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by Mike Pavlichko

Week 7 is done with, and thanks to some playoff tweaks and very few residuals that are up fro grabs this week – we’ve got an easier time than ever figuring out the playoff picture just a few days before Cutoff Weekend.  Locked Strength Index values and very few residual points up for grabs around the state make the focus a lot clearer.

What does it mean for our area teams?  Here’s a look at North Group 1.

Note that all standings are unofficial, and OSI is subject to change based on updated SI numbers for out of state opponents, which will be verified this week by Gridiron New Jersey.

Penns Grove, Willingboro, Woodstown and Gateway all have a shot at earning one of the top seeds.

Middlesex:  The Blue Jays sit in 10th with a 7-0 record, so if the playoffs started this weekend, you’d have an undefeated team without a first-round home game.  It’s an interesting dilemma, but it’s not just the new playoff system that’s to blame.  The same thing would happen with power points.  Having teams like Highland Park on their schedule hurt them, even with a win over the Owls.  But that’s a debate and discussion for another time.

Middlesex has a big opportunity Friday night when the Blue Jays play at Bernards.  A win on its own could vault them as high as 5th, if Gateway (6-1) loses to 5-2 Paulsboro Friday night, and other teams behind them may lose.  No matter what else happens, it appears a win would at least get them a first-round home game, but they probably can’t get two.  A loss, however, and they would not drop nearly as far.  In fact, while they would fall a bit in power point average (0.97 points), they would actually gain about .16 in OSI.   On its own, that would drop the blue Jays to 11th, behind Pt. Pleasant Beach.  But if things break the wrong way – like Haddon Township, Glassboro and Woodbury, and others winning – they could end up as low as 14th.  The likely pick here if they lose is somewhere from 11-13.