Brazil’s CBFA Superliga Playoffs Loom Days Away

This weekend kicks of the first round of playoffs for a much anticipated, unified Superliga in Brazil.

Sixteen of the 32 teams in Brazil’s top league, four per conference, advanced to post season play, and by Sunday night, only eight will remain.

Wide world of American football in Brazil

Distance between most southern playoff city (São Jose, Santa Catarina, home of the White-Sharks Istepos) and most northern playoff city (Fortaleza, Ceara, home of the Ceara Caçadores):

3,752 kilometers/2,331 miles

Distance between the most eastern playoff city (Recife, Pernambuco, home of the Recife Mariners) and the most western playoff city (Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, home of the Cuiaba Arsenal):

3,189 kilometers/1,981 miles

The city with the most playoff teams:

Rio de Janeiro, with three teams – Flamengo, Vasco da Gama and the Botafogo Reptiles.

Average distance teams will travel for road games (excluding the matchups between the Curitiba Crocodiles and Parana HP (both teams are based in the city of Curitiba, Parana) and Flamengo and the Botafogo Reptiles (both teams are based in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro):

539 kilometers/334 miles

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Champions v. Champions

There are two defending champions in this years playoffs. The João Pessoa Espectros won the 2015 CBFA national title in a thriller over the Curitiba Crocodiles, and the Timbo T-Rex beat Vasco da Gama to win the last ever Torneio Touchdown (TTD) national championship.

Just before the 2016 season was set to begin, the TTD folded and the CBFA was able to absorb the abandoned teams into its Superliga and Liga Nacional.

All of this weekend’s first round matchups are have happened at least once already this season.

Two #1 seeds, Timbo and Ceara, lost earlier in the year to the #4 seeds they are hosting, the White Sharks-Istepos and America Bulls Potguares, respectively.

The Curitiba Crocodiles and Parana HP have split their season matchups at one game a piece, with the HP knocking off the Crocodiles to win the Parana State Championship, and the Crocodiles winning the Superliga matchup.

Playoff Questions

Where are the fans in Football City?#1 Cuiaba Arsenal v. #4 Goiana Rednecks

Cuiaba, a city that has boasted crowds of 15,000 and 8,000 within the last calendar year, will set another benchmark for attendance in their first round matchup against the Goiania Rednecks: zero.

With the Arena Pantanal currently unavailable to the #1 seed and two-time national champs, the playoff game has been moved to Estadio Eurico Gaspar Dutra, known as ‘’Dutrinha.’’ Traditionally, this has not been a problem for Cuiaba Arsenal fans, who packed the stadium full over 5,000 screaming fans to set the stadium attendance record in their 2012 National Championship win against the Curitiba Crocodiles, but Dutrinha is currently under renovations, meaning that only the field is available and the bleachers will not be open to the public.

Espectros linebacker, Igor Nery, leads a physical defense into Sunday's game against the Bulls. Photo credit: Lenin Albuquerque Caldeira

Espectros linebacker, Igor Nery, leads a physical defense into Sunday’s game against the Bulls. Photo credit: Lenin Albuquerque Caldeira

Who is the quarterback? –

#2 Recife Mariners v. #3 João Pessoa Espectros

Rodrigo Dantas, who led the João Pessoa Espectros to the 2015 CBFA title, has battled injury all season. Utility athlete, Victor Ramalho, has filled in valiantly. Coach Kevin Veloso’s Espectro offense is run-heavy with Ramalho and chucks the rock all over the field when Dantas is at the helm.

#2 Coritiba Crocodiles v. #3 Parana HP

Timbo had a statement victory in its final win of the regular season against the Curitiba Crocodiles, but it could have cost their top two quarterbacks. Carlos Bassani, who has had a breakout season, injured his collar bone in that game, and in stepped the dynamic Drew Hill, who then suffered a severe wrist injury. The Rex’s third string signal-caller, Ivan Tonolli, is a gifted athlete (and one of his squads top receivers when not taking snaps).

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The final word and who to watch:

Conferência Sul:
  1. Timbo T-Rex: This could be a championship team if everyone is healthy.
    Player to watch: LB, Luís Polastri
  2. Curitiba Crocodiles: Their potent rushing attack can eat clock, score points, and punish opponents.
    Player to watch: QB, Drew Banks
  3. Paraná HP: Their offense needs to finish drives for them to advance.
    Player to watch: DB, Anderson Kvas
  4. White Sharks-Istepos: If their offense can give them a couple of scores, their defense can finish opponents.
    Player to watch: TE/DL/LB, Vinicius Zanon
Conferência Oeste:
  1. Cuiaba Arsenal: Arguably the most explosive offense in the country.
    Player to watch: RB/ATH, Brandon Watkins
  2. Portuguesa Lusa Lions: A well-coached, disciplined group that is itching to make the leap from “good” to “great.”
    Player to watch: RB, Johnny Santos
  3. Tubaroes do Cerrado: Their wing-T attack has to put points on the board to aid their talented defense.
    Player to watch: DT, Augusto Oliveira
  4. Goiânia Rednecks: Eyeing an upset in Cuiaba.
    Player to watch: WR, Ewan Nunes
Conferência Sudeste:
  1. Flamengo: One of the favorites to go all the way.
    Player to watch: QB, KC Frost
  2. Vila Velha Tritões: Maybe the fastest team in Brazil.
    Player to watch: LB, Jefferson Melhorança
  3. Vasco da Gama: Battled injuries all year.
    Player to watch: LB, João Hollyfield
  4. Botafogo Reptiles: Their defense has to get some stops for them to have a chance against Flamengo.
    Player to watch: QB, Ramon Matire
Conferência Nordeste:
  1. Ceará Cacadores: If these guys keep dominating the time of possession, they will likely keep dominating opponents.
    Player to watch: RB, Eduardo Maranhão
  2. Recife Mariners: The Mariners air raid attack appears to move faster and faster each week.
    Player to watch: QB, Alex Niznak
  3. João Pessoa Espectros: If any lower seed has a chance to make some noise, it’s this veteran group.
    Player to watch: DL, Marcos Hercules
  4. América Bulls Potiguares: Quarterback, Brian Gessel, will need to keep his magic going to continue the Bulls season.
    Player to watch: LB, Joe Small

You can now track game times and score with our new ScoreStream system. The scoreboard is located at the top of the every page.

Also, keep an eye on AFI in the coming days for in-depth previews of each game.

Clayton Lovett
Clayton Lovett has served football in Brasil in a variety of roles, including as the member of the coaching staff of two CBFA national champions (Cuiaba Arsenal 2010, 2012). Football is his hobby. Professionally, he is the founder of CS Educacional, which provides educational and competitive opportunities abroad for student-athletes.
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