Week 3 Recap – King of the Jungle Reigns Supreme

Results

TeamScore
Seahawks28
Lions35

The Lions & Seahawks are two teams heading in different directions. Last year’s captain Shoaib Mamdani has shown that standings in the regular season don’t mean much, and it’s all about the preparation leading up to the playoffs. However, the early season struggles have to start weighing on him as the Seahawks aren’t doing anything particularly well at the moment. The Lions welcomed Omar Khamissa for his season debut, and he didn’t disappoint giving us an early Play of the Game on a contested TD reception in the first half (he would add a second TD later on). Asghar Molu has started to emerge as Kumail Meghani’s go-to option; after 3 weeks he leads the league with 21 receptions and 8 TDs. With that said, the Lions are far form a one-man team on offense as Mikael Ratansi & Ali Jessa are 3rd and 4th respectively in receptions. The Lions are still a team that is not yet clicking on all cylinders as Asim Mirza has yet to get going, and that’s a scary thought for the league.

The Seahawks had a great performance by their captain Shoaib Mamdani, who had 2 INTs, and a receiving TD. The second INT gave his team a chance late in the game to tie, or possibly take the lead with a 2-pt conversion. Another player with a great offensive performance was Fayaz Ladha, who finally had his breakout performance of the season with 9 receptions and 1 TD. In positive news, Mujataba Abidi had a completion percentage of 70%,and used his wheels more this time around with a rushing TD. He also discovered the deep ball late in the game to bring his team back. Seahawks would fall in this one by a TD margin, and are now 0-3 on the season. Even with an 0-3record, a lot of the Seahawks issues are solvable. They were atrocious on their flag pulls, and consistently gave additional yards to the Lions. They also have to limit their turnovers, and that goes back to the QB; sometimes, a good defense is a good offense.

Results

TeamScore
Patriots21
Ravens42

Flags All Day – Mujahid Hemani

We made a note last week of the Patriots already looking forward to their matchup against the Lions, and that proved to be the case. The Patriots were not prepared against the Ravens, and if there’s one guy you have to gameplan against, it’s Ammar Jessa. The Ravens came out firing early in the game by locking up the Patriots’ receivers, and shutting down a team that had just dropped 56 points the week before. You don’t have to look anything beyond the box score for the dismal performance by the Patriots as no receiver had more than 3 receptions, and Khizer Jamal went only 15/27 in the game. One player we’d like to highlight this week is Mujahid Hemani, as he seemed like the only person who showed heart, and is firmly putting himself in the conversation for the Defensive Player of the Year. He had 6 flag grabs, Farhan Ratansi had 6 flag grabs and Mehdi Nasser had 3… no one else had a flag grab on the Patriots. If the Patriots hope to challenge the Lions in the upcoming matchup, that number has to improve and they’ll need defensive contributions from everyone.

Hisham Ali continues a MVP-caliber season as he currently paces the league in completion % at 74%. The Ravens combine a unique combination of speed, IQ and height that makes them perhaps the most complete team in the league. Sarfaraaz Kara finally got some extended playing time and came away with the Defensive Player of the Week honours with his INT-TD to seal the game early in the second half. The Ravens’ offense works in all levels as Ali Merali runs the deep route, Hussein Champsi & Muhammad Ali play the second level, and at any moment, Ammar can turn a check down pass into a long-TD. The Ravens also have creative designs for their running plays with some misdirection, and reverses. At one point, the Ravens may have gotten a little too cute on their designs which turned into an INT for Muhammad Ali. We only bring this up because Muhammad Ali wanted his INT-stat counted from Week 1… we just wanted to make sure we counted this as well 😉

In the end, the Ammar factor was too much for the Patriots even though they had Mehdi Nasser shadowing him for the game. He had 5 receptions, and he turned that into 4 TDs. Make sure to keep checking back for week 3 highlights,the last of his TDs was truly ridiculous (Play of the Game/Week/Season?). In the future, we may just say “Ammar did stuff… check the highlights,” because at a certain point, even we’re speechless. We’re excited to watch next week’s matchup between the Ravens and the Raiders; we’re highlighting this one as our Game of the Week.

Results

TeamScore
Raiders7
Panthers28

That’s what happens when I guard you, you can’t catch. – Taha Ali (directed at Danial Ali after a dropped catch)

Well, this is a score we didn’t expect. Muzammil Rizvi was confident in his team’s ability, and their new defensive gameplan for Week 3 against an undefeated Raiders team. This game was over before it began, as Said had 3 INTs on his first 4 throws of the game… not sure if we’ve ever had a statline like this to start a game. The Raiders played man, and played well defensively, but when you only score 1 TD late in the second half… you’re not going to win many games. The Raiders were without Ammar Dayani, however we feel there’s more talent than just Ammar and Taha on this team. This loss is on the shoulders of their QB who took responsibility of the loss, and now leads the league in interception thrown.

The Panthers played far from a perfect game, as we counted at least 5 long would-be TD passes missed by QB Taleb Zaidi (2 to Danial Ali, 2to Ahmed Al-Waili & 1 to Alla Al-Salem). But this wasn’t a game about offense for the Panthers; this was all about defense. Coming into the game, the Panthers were allowing 56 PPG! To put that into perspective, even after only allowing 7 pts, the Panthers still lead the league in Pts allowed by 2 TDs. Alla Al-Salem had another great week with 5 receptions and 3 TDs. The Play of the Game goes to Muzammil Rizvi who had a long TD reception, but it was the celebration that stole the show (Juju Smith-Schuster would be proud). Lastly, someone whose numbers don’t really show up on the boxscore but had a great game defensively was Farhan Jafri. He routinely pressured the QB, and didn’t allow many catches in his zone altogether. We’re still waiting for both Jafri brothers to have their annual blow-up games where they go for 3+ TDs with 10+receptions.

Week 2 – Call Outs, Shout Outs & Ball Outs – The Outs-tanding Efforts from Week 2

We will be taking individual photos for the 2019 season before each game, so please remember to bring your best look to MFL. If you’d like on how to do your hair, please contact Muzammil Rizvi, affectionately known as Shiny Face.

Just a rule clarification for this season, QB kneels are allowed to run out the clock.

Results

TeamScore
Seahawks21
Raiders28

You’re not catching anything today – Taha Ali (directed towards Abuzar Abbas)

This was one of those instances where the game actually lives up to the hype. Both teams heading into this game felt like they should have had a better result in Week 1. The Seahawks were coming into this game hoping for a better result after losing Imran Ebrahim for the season last week. Their defense hadn’t allowed a point until that injury, and they were out to prove that they’re a top-notch defensive team. On the other side, the Raiders played an emotional game against the Patriots the previous week which ended in a tie. We mentioned the Raiders speed last week, and it was on display early and often on this one.

Early on, it was the Ammar Dayani show. As he had a long TD, an INT and a pass defensed early on in the game. We also have a feeling he’s vying for MFL to introduce extra point and field goals so he can show off his kicking prowess with his new TD-celebration. And while early on it was Ammar Dayani, later on it was Shoaib Mamdani who beat Ammar deep twice for long-TDs, one of them a tightly contested catch. While the Raiders won this game at the buzzer, the play of the game came slightly earlier when Mohammad Railey caught a one-handed INT in the endzone, and took it the distance with no one in 15 yards of him.

The Raiders played a mix of man & zone, and one of the game within the game was the matchup between Taha Ali and Abuzar Abbas. Early on, Taha told Abuzar “you’re not catching anything today,” and in the end, Abuzar Abbas only had 1 reception. The Raiders have played excellent defense, and can line-up man on any team. The Seahawks have had trouble moving the ball down the field consistently. It’s a learning curve for the new QB Mujtaba Abidi, and after two weeks, he has a 4:3 TD-to-INT ratio. It’ll be interesting to see how much patience Shoaib Mamdani will exercise before he decides to make a change. The Seahawks have also played well defensively, but without a consistent offensive attack, they’re second from the bottom. Seahawks will face the undefeated Lions next week, while the Raiders face the winless Panthers.

Results

TeamScore
Ravens35
Lions42

The Ravens played the last ten seconds of their game against the Seahawks, and Muhammad Ali got an interception on the first and only throw of that game (yes Mumlee, we recorded the stat for you). Much jubilation was had… but alas, a double header was in store for the Ravens (if you can really call it that). The Ravens were facing an undermanned Lions team missing Asim Mirza, Bilal Sabowala and Omar Khamissa. The Lions didn’t get the memo, as the Lions came out roaring on the first drive with Asghar Molu doing much of the heavy lifting coming fresh off the Player of the Week from Week 1. Asghar seems to be aging like fine halal wine; as he keeps on getting better, and has fit right in with the Lions this year. The Lions took an early 2-TD lead, and were in control of the game in the first half.

The Ravens started the game off playing a mix of zone and man, but eventually had to put Ammar Jessa on Asghar Molu, and safety over the top. The Ravens should have been better defensively, as they were not consistently rushing the QB, and 6 players should be able to guard 4 offensive players. The Ravens also ran into a little bit of bad luck as a couple of drops in the end-zone really changed the complexion of this game in the first half. QB Hisham Ali had an efficient game going 21/27. For the Ravens to be successful, the deep ball seems like a must for their game, and Ali Merali had a few opportunities this game getting behind the defense. Muhammad Abbas Amarshi also turned in a solid outing with 2 TD receptions.

It was hard to narrow down a play of the game as a lot of players made some great catches in this game. Offensive Player of the Week Miakel Ratansi had a great TD catch on 4th down at the back of the end-zone while falling down on a one-footed throw by QB Kumail Meghani. Ali Merali had a long TD late in the second half where his head bounced off the turf, yet he held onto the ball. But the play of the game (and possibly the season so far), was made by Ali Jessa. A ball that looked like it was thrown away by QB Kumail Meghani was caught by Ali Jessa while tip-toeing the sideline.

Results

TeamScore
Patriots56
Panthers21

Everybody eats! – Farhan Ratansi

The final game of the week featured the Patriots and the Panthers. The Patriots lost Shaneali Kara for the season, and we hope for a speedy recovery for him, he was replaced by Roman Ahmed. The newcomer didn’t waste much time introducing himself to the league. He went absolutely beserk in his first week with 4 TDs. It’s silly to discuss Rookie of the Year this early in the season, but he’s our way too early season pick for ROY. The Patriots were unhappy campers with a tie game last week, especially since they had an opportunity on their last drive to win the game. Well, they took out their frustration on the Panthers in a complete manner. Captain Farhan Ratansi coined “everybody eats,” and they were all well-fed by QB Khizer Jamal. The Patriots took an early lead in the game, and never looked back. The aforementioned Khizer Jamal was brilliant in this one, earning himself Defensive Player of the Week in limited playing time on defense. He had a very good case for Offensive Player of the Week. The Patriots lived off big chunk plays, mostly via Farhan Ratansi & Mujahid Hemani in the middle of the field. The Patriots seem to have playmakers all over the field. Khalil Najarali has been a defensive stalwart, and was heard saying “trust me, I can catch” after he caught his first TD of the season. Another playmaker is Mehdi Nasser, who had an interception on the very first play of his MFL career (and a long TD on a later drive). The Patriots will be a tough team to face each week without a true weakness, and they’re a confident bunch asking “who can really hang with us?” They were already looking forward to their game against the Lions in Week 4, the Ravens may have something to say about that in Week 3.

The Panthers had a second consecutive week where their defense let them down. It’s a surprising development from a team many expected to be very good defensively with reigning MVP Alla Al-Salem, reigning DPOY Danial Ali and Muzammil Rizvi playing safety – this should be a stand-out defensive team. We still expect them to get better as the season goes on, and the players get to know each other’s tendencies on defense. QB Taleb Zaidi had 3 INTs in this one, but we cannot put the blame on him as his players were dropping balls on early downs to set up difficult 3rd and 4th down scenarios. We counted at least 3 drops by captain Ahmed Al-Waili; that’s something we expect to change. The Panthers also need more dynamic playmaking from someone beyond Alla Al-Salem and Danial Ali; currently it’s a two man team. Speaking of dynamic playmaking, the play of the game was by Alla Al-Salem who made a gravity defying one handed grab on a ball thrown behind him, and with one juke, he was in the end zone. It was his second one-handed grab of the game. The Panthers get a difficult matchup against the Raiders in Week 3; we’d like to see a little more fight with this team otherwise some changes may be coming on the horizon for the Panthers.

Week 1 Recap – Rust, Toques & Exciting Finishes

Welcome Back! The season has finally started after what seemed like a never-ending offseason. Before we get into the game recaps, we’d like to thank all the players for adhering to the new rules. We continue to strive to be better, and we’ve made some modifications to the rules based on player feedback.

Some rules to be aware of:

  • There is a new rule regarding steamboats and deadclock. The new rule is 5 steamboats and the defense can rush, and at 10 steamboats, the play is dead. If the defense rushes past the line of scrimmage after 5 steamboats, the dead-clock of 10 steamboats is no longer in effect.
  • There are 3 timeouts each half (used to be 2), however 2 of the 3 timeouts are untimed timeouts, which means it will stop the game clock, however the play-clock will start right away.
  • No jewelry (includes bracelets, earrings, necklaces, etc.), hats, aqeeqs, or glasses without athletic bands are allowed on the field. This isn’t a new rule per se, but we will be enforcing it more vigilantly this season.
  • Lastly… the toques! Wearing toques inside the dome will be permitted as long as there is no flap starting week 2. Bandanas and headbands are also permitted.

Results

TeamScore
Raiders28
Patriots28

When you look at the Raiders, and the first thing that jumps out at you is speed. This team will continue to be a matchup problem for any team that they face, and you cannot gameplan for one or two players, because they have weapons everywhere. Our congratulation to Mohammad Railey for winning the Instagram contest by registering early, and being entered into a draw. He was a proud recipient of new gloves, glove juice and a MFL shirt. He put the gloves to good use as he made a catch in the back of the endzone and was adamant that he, in fact, can catch. Said Samater looked good at QB, however it seems it may take him a few games to learn the tendency of his players. The best play of the game was when Ammar Dayani ran a seam down the middle, and Taha ran a deep out-route on the same side of the ball, the safety stayed with Taha, and Ammar was left wide open deep down the field for a long TD.

For the Patriots, Khizer Jamal made his much-anticipated return to MFL after dealing with various injuries the past couple of years. He had one INT early-on; we’ll chalk that up-to early season jitters. Similar to Said, it may take Khizer some time to build rapport with his new players, however the one player that he didn’t have an issue with connecting is Shaneali Kara. The last time these two were together, Khizer won MVP and Shaneali won Offensive Player of the Year – during the same season, Farhan Ratansi was the Defensive Player of the Year. That is a fearsome threesome. Last year, the Patriots had a chance to go 5-5-5, but alas, an opportunity missed. They may be trying to hit that mark this year as the very first game of the season ended in a tie 28-28. The Patriots had a couple of opportunities to put this game away. Farhan Ratansi had a chance at a pick-6, but the INT slipped through his fingers, and the Raider would later score to tie the game. On the last play, the Raiders switched to man-to-man defense, and Mohammad Sabowala was able to get free, but the pass was just out of his reach.

Results

TeamScore
Lions56
Panthers42

The Lions and Panthers was the highest scoring game of the week. It wouldn’t have seemed so early on, but penalties, and poor defense is to blame. The Panthers (formerly the Steelers) had the best record in the league last year, and captain Ahmed Al-Waili is out to prove that he can build a championship-caliber team two years in a row. The Panthers took an early lead in this one, after Kumail Meghani’s very first pass of the season was an interception to the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Danial Ali. Despite the final score, QB Taleb Zaidi looked excellent, as each of his receivers had a reception, and 5 of his receivers had TD. The issue with the Panthers was on the defensive side of the ball, but the Lions had a lot to do with it.

Preseason murmurs about the Lions weren’t too kind as they may be the most slow-footed team in MFL history. However, they counter that challenge by being the possibly being the highest IQ team in MFL history. The Lions were missing one of their star players in Omar Khamissa, but that didn’t matter much as the rest are more than capable to picking up the slack. The star of the morning was Asghar Molu, who earned Week 1 Player of the Week honours with his 9 receptions and 4 TDs. The play of the game was a long TD to Bilal Sabowala, where the defense was focused on the short to intermediate zone, and Bilal was able to break free behind the defense and made a head-high grab for a TD. The Lions also had 5 receivers with at least 1 TD. The Panthers will look to regroup and face the Patriots in a rematch of last year’s semi-finals.

Results

TeamScore
Ravens28
Seahawks21

We’re not entirely sure if the Ravens & Seahawks knew that there was a game this week, as both team were sluggish in the first half. The only score of the half came on a pick-6 by Shabbir Rizvi (DPOW).  We would like to give credit to the Seahawks defense in the first half, they looked dynamic, and they were coming up with all of key stops, and were not missing flags (this changed… dramatically). On the flip side, this was the official quarterbacking debut for Mujtaba Abidi. He has played QB sparingly in the past, but it looks like he’s making the switch on a full-time basis for the Seahawks. While the percentages aren’t great, he made some throws that only a few could make; at other times, he seemed to rush his throws. We seem to think he’s capable of playing the position full-time with some of his performances in pickup; however, if he’s not successful, they have more than a capable backup in Ali Haroon.

Back to the game, the Seahawks would strike early in the second on a TD to Imran Ebrahim. Unfortunately, Imran was hurt on the play, and will miss the remainder of the season. We wish him a speedy recovery, and hope to see him on the field again in future seasons. With Imran gone from the game, it seemed to take the life out of the team, as the Seahawks defense would falter. The Ravens woke up in the second half and started utilizing some creative plays, one that led to a long TD by Ali Merali. The Seahawks also used an amazing playcall when needing TDs late in the game called the “human cheatcode”. We’re not sure which one should be the play of the game, so we’ll count both of them. With Imran no longer in the middle to grab flags, the Ravens dialed up the human cheatcode, where the QB takes the snap, and hands the ball to Ammar Jessa, and then walks off the field to get his defense on the field… cause that boy gone! Ammar Jessa took two to the house late in the game, and caught another one earlier in the game as well. The game had to be halted, and the remaining 10 seconds will be played in between game 1 and 2 of week 2. The Seahawks have the ball with two timeouts trailing 21-28 to the Ravens.

UPDATE! Registration is now FULL!

Registration is now full – to be added to the waitlist, please email us with your name and years of experience playing football. Waitlist before the season will be on a first come, first serve basis. Once the season begins, we will do our best to replace injured players on an equal talent-level basis.

2018 MFL Finals Recap

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.

Week 15 Predictions & Steelers Domination

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

Week Twelve Recap

Results

TeamScore
Raiders14
Patriots42

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.

Results

TeamScore
Giants0
Cardinals28

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.

Results

TeamScore
Steelers42
Bengals42

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.

MFL Power Rankings (post-Trade Deadline)

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.

5.Raiders (5-5-1)
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.

Week Ten Recap

Results

TeamScore
Patriots21
Bengals49

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.

Results

TeamScore
Giants35
Steelers28

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.

Results

TeamScore
Raiders35
Cardinals56

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.