Jett Zero, Ray Bentley
Banner Image by J.R. Lawless

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up for another exciting edition of Zero Guarantees! Last week’s games were a wild bunch (not to be confused with The Wild Bunch) that helped solidify some storylines and liquefy others. Of course, when everything was said and done, the rowdiness of the games mattered not one bit; only the final up or down, win or lose. To that end, we here at Zero Guarantees are batting a wholly respectable 29:21 in game picks – obviously, we’re doing something right here, so thank you very much for allowing us to gaze into the future with our crystal balls and predict most of it! Speaking of which, we’ve got this week’s picks lined up, so without any further ado, let’s get into them!

Chicago Wildcats 20
Florida Storm 26

Saturday, February 22 | 9:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Chris Curtis | Ryan Caudill

Zero Guarantees, baby, what is you doin? Well, hold on a second there. First off, our jobs. Secondly, we have a good reason why we think a 3-2 team is going to even their record out against a 2-3 team. Florida has been having a stormy season this year, notching a win over the Nightwings (by three) and the Tyrants (by 28). The Wildcats, on the other hand, have won their last three match-ups after stumbling out of the gate to start the season off. So, where's that explanation of Chicago's loss? You'll find it in the defense. While the Wildcats have been riding a lucky streak as of late, their defense has allowed 16 more points than their offense has scored in total - while the Storm are riding a +5 positive. When things come down to a defensive wire like this? Well, folks, our apologies to Shann and company, but we're going with Big Sexy on this one.
Carolina Skyhawks 23
Queen City Corsairs 36

Saturday, February 22 | 9:15pm EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Jeff Melinyshyn | Wade Phillips

Pirate legend Blackbeard was feared in his time for being a larger-than-life legend. Survivors of his raids even spoke that Blackbeard himself were supernatural, and that his beard was made of smoke. It was, of course, all a ruse - he would place firecrackers in his hirsute face before boarding an enemy vessel as an intimidation tactic. So.. what am I doing telling you all this? History likes to repeat itself, and we fear the Carolinas will once again be terrorized by a strong group of swashbuckling ne'er do wells. The fifth best offense in the league will be matched up against the 14th best defense. Sounds rough on paper no matter how you slice it. Carolina might be getting tired of the smoke at this point; will they have had enough to extinguish this scallywag's winning streak? Look at it this way: the legend of Blackbeard persists to this day on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Queen City gets the nod by two scores.
Arizona Scorpions 13
Atlanta Swarm 28

Sunday, February 23 | 12:00pm EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Stephen Hacker | Dan Mitchell

The season is beginning to get out of hand for the SFL's newest franchise. The Scorpions are 1-4 and have probably the toughest match-up on tap this week when they visit the Hive on Sunday afternoon. It will be the Arizona OC's main goal this week to boost a floundering offense that is Bottom 4 so far this season and to inject some life into the rushing attack; DJ Moses is a stud and is frankly being under utilized over in the desert. Atlanta shouldn't have too tough of an afternoon this week on their home turf, and I am interested to see what current rushing leader BDG Hollewood has in store for this game. Through five weeks, Arizona is allowing 120.6 YPG on the ground defensively, 3rd worst in the league. That is going to be a major issue for the Scorpions if they can't get a handle on Hollewood early before he runs rampant for four quarters. At the end of the day, I foresee this being a strong victory for the Swarm as they have more fire power and better defensive chops to handle the struggling visitors. Crazier things sure have happened, but I'm not placing any bets on this one.
St. Louis Gladiators 24
Vancouver Legion 35

Sunday, February 23 | 12:05pm EST [YouTube]
Broadcasters: Eric Vinson | Cade Stephens

Enticing match-up here in Vancouver, mainly because we're more than likely going to get to fully test the SFL's version of the Madden Curse, #CurseOfFirst. Now I know what you may be thinking: "STL has no chance in h*** to win this game." I wouldn't be so sure on that. The Gladiators have showcased a considerably greater level of play in recent weeks. Their 43-17 dismantling of a favored Las Vegas team has made St. Louis the team to watch this week. They have a chance to write their page in the history books if they can do what no other team has been able to do yet this season: beat the Legion. Meanwhile, the Eternal Frost are enjoying one of, if not their best, start to a season in franchise history. They are the clear heavy favorites to take this game at home. Tom Pepper is dominating the QB position this season with the top QBR at 113.3. Interestingly enough, #1 draft pick Jonny Pichler is sneakily #2 on that list behind Pepper. If the Gladiator D can halt the rolling tide of the Vancouver offense, they could very well have a chance in this one.
Las Vegas Fury 24
Seattle Tyrants 28

Sunday, February 23 | 3:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Rich Pratchard | Eddie Gauge

Well this is an interesting game, to be sure. The visitors, Las Vegas, were on a tear until they hit a brick wall called St. Louis. Seattle, on the other hand, went toe-to-toe with the number one offense in the league, only dropping the game by a single touchdown. Offensively, Las Vegas has been quietly putting up solid numbers (but with Steven Mullenax as OC, that's somewhat to be expected). Seattle's defense, on the other hand, held the Legion to a season low 27 points. Yeah, yeah, 27 points is at least 3 trips across Hollywood Boulevard, but considering they hadn't scored under 38 prior to that, it's no feat to thumb your nose at. Something else that makes this game interesting? In a way, it's yet another homecoming game for Mullenax, who left the Dallas Lobos to move to Mexico City, then Las Vegas. The Lobos became the Tyrants, and with former MVP Zack Sandlin running the rock for them, the question for this game becomes: Will Mullenax eat another L against an MVP that he helped build up (his first being against MXC in Week 1)? We hate to have to do it to ya, Vegas, but we feel like this game will be Seattle's to lose.
Tulsa Desperados 21
London Knights 27

Sunday, February 23 | 5:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: T-Roy Gaines | Steven Mullenax

If this isn't called the Cops and Robbers match (or should it be Bobbies and Burglars?) then consider this writeup my resignation, tendered and effective immediately. Deacon Nickens and his Desperados are on a 2 win streak and currently sit in the top 10 on standings. Liam Crowter's London Knights are 2-3, but don't let that record fool you; they still ran 42 points up on the top ranked team (Vancouver) and kept a close game last week for 3 quarters in Mexico City. Here's where things get gritty: Nickens has 2 less INTs on the season than does his counterpart in London, Angus MacLaine, at 14 to 16. The ratio, however, is different: Nickens has 9:14 compared to MacLaine's 14:16. Rushing is roughly tied, with Sonzo Robinson and Jason Williams scoring 3 times and fumbling twice (losing only one each, as well). When all is said and done, we here at Zero Guarantees feel that the Knights have the edge, and not just in their scabbards! Tulsa's 2-game winning streak comes to a close this week, with a proper pip pip. Perhaps, even, a cheerio!
Mexico City Aztecs 26
Denver Nightwings 30

Sunday, February 23 | 7:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Colin Northrup | Rick Northrup

Is Denver finally on the upswing? Although the Nightwings only have two wins to their name, boy are they big ones. Upsetting both BAL and QCC in their home stadium is nothing to sneeze at. Then again, they are winless on the road. Fortunately for them, they play host again on Sunday night to the visiting Aztecs. Speaking of, Mexico City has looked good the last few weeks as well. After a dominant 56 point performance last week, our southern neighbors are looking for their 3rd win of the season in Week 6. Rookie FB Phoenix Jones has been the X Factor for this unit that has been struggling offensively. Getting him involved and spreading the ball around early should be their plan in Denver. The Nightwings need to just ride McChesney all game long and tell their defense to not give up the big plays. Denver ekes this one out while riding their home winning momentum.
Sioux Falls Sparrows 17
Jacksonville Pride 31

Sunday, February 23 | 9:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Cameron Irvine | Charles Dougherty

Great match-up here in the Sunshine State. Both these teams prior to Week 5 were looking like heavy favorites to make the playoffs this season. This still may very well be the case, but both Sioux Falls and Jacksonville suffered huge losses last week on the road. The Sparrows are currently on a two game losing streak after going undefeated through the first quarter of the season. Julian Tyree and Co. must upset the home team in this contest to avoid falling to .500 on the season. The Kings are in a great position here to stay in the Top 5 in the power rankings if they can stick to the fundamentals and not let this game get out of hand. Both teams are practically equal defensively, so the key to victory in this match-up will be offensive coaching and playmaking. SXF can steal this win on the road if their DC can control the air raid offense that HC Frank Goodin has been known to run this season and in seasons past. I'm taking the home team in this one, but would not be surprised to see a Sparrows upset.
New Orleans Pharaohs 31
Houston Hyenas 20

Monday, February 24 | 7:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Andy Hamilton | Gerald Giudicessi

New Orleans continues rising from the dead, if their performance last week is anything to go by. The Houston Hyenas are a team in search of an identity this year, and they're desperately hoping that identity isn't "missed the playoffs." Meanwhile, the Pharaohs are hoping that their win against last-week's top ranked Jacksonville Pride wasn't just a fluke, but the start of something good. For me, it all comes down to a case of "Who Do You Trust?" Two quarterbacks that were rookie sensations who haven't quite had the success of that first season are matched up this week, but only one of them is posting a 1:4 TD:INT ratio. If Houston can learn to calm down their throwing to anyone wearing a uniform on the field, they'll be sitting pretty with Warren Murray there to help carry the non-passing weight. New Orleans, on the other hand, is firing on all cylinders on offense, but defensively has been allowing games to be much closer than they need to be. What does it all mean? Shootout in the first half, Pharaohs take it away in the second. Woof. Sorry, Houston.
Baltimore Vultures 33
Charleston Predators 28

Monday, February 24 | 9:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Mike Daggs | Matt Willson

Game of the week right here. And if it isn't the game of the week 'officially', it should be. This is probably (at least for me) the most anticipated match-up of heavyweight teams thus far in Season 14 since Baltimore hosted, and defeated, the Atlanta Swarm back in Week 4. This time, the Vultures find themselves on the wrong side of the home field advantage coin flip as they will be traveling to the slightly warmer Carolinas to close out Week 6 on Monday night. Honestly, I can't wait to see how this game unfolds because I have no clue what to expect here. Both teams boast 4-1 records and sit towards the top of the power rankings chart. Baltimore and Charleston are #1 and #2 respectively in current defense, with the Predators only allowing 2 more points heading into this week. Baltimore's unit has the offensive edge, ranking in at #2 in offense compared to CHS's #13 spot in points scored. The Predators have also enjoyed an easier schedule through five weeks compared to the Vulture's gauntlet of games. Since the Predator's are home,, normally I would tend to side with them. But Baltimore's top offensive and defensive stats are enough to sway me in their direction for this contest. But hey, what do I know. I'm just glad I get to sit back and enjoy this great match-up with clear playoff implications. Let the battles begin!

Season 14 Zero Guarantees Record: 29-21