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

Welcome back to another exciting edition of Zero Guarantees! I’ve always been a fan of seeing hubris reach critical mass, and I guess it was only a matter of time before our flawless picks would come back to bite us in the tuchus. Yes, last week our illustrious crew had our worst outing since the first week of picking, but it won’t get us down too much: we’re still rocking a 33-27 positive record. In other words, we’re still feasting on W’s and we’re not going to let up any time soon. With that being said, let’s waste no more time on it, and dive right into our Week 7 Zero Guarantees!

Florida Storm 16
Arizona Scorpions 13

Saturday, February 29 | 9:00pm EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Colin Northrup | Rick Northrup

Will Ray Bentley get another Lucky Score to add to his pile of weird factoids from the Storm / Scorpion matchup? All signs are pointing to yes for this one; but which signs? Where to start, where to start. Florida's offense is currently ranked 11th in the league and has allowed 5 more points than they've scored. On the other hand, Arizona has a negative 52 point differential; they've scored more overall points than the Storm, but have given up significantly more. Ashley Jackson, quarterback for the Scorpions, is also in fifth place for total interceptions on the season, compared to 11th for Ron Cockren. Defensively, the Storm eke out the edge as well; Arizona might have the genius of Eddie Gauge behind their DC duties, but they've still allowed 7 rushing touchdowns compared to the Storm's one. Therein lies the rub: Arizona is at home, and if they can hunker down and get DJ Moses II really going, they might just survive this storm. Odds are they'll get blown away, though.
Denver Nightwings 21
Tulsa Desperados 17

Saturday, February 29 | 9:05pm EST [YouTube]
Broadcasters: Rich Pratchard | Stephen Hacker

Speaking of the reigning champs, I'm not sure ANYONE knows what Denver team is going to show up on any given Sunday this season. Will it be the Nightwings that were dissected by the Las Vegas Fury during Vice Wars back in Week 4? Or will it be the Nightwings that defeated perennial power houses in Baltimore and Queen City? Who Knows? And although the Desperados' and Nightwings' records are mirror opposites (4-2 and 2-4, respectively), I believe these franchises are pretty equally matched. Tulsa has only conquered one team outside of the Bottom 5 (and lost to one of them too) this entire season, with the lone outlier being a freak walk off Hail Mary to stun Chicago in Week 1. Denver, alternatively, has not won a road game all season. What all of this translates to is this: statisticians and Beat Team gremlins such as myself shrugging their shoulders and tossing darts at numbers on the wall. Luckily for Denver, my dart happened to land on their picture this week, next to a score of 21-17.
London Knights 23
Carolina Skyhawks 24

Sunday, March 1 | 11:00am EST [YouTube]
Broadcasters: Jeff Melinyshyn | Eddie Gauge

Golden opportunity for the Skyhawks this week to improve to two wins on the season. David A. Richardson Memorial Stadium will be in a frenzy on Sunday as the London Knights make a pit stop on their tour of the Carolinas. Personally, I cannot wait to see defensive stud Zane Doty line up across from one of the most dangerous receivers in the league in Gabriel Manning. I predict a more explosive game between these two teams than most fans would probably think. London is 6th overall in passing and last in points allowed per game, which means they will be taking shots downfield while also giving Carolina the opportunity to keep the score rolling on offense. At the end of the day, I believe it is time for Carolina to double their wins for the season in front of the home crowd. London, however can flip the script if they can get Jason Williams involved early and often. Should be a great match-up.
Houston Hyenas 10
Charleston Predators 30

Sunday, March 1 | 11:05am EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Andy Hamilton | Jeremy Vega

Even though they're sitting on a win against the Pharaohs from last week, that match-up against the Vultures was rough for the Hyenas. Losing is never fun, but a 40-point loss is just painful. Unfortunately for Houston, the pain is about to continue, as they travel to Charleston, South Carolina this week to take on the 5-1 Predators. That 1? Was a Week 2 loss to the Vancouver Legion, after which Charleston hasn't looked back. We try to be as fair and balanced as we can in picking our scores, but this match-up is inherently imbalanced on paper. A top five team against a bottom five team is tough to spin no matter how you slice it. So what can Houston do to prove us wrong? Well, I'd say stop the turnovers, as Kentez Johnson is posting an abysmal 1:4 touchdown to interception ratio, but... the Predators haven't had a star player pick the ball off once. In half a season. So, then, if Kentez can keep their streak alive and hit his targets, the Hyenas might be able to stave off a loss from Charleston. We just don't see it happening against a top-five team that's been swimming forward almost all season.
St. Louis Gladiators 20
Chicago Wildcats 27

Sunday, March 1 | 2:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Cameron Irvine | Charles Dougherty

Last week, fans from all over tuned into the STL / VAN game to see if the dreaded Curse of First had any weight to it. Folks: IT DID NOT! Not one ounce. While the Gladiators played a valiant game for the first half, the Legion eventually pulled too far ahead for St. Louis to catch up to. No matter, as this week they face the Chicago Wildcats, Shann Varner's team that's looking more and more like their Season 9 outfit every day. Neither of these teams has captured the top spot in power rankings yet, so there's no clever phrasing like "The Eighth Hex" or "Lucky Number Thirteen" [EDITOR: Uhh...] to help easily choose a winner of this game. Fortunately for us, we don't need a goofy catchphrase or gimmick to sift through the numbers and pick a winner: it's got to be Chicago. Varner's team has been steadily climbing the standings since they stumbled out of the gate, while the Gateway City's victorious joy was cut short by the cold, cruel Legion. If the Gladiators want a shot at the W, they'll have to be able to shake that loss off, and quick; otherwise, they could be fodder for a set of hungry Wildcats. These fights were always a big draw back in the Roman empire - are you not entertained?
Atlanta Swarm 33
Seattle Tyrants 26

Sunday, March 1 | 4:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Robert Garrett Jr. | Steven Mullenax

One of many headlines for this match-up entering Week 7: Can the Tyrants return to Season 13 form before the end of this season? My response: I believe they can, but the comeback must begin NOW, this week, against Atlanta. Both playoff teams from last season, the Swarm and Seattle never got the chance to face off for a chance at the big game last fall. As we all know, Atlanta fell to Baltimore in the wild card round while the Tyrants made it all the way to the big dance, and the rest is history. This season, Atlanta is looking much more like the Seattle unit of last season, and Seattle, well, does not. Swarm RB BDG Hollewood is battling Vancouver back Sudo Nakai for the rushing title this season, while Seattle RB Zack Sandlin is not far behind in 3rd. The biggest difference between these two teams has been their QB play; Jacques Luyindula is straggling towards the back of the pack with a QRB of 70.1 while Marcus Dunhill of the Swarm has been rolling as the #2 QB in the league (behind Tom Pepper) with a QBR of 98.5. Needless to say, all signs point to an Atlanta victory in this one, I am not disagreeing with these numbers. If the Tyrants want any shot of making a late season resurgence and making a run at the Season 14 playoffs, they must begin their quest this week, by short-circuiting the Swarm's rushing attack and get their own passing game in check.
Mexico City Aztecs 27
Queen City Corsairs 20

Sunday, March 1 | 6:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: T-Roy Gaines | Dan Mitchell

The last few weeks have been concerning for the Corsairs. After beginning the season at 3-1 and havinggfone on a successful 3-game winning streak, Queen City fell on the road to the then 1-win Nightwings... and proceeded to follow that up with an ugly home win against another 1-win team in Carolina. The latter was particularly troubling as the Swashbucklers failed to effectively move the ball down the field on consecutive drives, leading to only 13 points on the scoreboard. Luckily, the defense (spearheaded by sack machine Jeff Duffy) smothered the Skyhawks offense and kept them out of the endzone. The Aztecs, however, are a different beast entirely. Coming off a strong road win in Denver, MXC was able to do something that QCC was unable to do two week prior. It seems QB Matt Willson and the RB duo of Ray Bentley and Phoenix Jones are finally gaining some traction offensively as the season wears on, so expect some fireworks in NY this weekend. Unless the Corsairs can show us a course correction for the offensive struggles as of late, my hand will be forced to award the vitory to the visitors in this one. If AJ Caswell can avoid turning the ball over, Queen City will have a much better outlook in this game.
New Orleans Pharaohs 24
Sioux Falls Sparrows 27

Sunday, March 1 | 10:30pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Chris Curtis | Ryan Caudill

Folks, my name is Ray Bentley, and I'm going to say it: defense wins games. In the past I've jokingly said this phrase isn't applicable to the SFL, but (quickly shoves a plateful of words into my mouth) it's time to eat. Xander Gold's team in the Big Easy has been slingin' rocks all season long, quickly becoming one of the hottest offenses in the league. Meanwhile, Sioux Falls has been tweaking and re-tooling things in the Dakotas, and might have found the perfect Colin Hart - Julian Tyree combination. Even though the Pharaohs have the edge as far as points for go, that edge disappears against the Sparrows defense. With an almost 50-point spread of points allowed between the teams, it will be up to Tank Bennett and company from New Orleans to try and keep the Sparrows grounded; otherwise, they'll fly off with the W. With all things considered in this match-up, I've got to say it again: the black-and-gold clad defense will win the game. Either way, I've eaten worse words before.
Vancouver Legion 35
Las Vegas Fury 21

Monday, March 2 | 7:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Eric Vinson | Cade Stephens

Big test for the Legion this week. Vancouver must travel to the Silver State and take down the Fury in front of the home crowd in order to stave off the Curse of First for one more week. This contest appears, on paper, to be one of their toughest match-ups in recent weeks, as they have hosted 4 of the last 5 of their games. Honestly, I could sit here all day and go through the laundry list of mind-boggling team stats that Vancouver currently boasts through 6 weeks (39.33 PPG, 26 TDs, #1 in rushing TDs), but let’s take a moment and focus on how Las Vegas can dethrone this simulated Goliath. Offensively, the Legion’s greatest strength is the run game, spearheaded by 2nd year stud Sudo Nakai; currently LV is 2nd worst in rushing defense. If the Fury’s front 7 can hold their own this week, it would be a huge boon for the team as a whole. The Fury also allow a league worst 63% conversion rate on 3rd down; stop VAN on 3rd down, win the game.
Baltimore Vultures 24
Jacksonville Kings 23

Monday, March 2 | 9:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Mike Daggs | Matt Willson


That song basically sums up my feelings on this one. While we've got Baltimore by one point, really, this is anyone's game. Both teams started the season near the peak of the heap, and they're both experiencing a slide they hope to end ASAP. The Vultures have the Kings beat as far as records go (4-2 vs 3-3), but the Kings are never a team to just roll over and accept the statistics as against them. Both running backs are having anomalous 'off' seasons this year, with T-Roy Gaines and Jared Willis coming in outside of the top ten in rushing, but it's on defense where the Vultures start to pull away. Jacksonville has a net positive 24 points in their 6 weeks of games; Baltimore has found the endzone an extra 7 times, give or take. They've also allowed under 100 total points for the season to the Kings' 129. Ultimately, though, we can sit here and crunch numbers til the cows (or, in this case, lions and birds) come home, but it won't do us any good. Again, this is anyone's game, and we here at Zero Guarantees think that when all is said and done, the Vultures will have squeaked out a single point victory. For Jacksonville, at least the consolation is that Pat Benatar knows of your woes.

Season 14 Zero Guarantees Record: 33-27