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Bengals @ Patriots
Not many had given the Bengals much of a shot to beat the Cardinals in the first round, much less be playing in the championship game. The Bengals came into the playoffs as heavy underdogs after the team lost its starting QB 10 weeks into the season. Danial Ali was thrown into the fray and while he had some flashes of brilliance, the team overall didn’t look as in sync as they did earlier in the season. Even in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Bengals didn’t pull off the most convincing of wins as they required overtime in both games to reach the Finals. The second of those wins against an undermanned Steelers team playing with their backup QB.
The Patriots were on the opposite end of the spectrum, as they started the season so-so, but came on strong in a latter half of the season and secured 2nd place in the last week of the season. The Patriots had the best attendance of any team during the season, and they played each team tough as evidenced by their 4 ties. The Patriots were also coming off an absolute thrashing of the Raiders in a game they didn’t allow a second half score.
With these facts, and the fact that the Bengals were without Ahsan Raza and Asad Mewawala, it would have surprised no one if the Bengals would have laid down, and taken a beating from the Patriots. The game started inauspiciously for both teams, as both QBs threw a pick on their first drive. Perhaps it was the pressure of the Finals with both QBs not wanting to make a mistake, but due to their apprehension, they did exactly that. Once that was out of the way, we finally got to watch two teams that deserved to be in the Finals. The Bengals were the first to strike, and they would do so 3 times in the first half, forcing the Patriots to switch to man-defense. The Patriots defense was ghastly in the first half, as Danial Ali routinely threw to open receivers who would have no one around 10 feet of them.
The Bengals would take a two-TD lead late in the second half, and Patriots would reply quickly to make it a one-TD game at 28-21. All of the Bengals were playing a strong game defensively, and it was the reason they had the lead late, however, it would take a drive on offense to clinch the victory in the Finals. After an incompletion, and short passes to Asghar Molu & Taha Ali, the Bengals were set-up on a 4th and one pylon past half for what could be the final offensive drive of the season. The Patriots stuck to their man defense which had done well in the second half on this final play, and it prove to be their undoing. Taha Ali ran a crossing pattern against Abuzar Abbas, beating him with pure speed in the front-left corner of the endzone and giving the Bengals a 35-21 lead. One the ensuing drive, Danial Ali clinched the game by intercepting Haroon Ali, and giving Shoaib Mamdani’s Bengals a championship in his inaugural season as a captain. The loss was especially tough for Ali Haroon & Farhan Ratansi, as they have now lost in the Finals 3 of the last 4 seasons.
Heading into Week 15, all but one spot is guaranteed, and that’s the #1 spot. Regardless of the results from Week 15, the STEELERS will be your 2018 Regular Season Champions!
Raiders (currently in 2nd place)
The Raiders are currently in 2nd place after what may have been the most (or second-most) exciting game of the season. With a buzzer-beating win against the Bengals, the Raiders now control their own destiny – win and they get the Bye. However if they lose, they can finish 4th, and if they tie, they could come in 3rd.
Highest possible finish: 2nd
Lowest possible finish: 4th
MFL Prediction: 2nd
Patriots (currently in 3rd place)
The Patriots tied their 2nd of their 2 games in Week 14, and it put them in a predicament. We joked earlier in the season that the Patriots were very good at tying games, but they are trying to become the first team in MFL history to finish 5-5-5… okay fine, maybe they’re not trying to – but if would be cool to see.
Highest possible finish: 2nd
Lowest possible finish: 5th
MFL Prediction: 4th
Bengals (currently in 4th place)
As the clock hit 0:00; the Bengals were in 2nd place… or so they thought. A pass interference call in the end zone gave the Raiders another play, and the Raiders would convert. This meant the Bengals go from 2nd to 4th. That TD at the end, made all the difference and while the Bengals do not control their own destiny, they do face an opponent they have had success against. If the Raiders lose their 10am game against the Cardinals; the Bengals would control their own destiny.
Highest possible finish: 2nd
Lowest possible finish: 6th
MFL Prediction: 3rd
Cardinals (currently in 5th place)
The Cardinals could leap-frog the Bengals, and while extremely unlikely, also tie the Patriots and win on point differential (again, extremely unlikely). However, their focus should be to not have another 7 turnover game. With a win, the most likely scenario for the Cardinals would be to be in either 4th or 5th place (which would mean a second round date with Said’s kryptonite – the Steelers).
Highest possible finish: 3rd
Lowest possible finish: 6th
MFL Prediction: 6th
Giants (currently in 6th place)
The Giants could have been in the mix for a Bye, had they not given up a late TD to the Patriots. However, with the Steelers short-handed this upcoming week, we expect a W from the Giants, and expect them to give a run for their money to any team that stands in their way. Their turnaround has been nothing short of spectacular, and they’ll have to continue it, if they are to win it all.
Highest possible finish: 4th
Lowest possible finish: 6th
MFL Prediction: 5th
The Raiders and the Patriots are very similar teams. Both teams feel that they’re underachieving in the season, yet both teams are still in it for a first round bye. The game began with both teams playing solid defense on the first drive, and then the Patriots began to play like they’re capable of playing on offense gaining chunk plays in the middle of the field. This was still a game at halftime with the Patriots up 21-7. After halftime, the Patriots switched to man defense since the Raiders were missing Ammar Dayani and Taqi Baig. The Raiders had no answer as they struggled to move the ball down the field. We discussed previously that the Raiders were the highest scoring team in the league, but in recent weeks, the drop-bug has hit them once again and they have been putrid (only 4 TDs in the last 2 games).
Ali Haroon did a great job once again spreading the ball on offense with Farhan, Abuzar & Ali Merali all had 4 or more receptions. Mikael Ratansi & Mujahid Hemani both contributed with TDs (2 for Mik, 1 for Muj). It will be interesting to see if the Patriots employ the man defense more often this season. Two teams seemed to have switch to a man-defense scheme, trusting their individual skill; it’ll be a gutsy call, but one that may prove fruitful.
After the Patriots win, the standings are as close as it can get, and beyond the Steelers, any team can rearrange themselves from 2-6. Only 3 games remaining in the regular season, and the Raiders have already seen themselves drop from the 2nd seed to the 4th seed. If the Raiders lose to the Giants next week couple with a Cardinals win, the Raider will drop to the 6th seed. The Patriots are still vying for the 2nd seed and a bye in the first round of the playoffs. They may not want to look too far ahead, but they face the Bengals for the final game of the season, a match-up that could decide the bye between the two teams.
We’re glad that we don’t have any game tape for this one – this game was U-G-L-Y. But this is the type of grind-it-out game that we can expect from most teams as we near the playoffs. Both teams played man defense, and it seemed that the Giants had a tough time in the offense acclimating Shaneali Kara. We expect that to change over the next few games as Shaneali has been known to find pay-dirt more often than not. The Giants man-defense wasn’t terrible in this one, as they only allowed 1 second-half TD on a tipped ball to Areeb Khan, and Said was 10/24 in this game (with 4 TDs, and no INTs).
We suspected in the power rankings that the Cardinals may switch to man defense since it worked well the previous week, and it worked beautifully against the Giants. The Cardinals held Taleb to 9/29 with 4 INTs and we’d venture to guess that this is his worst performance of his career. Khaleel Kassam was a stand-out on defense as he took on the challenge against Shaneali Kara and held him to one catch. Khaleel had 1 INT, and could have had a much bigger day as he dropped 2 would-be INTs, and a long TD pass in the second half. Said Samater also had a big game defensively, stopping Mujtaba from his torrid pace; limiting him to just 3 receptions (on what seemed like double digit targets). Said also had 2 INTs in the game, and Omar Khamissa was responsible for the other interception. This was the first shut-out this season.
Heading into this game, the Bengals were trailing the Steelers by 2 games in the standings. With a win, the Bengals could pull within one game, and have a legitimate shot at the #1 seed if they were to run the table. The Steelers were missing their starting QB, and early on, they were getting by just fine. Captain Ahmed Al-Waili QB’d, his first attempt since Week 1 of the season, and in his first drive, he threw the longest pass of his career which was hauled in amongst two defender by Muzammil Rizvi. After that, Hamood struggled at QB as a lot of his passes weren’t crisp, and usually lacking direction. The Bengals are also without Hisham Ali for the rest of the season, and started Danial who filled in admirably. Danial showed great poise in the pocket, and was uber-efficient in the first half. His receivers were getting open for him with Ali Raza Rizvi (Offensive Player of the Week) being the biggest beneficiary. The Steelers cycled through receivers as Muzammil Rizvi also gave it a try, and after one successful drive, he realized QB’ing is much harder than it looks. Ultimately, Ali Jessa started QB’ing, and was brilliant. The Bengals were up 42-14 at one point in this game, and were up 42-21 with 7 minutes to go in the game.
The switch to Ali Jessa was a key one for the Steelers, as after early drives by Hamood and Shiny, their offense really bogged down. Ali Jessa moved the offense quickly, and outside of 1 INT thrown, he was flawless. On the Bengals side, this was a game that was won. However, some stingy D by the Steelers, and some boneheaded plays cost them the W. The Bengals were still up 42-35 with less than 2 minutes to go, and Danial Ali threw a ball towards the end zone and Alla Al-Salem made a clutch interception. It was an unneeded throw on 2nd down for the Bengals. On the ensuing drive, Mohamed Railey made a great diving catch on second down to put the Steelers in great position. The drive was finished off on a shoe-string catch by Ahmed Al-Waili and eventually ending the game in a tie. This was one of the best games of the year; emotions ran high, great plays were made on both sides, and ultimately there wasn’t much separating the two teams.
1. Steelers (8-3-0)
While the Steelers may be 3-3 in their last 6, they have yet to lose back to back games this season. It’s a team filled with unheralded stars, and a collection of player who may have not gotten their due in previous season but are really shining. Speaking of shining, Muzammil Rizvi aka Shiny Face has taken his game to the next level this year, and will be in contention for DPOY, Most Improved and possibly putting himself in the conversation for MVP. The Steelers have 3 players on their team that can make a case for MVP as Ali Jessa and Alla Al-Salem have also led the charge for the team at various points in the season. The Steelers are second in points scored (only 2 points away from leading the league), and have been the best defense in the league by a significant margin. Zolfakar Al-Mousawy has also had a solid campaign, and will be in contention for the Rookie of the Year. The Steelers still have some work to do to lock up the #1 seed, but they’re the odds on favourite to win the Regular Season trophy.
2. Giants (5-6-0)
The Giants are the hottest team in the league, and after an abysmal start, they have turned around their fortunes and firmly entrenched themselves in a battle for the top 2 spots in the league. They will have their work cut out for them after losing Imran Ebrahim for the season. The Giants turned around their season relying on their individual talent, and believing that they can match-up with any other team 1-on-1. It has worked out beautifully for them as they are now a formidable opponent. Mujtaba Abidi continues to be threat in the end zone, and all of the other Giants have chipped in offensively, and more importantly, defensively. The Giants will hope that their replacement player integrates well with the team and they can continue their success into the last-third of the season.
3. Bengals (5-4-2)
The Bengals have looked as good as any team in the league at times, however with their QB out for the remainder of the season; this presents a serious challenge. With no natural QB on the roster, the Bengals may have to rely on Danial Ali to lead the charge. This takes away a weapon on offense, but Hisham’s replacement is no slouch (though he did look rusty in Week 1). The Bengals have a vast number of weapons on offense, and their defense stacks up against any of the other teams in the league. However, their Achilles heel may be going against man defense. The Bengals are one of the slowest teams in the league, and they were held in check when the Giants played man defense against them. Even with that, the Bengals remain in second place flip-flopping with the Raiders in recent weeks.
4. Patriots (3-5-3)
There’s good news and bad news for the Patriots. The good news is, they don’t lose many games (tied for third fewest); the bad news is they don’t win many games either (tied for fewest). They’re mastering the art of a tie, with 3 ties so far this season. The Patriots are an interesting team as they`ve gone through a major change with their offense in installing Ali Haroon as a quarterback once again. With Ali Haroon as the starting QB, the Patriots are 2-1-2, with another loss coming when Ali Merali played QB due to injury woes. Make no mistake, this is a championship caliber team – whether they fulfill on that promise, remains to be seen. The key for the Patriots is getting healthy, and shoring up the defense. We have seen glimpses of what it can be when they almost shut-out the Steelers, but since then, they’ve given up 42, 49 & 49 points.
The Raiders haven’t looked great since the injury to their QB, and they haven’t had their full team only once this season. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll be missing ROY-candidate Taqi Baig over the next couple of weeks. The Raiders continue to lead the league in scoring, and they may have to rely on out-scoring their opponents to win. That strategy may work in the regular season, but it will not work in the post-season. The Raiders have 4 games to fix their defense, or they’ll be looking at an early exit. The Radiers zone defense is like swiss cheese; lots of holes and not particularly good.
6. Cardinals (3-6-2)
The Cardinals started the season 2-0, and were looking like a team that would challenge the Steelers atop the standings. But with poor attendance, and an injury to Said Samater, Cardinals went on to lose 5 of their next 6 games. They have played a little better of late, but they’re going to have to find their early season magic to move up the Power Rankings. Omar Khamissa is leading the league in flag-grabs once again, and Nadeem Kassam (Most Improved Player candidate) is tied for the league lead in TDs. The Cardinals can surprise a lot of teams, and win the championship, but it won’t happen if their players don’t show up and build a rapport with their QB on the offensive end. Defensively, the Cardinals switched to Man Defense last game, and it’ll be interesting to see if they continue with that method moving forward.
We talked about a trend of 9am games being blowouts, and why would Week 10 be any different? While we commend Ali Merali for being out there for his team and trying to contribute, it was clear that he should not have been out there on the field. He was forced into QB duties, and while he showed great upper body strength on a lot of his throws, he was unable to get much zip on his deep throws getting picked a 5 times. Danial Ali had himself a game contributing everywhere going 3/3 with 1TD, 3 receptions, 7 flag grabs and a pick-6; earning himself a co-DPOW honours. Ahsan Raza also enjoyed himself another strong game with 6 receptions and 2 TDs. It seems any time the Bengals are in the redzone, they highlight Ahsan in the back of the end zone and take advantage of his height. Shoaib Mamdani also added a pair of TDs to continue leading the league in TDs – he’s been the MFL TD leader since Week 1. On the Patriots, Mujahid Hemani continues to be a leader on defense, leading his team in flag grabs for a second consecutive week. Hussein Mojtehedi also had a strong week with a receiving TD, and also a rushing TD where he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. We’d also like to shout-out Fayaz Ladha, who asked if there was a “worst player of the week award? – ‘cause he deserves it” – we got you, fam! The Bengals move into 2nd place with the win and the Patriots are now tied with the Giants in 4th place (ahead by 1 in pt. differential).
This will be Hisham Ali’s last game of the season as he heads for surgery, and we wish him all the best in his recovery. He will be replaced by Taha Ali, and the Bengals will have 5 games to adjust to a new player, and a new quarterback for the remainder of the season.
Through 5 weeks, this matchup would have been one of those games that would be easy to overlook as the Steelers were steamrolling teams, and the Giants were being steamrolled by every team in the league. Four weeks later, the Giants are the hottest team in the league, and to do that, all they had to do was deploy man defense. Offensively, it can sometimes be a struggle for the Giants, and it mainly has to do with drops. However, they’ve simplified their plays, and their offense looks vastly improved from the start of the season. Taleb Zaidi is doing a better job of spreading the ball, and the key to Giants offense has been the lack of turnovers in recent games (Taleb is still leading the league in interceptions thrown). Kumail Ali has become a defensive weapon at attacking the QBs and getting timely flag grabs behind the line of scrimmage. Imran Ebrahim has played shutdown defense on the other team’s #1 receiver week in and week out. Rizwan has also been a defensive stalwart for his team tied with the team lead in interceptions at 5 INTs.
The game itself was a back and forth affair, with neither team putting much distance between each other. Allawi & AJ had strong games for the Steelers, and continue to be consistent on a weekly basis. The Steelers were 5-0 to start the season, and have sputtered to a 2-3 record in their last 5 games. The focus for the Steelers has to be squarely on the shoulders on Salim Ladha as he’s on pace to set a career high in interceptions thrown. With that said, the Steelers have not lost 2 in a row this season, and have blown out teams after a loss. On top of that, the Steelers face a Raiders team that they feel like they should have beat last time around, and will be looking for revenge.
The Raiders and the Cardinals did a little role reversal this week, where the Raiders had only 5 players on the field, and an injured QB. Whereas the Cardinals had 6 players, and Said looking more like himself this game. Due to injuries in the last couple of weeks, Kumail Meghani was only able to QB in the red zone, and while he looked good in short distance, it simply won’t be good enough to beat any team in the league at full strength. Bilal Mamdani took over QB-duties for the Raiders, and he was good in the short to intermediate range, he had too many turnovers (5 INTs) to overcome this game. Raiders’ bright spot was once again Taqi Baig (10 receptions w/ 1 TD) who has to be the favourite for the ROY.
The Cardinals played a complete game, something to legitimize their early season success. The Kassam brothers (Nadeem and Khaleel) both led the charge offensively and defensively for the Cardinals. Each had 3 receptions, 2 TDs and a pick-6. Said Samater could have been strong in terms of efficiency, but he did more than enough in the game going 15/27 with 6 TDs & 2 INTs-caught. Another difference in the game was flag-grabs. The Cardinals had 20 flag grabs whereas the Raiders only had 8. The Cardinals are expected to have 6+ players once again, and will face a Patriots team still on the mend.
The trend of 9am games being blowouts continued this week with the Steelers blowing out the Cardinals. In the 9 weeks of 9am games, there has been only 1 game decided by 1 TD or less; all other games have been blowout. Just a little heads up for the Bengals and the Patriots. It was yet another week for the Cardinals where they were short-handed, and they were hoping second time was the charm with Farhan Ratansi as the replacement player… it was not. The Steelers were also missing their MVP-candidate Ali Jessa, however it didn’t seem to matter as they had their LVP lead the charge with 2 TDs this week. He claims to have the longest play in MFL history as they were backed up due to a swearing penalty. QB Said Samater struggled without having Nadeem Kassam in the game, however Omar Khamissa was still able to get his numbers (and increase the flag grab lead). The true star of the game was Zolfakar Al-Mousawy (Zolfie). A relatively unknown commodity heading into the season, he’s been a revelation, and has been dubbed by some as the ‘fastest player in the league.’
The Steelers rebound from an ugly loss to the Patriots, and the Cardinals fall into last place after starting the season 2-0; they are now on a 7 game winless streak, YIKES!
Last time these teams faced eachother, the Bengals handled business as they thoroughly out-played the Raiders, and with the Raiders starting short-handed, you would think more of the same was in store. The Raiders started the game with 4 players, and got Ammar Dayani back shortly after, and were playing with 5 player for the majority of the first half. It didn’t matter as the Raiders got out to a 28-7 lead. The last of those TDs came as the clock expired in the first half on a Hail Mary play. The Raiders would then tout “just like we drew it up!” Once Shoaib Mamdani joined the game, the fortunes turned a little bit for the Bengals as he scored a long TD at the beginning of the second half. Others chipped in as well, as Asghar Molu made his return, and scored 2 TDs. Ahsan Raza also score a clutch TD to bring the Bengals within 1 TD (42-35) with less than 3 minutes to go in the game. The Raiders would march down the field, and QB Kumail Meghani would find Taqi Baig to put the game out of reach.
Taqi Baig had 11 receptions, 3 TDs, and 6 flag-grabs; this puts him squarely on the Rookie of the Year conversation, and maybe with a couple of more outputs like this, in the MVP conversation. Muhammad Ali has also quietly worked himself into the OPOY conversation as he’s second in receptions and tied for the team lead in TDs. The Raiders continue to be an enigma, as they lead the league in scoring, but also allow the most points in the league (by a significant margin). With the win, they leapfrog the Bengals into 2nd place, and the Bengals are suddenly only 1.5 games up from the 5th place Giants.
This was our game of the week – with the Patriots coming off an impressive victory over the Steelers and the Giants playing man-defense and obliterating teams. The Patriots missed Ali Merali in this game due to an injury, and he may miss a few more games and we wish him a speedy recovery. Fayaz was also dearly missed as he’s been a force in the red-zone this year. When you look at the final score and the box score of this game, you may see a blowout, however this game was a lot closer than you would think. For the Patriots, they’ll look back on this as a game of missed opportunities. They started the game off slowly, and with opportunities to recover, they weren’t able to do so. This was perfect encapsulated on back to back plays where both Farhan Ratansi and Mikael Ratansi dropped TD passes. On the other side, the Giants continue to punish opposing teams for missing flags, and Taleb Zaidi has a ridiculous 74.6% completion rate over his last three games. The Giants still continue to be a two-man team on offense with Mujtaba Abidi and Imran Ebrahim carrying most of the load, however during this winning streak, other players have stepped up. This game, Rizwan Jafri contributed on both sides with 1 TD & an INT.Mujtaba Abidi earned his first Offensive Player of the Week honours for this season with 10 Rec. & 4 TDs. Mujahid Hemani made a case for more playing time on defense with 6 flag-grabs. Abuzar Abbas also had a game with 8 receptions, and an-almost TD.
The Giants are now the hottest team in the league, and no longer the bottom-dwellers. In terms of personnel, Imran Dhalla may have been the lucky charm. His presence has given the team some much-needed optimism, and the Giants are now squarely in the mix for a bye-spot in the first round if they continue to string together wins. The biggest obstacle for the Giants will be to continue to channel their emotions in a positive manner. For the Patriots, this may just be a blip on the radar, or it could be a greater cause for concern. They got exploited on the defensive end without Ali Merali, and with him possibly missing a few more games, this could be their undoing in their quest for a first-round bye.
When the Raiders and the Giants faced each other last time, it was a tightly-contested game, and the Raiders eked out a 28-21 victory in the dying minutes of the game. This game would be quite different.
On the second play of the game, QB Kumail Meghani was hurt on a lateral play, and continued the game on one leg. The result was a putrid performance with the Raiders QB only completing 14/32 passes, and numerous missed assignments on defense. The Raiders as a team weren’t much better as the second offensive play for the Giants was a short slant for Hussein Champsi, who scored a TD due to 4 missed flag-grabs (see video in the Highlights section of the website). Imran Ebrahim had a monster game last week, and continued that momentum into this week and scored a league-high 4 TD this week. He was also the primary reason why Ammar Dayani had only 1 catch. Taleb Zaidi had another efficient game with 8 TDs and 0 interceptions. For the Raiders, the lone bright spot was Muhammad Ali who is now 3rd in the league in receptions with 45 catches.
In the last 3 weeks, the Giants have switched to man-defense, and they are the only team in the league to deploy a man-defense consistently. The results have been encouraging as the Giants have outscored their opponents 119-63 in their last 3 games. The Raiders now have a 2 game winless streak which could have been 3, if the Steelers decided to end the game in a tie rather than going for 2.
The Cardinals game was a miracle on Sunday; they had all 8 players present for the game. That is a rarity for an Omar-led team. The Bengals were missing Asghar Molu for a second consecutive week, and his leadership, and veteran presence is invaluable to the Bengals. The game was tightly contested, so much so that we saw Said Samater show some emotion after a TD.Said Samater has had a rough go in recent weeks, much of it can be attributed to his finger injury. However, he had his best overall game since the injury, and consistently put his team in good position to score. One of the players who took advantage of this was Nadeem Kassam. “Nads” had a 3-TD game this week, and is on a tear the last 3 games (15 Rec, 7 TDs) – he has quietly been one of the best receivers in the league this season. On the other side, another week and another highlight for Danial Ali (*yawn*). However, he decided to do more than his usual 1-2 Rec. w/ 1 Td. – he had 5 receptions with 3 TDs this week. Another player who chipped in was Ali Raza Rizvi, he had 4 receptions with 1 TD. Talking about highlights, the star play of the game was made by Asad Mewawala. On the Cardinals’ first drive in the second half, Asad baited the Cardinals QB into a poor throw, and set his team into great field positioning where they would eventually score. The game would end in an eventual tie as neither team was able to pull away; and would respond quickly to a TD by their opponent.
The Bengals are now winless in their last two, and for the Cardinals, this puts a stop to their 5 game slide. The Bengals will take on a struggling Raiders team, hoping to play better in their next matchup. The Cardinals will face the first place Steelers and will hope to have a full squad for a second consecutive week.
On paper, this game looked like a lopsided match, especially when you consider the Steelers were missing their beloved “LVP,” putting themselves in a stronger position to win. But that’s why we don’t play the games on paper. We mentioned last week that it would surprise no one if the Patriots were suddenly a championship caliber team, and they showed us all the reasons why they can be just that. The Patriots are the best team in the league in spreading the ball around, and we mentioned that Ali Merali was building a strong rapport with Ali Haroon. This week,Ali Merali had minimal impact on the game offensively, but it didn’t matter. Fayaz Ladha had 3 TDs that tied him with the team lead. Farhan Ratansi had 6 receptions with 2 TDs (two fantastic catches – see highlights on our YouTube page). Hussein Modjtehedi also chipped in with 4 receptions and 1 TD. This game was decided early with an onslaught by the Patriots, and the only question would be if they could preserve the shutout.
While the Steelers were down 28-0, Muzammil Rizvi was heard on the sidelines saying “these guys really think we’re going to lose this game?” The answer to that question was a resounding yes as the Patriots won the game 49-14 – the final score may be too generous for the Steelers. Perhaps, Steelers’ LVP is really their MVP, as he keeps the team together. The Steelers can do a better job of spreading the ball around as they had 3 players with no receptions in this one. The Steelers will face the Cardinals in their next matchup, while the Patriots will face the suddenly dangerous Giants.
The first game of the week was a snooze-fest. The Giants came into the winless, however they were facing a Cardinals team that was missing some marquee player including their Quarterback. With the Giants at full-strength, and the Cardinals playing short-handed (for a 3rd consecutive week), the Giants made no mistake putting this game to bed early. Mujtaba Abidi did damage on the offensive side early, as his first two catches both resulted in TDs. But the true star of the game was Imran Ebrahim (earning defensive player of the week honours). It has been a challenging campaign for Imran up to this point, and he’s hoping this game can propel him and his team forward. Imran had a complete game with 8 Rec. 2 TDs, and had 3 interceptions on the defensive end with one of them being returned for a defensive TD.
Everyone on the Giants had a solid game, with Rizwan Jafri & Hussein Champsi also recipients of touchdown passes from Taleb Zaidi. Kumail Ali had a strong game as a rusher once again, stopping numerous plays behind the line of scrimmage.Taleb Zaidi had an uber-efficient game going 20/24 with 6 TDs.
The Cardinals need to back to the drawing board as their 2-0 start is now a distant memory, and they have now lost 5 straight games. The biggest concern that the Cardinals have is their attendance. They were keeping their opponents close until recently, and now it’s starting to unfold. Captain Omar Khamissa may be forced to make some trades to ensure there’s adequate attendance moving forward. The Cardinals have a tough assignment on Sunday as they’ll face the 2nd-place Bengals in hopes to getting back in the win column.
This was the marquee match-up of the week with the 1st seed squaring up against the 2nd seed. The Steelers were coming off their first loss of the season in a down to the wire game. This week, they would come out firing, as they jumped out to an early 21-7 lead. QB Salim Ladha and Ali Jessa have been on some kind of roll recently.Ali Jessa had another 3 touchdowns this week, which gives him 20 receptions and 8 TDs in his last 3 games (he is now tied for the league lead in TDs). The Steelers relied on the medium to long plays in this game, and it worked consistently as the Bengals found it tough to stop them. The Bengals are a chancy-defense and they look for interceptions at times over making the sounds fundamental defensive play. However, playing chancy brought the Bengals back in this game. With Hisham Ali struggling early, the Bengals were able to force Salim into a couple of interceptions.
This allowed them great starting field positions, but also allowed Hisham to get into a little bit of a rhythm. The Bengals would lead a balanced attack in their quest to make a comeback with Danial Ali, Shoaib Mamdani, Ahsan Raza and Raza Mawji all scoring a TD each. But that wasn’t all, as the Bengals used some trickery to give Hisham his first receiving TD of the season, and get them within 1 TD. However, the star play of the game belonged to Mohamed Railey. On a play where he should have been stopped for a short-medium gain; he turned on the after-burners and left the Bengals chasing smoke for his first TD of the season. With the win, Steelers sit comfortably atop the standings at 6-1, and will face a much-improved Patriots in their next matchup.
While the last game may have been billed as the marquee game of the week, this was the most exciting game of the week. This game had a little bit of everything; exciting catches, drops, penalties, missed opportunities, and an exciting finish. Before the game, the Raiders acquired Bilal “Alcatraz” Altahan as he scored his first TD of the season in the first half, and also doubled his receiving output with 4 catches in Week 7. This is Ali Haroon’s second week at QB, and his teammates are starting to learn his style of QB’ing. The early benefactor has been Ali ‘Cheema’ Merali who had a monster game with 4 receptions and 3 TDs (more on him later). In the early going, the teams traded scores and the Raiders took a 21-14 lead into the second half. That’s when the Patriots turned up the defense, and scored on two consecutive drives to give themselves a 28-21 lead. The Raiders would march down with less than 5 minutes to go in the game and Ammar Dayani would score on a 4th down play where the Patriots defenders weren’t ready.
This is where the fun began. Soon after the TD, Ammar Dayani would be called for a swearing penalty because he heard someone call ‘False Start,’ and he thought it was one of the refs. With the Raiders missing their deep safety, Ali Haroon would dial up the deep bomb on the first throw to Cheema, and quickly take the lead back at 35-28. The Raiders were also able to respond quickly using the short passes, to set up a TD to Muhammad Ali to tie the game at 35. The Patriots had less than 2:30 to go in the game, and they would methodically drive down the field while killing the clock. On a 3rd down play, captain Farhan Ratansi got called for a controversial false start. Stopping the clock, and pushing it to 4th down. On a corner fade route, Cheema had an opportunity to haul in the catch for the 4th TD of the game – but the ball became loose as he was heading to the ground (on top of that, he’ll be serving a swearing penalty at the start of next game). The Raiders were unable to convert as they had no timeouts and only 17 seconds left in the game, and the game would end in a tie.
The Raiders were plagued by drops this week, and some silly, yet fixable mistakes. The Patriots were also marred by some drops, however they seemed to find a way to improve within a game, and the chemistry between the QB and the receivers is getting better.This game will be remembered as a game of missed opportunities, and it was telling that both QBs felt like they lost this game, rather than treating it as tie. It would surprise no one if these two teams were to meet each other in the Finals.