The weekend of September 7-8 was a busy weekend in the Chinese National Football League, as six games in three divisions were played in preparation for the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday weekend.
Out of the six contests, there were four shutouts and only one game within 20 points as the top teams in each division began to separate themselves from the pack.
Shanghai Warriors 48 – Shanghai Street Cats 0
Shanghai Titans 25 – Hangzhou Smilodons 7
Last weekend, there were two games in the East Division: the Shanghai Warriors hosting the Shanghai Street Cats, and the Shanghai Titans traveling to Hangzhou to take on the Hangzhou Smilodons.
In our first game, the Warriors (2-0) came out looking to make a statement and showcased why they are the two-time defending champs with an authoritative 48-0 victory. The Warriors were dominant in all three phases of the game, and now have a few weeks to rest and prepare before their next game, the big-time tilt against their cross-town rivals, the Shanghai Titans.
Just as the Warriors struggled against the Smilodons, the Titans were also forced to labor their way en route to a 25-7 victory. The Smilodons once again played well on defense, and it was the Titans defense that carried the day as their offense struggled, only allowing a late touchdown when the game was well in hand.
Despite the 0-2 start, the Smilodons have showed flashes of potential in two hard fought losses to the top two teams in the league. Their next game is a September 21 home date with the Street Cats (0-1), in a must-win game that looks like it will determine the 3rd and final playoff seed from the East Division this year.
Taiyuan Troops 30 – Qingdao Conquerors 0
Beijing Iron Brothers 44 – Tianjin Pirates 24
The North featured two games of their own, both with tangential playoff implications. In Taiyuan, the Taiyuan Troops met the Qingdao Conquerors in a clash of unbeaten North division teams, and it was the Troops that prevailed in a dominant 30-0 victory.
The Conquerors (3-1) were flattened in their first matchup against a top team this season, and will be looking to put on a better performance in their next game, an October 19th home game against the Beijing Barbarians which will be another tough test for Qingdao. While the Conquerors have already locked up a playoff spot, they want to play their best against a strong opponent as preparation for the playoffs.
Taiyuan moved to 3-0 with a solid performance, but despite their gaudy record, they haven’t locked up a playoff berth. Due to the Beijing Iron Brothers securing their first win of the season with a 44-24 victory against the Tianjin Pirates.
The Troops’ next game will be against the powerful Beijing Barbarians on September 28, and a win against the mighty Barbarians, or an Iron Brother loss ensures that the Troops will be heading back to the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Meanwhile, the Iron Brothers (1-2) showed signs of life in a solid victory over the Pirates (0-4) to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. But from now on, every game is a must-win, and their next game is a late September trip to Shenyang to face the King Kong.
Wuhan Berserker 42 – Zhengzhou Steamer 0
Chengdu Pandaman 46 – Mountain City Fury 0
Last weekend gave a sense of Deja vu in the West Division has both games featured a pair of rematches, and once again, both games ended in shutout victories for the favorites.
The Wuhan Berserkers beat the Zhengzhou Steamer 42-0 in Zhengzhou, and the Chengdu Pandaman trounced the Mountain City Furies in Chongqing 46-0.
With two series sweeps in the books, the Berserkers (2-0) and the Pandaman (2-0) moved to the top of the division and their matchup in October should be a much-anticipated battle of undefeated teams to determine the division champion.
But before that, the Berserkers next meet the Fury in Chongqing, and despite the Furies’ 0-2 record, they are still a team that can upset the Berserkers. The Pandaman next host the Steamer (0-2) in a battle of no plurals. Both teams will be looking to avoid the L just as they avoid the S.