AFI’s Japan X League Top 10

November marks the start of playoff time in the X League, where the top 8 teams from the league’s Super 9 and the top 2 teams from the league’s Battle 9 will compete in a single elimination tournament concluding with the 2016 X League Championship Game on December 12th, 2016 at the Tokyo Dome. As each team in the X League gets ready to play their final game of the 2016 regular season this weekend, here’s a look at my X League Top 10 teams list heading into the playoffs.

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Obic Seagull and ex UCLA QB Jerry Neuheisel Photo: Inside Sport

  1. FUJITSU FRONTIERS (5-0) – Fujitsu hasn’t completely dominated games in the way that they have in the past couple of seasons, but they have looked the part of being the better team amongst all of their peers on their way to 5-0.
  2.  OBIC SEAGULLS (5-0) – OBIC has had its battles, include a close 24-23 victory last week versus IBM and in an early season win versus Nojima, but they have also looked very consistent and have plenty of momentum at 5-0 heading into the regular seasons final week.
  3.  LIXIL DEERS (4-1) – Outside of dropping a week 3 contest to the OBIC Seagulls 27-13, the Deers have been true to form consistent and are 4-1 heading into this weekend’s big game versus last year’s X League Champion Panasonic Impulse.
  4.  PANASONIC IMPULSE (4-1) – Panasonic rolled through the first three weeks of the season versus less than stellar competition, but dropped their first big test in a close game versus Fujitsu 14-13  in a rematch of last seasons championship. They started slow in a close game versus Nojima but rebounded on their way to a 4-1 record. This weekend’s game versus a prudent Lixil team will serve as a measuring stick of the Impulse’s true power heading into the playoffs.
  5.  IBM BIG BLUE (2-3) – IBM once again found a way to lose a close game in week 4, this time by means of a botched extra point snap versus OBIC in a 24-23 loss. IBM can beat any team in the league if they eliminate mistakes, but at 2-3 they will enter the playoffs on a mission to prove that they are better than their record indicates.
  6.  ASAHI BEER SILVER STARS (2-3) – Asahi has played well all year long but were dealt a set back loss in a game that they should have easily won versus the Asahi Soft Drink Challengers, losing 12-10. The 2-3 Silver Stars will roll versus the Tokyo Creators this weekend and will head into the playoffs with an even 3-3 record.
  7.  NOJIMA SAGAMIHARA RISE (1-4) – Nojima currently is outside of the playoff cut at a disappointing 1-4 and things won’t get better for them this weekend as they take on the league leading 5-0 Fujitsu Frontiers.
  8.  ELECOM KOBE FINIES (2-3) – At 2-3 Elecom will make the playoffs but they will take on a heavily favored and undefeated OBIC team this week that will look to send them in limping at 2-4.
  9.  ASAHI SOFT DRINK CHALLENGERS (2-3) – The Challengers pulled out a surprise 12-10 victory over the Asahi Beer Silver Stars in their last game, but despite their mistakes IBM is a very strong team. The Challengers will have to play their best game of the year to make the game competitive.
  10.  MITSUBISHI LIONS (4-1) – Outside of a 40-0 loss to the Super 9 level Fujitsu Frontiers, Mitsubishi has held its own, even pulling out a 17-14 victory versus the Elecom Kobe Finies of the Super 9 in Week 3. A win this weekend over fellow Battle 9 for Meiji would give Mitsubishi a 5-1 record on the year, not bad for an underdog team in this year’s tournament.

 

Tim Goins
Goins, a former UNLV offensive lineman turned electrical engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from UNLV and a Masters from UCLA, came to Japan two years ago. First, Tim took over as head of football operations for the Panasonic Impulse and was instrumental in their Japan and Rice Bowl championships. Tim is currently leading a special project with Japan’s Football Association And Japan’s top corporate sponsored American Football teams that will for the first time allow Japan’s best internationalized teams to play on the world stage, It is set to debut in 2018. He follows the league closely.
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