Exciting American football action continues in China August 29 as the AFLC enters its 2nd week of action.
Chongqing Dockers (0-1) at Shanghai Warriors (0-0)
The Shanghai Warriors begin their 2015 campaign with a rematch of the 2013 AFLC Championship Game against the 0-1 Chongqing Dockers. On the surface, it would appear that these teams are heading in opposite directions, particularly with the Dockers’ loss to the upstart Chengdu Pandamen last week. One loss in the competitive AFLC North can spell playoff doom for these teams however, and the Dockers thus enter the matchup with an added sense of urgency not to start the season 0-2, after reaching the playoffs in each of the league’s first two seasons.
After sweeping their in-city rivals the Nighthawks and Titans in the preseason, the Warriors have not played a game in two and a half months, and while the momentum generated from the two wins could carry over into the regular season, the time off could also temper it. They will be chomping at the bit to get back to action after seeing the Nighthawks and Titans play each other twice in six weeks, and the visiting Dockers look to have a tall task ahead trying to stop one of China’s most experienced teams. The Warriors boast one of the league’s strongest defensive lines, anchored by veteran defensive tackles Hada Burjigin and co-captain Mike Li, and match up well against Chongqing’s run-heavy offense.
Shanghai Titans (0-1) at Chengdu Pandamen (1-0)
It is safe to say that not many would have predicted that the Titans would come into this matchup with an inferior record than the Pandamen, but their disappointing showing against the Nighthawks, particularly by an inconsistent run defense, combined with Chengdu’s surprise triumph over Chongqing, has brought us to this point.
The Titans still possess one of the deepest squads in the league, and while the Pandamen would seem to match up well with the Titans on paper, they are still unproven against the AFLC’s best teams. The Titans would certainly seem to be on a different level then Chongqing, and winning the battle in the trenches looks like a tall task for the Pandamen. Titans running back Jerry Zhang has filled in more than admirably for last year’s starter Erick Velasco, who broke his arm in last year’s playoffs, and will look to build upon a strong individual start to the season.
The two teams met in the preseason back in May, a 21-0 Titans victory played in Chengdu, and the Titans were missing numerous key players owing to travel difficulties. Look for the Titans to even their record at 1-1, now that the real season is underway.
Hong Kong Warhawks (1-0) at Guangzhou Apaches (0-0)
The Apaches provided stiff competition to the Warhawks in the preseason, succumbing 13-0, and this regular season matchup figures to have game of the week potential. The Warhawks enter week 2 with momentum after cruising to a 68-0 victory over their cross-town adversaries the Hong Kong Combat Orcas the previous week. These two teams are familiar with each other, having participated in the AFLC’s South Division last season as well.
With the momentum as well as history on their side, the Warhawks seem to still have a slight edge, but the Apaches will be eager to get back to action following their week 1 bye. Don’t be surprised if the Apaches spring an upset, and provide what would be a second surprise of the young AFLC season.
Hong Kong Cobras (1-0) at Hong Kong Combat Orcas (0-1)
After a sloppy, turnover-filled victory against the Guangzhou Southern Tigers in week 1, the Cobras will look to clean up their act in week 2. The Orcas have not won a game in their history yet, but have shown signs of life in the short passing game. This will be put to the ultimate test against the AFLC South’s premier squad.
The Cobras offense, led by quarterback Elias Hammiche, have shown a tendency for low point totals in the past, but their balanced offensive attack should spring to life here against an Orcas defense that allowed 68 points to the Warhawks a week earlier. The Orcas have certainly put up a fight in their games, but the bottom line is on the scoreboard, and the Cobras should have no trouble cruising to the league’s first 2-0 record.