Brazil’s CBFA Superliga Semi-Final – #1 Flamengo v. #3 João Pessoa Espectros

Today, Saturday, November 26 Brazil’s CBFA Superliga kicks off their first semi-final

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

How we got here: Flamengo has been a point scoring machine with an offense-smothering defense all season. Their numbers on both sides of the ball are gaudy. Head Coach, Otavio Roichman, and is quarterback, KC Frost, have been in a multitude of big games and this semi-final won’t overwhelm them, it will simply add to their list. João Pessoa comes in to the semi-final as the #3 seed that no one is surprised about. The defending CBFA National Champion adjusted valiantly in the absence of their star quarterback, Rodrigo Dantas, who will be back for the contest against Flamengo.

Literally, how did we get here?: It’s nothing more than a 2,419 km/1,503 mile hop, skip and jump down highway BR-116. Luckily, that distance can be covered in about 3 hours by plane. Brazil is big.

Flamengo quarterback, KC Frost, is one of the best to ever play the game in Brazil. He and one of his favorite targets, Patrick Dutton Tavares (#7) face a tough João Pessoa squad on Saturday. Photo Credit: Chiarini Junior Fotos Artisticas

Flamengo quarterback, KC Frost, is one of the best to ever play the game in Brazil. He and one of his favorite targets, Patrick Dutton Tavares (#7) face a tough João Pessoa squad on Saturday. Photo Credit: Chiarini Junior Fotos Artisticas

What you need to know: Both of these teams are loaded at nearly every position. They can both run and throw the ball effectively, and pressure the passer defensively, with Flamengo ends, Denis Barros and Edilson Azevedo coming off the edge, and Espectro DT, Bruno Sherman, and all-pupose lineman, Marcos Hercules, bringing heat up the middle and muddying the pocket.

João Pessoa’s return game, with Carlos Cox (Friends University) and Heron Azevedo (Pacific University) is deadly, but so is former NCAA Division 3 All-American, Diego Deitrich (SUNY-Maritime), who kicks for Flamengo.

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 Dantas all day.

If the Espectros win: Dantas stays cool in the pocket and picks apart the Flamengo secondary with their quick game and vertical concepts. The extremely talented João Pessoa secondary snags some passes from Frost, and the Espectros get a big play or two on special teams from Cox, Azevedo or kicker, Diego Aranha.

Matchups to watch:

Espectros DBs vs FrostFrost threw for five touchdowns in Flamengo’s quarterfinal win. The Espectros have one of the best scondaries in Brazil, featuring Cox, hard-hitting safety, Edvaldo Rosas, and cornerback, Flavio Gouveia. This group will have to work to keep the ball out of the hands of Frosts two favorite targets, Leira and Dutton Tavares.

Flamengo OL vs ‘’Shercules’’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. They will square off against DT, Bruno Sherman and all-purpose lineman, Marcos Hercules, better known by there combined nickname, ‘’Shercules.’’ Sherman can play nose or 3-technique and uses his hands extremely well to get off blocks. Hercules is a big, fast, nasty, disruptive force that can play anything from defensive end to nose. There will be some banging in the trenches on Saturday.

Carlos Cox will need to come up big on Saturday to get the Espectros back to the national championship game. Photo credit: Anderson Silva Fotografia

Carlos Cox will need to come up big on Saturday to get the Espectros back to the national championship game. Photo credit: Anderson Silva Fotografia

Carlos Cox and Heron Azevedo vs Flamengo kick coverage and São Cristovão’s short field – Cox and Heron Azevedo have quite literally put the Espectros in the semi-finals – scoring on two kick returns in the teams quarterfinal win. Kicking to these two is a huge gamble. While few teams have been able to contain these two, them smaller-than-normal dimensions of Flamengo’s home field might do the trick.

Barros and Edilson Azevedo vs Dantas and the Espectro OL– Flamengo’s ends have been phenomenal this season. Barros’ lanky and athletic frame has been a bullet coming off the edge this season, while Edilson Azevedo is just as disruptive off the edge as he is sticking his nose inside and stuffing an opponents run game. Espectros quarterback, Rodrigo Dantas, who is just one game back from a foot injury that sidelined him for nearly all of 2016, will need to get rid of the ball in a hurry and rely on Lenin Caldeira, Adolphus Barnes and the rest of the Espectro offensive line, to keep him clean.

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

bruno-gentil-salaBruno Gentil – Salão Oval

Flamengo – Flamengo continued their impressive perfect season with a quarterfinal win against the 2015 TTD runners-up, Vasco da Gama. The Espectros arrive at  this semi-final after a historic season. clinching a playoff birth in their last playoff game, and then winning back-to-back road playoff games. These tough wins make the defending CBFA National Champion even more of a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.
The long, hard trip to the game on Saturday, in my opinion, will be a decisive factor for the Espectors roster, and I don’t see them coming out of Rio de Janeiro with a victory. Either way, the clash of quarterbacks Dantas x KC, and ball-carriers like Cox x Florêncio, and many other matchups highlight this game as one of the best of the yera!”

riffellogopicHenrique Riffel – Futebol Americano Brasil

Flamengo – The João Pessoa Espectros do not have a favorable history in matches that take place a long distance from João Pessoa. Their last  two out-of-region games resulted in defeats by the Coritiba Crocodiles and Cuiaba Arsenal. Another disadvantage is that the Espector roster will not be able travel to Rio de Janeiro together – Part  of the team will arrive in the ity with time to rest and acclimate, the other part of the team will arrive at the stadium on game day. This may favor Flamengo’s Strong offense, led by quarterback Casey Frost and running back Yolandus Pratt.”

overtimefalgoGeraldo Takanage – Overtime do F.A.

Flamengo – With the return of their QB, Dantas, and weapons like Heron Azevedo and import, Carlos Cox, the Espectros offense will be very strong, can play a good game with Flamengo, but I have Flamengo as the strongest candidate to win the championship this year.  It’s so dificult to stop na offense led by  QB KC Frost, and with import  RB, Yolandus Pratt, playing great, I think Flamengo wins a close game.”

haim-finalHaim Fereirra – Blog Touchdown

Flamengo – This will be a battle. These two teams have never faced each other, so no ones knows what could happen. Flamengo has shown the most offensive firepower in the country this season, but the Espetros are the defending Brazilian champion. My take on this game? That it will be a barn burner until the end. I think Flamengo wins by a touchdown or less, benefitting from experience from a tougher schedule in 2016.”

romuladofinalVictor Romulado Francisco – Salão Oval

Flamengo – Flamengo is ready and has had a perfect campaign thus far, which is a contrast to the Espectros season, in which they have had to deal with Dantas’ injury and was not as consistent as the home team, who are the favorites.”

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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