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Semifinal Spotlight: Frankfurt Galaxy @ Rhein Fire
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9/14/2023
Semifinal Spotlight: Frankfurt Galaxy @ Rhein Fire

As the European League of Football playoffs progress, a thrilling semifinal awaits in Duisburg on September 17th. Frankfurt Galaxy, a team with a formidable record but one that has tasted defeat against Rhein Fire, will look to rewrite the narrative. On the other hand, the dominant Rhein Fire, backed by their passionate fanbase, will aim to march one step closer to the championship. With detailed data-driven insights, let’s dissect this exciting matchup.

The Backstory

Frankfurt Galaxy, after finishing second in the Western Conference with a 10-2 record, dominated Berlin Thunder in their wildcard game with a 20-03 win. However, their Achilles heel this season seems to be their opponents in this semifinal. They’ve faced the Rhein Fire twice, with both encounters ending in defeat.

Rhein Fire has been the embodiment of perfection, boasting a 12-0 record. Their dominant performances, underscored by an offensive line that has been virtually impenetrable, make them the team to beat. The fact that the championship game is nearly sold out, with over 30,000 fans expected at Rhein Fire’s home stadium, adds another layer of intrigue.

Delving into the Stats

Frankfurt Galaxy:

  1. Offense: Galaxy’s scoring offense, with 382 points, is ranked 4th. Their passing offense, with 2988 yards, is notable at 6th rank, but their rushing offense, at 1089 yards, lags slightly at 10th rank.
  2. Defense: Galaxy has been defensively sound, ranking 3rd in scoring defense. They’ve allowed 3252 total yards, with their passing and rushing defenses standing at 5th and 6th ranks, respectively.
  3. Turnover Margin: A significant strength for the Galaxy, ranking 2nd with a margin of +11, indicating their prowess in capitalizing on opponents‘ mistakes.

Rhein Fire:

  1. Offense: Fire’s offensive stats are daunting. Leading the league in scoring with 540 points and total offense with 5482 yards, they present a dual-threat with both their passing (1st rank) and rushing (3rd rank) games.
  2. Defense: Their defensive unit, while not as dominant as their offense, is still formidable. They’ve conceded only 199 points, ranking 3rd in scoring defense. Their total defense stands at 6th rank, with their passing and rushing defenses at 8th and 6th ranks, respectively.
  3. Turnover Margin: Matching the Galaxy, Fire also has a turnover margin of +11, ranking 2nd.

Key Moments from the Previous Encounter:

  1. Galaxy’s Early Lead: A touchdown by Leon Helm gave Frankfurt an early advantage, signaling a potential upset.
  2. Momentum Shift: The interception by Flamur Simon, followed by Glen Toonga’s touchdown, tilted the scales in favor of Rhein Fire.
  3. Galaxy Fights Back: Jakeb Sullivan’s rushing TD and Lorenz Regler’s subsequent touchdown put Galaxy ahead.
  4. Fire’s Dominance: The latter part of the second quarter saw a relentless offensive onslaught from the Fire, with Glen Toonga, Harlan Kwofie, and Alejandro Fernandez (via a pick 6) all finding the end zone. This momentum carried them to victory, especially after the Galaxy decided to rest their key players.
Win probability over time during week 14 encounter Rhein Fire @ Frankfurt Galaxy showing crucial plays that shifted the momentum.

Tendencies & Predictions:

Rhein Fire’s high probability of passing in specific scenarios, especially in the red zone and when trailing, indicates their trust in QB Jadrian Clark and his array of weapons. Conversely, their high rushing tendency in their half of the field and during short yardage situations showcases their confidence in their offensive line and RB Glen Toonga.

High Probability of Passing:

Rhein Fire’s offense often takes to the air under specific circumstances. Here are the most notable scenarios where a passing play becomes highly probable:

  1. Redzone Scenarios: When Rhein Fire is within striking distance of the end zone, particularly in a tie game, their preference for passing becomes pronounced.
  2. Trailing Situations: When behind by 3 points, especially around the midfield, the data indicates a clear passing tendency. This suggests an urgency to regain control of the game.
  3. 3rd & Long: In 3rd down situations with a long yardage to cover, especially when situated in their half of the field, passing is the favored choice.
  4. Late Game Scenarios: When trailing by more than a touchdown, especially in the opponent’s half, the inclination to pass is evident, possibly indicating a push to close the score gap quickly.

Low Probability of Passing (High Rushing Tendency):

Conversely, there are situations where Rhein Fire leans heavily on their ground game. Here’s where they’re most likely to rush:

  1. Own Half of the Field: When Rhein Fire is in their half and the game is tied, rushing becomes a more common strategy. This might indicate a play-it-safe approach, focusing on ball control and clock management.
  2. Short Yardage Situations: On 3rd down with a short distance to the first down marker, especially in their half of the field, rushing is the go-to move. This suggests confidence in their offensive line and running backs to secure the crucial yards.
  3. Leading Situations: Interestingly, when leading by 3 points in the opponent’s half, there’s a distinct tendency to rush. This could be a strategy to maintain possession, eat up the clock, and protect the lead.
  4. 1st Down in Own Half: On 1st down, particularly when positioned in their half of the field, the Rhein Fire leans towards rushing, possibly setting up more manageable 2nd and 3rd down situations.
Rhein Fire tendencies for calling pass plays in different situations (opponent half, goal to go, redzone, own half, own 5 yardline, own redzone) independent of scoring.

For the Frankfurt Galaxy, the absence of a key victory against the Fire this season looms large. However, with key players like Jakeb Sullivan and Reece Horn, they have the potential to cause an upset.

Yet, simulations suggest a different story. The decision tree model predicts an 89% win probability for Rhein Fire, with a projected scoreline of 42-28.

While statistics provide a guideline, the actual game is an unpredictable entity, influenced by tactics, determination, and moments of brilliance. As Duisburg prepares for this electric semifinal, fans worldwide will be eagerly watching to see which team advances to the grand finale.

by Nils Rosjat

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Last updated: 16.02.2024 20:30 CET
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