Jett Zero, Beat Writer
Banner image by J.R. Lawless
What a group of quarterfinal games! Last minute thrillers, blocked kicks, whatever Denver was on – it was a great set of games to set up the final four teams remaining in the Simulation Football League’s 13th Season Playoffs. For the first time since Season 10, a brand new champion will be crowned, as none of the remaining competitors have previously taken home the trophy. Fortunately, Jett Zero is here yet again to tell us what’s what, using his incredibly accurate… actually, I’m not sure what he’s using. All I know is that you can take his Guaranteed* Picks all the way to the bank**.
*not a guarantee whatsoever. I really need to talk to him about this.
**you can take his picks anywhere; they are not guaranteed and continue to have no cash value
#3 Seattle Tyrants 28 – #2 Baltimore Vultures 33
Heckuva win for the Tyrants and the Seattle fanbase. Just when it looked like the 3-time defending champs were going to hand Seattle their first home loss of the season (in predictable playoff fashion for the Storm), the Tyrants ROARED back to a 3-point victory on a most improbable walk-off TD connection between QB Jacques Luyindula and WR Mason Kirby. The “Stunner in Seattle” did just that, as it left speechless the entirety of the SFL community, including League Commissioner Cameron Irvine during what will eventually go down as a historic game call, whilst assisting in keeping the Tyrants Season 13 championship hopes alive. Alternatively, the Baltimore Vultures made perhaps a much less exciting, but arguably a much more impactful statement in their home victory over Atlanta. Neither team broke the game wide open, but as I stated in my ATL v. BAL prediction, the key to victory would be efficiency. Baltimore was able to force the lone turnover in the game on the hands of FS Giovanni Bolt, thus keeping that much needed separation on the scoreboard between the two teams. Focusing on the basics and playing smart, mistake-free football were the Vulture’s keys to success, and they will look to continue that mentality next Tuesday.
I so badly want to take Seattle in this game. Luyindula, Sandlin, JS3, Kirby, Ajlouni, etc. have been fire all season for head coach Crash Combs and have put the rest of the league on notice. Veterans of this league can tell you, defeating Alaska in the playoffs to this point has been a fool’s mission, but the Tyrants were able to nick Achilles’ heel and live to see another day. Baltimore, however, will be a different beast entirely. Not only have the Vultures not lost at home this season (7-0), but they have won 12 straight regular season/post season home games and boast a 19-2 record at home in such games since the franchise’s relocation back to Baltimore and rebranding as the Vultures following Season 10. Their last home loss came in Week 5 of Season 12 against their semi-final cohorts, the Tallahassee Pride (the other being to Mexico City in the S11 playoffs). Bottom line, Tim Johnston’s crew can flat out play at home, which is why they win this one by 5.
#5 Tallahassee Pride 24 – #1 Denver Nightwings 34
After having gone near-perfect in my playoff predictions until this point, the one franchise I mistakenly slept on was the Tallahassee Pride. The runner-up Season 10 & 11 champions suffered back to back to back post-season defeats by the hands of the eventual would-be champions, the Alaska Storm, the last three seasons. You can sure as hell BET that Pride owner Frank Goodin sent that Kirby guy a fruit basket on Tuesday night as he streaked into the endzone as time expired, thus allowing Tallahassee to side step that monumental turd in the road that would have been a fated TAL/ALK playoff re-match. The following night, the Pride pulled off what I believed to be an upset in Mexico City against a thundering Aztecs team who looked as though they couldn’t be beat. Shame on me.
Nearly 1,500 miles away in Denver, Colorado, the top-seeded Nightwings had their own game to win, which they did handily. The dismantling of the Cinderella story that was the Houston Hyenas may have been the biggest surprise of the post-season to date; not because of the win, but because of the sheer brutality in which they won. The Hyenas, who rolled to four straight wins against playoff bound teams to close the season, found themselves in a 27-0 hole before scoring their first points of the game with merely 100 seconds left on the clock. 13 seconds later, Denver would gouge them for another 31-yard touchdown. Call me crazy, but Denver is a good freaking team. Again, the Nightwing’s defense showed up and did their job, as they have done all season. Watching the game in Colorado on Wednesday, I’m not seeing anyone that can really beat this unit. CC and gang will put up a good fight, but if they want their third shot in four years of winning a title, they are going to have to do what the rest of the league has been unable to do all season: score points on Denver’s defense. If they can do that, maybe they’ll have a chance. Otherwise, Denver by 10.