Chinese National Football League heads into playoffs

The Chinese National Football League, CNFL, heads into the 2019 playoffs with 12 teams left vying for the title.

The 21 team CNFL has four divisions – the North, East, West and South – and the 21 teams have been whittled down to 12 with the top three in each division making the post season.

East Division:

#1 Shanghai Titans (3-0)

How they got there:

W vs Hangzhou Generals 59-0, W@ Hangzhou Smilodons 59-0, W @Shanghai Titans 14-10, vs Shanghai Street Cats (TBD)

Despite losing several key players in the off-season, the Shanghai Titans reloaded with new players and proceeded to win the East Division and be the Beast in the East for the third year in a row. While the previous two years saw the Titans fall to the Warriors in the Championship game, the Titans are hoping that this is the year they break through and capture their 2nd league championship.

Interesting fact: Ever since the CNFL started in 2013, no division champion Shanghai team has ever gone on to win the championship.

Players to watch:

#73 LT Joshua Robinson LT

#8 Jean Pierre Tuberquia LB

#32 Ben Wong RB

#2 Shanghai Warriors (3-1)

How they got there:

W vs Hangzhou Smilodons 18-7, W@ Shanghai Street Cats 48-0, W@ Hangzhou Generals 46-0, L vs Shanghai Titans 14-10

The two-time defending champions, the Shanghai Warriors began their season with a rocky season opener against the surprisingly good Hangzhou Smilodons, but turned it on with 2 blowout wins before falling in their rivalry game against the Shanghai Titans. The Warriors are no strangers to road playoff games, as the past 2 years they failed to win the East, but went on win the championship despite having to go on the road.

Players to watch:

#26 Harry Du WR

#42 Bryan Rock MLB

#78 Allen Zhang C/DL

#3 Hangzhou Smilodons (2-2)

How they got there:

L @Shanghai Warriors 18-7, L vs Shanghai Titans 25-7, W vs Shanghai Street Cats 32-0, W vs Hangzhou Generals 89-0

The Hangzhou Smilodons will make their first ever playoff appearance after finishing third in the East. The Smilodons showed promise early on despite starting 0-2 against the resident league superpowers, the Warriors and Titans. The Smilodons would finish the season strong with two big wins over the Shanghai Street Cats and the Hangzhou Generals.

Players to watch:

#86 Kevin WR

#56 Jay LB

#58 Storm LB

North Division:

#1 Beijing Barbarians (5-0)

How they got there:

W@ Beijing Iron Brothers 100-0, W vs Tianjin Pirates 42-0, W vs Shenyang King Kong, 74-0, W @ Taiyuan Troops 30-10, W @ Qingdao Conquerors 48-0

Semifinalists a year ago, the Barbarians steamrolled the North Division during the regular season in impressive fashion. However, the Barbarians did the same thing last year, but faltered when they came up against the Shanghai Titans in the semifinals. This year, the reigning Kings in the North are looking to go one step further and make the championship game.

Players to watch:

#10 Dong Kechen QB

#87 Ge Peng (Mack Ge) DT

#40 Yang Shuiquian (Walter) S

#2 Taiyuan Troops (4-1)

How they got there:

W@ Tianjin Pirates 40-0, W vs Shenyang King Kong 18-0, W vs Qingdao Conquerors 30-0, L vs Beijing Barbarians 48-0, W @ Beijing Iron Brothers 40-12

The Taiyuan troops return to the playoffs for the second consecutive year in a row. In their third year in the league, the Troops continued to improve and were the clear cut 2nd best team in the North after just barely earning the 2nd seed last season. Hosting a playoff game for the second year in a row, they will be looking to win their first playoff game in team history.

Players to watch:

Liu Jiangyu TE

Zhang Shuolong DE

#52 Yang Hao LB/FB

#3 Qingdao Conquerors (3-2)

How they got here:

W vs Tianjin Pirates 44-0, W@ Shenyang King Kong 32-14, W vs Beijing Iron Brothers 40-0, L @ Taiyuan Troops 30-0, L vs Beijing Barbarians 48-0

The Qingdao Conquerors was a big surprise in their first season in the CNFL, as they finished 3rd in the North and earned a playoff spot. However, after starting out 3-0 against the weaker teams in the division, the Conquerors lost their last 2 games against the 2 strongest teams in the division. They will be looking to improve on that performance in the playoffs.

Players to watch:

#13 吕炳彦Lu Bing Yan WR

#76 蒋腾梁Jiang Teng Liang DE

#17 佟毅Tong Yi QB

West Division:

#1 Wuhan Berserkers (4-0)

How they got here:

W vs Zhengshou Steamer 52-0, W@ Zhengshou Steamer 42-0, W@ Mountain City Fury 60-0, W vs Chengdu Pandaman 44-6

One of the biggest surprises in the league last year, the Wuhan Berserkers followed up their rookie season with an even better 2nd season as they swapped divisions to the West and promptly went undefeated in the regular season, including a decisive win over the Chengdu Pandaman in a rematch from the 2018 playoffs. The Wuhan Berserkers are the Best in the West and deserve to be considered one of the best teams in China.

Players to watch:

#3 Jared Evans QB

#1 Shida Wang WR

#9 Robert Williams DE

#2 Chengdu Pandaman (3-1)

How they got here:

W vs Mountain City Fury 32-0, W @ Mountain City Fury 46-0, W vs Zhengzhou Steamer 28-6, L @ Wuhan Berserkers 44-6

For the first time in several years, the Chengdu Pandaman weren’t the Western division champions. After starting the season with two strong victories over the Mountain City Fury, the Pandaman were less-than impressive against the Zhengzhou Steamer due to missing key players, and then were beaten decisively by the Wuhan Berserkers and failed to win their division for the first time since the CNFL moved to divisional format in 2016. However, this is still a veteran team with an explosive offense, and can still do some damage in the postseason.

Players to watch:

#7 Ivan QB

#30 Lee RB

#3 Tyson LB

#3 Zhengzhou Steamer (1-3)

How they got here:

L @Wuhan Berskerker 52-0, L vs Wuhan Berserkers 42-0, L vs Chengdu Pandaman 28-6, W vs Mountain City Fury 8-0

The Zhengzhou Steamer made team history as they won their first every league game and clinched their first postseason birth. Despite starting the season 0-3, the 4-team set-up of the West division and the strength of the Berserkers and Pandaman ensured that the only game that truly mattered for the Steamer was their final game of the regular season against the Mountain City Fury. The Steamer were able to win that game to ensure a playoff birth.

Players to watch:

# 45刘良 Liu Liang OLB

# 77郭雨 Guo Yu WR

# 19王子乐 Wang Zi Le QB

South Division:

#1 Hong Kong Warhawks (4-1)

How they got here:

W 13-0 vs Hong Kong Combat Orcas, W 17-12 @ Taipei Predators, W 18-15 vs Hong Kong Cobras, L 21-0 @ Guangzhou Apaches, W 21-0 vs Foshan Tigers

The Warhawks once again won the South, beginning the season by winning 3 straight close games, including a pair of wins against the Hong Kong Cobras and the Predators, despite facing 2nd half deficits in both games. Despite having the last two games of their regular season cancelled, the Warhawks are still a strong team and the best team in the South.

Players to watch:

#10 Lui Sze Ting DB

#82 Gary Lee DL

#14 Jonathan Wong QB

#85 Rage Leung RB

#2 Foshan Tigers (3-2)

How they got here:

W 8-0 vs Taipei Predators, W 21-8 vs Guangzhou Apaches, L 21-0 @ Hong Kong Cobras, W 21-0 vs Hong Kong Combat Orcas, L 21-0 @ Hong Kong Cobras

The Foshan Tigers had a strange season. The Tigers only played 2 actual games in the regular season, as off-field drama in the South this year disrupted travel, and as a result, the Tigers didn’t play a game after August, fell to 3-2, and needed a Combat Orcas upset over the Cobras just to make the playoffs. But they will be hosting a first-round game, and if they can shake off the rust, they bring a one of the best defenses in the league to the table. Their only question is that at times the Foshan offense can be average at best.

Players to watch:

#6梁其宇Liang Qi Yu RB

#92 Kifasi DE

#84 郑舜 Zheng Shun WR

#3 Taipei Predators (3-2)

How they got here:

L 8-0 @ Foshan Tigers, W 38-14 vs Hong Kong Combat Orcas, L 17-12 vs Hong Kong Warhawks, W 46-0 @ Guangzhou Apaches, W 46-6 vs Hong Kong Cobras

In their first year in the league, the Taipei Predators were no rookies. Having played and succeeded in the City Bowl league the past few years, the Predators jumped into the CNFL against familiar opponents from the South China Bowl. The Predators were close, but unable to grab a win against the two teams ahead of them, but 3 wins in the regular season, including a signature 46-6 win over the Cobras, was enough to propel them into the playoffs as the number 3 seed.

Players to watch:

#2 Adam Casey Mathias WR/S

#88 Kuan-Wen Chen WR/LB

#94  Mong-Tong Su OL/DL

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