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Jack Brown, Jett Zero, Merrick Itera, Mike Improta, Ray Bentley
Banner Image by J.R. Lawless

The SFL Beat has received plenty of “feedback” in the discord. Based on their incredibly bemused observance of the action around the league, we have some advice: Beware of your emotions. Validate yourself. Keep perspective. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Wilma Rudolph once said, “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” The SFL Power Rankings are written on sacred grounds… a spot to which we say, “No, you can never beat us, but yes, you can always join us!” Let’s all be Champions!

MAJOR MILESTONE:  The SFL Beat Team would like to recognize #28 Ray Bentley, now in his 10th season, as becoming the third Running Back in SFL history to go over 10,000 yards rushing.  Congrats to Senior Aztec, Mr. Bentley!  He must now retreat to the grassy foothills where his enemies can never find him! [EDITOR: Well now they’re searching the foothills, damn it!]

There’s a shimmy…There’s a shake. Don’t miss it! Let’s get to the rankings.

Rank
Team
Record
(Movement)
Recap

1

Atlanta Swarm
6 - 1
(▲ 1)
The buzz... is real. That's right, the belated Curse of First struck again last week, sending the Vancouver Legion tumbling two spots to the bronze platform, leaving a void to be fought over by the Atlanta Swarm and Charleston Predators. Fierce argument ensued between a majority of the Power Rankings team on one side, and the lone Predator representative on the PR team on the other. As evidenced, the Swarm contingent won out. As well they should have, and will if and when these two powerhouse teams meet up in the postseason. Atlanta's averages more yards and points than Charleston, and has an MVP candidate in their running back BDG Hollewood. Defensively, the Swarm could stand to tighten up a little more, but still come in at 6th for Points Allowed per game. With a match-up against the Windy City on the docket this week, Atlanta can start locking up a spot in the postseason with a win. Buzz buzz.

2

Charleston Predators
6 - 1
(▲ 1)
Settle in, me hearties, for a tale... a WHALE of a tale! Yes, the Charleston Predators, after mercilessly dismantling the Houston Hyenas, have finally hit the pea- WAIT A SECOND. Sorry, Jack, but the Preds are #2 this week. Defensively, everything is clicking down in South Carolina in ways that, sometimes, can be downright scary. See their win against the Hyenas last week, which would have been 6-17 without a pair of pick sixes from the Charleston defense. In fact, that previous sentence helps highlight, actually, why the Predators occupy the silver spot this week. Defensively, it's been smooth swimming for these carnivores, but offensively? Could do with less splash, and more thrash. They'll get just the opportunity to do that in the Big Easy this week, taking on the New Orleans Pharaohs. Much like Atlanta and Vancouver, a win will help push them closer to punching that postseason ticket, though nobody has been officially eliminated nor clinched just yet. If their defense can remain as potent as it's been while helping to wake up the offense, the Predators might even shimmy-shamu their way to homefield advantage in the postseason.

3

Vancouver Legion
6 - 1
(▼ 1)
Usually teams that are on the ball enough to score the dreaded 'safety' end up winning those games, considering the prowess of their defense and special teams. Vancouver, on the other hand, wasn't able to get anything going until their sacking of Vegas' Tom Ramen in the end zone in the second half of their game, which... is not a sentence any of us expected to be typing about this Legion team this season. Coach Andy Hamilton has said all season long that he approaches each game with a "0-0" mindset, but with offensive superstars Sudo Nakai and Tom Pepper slowed by the Fury's defense last week, perhaps it would be better to take to the field against the back-and-forth Florida Storm with a 0-1 chip on their shoulder. Fortunately for Vancouver, they are no longer in the aim of the Curse of First, and with a win, they'll be one game back from their first postseason berth since Season 9. If the Legion want to see that promised land again, utilizing their sole loss as motivation might not be such a bad idea after all.
4
Queen City Corsairs
5 - 2
(▲ 1)
Yarr, these swashbucklers keep sailin up the rankings! Rising a spot from last week with a decisive home win over the Mexico City Aztecs, Queen City breaches into the top five for the first time of the season. The Great Lakes Buccaneers are sailing fast and proud this season, posting a 5-2 record and nabbing POTW awards in every category. James Troll, Corsairs kicker, was honorable mention this previous week by virtue of the fact that his 4-for-4 was outmatched by a 7-for-7 FG performance. AJ Caswell and Stephen Hacker are a match made in heaven. And that defense! Second best in the league as far as total points allowed (113 - ten more than the league's #1!) and helping keep opposing offenses under 280 yards a game. Queen City sails the high (and explicitly wide) seas to travel to London next week; by all accounts, we expect to see the Corsairs hoisting the Jolly Roger upon their return next week, with Captain Erik Barkley proudly wearing the crown jewels as he steers his vessel back to postseason glory.
5
Baltimore Vultures
4 - 3
(▼ 1)
With a loss last week in Jacksonville, the sturdy Vultures are struggling to remain in the Top 5. Even with three losses to their name, Baltimore is still dominating most statistical categories, including net points (2nd), points allowed per game (4th), points per game (T-2nd), and turnovers (T-4th). That’s the good news for TJ’s red flyers. The other good news: Baltimore’s remaining regular season schedule appears on paper to be one of the easiest of all the teams currently vying for a playoff berth come April. Their Week 8 tilt at home versus the Sioux Falls Sparrows looks to be their most challenging game for the remainder of Season 14. Remaining opponents include NOLA (x2), Tulsa, and an uncharacteristically weak Florida Storm team. If they play their cards right, it would seem the Vultures could be soaring to a top playoff spot in just a few weeks, if they can remain as dominant as they have been offensively and defensively. And let’s not forget kicking ace Shark Tarkington (17 for 17 on FGs this season).
6
Sioux Falls Sparrows
5 - 2
(▲ 2)
As mentioned above, huge road game for the Sparrows this week as they travel east to Baltimore. Currently on the outside of the Top 5 looking in, a strong showing the Charm City would almost assuredly launch these small birds into the upper tier of SFL franchises in Season 14. With the most effective rushing game in the league, mostly thanks to RB Colin Hart and his rookie FB cohort Jaylin Wells, Sioux Falls has been dominating games and controlling the clock more effectively in the 4th quarter than any other team. Their success on the ground has also aided in limiting their turnovers on offense (2nd in the league). With upcoming opponent Baltimore in the bottom half of the league in rush defense, Hart could have a ‘field’ day this weekend. Fun fact: Sioux Falls is the only team in the league to be 100% on 4th down while having more than one attempt. They are 4 for 4. Let the gambling begin.
7
Jacksonville Kings
4 - 3
(▲ 3)
As one of the biggest positive movers this week in the power rankings, the Jacksonville Kings move up three whole spots! Ok, so not as impressive as I’m making it sound, but it’s still a pretty good achievement. Especially so as you move closer and closer to the top of the ranks, or in Jacksonville’s case, BACK towards the top. If you have been watching closely, you will have noticed that the Kings have been all over the this list, having won three straight games in Weeks 2-4, then dropping two straight before winning two MORE straight… yeah it’s been a wild ride. Their Week 7 41-35 victory over Baltimore, however, was probably their most impressive win so far of the season. Through seven weeks, we know two things about Jacksonville: 1) they like to throw the ball… A LOT, and 2) they are a good football team. Yet, if they want to be a GREAT football team, they must find a way to limit their turnovers, especially through the air. Being in the top 6 in turnovers for the whole league is not a stat worth bragging about; limit the turnovers and win more football games. Up next, Week 8 opener in the Lone Star State.
8
Chicago Wildcats
4 - 3
(▼ 2)
Every week it’s getting tougher and tougher to rank these Wildcats. Just when you think they’re good (or bad), they do something that totally defies the previously conceived notion about who they are as a team. Are they good defensively? Are they good running the ball? Do they give up too many turnovers? The real answer is that Chicago is middle of the pack in essentially every relevant statistical category that I can think of, both offensively and defensively. And their record reflects that trend at 4-3. With the big bad Atlanta Swarm coming to town this week, there’s not much time to pick something to be really good at and just practice that over and over. If I had to choose something for Chicago to focus on, it would be their 18th ranked rushing attack. Ash Odom is a machine who can pick up yards and get you first downs. He’s not too bad in the passing game either. For a team as good (or bad) as Chicago is right now, their passing game that is not ranked in the Top 5 could use some support. Positive rushing will also help reduce those killer turnovers, which could turn a guaranteed win into a loss pretty quick. If the defense can hold and they can start moving the ball better on the ground, watch out for these Wildcats. Or don’t, I’m not going to tell you what to do.
9
Mexico City Aztecs
3 - 4
(▼ 2)
Mexico City has had a pretty strong history of being a powerful franchise, but with a record of sub .500 at 3-4, they somehow stay inside the top 10 of the Power Rankings. Is it because of past success? Could it be based on strength of schedule? Or perhaps, is it because the team has two Hall of Famers on its roster with Matt Wilson and Ray Bentley? [EDITOR: it's definitely not because Ray runs the Beat Team, no sir] Whatever the reason, this team is not playing to its potential. Ray Bentley is last in the league with carries for all Running Backs, is third-to-last in rushing yards for all Running Backs, in the bottom third for receptions and has not come close to making the impact most were counting on. This Hall of Fame runner has been the reason why Mexico City has been tough to beat. QB Matt Wilson has been tough in the pocket with 15 touchdowns, completing over 70% of his passes, and Wide Receiver K.L. Barrett has done his best to breakout with 9 TDs, but this offense revolves around Bentley and he needs to be more involved. Has the Mexico City Magic disappeared? Rookie Defensive Tackle O’Ryin Taylor has one sack through 7 games, and that’s it…The entire team has one sack! The Corsairs put up 464 total yards against the Aztec defense. They were dismantled to the tune of a 29-19 final score, and most of Mexico City’s points came late in the fourth quarter. They’ve played their last two games on the road and are relieved to be heading back home, south of the border. The Aztec Empire looks to defend its city from the gunslingin’ stampede of Tulsa in week 8. If they can’t fight their way to victory over the Desperados, they’ll be saying ‘adios’ to the top 10 of the Power Rankings.
10
Tulsa Desperadoes
4 - 3
(▼ 1)
Tulsa falls a spot in the rankings to 10 with a tough loss at home to Denver. Consistency continues to elude the Desperados. This cost them the chance to improve to 5-2. With the Offense piling up yards on the ground, a 101-yard effort from running back Sonzo Robinson was not enough ammunition to shoot the Nightwings down. Deacon Nickens was asked to don the Superman cape, but he wasn’t the sharp shooter he needed to be, only throwing for 177 yards and getting picked-off 5 times. Khoury Jones also continued to do his best taking in 6 catches for 93 yards, but this was not enough. However, Tulsa’s defense was the ‘bright-spot,’ sacking Denver QB Josh Miller 5 times. Defensive End Berto Demoura and Defensive Tackle Jaeyden Swift each had two, and Chris Andrews added another. Demoura, making a push for Defensive Rookie of the Year, now has 9 sacks for the season. The Desperado “D’ pushed back the Tulsa offense, recording 9 total tackles for losses and had two interceptions from Cornerback Nate Hezlep. With that defensive determination, how could this add up to a 21-13 loss? The cowboys ran out of bullets, and when you lose the turnover battle, you usually lose the game. At this juncture of the season, the Desperados are probably a better team than the Nightwings, but when they turn the ball over in crucial situations and play without discipline, they can look pedestrian. Tulsa heads south for a road match-up with the Aztecs in week 8.
11
Las Vegas Fury
3 - 4
(▲ 3)
Did Vancouver Owner Andy Hamilton, get caught? Was he out too late gambling in the Vegas casinos? He certainly “crapped-out,” on Monday night! The Fury rolled the dice with giving the ball to Rookie Fullback Jonathan Truezman and hit the jackpot! Las Vegas, for the first time in season 14, was finally able to hand the Legion their only blemish of the season. Was it the SFL Beat “Curse of First” taking its toll, or was it the clever play calling of Offensive Guru Steven Mullenax, who caught the Vancouver defense counting their chips at the table? The Fury came out with the heavy odds stacked against them. Big Money was placed on the Legion, and big money was lost. In a huge showdown against the only remaining undefeated team in the league, Tom Ramen and Jon Truezman played perhaps the best game of their careers while showing the rest of the SFL that the Fury are not be ignored. Controlling the ball 11 minutes more than Vancouver, Ramen hit on 75% of his passes going 30 for 40, 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. Truezman rushed 11 times for 42 yards, punched it into the endzone twice, and the Fury “cashed-in.” Memphis Blue was the Player of the Game, going-off for 10 catches, 152 yards and 2 TD’s, and John Blades chipped-in with 6 receptions and 54 yards. The Vegas Defensive was a reminder to the Legion that the “House Always Wins.” They sacked Vancouver’s QB Tom Pepper four times and intercepted him four as well. Defensive Tackle Guapo Estaban got to Pepper twice, and Strong Safety Max Jackson led the secondary with two interceptions. Arizona travels to the Silver State to take on Las Vegas in week 8. Will the Scorpions come out ahead, or will they Fury be screaming, “Winner, Winner, Scorpion Dinner!?”
12
Denver Nightwings
3 - 4
(-)
The defending Champs have worked hard this season to convince the outside world they are legit contenders in the SFL. That could have all been undone in Tulsa, had Denver not snapped out of it on the road at Greenwood District Stadium. The Nightwings were not prepared to begin the game and went into halftime down 10-6. A disaster scenario was unfolding for new Head Coach, Jacob Bouvette with his team falling to potentially, 2-5... and then the light flipped on for the Nightwing defense, intercepting Tulsa QB, Deacon Nickens 5 times. Free Safety Josh Vasquez swiped three and Cornerback Matt Papineau flew-in for two. They eventually held the Tulsa offense to just one first half touchdown and a field goal late in the fourth quarter. The hero of the game was Kicker, Kramer Jackman (who got my vote) for Special Teams Player of the Week, booting an astounding 7 for 7 field goals. He gave his team the “much-needed” 21-13 win. Jackman had only kicked 7 total field goals coming into the game and doubled his season output to 14, putting him 7 behind league leader Anthony Cece from Chicago with 21. Kicking 3-pointers isn’t bad, but the Nightwings need their offense to “kick-it” into high-gear and find a way to get into the endzone if they see themselves heading back to the playoffs. The current Champions face the Carolina Skyhawks in week 8, and this might be the place where the ‘Denver Birds’ finally find their wings.
13
Seattle Tyrants
2 - 5
(▼ 2)
Falling at home last week to the Atlanta Swarm dropped the Tyrants to a less-than-dominating 2-5 record on the season, but all might not be lost for Seattle. Remember, this is the squad that challenged for the Championship last season, and although they haven’t looked much like themselves this season, they’ve shown enough flashes to indicate that Sandlin and the boys still have what it takes to get to the post season. This week, they go on the road to the Lou for a chance to get one game closer to even against the Gladiators, but this isn’t the STL group of old, though – this band of warriors has been attacking foes with a somewhat sharper blade in recent weeks, and Seattle could easily get the “thumbs down” from the crowd if they overlook this match up.
14
St. Louis Gladiators
3 - 4
(▲ 3)
The Gladiators traveled into the wilds of Chicago to face a perennial post season participant in the Wildcats last week, only to return with the pelt of their freshly slain adversary draped across their shoulders as the Arch came back into view. STL has been a significantly more lethal version of themselves this season, currently carrying a 3-4 record into their home defense against the Tyrants of Seattle this week. Their front 7 have a knack for getting to the QB, with Shane Masters, long-time Gladiators Veteran, leading the attack. Now their task is to stop the Tyrants and add another skin to the wall.
15
Florida Storm
2 - 5
(▼ 2)
It’s been a turbulent season so far for the newly minted Florida Storm. Their offense has been underwhelming (to say the least) and they’ve dropped games that it seems like they shouldn’t have based on the previous heights this organization became accustomed to living in. Their road loss to the expansion Arizona Scorpions last week signaled that changes needed to be made, and made they were. Starting with this weeks’ game at home against Vancouver, we’ll get a chance to see what the Florida Storm will look like moving forward this season. At 2-5, a win against the Legion would go along way to getting them back in the think of the post-season conversation, and no one doubts their ability to run the table from here on out to once again breathe the post season air.
16
Arizona Scorpions
2 - 5
(▲ 3)
The Scorpions have to be feeling good after their road win last week, and it shows exactly what this team needs to look like on the field from week to week from here on out if they hope to make it to the playoffs in their inaugural season. At 2-5, the playoffs aren’t quite out of reach just yet, but in order to make it to the finish line they’ll have to sprint past almost every single opponent they play from this point out, which is no small task in the SFL. Arizona has a great Defense to lean on, though - and if they can get the job done this week as they travel to Las Vegas to meet the Fury on the field, that will be a great testament to the adjustments they’re capable of making to salvage their 1st SFL season.
17
New Orleans Pharaohs
2 - 5
(▼ 1)
There is… a house… in New Orleans… it’s called Russel Honore Stadium… and it’s been, the ruin, of many an SFL team, and oh, the Pharaohs, are one.

It seems to be that NOLA had only about a game’s worth of winning in their system. After beating Jacksonville in NOLA, the Pharaohs have had a bit of a bumpy road trip. The trip to Houston resulted in Pickfest2k20, with New Orleans' Xander Gold throwing the majority of the picks. They moseyed on over to Sioux Falls… and got pillaged worse than an ancient Egyptian tomb. Xander Gold took a whopping 6 sacks during the game and threw 2 picks. 14 of the Pharaohs 21 points came in garbage time. On the whole, the Pharaohs had just, a not good game. Overall, they've just been having an awkward season. Great individual players, but they just have not operated as the unit they should be. On defense, they have 2 of the Top 5 tackling players in the league on the team in Levant Irvine and top tackler Tank Bennett… a Strong Safety. Which if that doesn’t at least send up some red flags about a defense, I do not know what does. New Orleans overall is just an interesting. This week however, they have one foot on the platform, the other on the train, they’re going back to New Orleans, to play, old Charleston.

Best of luck to them.
18
Carolina Skyhawks
2 - 5
(▲ 2)
For the first time since the legendary Pichler 6, the Carolina Skyhawks went and won a game. A low scoring 20-12 affair over the knight of London. Ya know, it seems like every game from the Skyhawks since Week 2 has been low scoring from the Skyhawks. Carolina’s offense, albeit not as downtrodden as some others, has not been firing on all cylinders at all past Week 2. Since that shootout, the Skyhawks have averaged just 14 points per game, whicht is 3 fewer PPG as the now James Richards-less Florida Storm - and could easily be worst in the league. I don’t know if the Predators defense rattled them so much they forgot how to move the ball or if something else happened, but Sully and crew are doing themselves no favors. The defense on the other hand, certainly has its spots, Zane Doty is certainly making his case for his namesake, but the rest isn’t necessarily spectacular. Letting up currently the 4th most yards total in the league. Which some teams have made work with a solid offense. But as I said, they do not seem to have that. The playoffs certainly are not out of reach for the Skyhawks. But if they want a shot at them, they need to net a home win this weekend against the Nightwings at Richardson memorial Stadium.
19
Houston Hyenas
2 - 5
(▼ 4)
Man, Houston is looking great! PJ Walker is looking like an absolute star, Cam Phillips is perfecting the double threat, and [EDITOR: What the h*ck are you talking about?] Wait, we aren't talking about the Roughnecks? *Reads script* OH! We're talking about the Hyenas? Well that’s a horse of a very different color! Anyway, let’s restart.

Man, Houston isn't looking great! Yeah I mean, to a certain extent this was expected when taking on the defensive juggernauts in the Charleston Predators, and in the Carolinas, no less. But even the best defenses let up a touchdown every now and again. All Houston could muster was 2 field goals. Houston technically had two passing touchdowns… too bad they were thrown to the Predators. I do not know what exactly is going on with Kentez Johnson this year, but he very much needs to turn things around. With nearly a 1:6 TD-INT ratio, he's on pace to set the record for lowest QBR in a season. Running back Warren Murray however, is supporting the offense now 9th in rushing yards on the year. The defense is what has kept them in games, with Houston currently second in takeaways behind New Orleans. Houston now hosts the Kings, who have lost to teams of such lofty statistics. They need this to get back on track, though, if they want to re-experience that miraculous run to the playoffs last season. No matter how you want to see it, as Houston’s own Days N Daze would put it: “Either way, it’s a solo operation”.
20
London Knights
2 - 5
(▼ 2)
Now we have reached the bottom of our list and we reach the consensus Number 20, London. But I think a more important number to note with them is this: -17. What is that number, you may ask? That's London's turnover differential. To put it simply, it hasn't been the best year for the Knights, who are currently among the seven-way the for the worst record in the league. Their most recent defeat coming at the hands of the Carolina Skyhawks 12 - 20. Now look, their offense isn't actually that bad. A middle of the pack crew, and Seren Storm is a premier deep threat receiver with the best YPR in the league. The main issue is once again that defense. Still at the bottom in PPG and still majorly hurting from the departure of several key figures. London, at long last, has retaken the bottom spot. They have a chance to rise back up, but if they wanna start it, it needs to happen and quick. Otherwise, this season could very well be remanded to the Tower of London if it keeps up this way.
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