PREVIEW: Brazil Bowl – Flamengo v. Timbo T-Rex
What: Brasil Bowl – The CBFA Superliga National Championship
When: Sunday, December 18, 2 PM local time
Where: Olaria Atletico Clube – Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
How we got here: Timbo dropped their first game of the season to the White Sharks-Istepos, and then hasn’t looked back. They come out of a brutally tough Conferencia Sul, that boasted multiple teams that could compete for a national title, including the Curitiba Crocodiles, the defending CBFA national runners-up, who they beat two times in a row to get to this point. Timbo then made a nearly 2 thousand kilometer jaunt to Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, and knocked off the undefeated Cuiaba Arsenal in the Superliga semi-finals.
Flamengo is Superliga’s last remaining unbeaten team, and they have been a machine all season, dispatching opponents with a brutal efficiency. Flamengo had to deal with cross-town rival, Vasco da Gama in both the regular season and playoffs, and then hosted defending Superliga champion, the João Pessoa Espectros in a hard fought victory to send them to the title game.
What you need to know:
These two squads were among the handful ‘’teams that can win it all’’ on everyone’s list at the beginning of the season. It’s no surprise to anyone that they have arrived at this point.
The national championship will be a game that puts a ton of talent on the field, but uses it in very different ways. Flamengo lines up and runs the ball with a beast of a gap running game, and utilizes what could be considered a more traditional passing game to reign touchdowns all over the field, while Timbo is RPO-heavy with their offensive base, slicing defenses with zone runs, taking advantage of numbers with bubble screens, and marching the ball downfield with quick game passing.
Flamengo can pound the ball behind a veteran-laden offensive line, using three talented backs, Yolandus Pratt, Rafael Garcia, Ivan Roichman and Felipe Florencio. Flamengo quarterback, Veteran quarterback, KC Frost, has always been able to count on fellow veteran, tight end Felipe Leira, but can now also count on the talents of break out star receiver, Patrick Dutton Tavares. When things break down in the pocket, Frost is one of Brazil’s most exciting people run the football, and capable of making a highlight reel-play at any moment.
That Flamengo offense will face perhaps it’s biggest test of the season, in a hyper-aggressive Timbo defense, that seems to score a touchdown off of a turnover in every game. T-Rex nose tackle, Ciao Perreira is a force in the middle, and defensive end, Andrei Perreira has taken his game to the next level in the 2016 playoffs. Timbo’s linebacking corps, of Luis Polastri, Dariel Suares and Laercio Anacleto, might be the best in Brazil – Polastri took an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in their semi-final win against Cuiaba. The Rex secondary can run and loves to hit, highlighted by a couple of bangers at safety, Andrew Bernardini and Keith Smith II.
The Timbo offense moves quickly and is a portrait of efficiency and discipline. Rex quarterback, Luiz Bassani has grow by leaps and bounds this season, and runs his teams quick game and RPO’s with devastating efficiency. Bassani can throw more than bubbles and intermediate routes, though, and when he does, it is usually to the big, athletic, Ivan Tonolli, with whom he connected for a touchdown in the Rex semi-final victory over Cuiaba. Timbo’s offensive line is athletic, and can get their first two steps in the ground before opposing defenders even fully get out of their stance. Behind them run two of Brazil’s speediest ball-carriers, Well Garcia and Claire Jose Simoes Jr.
Flamengo will bring plenty of edge pressue at Bassani, with a talented set of ends, Edison Azevedo and Denis Barros. Veteran, Ival Mazeiro, leads a linebacker group that also features Pratt, who flies all over the field on defense. The Flamengo secondary is anchored by corner, Luiz Honkis, who has shut down just about everyone who has lined up across from him all season.
This could turn out to be a close contest, and if it does, Flamengo might have the wild card, in former NCAA Division 3 All-American kicker, Diogo Deitrich (New York Maritime Academy), who will be ready to boot a long field goal in the closing seconds if called upon.
Chasing history , and vanquishing the past
Whatever the outcome of this game, the winning coach, Otavio Roichman for Flamengo or Amadeu Salvador of Timbo, will enter Brazil’s rarified air: coaches with two first division national titles. Salvador’s first title came last season in the TTD with Timbo, while Roichman led Fluminense to the 2011 CBFA title.
Win or lose, Roichman is already a legend in Brazil, one of the most decorated and successful on-and-off the field football resumes of anyone in the country, but his last trip to a national title game, with Flamengo in 2013, ended in a heart-breaking, last second loss to the Jaragua Breakers. A win in Sunday would be a great way for Roichman and Flamengo erase the bitterness of that tough loss.
If the T-Rex win:
Bassani, who suffered a collar bone injury at the end of the regular season, stays healthy and runs the show for a Timbo offense that chips away at a solid Flamengo defense by hitting the the holes in their zone scheme hard and connecting on their RPO passing game. The dynamic backfield of Clair Jose and Well Garcia break off a big gain or two, and the opportunistic T-Rex defense, with three levels of studs, like DT, Perreira, linebacker Polastri and safety Bernardini come up with a few turnovers.
If Flamengo wins:
KC Frost links up with his favorite targets, tight end, Felipe Leira and receiver, Patrick Dutton Tavares. The ‘’touchdown by committee’’ backfield of Yolandus Pratt, Rafael Garcia, Felipe Florencio and Ivan Roichman rotate fresh legs and pound the Espectro defense. Barros and Edilson Azevedo harass Bassani all day. Honkis gets tested deep and comes up with a pick.
Matchups to watch:
Flamengo defensive alignment and run fits vs T-Rex RPO’s – Having Bassani back from injury means that Timbo Coach, Amadeu Salvador, has his entire playbook to work with, and he will likely open things up against a stout Flamengo defense. Timbo’s zone game can create headaches for the run its of opposing defenses. If Flamengo’s linebackers can’t stay disciplined with their run fitgs, scraps and pursuit rules, they risk giving up one of those long runs that Garcia and Simoes Jr. are so well known for. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how many athletes Flamengo chooses to keep in the box when faced with Timbo players lined up in the slot, and in turn, how Timbo uses their bubble game against Flamengo’s alignment.
Frost vs T-Rex secondary: Frost has thrown for as many as five touchdowns in a single playoff game this season, and was great against the João Pessoa secondary, one of Brazil’s best, in the semi’s. When Frost tucks the ball and runs, he is usually past the first two levels of defenders with a quickness. If this is the case against TImbo, count on some big collissions between him and players like Bernardini and Smith II.
Flamengo’s run game vs T-Rex front 7 – Flamengo has the most veteran laden, experienced offensive line in the country. These guys know how to play football, and it doesn’t seem to matter who is carrying the ball – if you run behind this group, you get yards. Running backs Felipe Florencio, Yolandus Pratt, Rafael Garcia and Ivan Roichman have all had tremendous seasons for Flamengo, not to mention the big runs that Frost is known for breaking off. Up front, T-Rex will rely on early penetration from DT, Caião Perreira, and bet the game on defensive end Andre Perreira’s ability to blow up lead blocks, while hoping their linebacking studs, Polastri, Anacleto and Suares can clean up the rest. With the stable of backs they have, Flamengo will certainly be able to to run the ball with fresh legs for four quarters.
AFI asked our experts to pick the game. Here are their thoughts:
Victor Romulado Francisco – Salão Oval
”T-Rex –Flamengo is stronger than ever this year, but inconsistent as always in the beggining of the matches – exactly the part of the game where Timbo has thrived in the last decisive games. Flamengo must overcome these slow starts to beat the team that has the best record in Brazil since the beggining of 2014 (Timbo’s record in that span is 37-2).”
Ygor Martins – Head Coach Brasil
”T-Rex – You can’t be sure about anything in this game, and anything could happen, because both of these teams are so good and the matchup is so balanced between them. I’ll take Rex here because they look like a bit more of a finished product, but anything could happen here.”
Henrique Riffel – Futebol Americano Brasil
”T-Rex – Two great Brazilian clubs and a difficult game to pick. If I have to choose, I’m betting on Timbo’s roster for one reason: More big game post season experience. The Carioca squad has not been in a final since their last-second defeat to Jaraguá in 2013, and since then, Coach Otavio Roichman has changed the roster a lot. This is the third consecutive title game for Timbo, and the foundation of the team that Coach Amadeu Salvador has built has not changed significantly during that period.”
Bruno Gentil – Salão Oval
”Flamengo – Flamengo’s defense is going to be crucial to their victory, which would give the Carioca’s an undefeated season. If Flamengo wins, they join a select group – the only other teams to beat Timbo in the last three years were Vasco da Gama in the 2014 TTD National Title game, and the White Sharks-Istepos, to open the 2016 Sueprliga season.”
Geraldo Takanage – Overtime do F.A.
”Flamengo – A great final featuring the two best teams in the country, and matchups between some of the best units in the country, with Flamengo having the best offense and Timbo having the best defense. My pick is Flamengo winning a close game behind big-time performances from Pratt and Frost against the tough Timbo defense.”