Power Rankings: Top 8 teams in Turkey & why they win

After week four in the TAFL a consensus is being formed at the top of Turkish table.

The Koç Rams are still the consensus #1 team in the country and the Sakarya Tatankas strengthened their place at #2 by getting all votes of the coaches. We do not know how the league standings will look like at the end of regular season, however both teams are now considered finals contenders.

The ITU Hornets’ heavy loss against Sakarya pushes them the #3 spot. They have lost 0.9 points (pts) and now have a power ranking of 4.8 which rank them barely above the Bogazici Sultans who are scaled 4.6 points. Actually the Sultans’ last second loss to the Rams earned them 0.3 points in their power scale, still not enough to climb into the top four.

The Yeditepe Eagles are ranked at #3 spot with a solid 5.6 points.

The ODTU Falcons preserved their 3 points and the sixth spot.

At the bottom of the rankings the Hacettepe Reddeers gained more points to keep their 7th spot without the need of a tie-breaker. Having lost all their games the Gazi Warriors are ranked #8.

Tables and fortunes are turning in Turkish American Football League (TAFL).

There is a clear trend that well-organized teams with American coaches are gaining the upper hand. Competition is increasing in the league pushing the quality of the game to a higher standard. Examples of these teams include the Koç Rams, Sakarya Tatankas, and Yeditepe Eagles. Former powerhouse teams like the Boğaziçi Sultans, Gazi Warriors, and Hacettepe Redders, who all won back-to-back championships in their days of glory, are now a thing of the past. They are struggling to compete against the new trend and their romance for past glories have built a hurdle for them to compensate for the gap.

Analysis:

The Koc Rams have a high-caliber import squad. Quarterback Quentin Williams has great throwing mechanics and combined with Andre Whyte at running back they are capable of running a well-designed spread option play-book. Late in fourth quarter they have managed to score against the  Sultans on a fourth down attempt with a counter play based on spread option. Williams connects well with his highly skilled wide receiver set. We have already mentioned their potential to score anytime from anywhere on the field. So they cameback from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Bogazici Sultans. Them defending their title in the final game has a high probability.

The Sakarya Tatankas have beaten both the ITU Hornets and Yeditepe Eagles securing a playoff spot. They will try to keep the home-field advantage which may depend on the outcome of the game against the Bogazici Sultans who are desperate to win. Although they have one of the better line formations in the league they could not keep up with the Koç Rams who have beaten them 45–12.

The Yeditpe Eagles are chasing a play-off spot which may depend on the game against ITU. After a couple of volatile years where they have bounced between Division 1 and 2 now they are turning themselves into a strong Division 1 club. Better resource management and right import choices put their fortunes high.

The ITU Hornets lack consistency despite having relatively better infrastructure then more teams in the top division. They have a full-scale home field and are in good standing financially. Still the insistence for domestic coaches rather than American coaches cost them precious fundamentals which don’t most effecitively tap into the athletic talent of their skillful players. Relying on athletic imports is not a sufficient strategy, and they need to be working on developing their home-grown players. After having won two of their first four games now they have to win two of their remaining three games in order to have a winning season and clinch the last playoff spot in the league.

The Bogazici Sultans are another example for coaching deficiency. Despite running the only U-19 program in the country, the lack of practice discipline and organizational issues has caused the gap between the Sultans and well coached teams to widen. For the Sultans inflection point may have been passed. Their days for easy wins against weaker and badly organized teams are well gone amid increased competition in Turkish football. Looking at Division 2 scores it is obvious that next year better organized teams with American coaches and skillful imports will start competing in Division 1. The Sultans may need an organizational change in the summer before passing the point of no return. Having started the season 0–3 and winning only against the ODTU Falcons, the Sultans need to win all of their remaining three games in order to avoid a losing season would be a first in the club’s 30-year history. However, their mathematical chance for a playoff spot is still intact.

The ODTU Falcons are another team with alarm bells ringing. They avoided relegation and, from a mathematical point of view, have a chance to clinch a playoff spot. Still the same logic applies for Falcons. After having fired an American coach the previous year, the Falcons are struggling to improve themselves in terms of American Football literacy. They may live through hard-times next year if they take this season as granted.

After starting the year with a consensus last spot the Hacettepe Redders managed to turn around the appreciation at least. Their American coach is playing the long ball meaning they are more interested for future seasons rather than the current one. If they can win against the Bogazici Sultans they have a very slim chance of avoiding relegation.

The Gazi Warriors were considered for relegation last year actually. Due to bureaucratic reasons another team was terminated from the league which opened up a play-off spot for them. In that game they almost won against the Bogazici Sultans losing the game by 6-0. The Warriors have taken that playoff appearance as granted and now they are facing a relegation situation. Their survival depends on miracles. Once a power-house in Turkish football who held back-to-back championships they reverted to their old coach. The coaching staff change is a positive sign though it won’t be easy for them to bounce back and get back to Division 1 again amid increasing competition in Turkish football.

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