Eastern Conference Playoff Picture 8/16/18
Last Week's Playoff Standings
Welcome back readers! This week was filled with games on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This week’s big storylines:
The top three teams keep pulling ahead.
Who is in danger of falling out of contention?
Looking at all these games in hand.
Let’s begin with the positives. While taking a glance at the table, the top four teams all pulled off victories. With these victories, Cincinnati (48 pts., 81 pts. Possible, 23 games played), Pittsburgh (43 pts., 79 PP, 22 GP), and Louisville (39 pts., 78 PP, 21 GP) have really started to distance themselves from the pack. Even with Charleston’s win, they still sit in fourth in the points possible table (73 PP), and are as close to 8th place NYRBII (65 PP) as they are first. Will these three teams continue to pull away from the pack?
This week was not as kind to every team. Last week we added Richmond to the bottom of the pack, and this week we saw two more teams close to joining as well. Tampa Bay (27 pts., 60 PP) has consistently dropped points on the road this year, leaving them in 5th to last place both in the traditional table and the points possible table. Surprisingly, the other team close to the bottom is Bethlehem. Yes, it’s true they sit on 33 points in 7th place, however, they played 25 games, the most in the East. They can only gain a maximum of 60 points, the same as Tampa Bay. While they still are putting pressure on the other squads, they will need to rely on nearly every other team dropping points to secure a playoff spot.
Speaking of games played… Looking at that column, we have a wide spread of games played. Indy and Toronto both have only played 21 games while Bethlehem sit on 25. There are two big questions going into the last two months of the season. While a majority of teams sit on 22 or 23 games played, will these teams begin to feel a bit of schedule congestion and drop points? And will teams like Bethlehem and NYRBII have built up enough of a lead to maintain their playoff positions?
As for FC Cincinnati, this Sunday’s win against Penn FC kept them in first place. The big news is that with the way the middle of the pack fared FCC’s magic number is now down to 6. That means the Orange and Blue only need to win half of their remaining games to clinch a playoff spot. If they win 8 more games, then they also will clinch a home game in the first round of the playoff game. The closest teams to them, Pittsburgh and Charleston, need 8 wins in their remaining games to clinch a playoff game and 10 games to clinch a home game.
Looking for games with playoff implications?
Indy Eleven v. NCFC, Wednesday
A win by North Carolina puts them over Indy and pushes Indy out of a playoff spot. A win by Indy here gives them a bit of a cushion and would move them to 5th, above NYRBII.
FC Cincinnati v. Charleston, Saturday
Yes, no one here is in trouble of dropping out of the playoffs. A win by Cincinnati keeps them top of the table and that would also put Charleston down in 5th on the points possible table, only edging Nashville due to games won. A win by Charleston would put immense pressure on Cincinnati to maintain the top spot, and would also give the Battery a bit of an edge over the pack in terms of hosting a home playoff game.
NYRBII v. NCFC, Tuesday
A game between the current 7th and 8th place teams has lots of playoff implications. A win by NCFC means they stay relevant in the playoff hunt, and they could even be securely in the race depending on their game on Wednesday. NCFC should be looking for at least 4 points this week. A win by NYRBII keeps up the pressure for the teams around them. With more games played, NYRBII cannot afford to lose many points, lest they risk a team overtaking them.
Honorable Mention: Louisville City v. Nashville SC, Saturday
Not a game with huge playoff implications, however, this is a game between two playoff contenders. A Louisville win keeps them up in the hunt for first, while a loss would position them to fight for a home playoff game. For Nashville, a win here would put them in the hunt for a home playoff game, and a loss would put them right on the bottom of the playoffs.