With Cincinnati’s big win over Columbus and the Detroit Tradesmen losing in a surprise result 52-28 to Indianapolis has given the Wolfhounds just enough cushion for them to feel confident of winning 1st place in the Midwest DI Club Eastern Conference.
Cincinnati Head Coach Nick Lauterbach said his team didn’t play well in the first half of their 33-5 victory over Columbus, but found that playing against the wind they got some momentum.
“It’s possible playing with the wind we could have over-emphasized the kick, and we kept the ball more in hand in the second half,” he said. “In the end the second half we had a balanced performance and I am pleased with how we improved in the second half.”
This result, coupled with the Tradesmen fading badly on the road makes it all very simple:
Cincinnati can eliminate the Tradesmen from 1st place by getting at least one point from Saturday’s match. Even if they fail to do that, the Tradesmen would have to win by a significant margin to take 1st.
Buffalo remains in with a chance to take 1st place, but will have to win both their remaining league matches, and hope Cincinnati takes no more than three points from their remaining two. Even then, tiebreakers make it tough for Buffalo to get to first.
The Wolfhounds have to look at it all simply. Beat Detroit and they are 1st. If they lose to Detroit, they can beat Indianapolis at home October 29 and be 1st anyway.
Detroit’s loss to Indy also has ramifications for 2nd place, as now Buffalo is two points behind the Tradesmen with a game in hand and two winnable matches left on their schedule.
Indianapolis, with their victory last Saturday, remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. But to accomplish that they must beat Buffalo and get at least bonus points again Cincinnati, and hope Buffalo loses both their remaining games.
All this matters, because the Midwest playoff system (playoffs, by the way, have been moved to the spring) does not allow for a low-seeded team to come out of nowhere to claim the top seed in the crossover matches with the South.
The #3 teams can only get the 4th seed. Teams that finish second in their conferences can get as high as #2 and as low as #4.
In the Eastern Conference, then it’s likely that Cincinnati will be 1st, Buffalo 2nd, and Detroit Tradesmen 3rd. However, Buffalo and Detroit could switch, and Buffalo could even be overtaken by Indianapolis if the Western New York club implodes in the next two weeks.
In the Western Conference, Palmer has as good as clinched 1st. The Chicago Lions, with their improbable defeat of Palmer this past weekend, can clinch second with a win over Metropolis in Minneapolis. Not an easy proposition given that Metropolis beat the Lions in Chicago September 17. Metropolis has a relatively easy game to finish out the season, against 1-5 Chicago Blaze. But that result means nothing if they can’t beat the Lions.
Midwest Playoff Structure (originally scheduled for November and now reportedly moved to the spring):
Conference #1s play off for #1 seed from Midwest
Loser of that match plays winner of #2 v #2 for 2nd seed in Midwest. Lost of that playoff is #3.
Loser of #2 v #2 plays winner of Eastern #3 v. Western #3 for 4th Midwest seed.