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

BROKE EVEN, BABY. Feels so good. After dropping the ball the previous week, our Zero Guarantees team is back on the ball, folks, and it feels so good. Getting a .500 might not be the most exciting thing, but it keeps us above water for another week to continue delivering the most accurate picks possible. Yeah, we might have missed the last undefeated team’s loss, and posited that the wrong team from the Midwest would be victorious, but hey – we had some of the most accurate score predictions yet (ignoring that none of them were actually 100% accurate). Enough about our excellence, though. It’s well trodden, familiar ground. What isn’t? This week’s game picks, brought to you once again by the oracles at Zero Guarantees!

Jacksonville Kings 24
Houston Hyenas 6

Saturday, March 7 | 12:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Michael Trulio | Eddie Gauge

It's cliche, but Houston: we have a problem. Yes, Charleston is a powerhouse team this season, but the only scores the Hyenas posted last game for themselves were 2 field goals. Add onto that a score that was bolstered by a pair of pick-sixes, and you've got a stew goin, baby! 2-5 stew wasn't what the Hyenas wanted to be cooking up at this point in the season, though. They're not quite completely down and out, but we're getting close to the point where the Hyenas will have to hope to win out like they did last season if they want to catch the playoffs. First up? Jacksonville! Ahh, crap. The Kings are not the same team as their fore bearers the Tallahassee Pride, but they're not a team to thumb your nose at either. Considering that the purple-and-gold clad team has a net positive 30 point differential compared to Houston's negative 81, it's hard to see much of a contest here. Instead, I'm going to throw out my official Hot Take of the Game: The final score up there? It's cause HOU misses an extra point off a Warren Murray run late in the fourth. Let's see how spicy things get.
Seattle Tyrants 34
St. Louis Gladiators 21

Saturday, March 7 | 2:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Stephen Hacker | Dan Mitchell

seesaw (see·​saw): An alternating up-and-down or backward-and-forward motion or movement also : a contest or struggle in which now one side now the other has the lead.

You know, I was somewhat surprised when a picture of the Season 14 St. Louis Gladiators didn't appear when I looked the definition up. It doesn't seem terribly far off, though - last week, scraping a win out of overtime against the top-10 ranked Chicago Wildcats, while the week before running headlong into the Lucky Number 13 curse against the then-undefeated Vancouver Legion. On the other side, Seattle continues to be a team in search of an identity (well, an identity other than Zack Sandlin 24/7). So why do we have them taking the W in a road game against by two scores? See the previous sentence. St. Louis' run defense gives up approximately 100 yards a game; Seattle's? 40. Don't fret, though, Gateway City fans. If the see-saw effect is real this season, prepare to rise further in the rankings next week off an improbable victory over the Atlanta Swarm.
Queen City Corsairs 38
London Knights 14

Saturday, March 7 | 4:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Colin Northrup | Rick Northrup

If there's any one thing that I've learned over the course of five movies about swashbuckling folks in the Gulf of Mexico, it's this: Boy, does Britain really hate pirates. Funny, considering their impressment tactics in 1812... but I get ahead of myself! Behind myself? Regardless, historic data is not historical data for these teams, much as the London Knights would like it to be. Queen City, after having missed the postseason last year, is one of the top five teams this season, while London has hovered around the bottom for some time. While we can see Angus MacLaine getting some traction against the Queen City secondary, it won't be nearly enough to stave off an endless amount of salvos from AJ Caswell to Stephen Hacker. If you seek any further proof of the Corsair's victory, look no further than last week for them, when they played common opponent Mexico City. London held MXC close until the fourth, getting blown out by double the score 28-56; Queen City, on the other hand, were able to keep the former champs battened down, securing a ten point lead 19-29. London might be at home, but that won't translate into much of an advantage against these rowdy ne'er do wells. Queen City by 24.
Sioux Falls 23
Baltimore Vultures 26

Sunday, March 8 | 2:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Robert Garrett Jr. | Jeremy Vega

There are several ways that birds claim their territory, whether it be singing, nest building, drumming, or visual displays. To defend their territory, however, birds will often resort to an aggressive chasing of competitors out of their lands. Hard to rule the roost with other feathers butting in, right? For Baltimore, that will be the theme of the evening, playing against a Sioux Falls team that, by all metrics, should be leaving the Chesapeake Bay with a W. They're 5-2, have won twice on the road, and have the potent offensive combination of Julian Tyree and Colin Hart. Except... let's look a little closer at those numbers. Baltimore has, on average, seventy more passing yards per game; they're also about seventy behind Sioux Fall's run game. The Sparrows also come up short in net points, 48 to 73 - a 25 point difference! When all is said and done, unless Colin Hart can get going, the Vultures should consider changing their names to the Cannibals - they'll be feasting on the Sparrows all night long.
Vancouver Legion 27
Florida Storm 19

Sunday, March 8 | 7:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: T-Roy Gaines | Steven Mullenax

This will be an interesting call, as the play-by-play commentator is the only coach in the league at the moment to have handed Vancouver a loss. Otherwise, there's not too much else to say here. We can speculate about what Florida will try to do to prevent Vancouver from adding a seventh win to their stack, but to do that, Florida's offense will need to take the field. We don't mean this as a knock against the Storm, but at this point they have six less total points overall than the Houston Hyenas do this season. When you're scoring less points than the guy posting a 1:4 ratio in touchdowns to interceptions, some soul-searching needs to be done. Therefore, if Florida has any hopes of winning this match-up, it'll be linked inexorably to the time-honored phrase "defense wins championships." Look no further than Las Vegas' gameplan against the Legion last week for an example of this - their stout run defense was able to dethrone Vancouver RB Sudo Nakai from the top of the leaderboards. Mighty Max Paul is a man with three championship rings, including an undefeated one AND a ring won against a (to that point) undefeated team. Can he revitalize his offense and stop Tom Pepper and Sudo Nakai from making the big plays? Possible, definitely. Probable? Doubtful. Vancouver pushes into locking a postseason slot with another win this week.
Arizona Scorpions 16
Las Vegas Fury 24

Sunday, March 8 | 9:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Cameron Irvine | Charles Dougherty

Welcome to the Battle of the Surprise Victors of Week 7. Having both been large underdogs last week, Arizona and Las Vegas look to build on their big win momentum heading into this contest. The Fury looked playoff-ready in their 38-16 romp over the previously undefeated Vancouver Legion. LV's front 7 dominated at the point of attack, rendering running back stud Sudo Nakai effectively useless in this contest. Legion QB Tom Pepper was on tilt all contest as well, being forced into 4 interceptions and only contributing two scores on the day. Their transition from facing the previous #1 to the previous #19 should give this franchise and even bigger boost as they host back to back games in the Silver State. The Scorpions, on the other hand, although snatching a huge win at home against the visiting Storm, again looked flat on offense. RB DJ Moses was effective with 85 yards and 2 TDs, but the offense as a whole had 3 turnovers (all picks). If Arizona is to have a shot at taking down the red-hot Fury at home this week, they must continue to do what they have done best all season: take away the ball. The Scorpions are #1 in the league in takeaways with 24, and if they can force opposing QB Tom Ramen into dangerous situations, they can most likely pick up some easy FGs at the least. My prediction here though is that the home team continues to surge in the Power Rankings after Week 8.
Atlanta Swarm 30
Chicago Wildcats 24

Monday, March 9 | 7:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Mike Daggs | Matt Willson

Powerhouse showdown in Chicago this week. After a surprising loss in the Thunderdome to a middling Gladiators team last week, the Wildcats look to bounce back and make a statement in Week 8 when they play host to the red hot Atlanta Swarm. Second to only the New Orleans Pharaohs, the Swarm are league leaders in total yards per game through 7 weeks, boasting numbers in the top 7 in both offensive passing and rushing yards. The defense isn't half bad either (6th in PPG allowed). The true test for Chicago will be this: can their #3 rush defense slow Atlanta's effective run game, headlined by BDG Hollewood? Last week, the Tyrants were able to do just that, holding Hollewood to only 45 yards and 0 scores on the ground. However, Hollewood recorded all 17(!) of his targets from QB Marcus Dunhill which kept the chains moving on 3rd down. He also added a score to that resume through the air. Chicago Linebackers Blaze and Hendershot would be wise to learn from Seattle's mistakes and patrol the sidelines in obvious passing situations in single back sets. For Atlanta, status quo is the way to go. If St. Louis can beat the Wildcats at home, Atlanta shouldn't have too tough of a go this weekend. If they do, at least the Power Rankings guys will have some more work to do this week.
Tulsa Desperados 21
Mexico City Aztecs 28

Monday, March 9 | 7:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Eric Vinson | Ryan Caudill

Who can redeem their Week 7 loss this week? Or, perhaps the even bigger question: can Tulsa win against a team that's NOT in the Bottom 5? Aside from their Week 1 Hail Mary stunner at home against Chicago, the Desperados' remaining wins have come against Carolina, Houston, and London. There's a loss to the Arizona Scorpions somewhere in there as well. Needless to say, overall confidence in the western gunslingers is in short supply these days. A home loss to the mediocre Nightwings last week did little to quell the detractors, either. In the same way that Tulsa's positive record on paper may be inflated by their lighter schedule, the Aztec's loss column count could just as easily be attributed to their much tougher slate of opponents so far in Season 14. All 4 of Mexico City's losses have come from current or former teams appearing in the Top 5 of the Power Rankings list. Based on the pure numbers alone and gut instinct, my thought is that the Aztecs will clean up at home in Week 8. Furthermore, the Desperados must make a powerful stand offensively, and defensively, in the coming weeks, lest they be remembered as the team that choked their way out of playoff contention after starting the season at an impressive (perhaps only partially so) 4-2. Only time will tell who these teams really are, but we will get a better glimpse on the field this week.
Charleston Predators 20
New Orleans Pharaohs 17

Tuesdday, March 2 | 7:00pm EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Jeff Melinyshyn | Wade Phillips

One of the more interesting contests to watch in Week 8 as the offensive juggernaut Pharaohs take on the defensive stalwart Predators. In case you didn't know, New Orleans and Charleston are #1 and #20 in total yards per game on offense, respectively. The Predators are also #1 in points allowed per game at 14.7 and #2 in total yards allowed per game at 279.6. So what happens when a high flying offense with a mediocre defense squares off against the worst offense bolstered by the best defense in the league? Not sure, but I'm counting the days until we find out. Defensive backs Kaladin Holley and Jack Hoffman both lead the Predators in interceptions with 5, both having a pick 6 to their name. Their services will be greatly needed this week as they will face off against the pass-happy Pharaohs and their team leader, Xander Gold. Gold, who leads the league in passing yards and passing TDs, displays his beautiful chemistry with WR Deezer Powell often, as Powell himself is 4th in the league in receiving yards. Honorable mention here on defense is Tank Bennett for NOLA, who currently leads the SFL in tackles and does so by more than 25% over the #2 guy, D.J. Majesty. What this all boils down to is that Charleston fans, New Orleans fans, and just football fans in general will be in for a treat when these two teams take the field in Week 8. Surprisingly, NO has a poor record to show for their impressive numbers, as they seem to lose close games (3 out of 5 of their losses have been by less than a TD). For this reason alone, I predict the victor here will be the team that is used to winning this season, the Charleston Predators.
Denver Nightwings 24
Carolina Skyhawks 21

Monday, March 2 | 9:00pm EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Chris Curtis | Gerald Giudicessi

What we have here is... failure to appreciate. Appreciate the accomplishments of the Carolina Skyhawks, that is. Despite their lackluster record (2-5), the Skyhawks have never TRULY been out of any game they have played all season. Their worst loss? It's a tie between Season 14 Top 5 lifers Vancouver and Charleston, both of which were 14 point deficits. Their other 3 losses? 10 points on the road in Tulsa, 7 points on the road against Top 5 QCC, and 6 points on the road in a triple OT shootout against the explosive Pharaohs. With three more home games on the docket, I am interested to see where the Skyhawks end up by the end of the season. Their biggest statement game could very well be this week when they play host to Denver. Handily defeating the defending champs would go a long way in proving their worth as an SFL franchise. Moreover, Denver probably needs this win just as badly as Carolina; perhaps even more. It has been a tough road in Season 14 for the Nightwings, who just four months ago were hoisting an SFL championship trophy and polishing their SFL CHAMPS rings. Now, however, they are a middling 3-4 behind the likes of St. Louis in the standings with no clear direction forward. With the addition of new HC/OC Jacob Bouvette in Week 4, the Denver offense has looked much better than it had in previous weeks. The utilization of RB Jarrod McChesney has, and will be, a key contributor in the Nightwing's game-time success, and that includes their Week 8 showdown on the east coast. If Bouvette can keep his guy McChesney running like Forrest this week, chances are they will eke out a win on the road in David A. Richardson Memorial Stadium. And hopefully for Denver he can make it to the endzone quicker than I can pronounce the Skyhawk's home field. See you Tuesday.

Season 14 Zero Guarantees Record: 38 – 32