We are now just a couple of weeks away from the Championship Game in Portugal and with only three more games to go we are on the verge of knowing which teams we will find playing for the highly prized trophy.
Preview: Lisboa Devils (9-0) – Algarve Sharks (5-4-1)
This game will be a rematch of the 2016 championship final between the current champion and the runner-up. The Lisboa Devils will host the Algarve Sharks in a match that is highly anticipated and will offer a showdown between two teams that have competed until the last down of every game.
The Devils (9-0-0) are undefeated and go into this semi-final as the #1 ranked offense and #1 ranked defense. The team from Lisbon has scored an average of 51 points per game plus having only allowed an average of 10 points per game. Their defense has two shutouts that equals the best in the league and in the last 5 games the most points suffered by them were 16 points.
On the other side, the Algarve Sharks (5-4-1) enter this game as the #4 ranked offense and #4 ranked defense. Their offense scored an average of 22 points per game in the regular season while they surrendered an average of 16 points per game. However in their playoff game against the Crusaders they scored 50 points which is more points than they scored in their last three regular season games combined. Their defense also accounted for two shutouts.
Teams Matchup History
LPFA6- Devils 33-7 Sharks
LPFA6 – Sharks 00-47 Devils
LPFA7 – Sharks 29-48 Devils
LPFA7 – Devils 48-16 Sharks
LPFA7 – Sharks 26-28 Devils (Championship Game)
LPFA8 – Devils 20-18 Sharks
The Devils have the upper hand against the Sharks (6-0-0) where they have never lost a game. However in the last two matches the score was only separated by two points.
Post Season History
The Devils record is 3-2-0 and they go into their 4th straight appearance in the post season and their last defeat dates back to May 2015 where they lost against the Lisboa Navigators in the semi-finals of LPFA6.
The Sharks record is also 3-2-0 and they go into their 3rd appearance in the post season where they are coming from a big win early March against the Crusaders. One of their defeats in the postseason (also the last one) was against the Devils in the championship game from LPFA7.
Players to look for
The Devils offense has been playing very balanced with their passing and running game being both very productive. Lisboa quarterback (and OC) Joey Bradley has established a great connection with is favorite target Collin Franklin but also look for Pedro Almeida and Bernardo Solipa being threats in the middle of the field plus with Pedro Flores and Bruno Cardoso being the vertical threats on the Devils offense. In the running game look for Willian La’Prado (17 touchdowns in 8 games) to be the main threat.
The Devils defense might be called a “no name Defense” but they have been able to hold teams down to very few points, hold field positions and come away with turnovers.
The Sharks offense have come a long way and now it looks like they found their identity. With quarterback John Holloway being a double threat the Sharks are now a team that can get the big play and also move the ball down the field. In the passing game Preston Bailey has been the “go to guy” but Domonique Jefferson has established himself has the vertical threat. In the backfield the speed that Guilherme Vieites brings to the game can be a game changer.
On the defensive side the Sharks now have “Lord Commander” Augustine Ume-Ezeoke who will lead a defensive unit that knows how to adapt and play in any situation or against any team.
What To Expect
Expect two very explosive offenses to go at each other and make use of their weapons offensively to score points. It will be an unpredictable game until the very end and the defense that comes out with the best game plan will end up giving their own offense the higher possibility of winning the game and move up to the championship game.
Preview: Maia Renegades (8-1) – Porto Mutts (7-3)
On March 26 the Maia Renegades and Porto Mutts will clash in a highly anticipated match between the two most historical teams from the region of Porto.
The Renegades (8-1-0) after the “merge and move” (Porto Renegades merged with Maia Mustangs and moved to Maia) made last off season have had a very successful season so far and they only have lost one game. The team’s offense that is ranked #3 had their best year with an average of 29 points scored per game and only allowing 11 points per game on defense that is ranked #2. They also had the most prolific special teams in the league.
The Mutts (7-3-0) get to this stage (semifinals) for the fifth time in five years competing in the Portuguese League of American Football. The team’s offense that is ranked #5 scored an average of 21 points per game and their defense only allowed an average of 13 points per game being ranked #3. If you take out one game out of the regular season (game against the Devils) the most points the Mutts team allowed was 14 points and they never suffered more than 2 touchdowns per game.
Teams Matchup History
LPFA4 – Mutts 41-6 Renegades
LPFA5 – Mutts 38-3 Renegades
LPFA6 – Renegades 7-48 Mutts
LPFA6 – Mutts W-L Renegades (don’t have the final score)
LPFA7 – Mutts 35-6 Renegades
LPFA7 – Mutts 51-0 Renegades
LPFA8 – Mutts 7-13 Renegades
The Mutts have a 6-1-0 standing against the Renegades and they have the upper hand. However the last time this teams faced the Renegades were able to break the Mutts streak.
Post Season History
The Renegades are one of the most historic teams in Portugal but they only qualified for the post season one time in eight seasons (LPFA6) and they lost that game (69-0). So the Renegades record is 0-1-0 and they have yet to score a touchdown in the post season.
The Mutts are a team that is used to playing in the post season and – as we have already mentioned – they have qualified for the semifinals phase for the fifth year in a row. However in only one of those situations were they able to move to the championship game. Their current record is 3-4-0 and they are coming off a big win against the Warriors.
Players to look for
The Renegades offense is led by Brian Gessel and they count on Awal Umaru for the big play and with Michael Campbell to be the “dual threat” both in the running and passing game. They also have a big threat in Miguel Vasconcelos who piled up five touchdowns in the regular season. On the defensive side the Renegades have a very versatile front seven and they have “general Awal” as the last line of defense causing turnover after turnover. It’s important to mention that the Renegades Special Teams have been a very important factor and they have the most touchdowns scored plus the highest % of made field goals by kicker Miguel Simões.
On the Mutts side they have one of the biggest and most physical offensive lines in the league. They make use of their ground game with quarterback Brian Lopes being the guy in charge and then having a lot of different players that can carry the ball and punish your defense. On the defensive side and for the past years the Mutts defense always ranked top 3. This year it was no different and they also had the defense that scored more points. Led by João “Train” Marques and having a great supporting cast in Nuno Simões, Tiago Costa and Diogo Magalhães the Mutts defense is one of the most physical in the league.
What To Expect
Expect a very physical game with both defenses taking control of the game and with both offenses trying to find something that they can take advantage of. The team that ends up making the fewest mistakes offensively will eventually have a higher possibility of wining and move up to the championship game.