Friday 3rd May
Danube Dragons @ AFC Rangers - 18:30 GMT
The Danube Dragons looked like a real contender after their first two games but have now lost two in a row and find themselves mid-table and needing a win to get back on track. That win looks almost certain to come on Friday, as they take a trip to play against the AFC Rangers who are a hapless 0-4 at the bottom of the table and appear to be getting weaker with each week they play.
In terms of things to keep an eye on in this matchup I'm afraid I can't provide you with anything riveting, you'll just have to see how long Ogun and Dally stay out on the pitch to pad their stats before the backups come in, and I'm sensing that's at half time. The truth of the matter is that the Rangers have been very poor and even with the addition of another import in Brandon Moore, they still haven't given anyone hope to back them for a win.
Players to Watch
Dragons: Thomas Haider, Wide Receiver #13. Dally's best and most reliable target, Haider is the leagues leader in catches per game and touchdowns at the wide receiver spot.
Rangers: Brandon Moore, Running Back #21. Was not a factor at all on offence in his first game and even though he made a good contribution on the defensive side of the ball the Rangers need him to produce his best with the ball in hand to give them any hope of winning.
Prediction: No contest, Dragons 47 - Rangers 10
Saturday 4th May
Prague Black Panthers @ Swarco Raiders - 16:00 GMT
|© Florian Schellhorn from www.footballpics.info|
Despite suffering a devastating loss to the Raiffeisen Vikings a couple of weeks ago, the Swarco Raiders are second in the league at 3-1 and whilst not looking as strong as past years, have more than enough to deal with the leagues lesser teams.
The Prague Black Panthers are indeed one of the leagues lesser teams, but they are not quite as hapless as the Rangers and so can always pose a threat. The problem for the Black Panthers is getting their offence and defence to turn up on the same day because so far neither side of the ball has managed to support the other well enough to get that elusive first win.
The more I see of Andrew Shoop the more I am impressed with how he's fairing in a team that's giving him very little help. The Raiders have a definite weakness in the secondary and if Shoop has the luxury of a decent running game to at least make the Raiders respect the run, then Shoop could have a field day against a very poor Raider secondary. Having said that, what is likely to happen is that the Raiders will get ahead early with their strong running game and then Shoop will be forced to pass and eventually force passes that will lead to turnovers.
Players to Watch
Black Panthers: Andre Whyte, Running Back/ Safety #4. Occasionally Whyte manages to flash the skill that it takes to really help Shoop out and contribute much more to the offence, but all too oftern he is easily negated and ineffective in games. If they are to find this first win, the Black Panthers need a big performance from Whyte and finding that performance against the Raiders would be good timing.
Raiders: Andreas Hofbauer, Running Back #29. When he's on his game Hofbauer is a powerful force that is tough to stop, but judging by his weekly touches the Raiders coaching staff don't seem willing to give him the amount of carries I think he requires. I think we'll see him get a good share this weekend against a weak Black Panther defensive run game.
Prediction: Not going to go crazy on this one, and even though I think this is the Black Panthers best chance of an upset, I think the Raiders take it 36 - 21.
Sunday 5th May
Raiffeisen Vikings @ JCL Graz Giants - 13:30 GMT
This matchup is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the level of play that will be on display. As previously mentioned the Raiffeisen Vikings gave the Raiders a huge beating a couple of weeks ago and the Raiders beat the Graz Giants quite handily in week one, that should mean a blowout for the Vikings right?
I'm afraid that life in the AFL is just not that simple and whilst I do believe the Vikings will come away with the win when all is said and done, I also think that the score will be closer than you might think.
There is one factor in this game that I believe will have a big impact on the outcome, and that's the play of Alex Good. When the Giants met the Raiders in the opening game of the season I don't think that Good had had the required amount of time to adjust to life in the AFL and thus performed at a sub-par level. However, after a few games in the league and having managed to strut his stuff a couple of times, I think he's got the hang of it.
|© Kellner Holly Thomas/Gridiron Photography|
Being a dual threat quarterback he's always going to be tough to game plan against, and this is the only area of concern I would have for the Vikings. The rest of the match-ups all go in the favour of the Vikings and the biggest are of concern is Graz's pass defence which ranks 4th overall (in a league of six and the two teams below being the Rangers and Panthers) and we all know how good the Vikings are at passing with Christoper Gross at the helm.
For me it's as simple as this, if Good has a great game then the Giants have a chance, if not, Gross and his teammates will just keep racking up the score.
Players to Watch
Vikings: Dustin Illetschko, Linebacker #41. The teams leading tackler and all over dynamo is going to have play like a possessed man to chase Good down all over the field.
Giants: Alex Gross, Running Back/ Linebacker #37. Possibly the most important player on the Giants roster as he's both stud running back and linebacker and doesn't let his dual duties hinder his performance in the slightest. However, his biggest roll this week is averaging 4+ yards per carry this game in order to the some pressure off of Good.
Prediction: It stays close to start before Christoper Gross shreds the Giants secondary. Vikings 40 - Giants 21.