Season IIIAll Eyes on Reds' perfect three-peat
QFL Season III kicked off on 6 March 2014 and officially ended on 8 February 2018 when duffeldoffel's Reds completed a perfect season and a QFL Fever Bowl three-peat.
The Ice Bowl ended six weeks after the Fever Bowl so that Season III, by far the longest QFL Season thus far, took over four years to be concluded.
Again, the league underwent considerable changes as it expanded to a 12-franchise format with two conferences, both consisting of two divisions with three teams each.
While three teams folded, including the Mighty Beagles of Angedair, MoRe's Moles and zugschefz diesez folded, Season III saw the return of charter member Lübeck Bay Seagulls as well as the addition of no fewer than four expansion franchises, including the Eagle Eyes, Flash 80s, Leinfelden Lawyers and Niners Sparrows.
The new format called for the four division champions as well as one wild-card team per conference to qualify for the playoffs. Defending champions duffeldoffel's Reds (6-0) were the only playoff team from the previous season to return to the postseason.
The powers between the two conferences and their divisions were by no means balanced. While none of the teams from the Nordic Football Conference finished worse than 3-3, no fewer than four teams from the Alpine Football Conference did. 10 of 12 interconference games were won by NFC teams.
Arguably, the weakest division proved to be the AFC Australia as their teams combined for only five wins, meaning they won only two of 12 games outside their division.
The Eagle Eyes (2-4) and two-time playoff qualifier Dicey Beasts (2-4) finished tied for first place with the expansion team going through on the head-to-head tiebreaker. Interestingly, the Eagle Eyes became the first team to reach the playoffs after starting the season with three consecutive losses. The commissioner's franchise, igorz malfunxionistz (1-5), not only missed out on the postseason yet again, they also finished the league in last place.
The AFC South featured charter member silentsound's Silentknights (2-4) who, for a third time in as many seasons, missed out on the playoffs due to an 0-4 start, three of which losses by 5 points or fewer. They finished the season on a positive note, though, as they beat both division rivals comprehensively in their last two games, thus hoping to carry good momentum into Season IV.
The Leinfelden Lawyers (4-2) were coached by Buvag who had successfully stepped in as interim coach for both the Reds and the dieselz in Season II. The Lawyers were the only AFC team to finish the regular season with a winning record, thus clinching the #1 seed for the AFC playoffs. Fellow expansion team Niners Sparrows (3-3) were the only other AFC team not to finish with a losing record and clinched the wild card.
While the AFC playoffs consisted exclusively of expansion teams, all NFC playoff spots were won by QFL charter members.
The NFC North proved to be the most balanced division in the league as all three teams finished the season 3-3. The regular-season finales saw the Lübeck Bay Seagulls clinch the division in dramatic fashion as they were profiteers of two late fourth-quarter comebacks.
While the Seagulls came back late from a 3-point deficit to beat the Moderate Drinkers, the Flash 80s seemed poised to win the division as they were leading frontmodes Kobras by 16 points in the fourth quarter. But the Kobras came back to score two late TDs plus two-point conversion and then a safety in overtime, thus handing the Seagulls the pennant.
For the Kobras (4-2), their miraculous comeback proved crucial, too, as for the first time in franchise history, they qualified for the postseason. The received the help needed from duffeldoffel's Reds who comprehensively beat the Prussian Warriors (3-3) who, despite having beaten the Kobras for the third time in as many encounters, fell behind and missed out back-to-back playoffs.
duffeldoffel's Reds (6-0), meanwhile, seemed to play in a league of their own. Their lowest scoring output was still bigger than the highest opponent's output scored against them. They averaged 37 points per game and conceded under 10 points in four of their six regular-season games. Their smallest winning margin was 18 points and came in a Fever Bowl II rematch against the Drinkers.
Ice Bowl III: The Nordics 28, The Alpines 42 (Final)
For the first time, the two all-star teams represented conferences rather than divisions. For the Alpines, representing the AFC, the Beasts (offense/kicking) and the Silentknights (defense/returning) took on the NFC's Nordics featuring the Warriors (offense/kicking) and Flash 80s (defense/returning).
Both the 'Knights and the Warriors played their second Ice Bowl and, surprisingly, the 'Knights got their second win while the Warriors suffered their second loss. The NFC had dominated the AFC in interconference games and their representatives had a combined record of 6-6 compared to their opponents' combined record of 4-8. Accordingly, the Nordics were considered favorites to win Ice Bowl III.
But it was the Alpines who took the lead early in the first quarter and, despite being heavily outgained, never let the Nordics come closer throughout the entire game, thus taking a 2-1 lead in the series.
AFC Wild Card Round: Niners Sparrows 28, Eagle Eyes 35 (Final)
NFC Wild Card Round: frontmodes Kobras 15, Lübeck Bay Seagulls 23 (Final)
As three teams per conference would qualify for the playoffs, an additional playoff round became necessary in order to identify the opponents for the respective #1 seeds in the Conference Championship Games.
In the AFC Wild Card Game, the Eagle Eyes, as divisional champions, enjoyed home-field advantage against Niners Sparrows even though the latter had finished the season with a better record.
The Sparrows had come out victoriously when the two teams met in their regular-season finale at the same virtual venue and were considered favorites to advance. They did take the lead twice in the first half but the Eagle Eyes turned the game around before halftime and held on to their lead to book their place in the AFC final.
The NFC Wild Card Game had a very similar constellation as the visiting wild-card team Kobras had a better regular-season record than the Seagulls. Also, the Kobras had edged out the Seagulls at home during the regular season.
The Kobras were considered favorites to win, even more so as rookie owl49er had taken over coaching duties from the retiring Real for the Seagulls during the regular-season finale. But it was the Seagulls who took the lead early in the game and never let go, thus making sure that only divisional champions would play in the conference finals.
AFC Conference Championship: Eagle Eyes 33, Leinfelden Lawyers 21 (Final)
NFC Conference Championship: Lübeck Bay Seagulls 9, duffeldoffel's Reds 41 (Final)
The Lawyers had been the only AFC team above .500 while the visiting Eagle Eyes had been the first team to win a QFL division with a losing record. Plus, the Lawyers had beaten the Eagle Eyes during the regular season at the same virtual stadium. Hardly anyone expected the Lawyers not to qualify for the grand final.
However, since that loss in the regular season, the Eagle Eyes had won three-of-four and improbably dominated the favorites while building a 20-point halftime lead. The Lawyers did try to fight back and scored an early second-half TD, however, the Eagle Eyes held on well and deservedly booked a trip to represent the AFC in the Fever Bowl.
For the Seagulls to cause upset number four in as many games of this postseason, the mountain to climb could not be higher as they remembered from their previous encounter during the regular season. Even though Reds' coach duffeldoffel did not have too much information on their opponent's new coach, anything else than a comprehensive victory for the defending QFL World Champions would have been a surprise.
And the Reds did not fail to deliver and won the NFC title by steamrolling all over the pitiful Seagulls. The Reds scored 17 points in each of the first two quarters and added ten more in the third before taking the foot off the pedal and allowing the opposition two consolation scores. With a 32-point winning margin, the Reds set a new QFL postseason record.
Fever Bowl III: Eagle Eyes 0, duffeldoffel's Reds 20 (Final)
Probably no Fever Bowl ever had nor ever will have a heavier favorite than two-time defending champions duffeldoffel's Reds. They came into this game with a perfect record, an average winning margin of 26 points, the no. 1 offense and defense and had not trailed since the second quarter of their season opener.
The Eagle Eyes were expected to be hardly more than sparring partners for the almighty Reds. Yet, they did give the favorites a hell of a fight. Even though their offense was shut out by the league's top defense, their defense held the Reds from the board throughout the entire first quarter. The Reds did pull out a comprehensive win but the Eagle Eyes got to keep their defeat within tolerable limits.
With three QFL World Championships under his belt, duffeldoffel declared his retirement from coaching after the game.