CFA 2036 Week-5 GOTW: Arizona at Minnesota Dec 14, 2021 21:02:31 GMT
Post by Rumrunner on Dec 14, 2021 21:02:31 GMT
The Continental Football Association starts off Week-5 of the 2036 season with a marquee matchup of one perennial power, Minnesota Stags (4-0), versus an up-and-coming team in Arizona (3-1).
The Minnesota Stags are coming off a Championship season that saw them dominate on the offensive side of the ball. That momentum hasn’t slowed down even a little bit as they continue to light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis.
Minnesota GM Mason Brown and HC Gary Watson have been active in the FA market; signing twelve players and releasing twelve as well.
Arizona just missed the playoffs last season as they finished with a 9-6-1 record, setting up themselves this season for more continuous improvement. In 2034 they finished 9-7, having a ½ game improvement last season as many young players were being developed.
Before 2034 Arizona had endured five straight losing seasons, while Minnesota had made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons and has two Championship banners hanging in their rafters.
Setting up this matchup of a perennial power versus a team looking to turn the corner and overtake traditional powers in their division.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: ARIZONA
QB – Derek Larose:24-years, 6’3” 207 lbs. Larose enters his fourth season with Arizona and has equally lit up the scoreboard with 41 and 44-TDs the last two seasons. While his completion percentage has seen a drastic drop from 66% to 52% last season, he sits at 53% this season with 4-TDs to 1-INT
RB – David Peter: 26-years, 6’0” 223 lbs. Following back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Arizona looks to lean on the former Ohio State star. He possesses speed that can break open a game at any time and can be a threat in the passing game from time to time.
DE – Antonio Warden: 32-years, 6’4” 272 lbs. Considered to be one of the leaders for Arizona, Warden is a staple along the defensive line. With four straight double-digit sack seasons, he is on pace to do it once again as he has 6-sacks already in this young season.
LB – Williams Bailey: 34-years, 6’3” 224 lbs. Bailey leads this linebacking corps with his knack for always being around the ball carrier. His team-leading 29 tackles show that once again this season he’s the heart and soul of this defense while also grabbing an INT.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: MINNESOTA
QB – William Unger: 25-years – 6’0” 191 lbs. While not a traditional starting QB build, Unger has found massive success in the Stags offensive system. He threw for 50-TDs last season and already has 14-TDs, four games into his second full season as a starter. His completion percentage has dipped this season from 66% last season to 58% this season.
RB – Neil Stuckey: 27-years – 5’11” 221 lbs. Stuckey was recently signed in week 4 and was able to provide good rushing numbers to help take some pressure off his second year QB. He rushed 16 times for 68 yards. While those numbers aren’t eye-popping, his breakaway speed makes him dangerous every time he touches the ball.
WR – Kerry Banks: 33-years - 6’1” 189 lbs. Banks is a prototypical burner with the ability to run any route and catch nearly anything thrown his way. Last season saw Banks finish with 1,914-yards-receiving and 15-TDs with only one drop. This season he already has amassed 570-yards but has two drops.
WR – Robert McGowen: 28-years, 6’0” 214 lbs. Starting opposite Banks, McGowen is not one to be overshadowed. Last season he didn’t register a single drop and continued that this season as he has racked up 161-yards-receiving in his lone game so far with Minnesota.
KEYS TO AN ARIZONA VICTORY:
Time of Possession is something Arizona needs to lean on. Riding their running game through thick and thin will force Minnesota to stay at home on defense and not be able to blitz as often as they’d like. If Arizona can establish their run game, it will eat the clock and give Minny less time to showcase their offense. On the defensive side of the ball, the key to containing Minnesota may lay within the capable hands of the Arizona cornerbacks and safeties. Containing the big play and playing bend but don’t break defense has to be their goal.
KEYS TO A MINNESOTA VICTORY:
The Stags will need to lean on their newer signings and utilize their speed and game planning ability. Arizona possesses a strong passing defense that ranks 3rd in the league with 228-passing-yards-allowed a game. Minnesota’s bread and butter is the passing game, which averages 426-yards-a-game. Something has to give between these two teams and I believe that Minnesota has the upper hand here. Unger will want to be smart with the ball and take what the defense gives him, but the real difference will come down to YAC. Speed is key to all things and Minnesota has plenty to spread around. If they can contain Peter in the run game and make Arizona one-dimensional, this could get ugly quickly.
Both teams have started this season pretty much exactly how everyone expected. Minnesota is lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 40 points a game, Arizona is not far behind at 37 points a game. Typically, you’d expect a barn burner when seeing numbers like that. I think Arizona tries to slow the game down and neutralize some of the Minnesota speed by pounding the rock, early and often. Eventually, one team will break, and I think it will be the away team. Arizona gives up 23 points a game, as opposed to Minnesota’s 19. The Stags have an underrated defense that I think will show up big.
Minnesota – 34
Arizona - 24
LINE: MIN -4.0
- Jessie “The Hammer” Tuggle – OSN contributing journalist