Eastern Conference Playoff Picture 8/8/18
Last Week's Look at the Playoff race
I’m not sure about the other teams but at the FC Cincinnati game this weekend, the ribbon boards were filled with playoff ads. Now we only have 5 home games left but now I don’t have to feel like I’m too early with my playoff picture each week. This week’s games proved to be interesting in where the teams find themselves. Let’s start off with the big three storylines:
Richmond joins the cellar
A small gap appears for the playoff spots
The top three teams & Charleston
With their 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh and 3-0 loss to Bethlehem, the Kickers continue their bad form. A quick look at the bottom of the table shows us that Richmond, while continually in the bottom three, has finally slipped out of the true playoff contention. They are now currently sitting on 57 points possible which means they are tied with the Atlanta in that category. They now sit 12 points out of 8th place (and 11 PP), the good news is they play Toronto this week. Speaking of which Toronto they only have 17 points to drop before they are eliminated from playoff contention.
Remember last week how the fight for 8th was packed with 5 teams? Well right now there are currently 7 teams within 3 points of 8th place. When we look at the points possible table teams from 5th place Nashville (70 PP) down to 11th place Tampa Bay (65 PP) While there are now more teams in contention, there is a small gap between 8th place NYRBII (68 PP) and 9th place NCFC (66 PP). The Baby Bulls do have a bit of separation now, even with their games in hand but any points dropped by these 7 teams could change things up drastically.
You’ll notice Bethlehem currently in 9th place with 30 points (63 PP) is not within those 7 spots. That’s because the Steel are sitting on 23 games played, as opposed to most other’s 21 games. While they are close in terms of points possible I chose not to include them in the tight battle due to their games in hand. The same goes for Charlotte (10th place, 28 points, 64 PP, 22 GP).
Things get interesting with the top 3, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Louisville. While FCC (81 PP) currently has a 5 point lead on the pack, Pittsburgh (79 PP) and Louisville (78 PP) both have games in hand mean that there is only a 3 point gap in the points possible table. It looks as if Pittsburgh turned their form around with two wins this week keeping them close to the race. Louisville kept close as well but their tie with Indy on Sunday means they stay three points back of Cincinnati. Let’s not forget Charleston (75 PP), while they may not be fighting for the top spot, they clearly control their playoff hopes and have set themselves up nicely for a possible home playoff game.
What does this mean for FCC? Well, as I mentioned above even with the tie to Nashville Saturday they are still first place, both in the current table and the points possible table. The Orange and Blue’s magic number sits at 8, with 12 games remaining, they are looking quite good for a playoff spot and a home playoff game, obviously, the top spot would be great but to clinch the top spot FCC would need to win every game left. Remember though these numbers are dependant on both FCC and what other teams do so this number will more than likely drop as the season continues.
Looking for games with playoff implications? From here on out I’ll highlight at least three games to pay attention to the week ahead.
Charlotte v. Bethlehem, Wednesday. While I’ve already discussed their relative positions on the tables, a win by either team here would give them a bit of a cushion even with more games played. Either team would still need to rely on other teams to drop some points and this game might be more about who loses as that would lower their points possible even with games in hand.
Nashville v. Ottawa, Friday. A game between two of the 7 teams in the middle of the pack. A win by Nashville would see them at the top of that group while a win by Ottawa would actually see them leapfrog Nashville in the points possible table.
Bethlehem v Pittsburgh, Sunday. A Pittsburgh win would keep them up in the top three, a loss or a tie and they would see themselves closer to Charleston than Cincinnati. With Bethlehem playing on Wednesday they may already have hurt their playoff chances but if they are able to pull off two wins this week the Steel would move up in the current table and put pressure on the teams with games in hand to win.
Until next week,