PREVIEW: Brazil’s Superliga Quarterfinals – #1 Ceara Caçadores v. #3 João Pessoa Espectros

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL – This Sunday, November 13 at 4 PM local time the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol Americano (CBFA) Superliga quarterfinals features a November showdown between the Conferencia Nordeste #1-seed Ceara Caçadores and the #3-seed João Pessoa EspectrosThe game will take place at Estadio Presidente Vargas and a large crowd is expected.

In the first matchup this season: The Caçadores handed the Espectros a 42-31 loss in the first game of the season for both teams.

What you need to know: Arguably the best matchup of the quarterfinals, pitting two smothering and swarming defenses against explosive offenses that both feature big play threats. The kicking game will likely come in to play, with both squads serious about their special teams play and boasting big time return men.

If the Caçadores win: They likely dominate the time of possession and give the Espectros a steady diet of running back, Eduardo Maranhao. Quarterback Romario Reis doesn’t turn the ball over and makes plays with his legs when needed, and the Caçadore OL continues to protect him well, as they have all season. TB Battle and Marlos Reis come up with a big play or two receiving, defensively or in the return game.

Caçadores all-purpose athlete, TB Battle, has a great football name, and even better game, scoring on receptions, interceptions and punt returns this season. Photo credit: Diego Dinelly

Caçadores all-purpose athlete, TB Battle, has a great football name, and even better game, scoring on receptions, interceptions and punt returns this season. Photo credit: Diego Dinelly

If Espectros win: They establish their run game behind a combination of Victor Ramalho, Everton Pingo and maybe even Carlos Cox, and/or Rodrigo Dantas returns to find his groove in their quick passing and 4 vertical game. Shercules (DT, Bruno Sherman and DL Marcos Hercules) gets push all day on the Caçadore OL. Jesus ”The resurrection and the life” Emmanuel blesses his squad with multiple sacks. The Espectros DB’s get their hands on a Reis pass or two. Cox and Heron Azevedo return a kick or punt for a score, or close to the end zone.

This guy played against both teams in 2016, here’s what he thinks:

‘’I think the Caçadores take the Northeast this year. They have been around for a while and their offense, defense and special teams all do a quality job. They know how to study their opponents and capitalize on their (opponents) mistakes.’’- Eder Lins, LB/DL, Recife Mariners.

Reccife Mariners LB/DL, #97, Eder Lins. Photo credit to Instagram user: @davi_gueiros

Recife Mariners LB/DL, #97, Eder Lins. Photo credit to Instagram user: @davi_gueiros

AFI asked some of Brazil’s top American football bloggers to pick the first round. See their thoughts on this game below:

haim-finalHaim Ferreira – Blog Touchdown

Caçadores – Certainly the most difficult game to predict in these conference finals. The Caçadores have not lost playing at home, while the Espectros have been in every Nordeste final for the past seven seasons. With some explosive parts to their offense, I believe that the home-team Caçadores have a small advantage. However, you should never doubt Espectros, who have already shown some decisive power in a win against the Recife Mariners, and will be aided by the return of quarterback Rodrigo Dantas.”

overtimefalgoGeraldo Takanage – Overtime do F.A.

Caçadores – I think the Caçadores win comfortably. They have several standout players, like quarterback, Romario Reis, TB Battle and running back Eduardo Maranhão, amongst others. The Ceara defense will be tough to score points on.”

ygormartinghcbrsilYgor Martins – Head Coach Brasil

Espectros – The numbers are with the Caçadores. They have beat Espectros in regular season and they smashed the Bulls (their only loss of the regular season) in their first game of the playoffs. But, I’m picking Espectros right here because that type of the game isn’t new for them as it is for the team from Ceara. They proved me wrong last week playing tough football to beat the powerful Mariners playing a backup QB, and should win again this week with their starter, Rodrigo Dantas, able to play.”

bruno-gentil-salaBruno Gentil – Salão Oval

Caçadores – For the past three years, the Caçadores, along with Mariners, have won the most regular season games (16) in the Northeast. The problem is that in the direct confrontation against the Especteros in the playoffs, the Caçadores are 0-2 both in the playoffs (2014 and 2015), although they have managed a regular season win (42×31 this year).

I analyze Espectros as the team that has recovered the best for the playoffs in all of Brazil. The team from João Pessoa is no stranger to big moments and big games and handles itself very well under pressure in decisive contests.

Ceara quarterback, Romario Reis, put on a show against America Bulls in the last match, with four touchdown passes, and will likely play well again this weekend, as will TB Battle, who is a monster in the return game and a crucial difference maker on defense. I like the team coached by Mike Lima to reach the national semi-final.”

romuladofinalVictor Romulado Francisco – Salão Oval

Espectros – This will be a totally different game for the Espectros, with (Rodrigo) Dantas and Heron (Azevedo) back. This adversary will be stronger offensively than the Mariners, with Romario (Reis), (Eduardo) Maranhão, Talon (Roggasch) and (TB) Battle posing real danger to the champions.”

riffellogopicHenrique Riffel – Futebol Americano Brasil

Espectros – Although the Ceará Caçadores are the host of the Northeast Conference Final, I believe that favorites are the João Pessoa Espectros. For two simple reasons: 1st – there is a lot of pressure on this Caçadores squad – especially on quarterback Romário Reis, with this unprecedented final, the game is at home and this is the firs time that this team has advanced this far. 2nd – The Espectros count on the return of quarterback Rodrigo Dantas, who has recovered from an injury; which means that former QB and standout receiver, Vitor Ramalho, returns to his position of strength, and becomes one more concern for the defense of Caçadores’ head coach, Mike Lima.”

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,