by Mike Daggs, Queen City TE

One third of the regular season is already over. It is time once again to size up team versus team. Separate the men from the boys. The players from the pretenders. The…. ok, I’ll stop. Who else had a crazy fun weekend of SFL action!? These games are getting better and better as the season progresses. Just when you think you have one team figured out, WHAM – something happens that shakes up the landscape of the rankings. Just take a look at the beat writers pick-em…. I’m dead last. Shows you just how little I have any clue what’s going on here. With that inspirational thought in mind, let us begin with this week’s POWER RANKINGS!

4 - 0+ 1At number ONE, Tallahassee. Vancouver hosted their first home game of the season (poor Andy - who wrote this schedule?) and joining the party was the Tallahassee pride. Vancouver hoped to continue their momentum from their victory the prior week but it wasn't to be as the Pride scored enough points to beat ANY team they faced that week. I mentioned Alaska wasn't at the top of the "scoring offense" category. Any guesses who is? Come on, I'm making this easy... YES - it's Tallahassee. Alaska was 2nd in passing offense... guess who's first?!??! The PRIDE. They're also 2nd in points allowed on defense. Someone please explain to me how Tallahassee isn't ahead of Alaska in these rankings.... Disappointing these two teams don't play each other this season. Playoffs perhaps?? Next up - they fly to London to fight the Knights. The Knights are rolling strong this season themselves, this matchup will be excellent.
4 - 0- 1Back down to number 2, Alaska. Nothing against the Storm, Tallahassee has just looked really really good. A third of the way through the regular season and we still have three undefeated teams. Leading the charge, the Alaska STORM. They visited Atlanta last week and took care of business defeating the Swarm 34 -21. After four weeks they have the 3rd best scoring offense and 4th best points-against defense. They may not lead those specific categories, but they're in the top 5 and they're winning their games with convincing style. They lost Ash Odom in free agency last season and basically decided, to hell with the running game. Dead last in rushing yards per game. 2nd in passing offense though, and number 1 at converting on third down by a large margin. Week 5 they host the winless Dallas Ruffnecks. It's good to be king.
4 - 0+ 1All the way from 16 in the preseason to number 3, Tulsa! The battle of the undefeateds ended with Tulsa remaining undefeated. The Fan Night game of the week came down to the final minute as a one possession game as the Desperados were able to eventually kneel the game away to victory. Adding 2 takeaways to their league leading total on defense certainly helped them win the day. You know what else helps? Being 3rd overall on defense in 3rd downs allowed with a super low 35%. The offensive production isn't quite that of our other two undefeated teams, but they're still #5 in scoring and doing enough to win ball games and at the end of the season the most important thing is how many W's you've collected over the course of the season. Week 5 has them hosting the San Francisco Sharks, who did just get their first win, but the Desperados feel confident that they have the Sharks number.... lets face it, the Tulsa D is a turnover machine. Aaaand the San Francisco O is also a turnover machine, not so much in a good way.
4Queen City
3 - 1+ 1At number 4, Queen City. The Corsairs went 3 - 0 before suffering defeat at the paws of the mighty Tallahassee Pride. Hosting the Carolina Skyhawks in week 4, they sought redemption. And redeemed they were, to the tune of a 38 - 17 victory. They now rank as the #2 scoring offense in the league and have an excellent mix of run and pass. Even though they seemed a bit pass happy in week 4 (hell, their stud Tight End even got a touchdown, but I digress...) they improved their rushing offense to #1 in the league. Riding the legs of a running back the caliber of Ash Odom certainly doesn't hurt. AJ Caswell got a bit pick happy and sadly the defense isn't getting quite as many takeaways as one might like to see, giving the Corsairs a 0 for their turnover differential. Lose the turnover battle, lose the ball game in many cases. Be careful, Queen City, Mexico City is looking for revenge in week 5.
5Sioux Falls
3 - 1- 2At number 5, Sioux Falls. The Sparrows suffered their first loss of the season, and though it was a close game the previously #1 defense in points allowed sadly allowed 8 points too many to the #5 scoring offense of Tulsa. The defense is still stout, they're now #3 in points allowed and that's not too shabby. They sit at #4 in takeaways too. The problem I see going forward is the offense - they're just not getting the production and ball security they need to contend with the teams listed above them in these rankings. Defense is important, but you need to score on offense and you need to have possession of the ball to do so. Still a team contending for sure - but I think we need to see some adjustments on offense to get back on the winning track. They'll look to rebound next week as they head to Oklahoma City to face the Renegades, coming off their first win of the season.
3 - 1+ 2At number 6, London! "But they're an expansion team" they said. "They're just a group of rookies" they said. Well guess what? Don't look now, the Knights are 3 and 1. London took the short trip across the ocean and most of North America to visit Mexico City. The reigning champions are still looking for answers here in season 10 as they suffered yet another defeat, this time at the hands of her majesty's London Knights. If you are checking out the offensive team stats and take a look at the top teams in the league, you're not going to find the Knights. So how are they winning games? DEFENSE baby! They're #6 in points allowed, and #1 in yards allowed. The best aspect of the defense is their secondary being very stingy allowing yards through the air. We're going to find out in week 5 what happens when the league's #1 passing attack of Tallahassee takes on the #2 passing defense when the Pride head to London to face the Knights.
7St. Louis
3 - 1+ 2At number 7, St Louis! Just an observation here.... don't go calling me bias or anything.... I'm merely stating facts... Three of the four teams currently sitting at 3 - 1 have a Daggs on them. Just saying... OK, call me biased. I can take it. The St Louis Gladiators were down early as they hosted Chicago but a sweet pick 6 in the 2nd quarter gave them the lead and they never looked back. This is a team that is truly leaning on it's defense though as the offense actually ranks last in yards per game and specifically yards through the sky. The one thing the offense is doing really well though is keeping the ball safe with a league low 3 turnovers on the season. The defense on the flip side of things is 2nd in takeaways giving the Gladiators a league best +8 turnover differential. You can't score against a team that keep taking away your ball. Bullies.
2 - 2+ 4From 9, to 13, to 15, to 12, and now to #8, Houston! I'd be doing Demond Simien a disservice if I didn't point out a couple things to the Houston doubters. First... the offense did look pretty woeful during the first two games. They scored only 12 points in week 1 and no points at all in week 2. Buuuuuut they made some adjustments and scored no less than 40 points in each of the next two weeks. And the defense? Sure - they lost those first two games, but the defense has not allowed more than 17 points in any game yet this season. Only 12 points were scored when they got shut out. They were very much still in each of those ball games. I'm not going to discuss stats on this team, other than their defense is #1 in points allowed, because the rest of the stats are skewed. This team is good, and they're coming for blood. The host Vancouver this week, a team that averages 38 points allowed per game. Gee, that's right around the 40 points that Houston has been enjoying scoring... yikes
2 - 2- 3At number 9, Indianapolis. After a red hot 2 - 0 start that saw the Red Devils beat their opponents by 16 and 20 points, they've lost their last two. Their 2 - 2 record isn't really a good measure of the team's success though - they lost those two games by 3 and 1 points each. This is still a potent offense ranking #4 in scoring and total yards, and #3 through the air. I am however slightly disappointed in the secondary. Going in to the season I thought they would be one of the absolute best in the league with as much as they invested into it. Don't get me wrong - they're the #6 passing defense in the league - but I thought they'd have about 50 picks by now. Instead, just 7 turnovers giving them a flat 0 turnover differential. Unrealistic expectations for sure, but this is my column and I can wish for 50 picks if I'd like. They've never scored less than 20 points in a game on offense and they're going up against a team that averages only 12 points on offense in Chicago for week 5. Look for them to rebound from this loss.
10San Antonio
2 - 2- 3At number 10, San Antonio. The Vaqueros may have underestimated the Houston Hyenas as they hosted them in week 4. Houston responded by putting up 42 points to the Vaqueros 17. In a game that got out of hand very early San Antonio could only try to fight to stay in the game but never really came close to getting themselves back into it. The offense took a bit of a hit, falling from #6 overall to #7 in scoring. Still doing awesome on third down though, converting 54% of the time for 3rd place in the league. The point total Houston put up certainly put a dent in their defensive ranking as it falls to #14 overall this week. Week 5 will be a good test for them as they host St Louis, a team that struggles on offense but has strength on defense. It should be a true test of which side of the ball is the most important.
1 - 3- 1At number 11, Atlanta. The Swarm looked so good out of the gate putting the beat down on London. Since then it has been three consecutive losses (subsequently, three consecutive wins for London). Offensively their stats don't look all that bad, but that is due in large part to their sizeable week 1 victory. They currently sit at over 20 points on offense on average, but take out that week 1 game and they drop to 14 points - among the lowest in the league. These haven't been blowouts though as their defense has kept them in games as much as possible. Their run defense in fact is among the best in the league sitting at #3 overall. I think most of their problem has been a battle of scheduling as they've faced two undefeated teams and two teams with only 1 loss each. Next up is their first game against a team who also has a losing record in Carolina.
12Mexico City
1 - 3- 1At number 12 (not number 8...), Mexico City. Mexico City...... what is going on?? What happened to the defending champions? They haven't been able to put up more than 17 points on offense yet this season, scoring only 10 in their latest contest against London. Their one win came against Chicago, the only team with a worse scoring average than they have. The one thing they have going for them on offense is a lack of turnovers, leading the league with only 3. But honestly that tells me that the Bronze Bomber, Matt Willson, maybe needs to take more chances down field to get more points on the board. They're riding the legs of Bentley with a top 3 rushing attack but it's clearly not enough. I think they may need to start getting some of their wide receivers more involved.
1 - 3-Remaining at number 13, Carolina. The Skyhawks actually boast a better running game than Mexico City at this point, but their passing attack is even worse. Queen City was simply able to outpace them all game long by taking to the sky and putting up big points on the board. Carolina has only been averaging 15 points per game on offense and the defense is surrendering around 25 on average. The only time they scored more than the 17 points they put up against Queen City was the 20 they put up on Mexico City where they held their opponent to only 14. They're not doing themselves any favors with ball security either turning it over a 3rd highest 9 times on the season. Even though the defense was able to force three takeaways from Queen City, they still aren't able to keep up with the amount of time the offense is turning it over giving them a negative turnover differential. Next week they take on the reeling Atlanta Swarm, a game in which both teams will look to correct the mistakes they've made so far.
14Oklahoma City
1 - 3+ 3At number 14, Oklahoma City. I mentioned last week that turnovers kill a team. Oklahoma City had the most turnovers in the league heading in to week 4 and hadn't won a game. In week 4, they didn't turn the ball over once - and they won the game. Unlikely underdogs, the edged out a one point win over the Indianapolis Red Devils. Don't get me wrong, they still lead the league in turnovers, but not by as large of a margin. And leading in a stat doesn't even matter if you've fixed the underlying problem. They're ranked 4th in passing offense along with a top 10 rushing unit. This team can be successful if they play smart football. They also need to shore up the defense just a bit more as they're still surrendering far too many points. They'll get another opportunity this week facing a Sioux Falls team that frankly Oklahoma City has statistically outpaced on offense.
1 - 3-Remaining at number 15, Vancouver. The Legion were hopeful for a victory in week 4, but the Tallahassee Pride are just rolling too strong right now for anyone to beat them. Coming off an impressive week 3 win the offense managed to outscore their current weekly average but the defense just could not stop the Pride from getting on the board. The defense has been the achilles heel for the team this season still averaging 38 points per game allowed. They are, however, doing an excellent job giving their offense additional opportunities by repeatedly taking the ball away from the other team, boasting a 3rd place turnover number of 10 on the season and a +2 turnover differential. If they can find a way to stop giving up so many yards, and ultimately points, the offense is capable of winning games. We'll find out very soon as their next opportunity to do so comes against a Houston offense that has put up over 80 points in the past two weeks.
16San Francisco
1 - 3+ 2At number 16, their highest ranking so far, the San Francisco Sharks. Facing off against a struggling Dallas squad in week 4 the Sharks were able to reel in their first week of the season. Another team that got their turnover bug in check, the Sharks only gave the ball away once this game. Down 13 - 7 at the half, the Sharks defensive unit, who is third worst in the league at surrendering points, held Dallas scoreless in the second half. The offense lead the team on an epic 16 point comeback in the 4th quarter for the win. Fortunately for them, Dallas is 2nd worst in the league at points allowed on defense - that certainly didn't hurt their odds. Things get more difficult in week 5 - they're going up against #3 Tulsa.
0 - 4- 3From number 2 in the preseason to number 17 after week 4, Chicago. Chicago can't seem to get things going on offense like they did last season. They're at the bottom of the league in scoring on offense and near the top in total turnovers - not a recipe for success. Their run game isn't the worst, but the only team lower in average rushing yards is Alaska who elected to go without a running back this season and focus on the passing attack. The defense has been decent, holding teams to under 16 points per game. It's all on the offense to get things going here and turn this season around for Chicago before things get out of hand. One bright light for this team and the next in our rankings - Vancouver started 0 - 4 last season and still went to the playoffs. They're not dead yet folks!
0 - 4- 2Rounding out the bottom of our list, at number 18, Dallas. And with that comes major changes to the roster. Last week, three players were placed. This week, three more - including their starting QB and WR. Both free agent veterans from Cleveland, Macc Wavy Jr and Prince Escobar were released after Steven Mullenex wasn't seeing what he like out of his offense. They've been replaced, along with DE Tee Cabell, with QB Mason Kirby, WR James Hands, and OLB Ray West. We'll see if this can get a spark going for the Ruffnecks. If not, watch for more changes on the defensive side of the ball as the unit has allowed the 2nd most points against on average in the league behind only Vancouver.