Written by Christian Christiansen and Xander Gold
Graphics and Published by Mike Daggs

We’ve been too nice to y’all the last few weeks with our positive and ‘ever-so-inspiring’ messages here. It just doesn’t feel like “us” to be the ones that are giving everyone the willpower to keep on going each week (yes, it was particularly hard for Carolina to get up Monday morning to all of TJ’s @messages — you’re welcome for our help Skyhawks and the critical role we played in helping you get back on APF to get the sims and gameplanning rolling again). With that, many teams are now entering the last month of play for this season and we are nearing when the league will drop their first piece of media, addressing the playoff picture and playoff scenarios that will arise over the next five weeks. That’s exciting. For about 2/3 of the league. The post-season is on the horizon folks, it’s getting interesting.

– Christian Christiansen

TeamsRecordChangeRankTeam Recaps:
8 - 001They just can't lose! Five picks from MVP front runner, Ron Cockren, against an elite Mexico City defense, most setting up the Aztecs with great field position, and the Storm still win, 12-3 in Mexico City. Seriously. Even on a day where the offense sputtered and had their worst output of the season (enough to drop them to #2 on the PPG rankings behind the Pride), their defense played lights out and had arguably the most impressive defensive showing of any team all season (and yes, I'm including Mexico City's own shutout of the redhot Sparrows). Mexico City probably had the best shot at knocking off the Storm, but other teams like Vancouver have gotten scarily close. It's still hard to pinpoint a game where they lose. Massive kudos to whoever correctly predicts against the Storm in the pick 'em (if that will ever happen). One last note: at the 2/3 mark in their season, Alaska carries two of the top four MVP candidates right now (QB Ron Cockren and, yes, DT Alex Dominguez, who is having an otherworldly season, even by his standards and has earned his place in this conversation as a defensive player). That, by itself, is probably enough to earn the top spot in these rankings.
7 - 002Tallahassee remains at #2 on the power rankings and I don't see them falling at all this season. Tallahassee has been showing and flexing pure dominance since Season 11 came around and even though I didn't think it was possible, they get better as the season grows older. The Pride will look to keep their streak rolling when they take on Atlanta on ‘Friday Night Lights’.
Queen City
7 - 113Queen City has a real case for being #2, or even #1, in these rankings. They have looked flat out unbeatable in the last month and have steamrolled their competition in ways that, even in the historic franchise of the Corsairs, is rarely seen. They have the best aggregate team ranking (3rd in offensive scoring and 1st in defensive scoring). This might be the best iteration of the Corsairs yet, as they carry the most effective defensive scheme in the league and a potential MVP candidate in running back, Ash Odom. The only reason they stand below Alaska and Tallahassee is because of those annoying winning streaks that largely extend back to last season. If one of them happens to fall, or if they start looking vulnerable, QCC is more than primed to take their place. We aren't scared. We'll move them ahead.
6 - 1-14The Skyhawks are falling, the Skyhawks are falling. Nah, don't worry, they're only falling 1 spot below QCC. The Skyhawks got too lax and dropped their first game to the up and down Chicago Wildcats. When I tell you not even a person with 20/20 vision saw this coming, I mean it. Carolina’s defense just simply couldn't stop the Wildcats from scoring, but don't expect that to happen too often as they’re ranked 4th in average points allowed.
Sioux Falls
5 - 215Sioux Falls feels like the forgotten team in an absolutely stacked Western Conference. They stand 5-2, primed to position themselves for a playoff spot here in the next few weeks, carry the fourth best defense in the league and a sneaky good offense. Coming off a good win versus a fellow underrated Western Conference team (seriously, how is Denver 3-5?), it feels like the Sparrows have re-caught some momentum and could carry this out the rest of the season. Week 10, they'll clash again with Alaska, who blew them out in Anchorage, and it looks like the Sparrows probably have the best shot at knocking off ALK by the looks of the rest of their schedule (which is no cakewalk mind you).
Mexico City
5 - 2-16In a game that saw no TD’s, there were still many fireworks being lit up on Fan Night. We saw clipping calls, badly timed injuries, 7 total interceptions thrown, tears and cheers. On maybe the most important drive of the 4th Quarter, and maybe even the entire game, down 9-3 , we saw Andrew Francis send 'Lord' Ray Bentley to the shadow realm and crush Mexico City’s chances of winning that game all in one play. Props to Mexico City, forcing Alaska to play a different style of football they weren't used to. The Aztecs slowed the game down and made it a defensive slobber knocker. Mexico held the #1 scoring offense (going into the game) to only 12 points (all FG’s). If I were the Aztecs, I'd be proud of my defense, but in order to make a deep playoff run they’ll need to find a way to get the offense going and score more than 3 points.
5 - 307Do you hear that? It sounds like...a new contender! Or is it...OH NO HE'S BACK AND HE'S EVERY BIT AS GOOD AS BEFORE. Thomas Paterniti will be giving AJ Francis and Sir Chappel a run for their money in the Coach of the Year race, as he has the Vultures looking like a unit that has the firepower and schematics to go all the way. Paterniti has been such a revelation for this Baltimore team, that I'm not even counting them out catching the Skyhawks outright and forcing Carolina into Wildcard Wednesday, whilst putting Baltimore into the Quarterfinals.
4 - 408Atlanta is on a 2 game skid but still remains #8 on the power rankings. Marcus Dunhill and Co. took on the red hot Corsairs. The Swarm are still in position to place 2nd in a Southern Conference that is heating up, but they're gonna need to finish out these last 5 weeks strong to have a chance. Atlanta will look to get the better of Tallahassee the 2nd time around to kick off their new win streak.
4 - 429Um...this is not the same Tulsa team as the one we saw a month ago. Props to the Desperados for sticking it out through a disappointing opening month of the season and responding by ratting off four straight wins with the chance this week to knock off the Storm (nevermind what Andy Hamilton says). Dion Hawkins has firmly interjected himself into the Coach of the Year race as well, as he's been able to turn this team that didn't appear to have the pieces together to be a competitive team at the beginning of the season and has them very well-positioned to be in the playoffs and has them at second place in the Southern Conference. Perseverance folks.
3 - 4310The best E-back in the league finally made his mark in his premature career. The city of Chicago might be happy that he chose this game to do it as they knocked off the unbeaten Skyhawks. The Chicago defense wreaked havoc as they forced Luyindula into throwing 3 ints and only 1 TD. They also held the Skyhawks to just under 181 yards through the air. The Wildcats will meet the Skyhawks again later in the season and I look for Chicago to pull a clean sweep.
Las Vegas
3 - 4311My story stays the same with the Fury. The single most frustrating team in the SFL. Lined with talented players up and down the roster (including, but not limited to, QB Tom Ramen, RB Robert Redford, DT Fats Johnson, FS Anthony Wyo, etc., etc.) and among the hottest young coaches in the game in Max Jackson, they should be headlining the Western Conference with the Storm. Maybe it's just a product of being an expansion team in a stacked conference that also includes Mexico City, Sioux Falls, and Denver, among others, but this, despite carrying an already impressive fifth-ranked offense (but somewhat disappointing twentieth-ranked defense), feels like the team that's capable of finding another gear late in the season to input themselves in that category of being a realistic title contender. Watch out, it may not feel like Las Vegas has all the pieces working at full capacity yet, but WHEN they do, watch out.
3 - 4-312Houston fell short to the hot Tulsa Desperadoes. Warren Murray dominated the ground game with 152 rush yards and tacked on 2 TDs. Kentez Johnson had a rough game, but expect the young rookie to bounce back. D.R. Sim and the Hyenas will look to end their 3 game losing streak against Ray Bentley and the Aztecs.
3 - 5-313As we alluded to earlier, Denver is an impressive team, especially in this season of ownership transition for them, but only stands at 3-5. They've had some wacky late game scenarios and an extremely difficult schedule (being in that stacked Western Conference). They carry a team whose aggregate rankings suggest they are a playoff/borderline-playoff team and definitely look and feel like a team that we'll be seeing in the playoffs.
New Orleans
3 - 4314This young Pharaohs team seems to be finally turning the corner. Matt Wolfe, Ermac Jaxen and Leroy Brown are getting better as the season is getting older, now dropping less and less passes. This New Orleans defense has been turning heads as well, forcing turnovers in almost every game they play in. New Orleans is trying to make a late playoff push and they'll have to beat a couple division rivals to do so. It won't be easy, but that won't stop them from trying.
Oklahoma City
3 - 5315They are not dead yet. The Renegades are building off the great work of their new Defensive Coordinator, Peewee Reubens and are coming off a good conference win over the Dallas Lobos, 25-22. Now they carry their ninth-ranked scoring offense and eighteenth-ranked scoring defense into a difficult stretch, where they match up against a rising New Orleans team, a better-than-their-record-indicates Houston team, the red-hot Desperados, and the always competitive Atlanta Swarm. This is a series that will surely bring adversity, and we will see if Oklahoma City can continue to recapture their early season magic and channel their inner-Season 10 selves and return to the playoffs.
San Francisco
2 - 5-416San Francisco found themselves in a tough battle with the New Orleans Pharaohs. They fell just short after Sloan converted yet another onside kick. Can we all just acknowledge how good the Sharks are at onside kicks? Rob Roby torched the NOLA defense through the air for 408 pass yards but it wasn't enough to get them the win. The Sharks are on the outside looking in at the playoffs right now. If the Sharks want to sneak a playoff spot, they'll need to most likely run the table.
2 - 6217London says they can run the table. I mean... with an offense like they have, anything is possible. They just got to get hot. And they just haven't been in sync all season. Maybe at this point, it really is a roster composition issue, maybe there was some playbook concerns (maybe those concerns are being remedied under Nathan Blake?), who really knows? The Knights backs are up against the walls and they responded last week by beating a Gladiators team that is quickly sliding down the ranks. They have the means to continue their run.
2 - 6-218Vancouver, what are you doing?! You're killing your fans here man. You can't expect to win when you turn the ball over 4 times. You also can't expect to win when you don't use maybe your most prominent player: Kody Hill. Kody has so much potential to be so good but he isn't getting the touches. Vancouver has to balance out the workload between Biddix and Hill. Once they do, I believe all of their problems will be solved and fixed.
St. Louis
2 - 6-419And just like that, St. Louis has exited the Conference Crown Race and their season teeters on the brink of elimination. The peripheral stats don't look good either, as the team has fallen off to the 19th ranked scoring offense and the 17th ranked scoring defense. I don't think they are about ready to assume the role of spoiler yet. They still have some gas left in the tank in some special players in QB Dylan Aciel and SS Ethan Kye (will he ever stop catching picks?). If they can figure out what has happened and recapture what had them rolling at the beginning of the season, they have an outside shot at making a playoff push.
1 - 6120Dangit Dallas, you were a few catches and play calls away from taking your 2nd win of the season. Really, those screen plays that got ran out of no huddle at the 3 yard line with about 30 seconds left were very unfortunate. You guys played a heck of a game, and in the end, just fell short. The offense of the Lobos seemed a little sluggish and didn't play like themselves. The defense played well and held OKC for a while. Dallas are a few plays from turning it around, but it looks like it'll be a little too late to make a playoff push this season.
1 - 7-121And we have a new team at the bottom of the pile. It's been a rough season for Tom Pepper and the Devils -- enough to the point where Pepper has publicly rolled over the possibility of retirement. They rank dead last in scoring offense, but carry the eighth best scoring defense -- and that's a major takeaway this season as they can largely return their defensive core from this season into Season 12, presumably. It's probably too late to make a legitimate playoff push, but Indianapolis is doing it right by doing some experimentation for when next season rolls around. At the end of the day, Indianapolis has a talented team, James Richards has a good scheme that he has ran effectively before, and they have some real defensive talent, but some key offseason mistakes look to have sunk the season and put an Indy team that controversially peaked at number five in these rankings in a spot none of us thought they'd be in on the eve of the playoff picture being released: at the very bottom. Welcome to The Ninth Circle.