14.

Division

Winner

Record

North

Dighton Disaster

9-5

South

Hartford Headhunters

11-3

East

Hired Guns

10-4

West

ATLANTA COLTS

11-3

The number one seed Hartford Headhunters will face-off against the Dighton Disaster, while the number two seed ATLANTA COLTS will be throwing down against the Hired Guns.

Hartford Headhunters vs. Dighton Disaster

The battle of the Hartford Headhunters against the number four seed Dighton Disaster is the story of the hard nosed Classic Run offense of the Hunters against the free wheelin’ West Coast approach of the Disaster.

The Hunters ride the considerable coat tails of Tom Brady (NEP) with Marion Barber (DAL) and Frank Gore (SFF) coming out of the backfield. Add a couple of lumbering full backs (Greg Jones, JAC and Brian Leonard, SLR) and a couple of gun WR’s in Andre Johnson (HOU) and Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) and you’ve got your self a pretty solid smash mouth football team.

The Disaster counter with QB Derek Anderson (CLE) looking down field for Steve Smith (CAR), Bobby Engram (SEA) and Issac Bruce (SLR).  Throw LaDainian Tomlinson (SDC) into the mix, and you've got the makings of a playoff team - even though they did score under 2000 FP (1993 FP) this season.

Despite the Disaster's potential to reek havoc, on the balance of their number one seeding, the individual brilliance of Tom Brady (NEP) and an edge on the defensive side of the ball we give the nod to the Hunters.

COLTS vs. Hired Guns

Both the COLTS and the Hired Guns play a dynamic, wide-open brand of Fun' N' Gun football.

The COLTS have ridden this season’s emergence of Tony Romo (DAL), feeding the ball to wide-outs Tory Holt (SLR), Anquan Boldin (ARI), Marvin Harrison (IND) and Roddy White (ATL). If these guys are healthy, its go-time for the colts.

The Hired Guns feature Kurt Warner (ARI) and Jay Cutler (DEN) in the quarterback role, while the backfield comes primarily from Adrian Peterson (MIN)… when he’s healthy. The engine room of this offense are the wide-outs with Palxico Burress (NYG), Roy Williams (DET), Calvin Johnson (DET), Chris Chambers (SDC) and Vincent Jackson (SDC) meaning that on any given Sunday the Guns are going to be competitive.

It won’t be a blow-out, and either team can take it if they line up their defence to effectively counter the opposition.  We like the Guns with a little more depth, you can pick 'em in this one.

Deacon Jones Conference

In contrast to the Unitas conference, the playoffs chase was a little closer going into week 14 with a couple of divisions up for grabs. In the North, Menjai edged out the Chicago Blitz in the last week to claim the playoff spot by one game. And in the West, Delton Hall won to ensure that they preserved their lead over the pressing Gilbert Gamecocks to take their spot in the playoffs. After Week 14, the playoff situation looked like this.

Division

Winner

Record

North

Menjai

10-4

South

Usual Suspects

8-6

East

WarHounds

14-0

West

Delton Hall

10-4

On the back of their perfect regular season, the number one seeded WarHounds will face the mediocre Usual Suspects. While in battle of parity, the number two seed Delton Hall will kick-off against number three Menjai.

WarHounds vs. Usual Suspects

The WarHounds have ridden a West Coast offense lead by QB Drew Brees (NOS) and a tight set of wide-outs: T.J. Houshmandzadeh (CIN), Marques Colston (NOS), Bobby Engram (SEA) and Vincent Jacoson (SDC). The WarHounds also feature a very strong backfield with Brian Westbrook (PHI) and Joseph Addai (IND) splitting carries for the ‘Hounds.

The Usual Suspects also run out of the Fun’ N’ Gun. However they lack some of the firepower of the WarHounds at QB, featuring A.J. Feeley (PHI) behind center. They feature high-performing wide-out Andre Johnson (HOU), the streaky Laveranues Coles (NYJ) and the under performing (but potentially explosive) pair of Justin Gage (TEN) and Santana Moss (WAS).

If the Suspects offense fires on all cylinders, they do have the upset in them, but we give the nod to the high powered ‘Hounds and predict they’ll keep their perfect season going.

Delton Hall vs. Menjai

On the other side of the offensive spectrum, Delton Hall runs out of the Classic Run… and why wouldn’t you with the pair of LaDainian Tomlinson (SDC) and Clinton Portis (WAS) on your team. With the immortal Brett Farve (GBP) at QB, this is a classic outfit. They’re no slouches down the field either, with Antinio Gates (SDC) and Tony Gonzales (KCC) providing some punch from the TE slots, and Wes Welker (NEP), Tory Holt (SLR), Kevin Walter (HOU) and James Jones (GBP) rounding out the offense.

Not to be out done, and running out of the Fun’ N’ Gun side of things, Menji are turbo charged by the high performing, always dangerous Peyton Manning (IND) at QB. There are a few players in Football that can almost single handedly win you a game (Farve and Tomlinson would have to be considered), and Peyton Manning is one of them. Bringing the sting from the backfield in this tilt are Chester Taylor (MIN) and Travis Henry (DEN), with Cecil Sapp (DEN) capable of contributing a TD from the FB slot. The punch in this outfit comes from the wide-outs in the person of Greg Jennings (GBP), Reggie Wayne (IND), and Steve Smith (CAR). An injury to Roy Williams (DET) could cut into Menji’s chances in the Semi-Finals.

This one might be too close to call, but if we had to give the edge it would be to Delton Hall on the strength of HB’s and TE’s.

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