Week 8 Analysis: Phillipsburg sees biggest gain in North 5 standings, and could jump more; Union still holding one of top seeds

A win Friday night against a solid Ridge team with a good Strength Index value helped propel Phillipsburg in the latest North Jersey Group 5 playoff standings, with the Stateliners jumping from 15th all the way to 12th.

Already with three losses, any win – and this is a good P’burg team, maybe one of the best three-loss teams in the state – will give the ‘Liners a huge boost, as they are double the value of losses in the OSI column. With an out-of-state home game against Capitol Prep Harbor (CT) this weekend, and Westfield at home the next, a couple of wins should solidify at least one playoff game at Maloney Stadium.

Meanwhile, Union holds at No. 2 in the standings, in line to get one of the top seeds in the playoffs. Whether they can stay there is another story.

After blanking a solid North Brunswick team last Friday night, the Farmers – whose only loss is to South Jersey power Millville – the next two weeks bring teams that have just one win a piece: Watchung Hills, then Hunterdon Central. Union ranks second in power points (22.29) and UPR (61.08). But the Warriors and Red Devils are only worth 14 power points each, which will bring down the Farmers’ average, even with a win. Watchung Hills has a 65.77 OSI value, while Hunterdon Central is worth just 55.3 OSI points. That might balance out in the long run, so the question remains: Will it be enough to keep Union in one of the top two spots?

That depends on the teams around them. Could West Orange (6-0), ahead of them, drop, too? Maybe. They rank first in both power points and OSI, and have a weak Bloomfield team but a good Irvington team ahead on the schedule

Clifton (6-1) is next in third, and has multiplier Delbarton this week (the Green Wave are only 3-4, so it could be a win) but then a weak Kennedy-Paterson team (0-6) the week after. Might the two balance out? Who knows.

One note is that our numbers differ a bit from Gridiron New Jersey’s. The site – which calculates the official power points, OSI and UPR for the NJSIAA – had announced after Week Five the updates to SI values for out of state teams and that it would use them going forward. As of the time of this post, it has not. Those values will change one more time anyway, next week, once SI values for all teams are locked in. Until then. we’ll continue to use the updated numbers.

The differences don’t affect the standings this week, as they didn’t result in an OSI rank change either for Clifton or Morristown, which both have played out-of-state teams this season –

Fourth is Passaic Tech (5-2), but they don’t stand to gain a whole lot by beating either Old Tappan (2-5) or Columbia (4-3) the next two weeks, either in power points or OSI.

Westfield and Bridgewater -Raritan stand 8th and 9th in the playoff chase this week. The Blue Devils are up one place, while the Panthers are down two, falling a bit after defeating winless Franklin, which brought only 11 power points (no residuals) and dropped their OSI, too. Like Phillipsburg, which propelled itself into the first round home game conversation with the win over Ridge, it’s too close to call as to whether they’ll be able to lock one up. They’re all in the game, and should all be in the playoffs, but whether they start on the road or at home is too early to tell right now.

Elizabeth held steady in 13th this week, and at 3-4 is likely to open the playoffs on the road. Like anyone else, opponents are a wide possibility right now, especially with the snaking system used for seeding. A move up or down one place could put a team in an entirely different bracket.

Plainfield made a jump, after the Cardinals improved to 3-3 Saturday afternoon with a home win over winless JP Stevens. They get another winless club in Franklin this weekend, so their only chance may be to beat Perth Amboy (4-3) next weekend. We’ll have to see how this week sets up Cutoff Weekend to let you know if they have a chance to make the playoffs.

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