Friday, 19 April 2013

AFL Week 5 Preview

A day late, but who cares? The AFL is back for week 5 and has a full slate of games to go with so here goes!


Saturday 20th April

JCL Graz Giants @ Prague Black Panthers - 14:00 GMT

After the first couple of week's results, this game might not have looked so interesting, however, what you might not know is that these two teams met last weekend in the EFL/Eurobowl competition with the Graz Giants narrowly prevailing 27-21 at home. The game came down to the battle of the two quarterbacks with Andrew Shoop and Alex Good trading blows and producing a great game. Highlights here.

The Giants and Black Panthers in action last weekend.
So what does this all mean for the de-facto return fixture only six days later? Well, I think the game once again has the chance to show us some great individual play from both the gun-slingers but I do feel that the Giants will gain more or an advantage preparation wise after seeing what Andrew Shoop was able to do in person. Whilst Shoop can make plays with his legs, he's primarily a pocket passer and I think the extra knowledge that Graz gleaned from facing him on Sunday will enable them to cut down on some of the big plays he was able to make.

Flipping it over to what the Black Panthers will be able to do to shut down Alex Good, I think facing him will have certainly helped them when it comes to their reads this Saturday, but it's always going to be twice as hard to scheme for someone that is as good with their legs as they are with their arm. I think the EFL fixture definitely gives the Giants the advantage this week.

Another factor that cannot be discounted is the mind games/ set-up plays that the teams may have put into Sunday's game knowing that in only six days they would be facing off again. This is a big, early season game for both teams because the Giants would find themselves 2 games out of first place with a loss whilst the Black Panthers would sink to a sorry 0 and 3 so I expect them to both come out scrapping.

Players to Watch
Giants: Ponce de Leon, Wide Receiver #15. Don't let the name fool you, the guy is tough and looks to be a very solid receiver as well as a favourite target of Good's. He had six catches and two TD's in last weekend's fixture and will be aiming for similar production again.

Black Panthers: J. Simanek, Defensive Line #5. Apologies for the lack of first name, but watch for the number. The only man to get to Good on Sunday and a menace in the backfield with 2 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss, the Black Panthers need that kind of effort again to hang in the game.

Prediction: I think the Giants will once again get an early jump on the scoreboard but this time will be better prepared to hold off the Black Panther passing attack as the game goes on. 34 - 20 in the Giants favour.

Swarco Raiders @ AFC Rangers - 16:00 GMT

My only question about this game is, how much is the margin of victory going to be? The Raiders are coming into the game embarrassed and angry after being outclassed and run over by the Raiffeisen Vikings last weekend and will be on the war path. The Rangers, on the other hand, despite a couple of big signings haven't shown enough to give me, or themselves, much hope in this fixture against the second best team in the league.

Whereas the result may be a forgone conclusion (shouldn't have written that), I think what's important this week is that the Raiders play solid, mistake free, football and build from there to rack up the points whilst pitching a shutout. For the Rangers, their MO has to be about having someone step up and begin helping their main man Craig Maynard, I may have said that last week as well, but my opinion and outlook on them isn't going to change until they do, their team's ability to succeed is squarely on the shoulders of Maynard and this makes them all too easy to defend.

The best thing about this game is that you'll have some free football to watch on Saturday so make sure you tune in to see if my prediction comes true at raiderstv.at.

Callahan needs a bounce back game from last Saturday's disappointment.
© Florian Schellhorn from www.footballpics.info
Players to Watch
Raiders: Kyle Callahan, Quarterback #6. He had a poor game last week and will be looking to make amends with a few scores against a weak Rangers defence. My opinion is that he needs to stay in the pocket a little more which is going to help him make better reads and better throws, which will only benefit the entire offence.

Rangers: Stefan Postel, Wider Receiver #88. Out of 11 completions for Maynard, Postel has caught 8 of them for 4 touchdowns and 258 yards so the guy clearly has the knack of making big plays, albeit, mainly against backups. The Raiders secondary was torched last week, so Postel will be gearing up for some more catches for sure.

Prediction: Assuming the Raiders get their act together I expect them to get out to a quick lead before steadily adding on the points. Raiders win 48 - 6.

Sunday 21st April

Danube Dragons @ Raiffeisen Vikings - 14:00 GMT

The last game of the weekend could end up being the best in my opinion. The last two undefeated teams in the league will vie to be out in front all by themselves and be the final team without a loss.

Jonathan Dally.
The Vikings passing offence was scary good last week and really flexed their muscles against the Raiders on the road and will need to emulate that performance if they are to keep up with the Dragon's equally high octane offence. This game is going to come down to whichever teams manages to get the most stops on defence and I think the advantage might have to go the the Vikings.

The Dragons have beaten up on two of the leagues weaker teams and even though that's been impressive enough, neither defence is even close to the calibre of what the Vikings will bring to the field after we witnessed them hold the Raiders to a total of 13 points last Sunday. Tunde Ogun is the leagues top offensive player, and with Dragons quarterback Jonathan Dally playing at an equally high standard the Dragon offence is going to give the Vikings their biggest test of the season so far. However, the Dragons defence have not been thoroughly tested yet and defending Christopher Gross and his multitude of reliable targets may just be too much for the Dragons to handle. This leads me to believe that whilst the Vikings might allow quite a few scores, they'll be able to get the stops when needed.

Can Gross be stopped this weekend?
© Kellner Holly Thomas / Gridiron Photography
Players to Watch
Dragons: Jonathan Dally, Quarterback #8. If he continues his good form he's going to open up the defence and give Ogun more room, meaning more points on offence.

Vikings: Christoper Gross, Quarterback #8. I had to turn this one into a battle between the two #8s! No one has managed to slow Gross down so far and unless the Dragon D decides to abandon stopping the run, I doubt they'll manage to hold Gross down for long.

Prediction: Shootout alert! I expect this to be a free scoring affair with the Vikings ultimately prevailing after they have capitalised on turnovers. Final score 41-28.

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