This past weekend, three more games were played in the Chinese National Football League in the North and West divisions, and all three had substantial playoff implications as both seedings and playoff matchups would be decided and officially locked in.
Due to the CNFL’s playoff structure, this year before the season started, the league’s playoff bracket was set up, so the North’s #2 and West’s #3 seed would be playing each other in the wild card round and vice versa. As a result, all three games would determine final division standings, but potential playoff opponents for teams around the league.
Zhengzhou Steamer 8 – Mountain City Fury 0, Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Zhengzhou
The Zhengzhou Steamer made team history as they won their first-ever CNFL game with a narrow 8-0 victory over the Mountain City Fury that also gave them a playoff berth in the team’s 3rd year of existence.
It was a low-scoring, defensive affair, and the Steamer’s lone touchdown pass proved to be the difference.
The Fury’s already depleted offense took a hit that they couldn’t recover from when their lone quarterback who made it to Zhengzhou suffered an injury in the first quarter. The Fury’s offense couldn’t generate a score, despite the Fury defense playing hard and doing their best to keep the Furies in it until the final whistle.
Zhengzhou’s lone win of the regular season pushed them to 1-3, nudging them ahead of the McFuries, who will finish 0-4 for the season.
Zhengzhou will go into the playoffs as the #3 seed from the West and the Steamer will be playing an away game during the wild-card round, against the 2nd seeded team from the North.
The Mountain City Furies will finish their season with disappointing 0-4 record and out of the playoffs. For a team that had been to the playoffs the past several years, and won their first-round matchup 38-7 last year against the Hong Kong Cobras, this was a dramatic fall for the Fury. They will be spending the offseason looking at just what went wrong this year and rebuilding for next season.
Taiyuan Troops 40 – Beijing Iron Brothers 12, Shounong Yingshi Sports Park, Beijing
In Beijing, The Taiyuan Troops finalized the North Division standings with a definitive 40-12 victory over the Iron Brothers.
As usual, the Troops showcased their trademark rugged rushing attack with touchdowns by star Yang Hao and his running mate Liu Jiangyu. The Troops’ offense also showed the kind of balance they will need in the playoffs with Wang Zelong, Zhou Min, and Li Kai providing three touchdowns through the air against the Iron Brothers Defense.
While the Troops weren’t able to notch another shutout victory, their defense was more than adequate, and Beijing could only manage a pair of touchdowns through the air with Quarterback Li Qianzhou connecting twice with WR Ai Ni through the air.
Taiyuan finished their regular season at 4-1, good for 2nd place in the North. Having clinched the 2nd seed from the North, they earned the right to host the 3rd seed from the west, the Zhengzhou Steamer, in the wildcard round.
This loss means the Iron Brothers fall to 1-3 and are eliminated with one game to go in their regular season. They will be facing the Shenyang King Kong in a dead rubber matchup with nothing more than pride on the line.
With the Iron Brothers’ elimination, the Qingdao Conquerors clinched the 3rd seed from the North and will be heading out west to play the 2nd seed from the West in the wildcard round.
Wuhan Berserkers 44 – Chengdu Pandaman 6, Jieteng Jian Music and Sports Par, Wuhan.
The Wuhan Berserkers wrapped up the Western regular division title with a landslide victory over the Chengdu Pandaman in Wuhan.
The Wuhan Berserker Oline was the difference in this game, and it was the Berserker’s Running Back, appropriately named Rock, who punctuated it with three rushing touchdowns on the day. The Berserkers also scored through the air with wide receivers Wang Shida, Tiger, and Tight End Shakeem being the primary receiving targets for Wuhan.
Wuhan’s defense also held firm as the typically explosive Chengdu offense could only manage 6 points.
With this decisive win, Wuhan avenged their narrow playoff defeat from a year ago, and are the best in the west, and are looking like a very viable championship contender.
Wuhan will finish their regular season 4-0, and as the #1 seed from the west, they are awarded a bye during the first round of the playoffs and will host the winner of the wildcard game between the 2nd seed in the South and the 3rd seed from the East.
Chengdu will finish at 3-1 and are in uncharted waters, as for the first time in years, they are no longer the West division champs and are no longer afforded the luxury of home-field advantage in the playoffs. But as the 2nd seed from the West, they will play at home against the 3rd seed from the North, the Qingdao Conquerors, and if they win, they will be hitting the road in the next two rounds if they want to make the championship game.
South and East Divisions still up for grabs
With two divisions fully settled, the league heads into its final weekend as the South and East divisions are in action! In the South, the Hong Kong Cobras-Hong Kong Combat Orcas game will determine the final playoff spot. The Cobras road to the playoffs is simple. They qualify as the 3rd seed with a win over the Orcas and are eliminated with a loss. The Combat Orcas have already been eliminated from postseason contention, but there is nothing sweeter than playing spoiler and ruining your archrival’s season!
The Combat Orcas will have the moral support of the Foshan Tigers, who clinch the 2nd seed from the South with a Cobras loss, and would be eliminated with a Cobras victory. The Taipei Predators also have a rooting interest in this game. The Predators clinch the 2nd seed and a home game if the Cobras win, while a Combat Orcas victory would push the Predators to the 3rd spot and they would have to travel to Shanghai to face the Warriors in the wild-card playoff round.
In the East, the Hangzhou Generals and the Hangzhou Smilodons are in action in a cross-town rivalry game! The Smilodons clinch the 3rd seed in the East with a victory, while a Generals win would make it a three-team race in the East for the last playoff spot!