The Saarland Hurricanes will line up to face the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in their quarterfinal matchup knowing they are heavy underdogs. They will be facing a team which either leads, or is close to the lead in virtually every statistical category.
The Lions enter the playoffs as the overwhelming favorites to win the German Bowl for the third straight year. They have by far the best defense in the league allowing only 12 points and 219 yards per game while being among the league leaders in every offensive category.
Head coach Troy Tomlin has the Lions humming along. Quarterback Casey Therriault has thrown for 1,683 yards and 27 touchdowns in his seven games with a 73% completion rate. His favorite target, Anthony Dable, caught 61 passes for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015 while also returning 12 kickoffs for 349 yards.
Grant Enders, who Therriault replaced due to injury, has also returned and has looked impressive in his stints at running the offense.
The running game features David McCants. The shifty back rushed for 1,028 yards and 14 touchdowns while his backup, Dutch national team player Chris Smith averaged 9.5 yards a carry in gaining 770 yards in 2015.
The Lions defense is formidable with linebacker Jacob Schridde a key figure. He led the league in sacks with 15 while defensive lineman Mamadou Sy has also been a nightmare for quarterbacks recording nine sacks in 2015.
Although Hurricanes head coach Tom Smythe faces a daunting task, he has built a solid team with quarterback Alexander Haupert playing much improved football in 2015. He threw for 2,355 yards (fifth in the league) and 24 touchdowns in earning the confidence of his team. Nevertheless, he will be facing the team sack leaders in the Lions as they got to the quarterback 46 times in 2015, almost four times a game.
Running back Chris Douglas was a workhorse for Saarland carrying the ball for 756 yards in eight games. Receiver Cory Soto led the team in receptions with 38 for 470 yards. He also caught 23 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns.
The young defense is anchored by linebacker Sasan Jelvani who recorded 86 tackles on the year and four sacks.
Although Braunschweig is the overwhelming favorite, this is after all the playoffs. But to have a chance of winning the Hurricanes must do a better job of protecting the ball. They turned the ball over 31 times due to fumbles and interceptions during the regular season and there is no team better at making you pay for that than the Lions. Nevertheless, Coach Smythe has had his teams in the playoffs before and knows that anything can happen.