LIVESTREAM Finland: Helsinki Wolverines @ Seinäjoki Crocodiles, July 9th, 15:30 CET, (3:30 pm, 9:30 am ET)

As the playoff picture begins to take shape in the Finnish Maple League, there is a log jam in the standings between positions two and five.

Both the Seinäjoki Crocodiles (3-1) and Helsinki Wolverines (3-2) are hoping to earn a home playoff game come late August. Today, these two contenders will meet in Seinäjoki for a highly anticipated matchup.

The Crocodiles’ offense unsurprisingly has been centered around running back Christian Powell this year. Powell has been the workhorse back in Seinäjoki since arriving in 2018. The former Colorado Buffalo (NCAA DI) is averaging 118 yards a game this season and currently sits second in the league in rushing.  Quarterback Anthony Whitehead can also run the ball well but will primarily be targeting big Finnish receiver Joel Sarkela.

Helsinki Wolverines @ Seinäjoki Crocodiles, July 9th, 15:30 CET, (3:30 pm, 9:30 am ET)

Former “Last Chance U” star and University of Tennessee (NCAA DI) defensive lineman Emmit Gooden has been an impact player for the Crocodiles since arriving partway through the season. The Independence Community College Netflix star has made 14 tackles, five tackles for a loss, two sacks, and a defensive touchdown in three games this season.

Defensively, the Crocodiles have Finnish talent Saideu Jallow that gives the club a young linebacker to build around in the front seven. Jallow made a nice interception in his last game along with 6.5 tackles and a sack.

Seinäjoki also added Spanish defensive tackle Arthur Pinheiro who has a long history of playing in Finland, and recently won a championship with the Fundidores Monterrey of the Mexican LFA. Recently, Pinheiro played for the Kuopio Steelers where he made 40 tackles, five quarterback sacks and one pass breakup in two seasons.

The visiting Wolverines are looking to bounce back from a tough loss to the undefeated Kuopio Steelers. Helsinki needs this win if they want to get a home playoff game come late august as Seinäjoki has the same goal in mind sitting at 3-1.

One positive from last week’s loss was the comeback of receiver Sebastian Sagne. The 6’2 pass catcher caught a touchdown and racked up 60 yards in the defensive battle. Look for the speedster to take a bigger role in the offense down the stretch this season as quarterback Jabari Harris looks to spread out the ball to Sagne, veteran  RJ Harris, Martin Emos, William Young, and Matias Tuominen.

Defensively, head coach Michael Mattingly will be keyed in on stopping the Crocodiles run game and Christian Powell. Expect defensive backs Eric Irvin, Curtis Slater, and Colby Burton (Hawaii NCAA DI) to blitz often as Helsinki will look to stuff the box. In the trenches, the Wolverines defensive line features James Perrineau, Ville ValastiBenjamin Egbudiwe, and Jonis Heikkinen all proven players who will need to hold their gaps against a physical Seinäjoki run game.

We could be seeing a playoff preview as Helsinki and Seinäjoki both have a chance to finish with the second or third seed and see each other again in the post-season.

Helsinki Wolverines @ Seinäjoki Crocodiles, July 9th, 15:30 CET, (3:30 pm, 9:30 am ET)

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football