Jett Zero, Beat Writer
Banner image by J.R. Lawless
The playoffs are coming! The playoffs are coming! Such is the rallying cry heard all around the Simulation Football League at the close of Week 13 of the same-numbered season. The push to get into the postseason was one of surprises and drama, as several teams thought of as dark horse candidates for the final seed were upended by Houston’s sudden ascent to the final seed. With the postseason schedule all but set, rookie addition to the Las Vegas Fury (as well as the Beat Team) Jett Zero has set out to give us the PLAYOFF GUARANTEES* for the wildcard and scheduled quarterfinal games! Let’s get to it.
*note: Jett’s picks are absolutely not guaranteed in any way
(#10) Houston Hyenas 24 – (#7) Chicago Wildcats 20
If I were to tell you that, going into Week 11, the 2-7 Hyenas (with arguably the toughest 3-game slate of games to close out the season) would explode into the playoffs on a 3-game winning streak, you’d have looked at me sideways. The fact of the matter, however, is that Eddie Gauge and co. have been coaching and playing lights out to finish the season, including a win in Chicago. Although it was the Wildcat’s narrow victory at home against the Sparrows that punched Houston’s ticket to the postseason, there will be nothing held back from either team come Saturday. Don’t get me wrong, on paper Chicago is the superior team with loads of talent and the pedigree to boot. It’s no surprise that the Wildcats had the most takeaways in the league and boast the best turnover differential by a large margin. They will play a tough game and leave nothing to chance. Let’s be honest though, the Hyenas are rolling and they won’t let Saturday be Eddie Gauge’s last game before he ships out to Arizona. Houston takes it by 4.
(#9) Tulsa Desperados 27 – (#8) Atlanta Swarm 35
Swarm quarterback Marcus Dunhill put up MVP caliber numbers this summer as he led the regular season in passing yards en route to Atlanta’s capture of the yardage crown in Season 13. Nothing should change in the post-season. The passing game is the Swarm’s bread and butter, and the Atlanta brass should lean on Dunhill and the receiving corps once again to secure the victory on Saturday. Week 2 saw a hopeful Desperados team fall at home to the Swarm in what would prove to be a turnover-riddled slugfest where Atlanta squeaked out an 8-point victory. Don’t expect to see the same two teams this weekend. Tulsa quarterback Ashley Jackson has improved her game down the stretch, and although the Desperados are a .500 team, there is a lot to like about them. Defensive end Gib Leedoo tied Vegas’ Rhett Sawyer for the league sack leader with 19 sacks. The defense can be disruptive up front and get to the quarterback. If Tulsa is to have a chance against Atlanta, they will need to get to Dunhill early and often. Forcing turnovers and making the Swarm’s offense 1-dimensional is the key to slowing down their high-powered passing attack. As it is, though, I see the Swarm taking their postseason berth and running with it by 8 points.
(#6) Alaska Storm 20 – (#3) Seattle Tyrants 33
Throughout the Summer 2019 season, the Hunting Grounds has been an impregnable domain of dominance and supremacy. The Tyrants have given no quarter to visiting teams, averaging 33 points per game on their home field to a tune of an undefeated 6-0 record. The balanced offensive attack of QB Jacques Luyindula (101.4 QBR on the season) and RB Zack Sandlin (#2 rushing in the league) has punished opponents offensively while allowing the team to hold their ground on defense. Head coach Crash Combs will look to continue Seattle’s success at home with a big win in the quarterfinal round, exemplifying their T-2nd best record in the league this season. Conversely, its been tough sledding for the Storm on the road all season. Despite a NARROW 3-point victory over the top ranked Denver Nightwings on the road in Week 2, Alaska has been unable to muster more than 20 points offensively as the visiting team all season. All 4 of their losses this summer have been on the road (in games that were not very close), with their only 2 road wins coming off of minor 3-point leads. Statistics aside, Alaska has always found a way to WIN in the postseason with back-to-back-to-back SFL titles under their belt. Their seasoned veteran crew of Ron Cockren, Jeff Comeau, Robert Merrill, Optimus Cline, Evan Carroll, Ryan Davidson, and AJ Francis all have 3 trophies to their name (literally) and will showcase why that is next Tuesday. It would be an egregious blunder to sleep on these guys. Nevertheless, I just can’t get past the mismatch of Alaska’s road woes vs. Seattle’s home prowess. The Storm train stops here folks.
(#5) Tallahassee Pride 30 – (#4) Mexico City Aztecs 38
Christmas comes early for eager SFL fans as they are treated to one of the marquee match-ups of the summer to finish the season… AND to open the second week of playoff football! It’s Round 2 for Mexico City and Tallahassee as both franchises will fight tooth and err… claw to advance to the semi-finals. After edging out the Pride at the Lion’s Den in Week 13, Coach Ramos will call on the arm of Hall of Famer Matt Willson, legs of Hall of Famer Ray Bentley, the foot of (eventual) Hall of Famer Kole Varner, and the (Hall of Daggs) Daggs trio to secure an early playoff victory at home. Like Seattle, the Aztecs are also undefeated at home while putting up gaudy offensive numbers to boot. Willson and Bentley have both enjoyed HOF numbers this season as Mexico City posted a blinding points per game, averaging 36.75. They can beat you through the air or on the ground. If you are a nervous Tallahassee fan and have been reading up until this point, here’s the good news: Christian Christiansen. CC boasts a near 77% (!) completion percentage while having racked up 4,100 yards on the season. Tallahassee’s air raid offense is deadly. They have the knowledge and the talent to win any match-up on any given Sunday… or Tuesday for that matter. The key here is to somehow slow the offensive juggernaut that is Mexico City. Pride FS Sir Chappell should be in full ball-hawking mode next week, as the TO differential will ultimately decide the outcome of this game. Fun fact: Mexico is +12 in TO differential this season. Tallahassee is +0.