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

I said something about breaking even last week that, looking back on it now, probably was the throes of hubris. Oh, how the mighty have… stayed the same? Nice! Another break-even record, though the community WhoYaGot now outpaces the Zero Guarantees pick’em by 2. There’s something to be said for the wisdom of the salt of the earth common folk, but now that they’re beating our tried-and-true proven methods (dart throwing, mostly) I can’t remember what it is. Probably for the best, since we’ve got 10 more games picked, washed, and ready for consumption. Folks – we’re in the final third of the season. Let’s go!

St. Louis 24
Atlanta Swarm 28

Saturday, March 14 | 9:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Rich Pratchard | Dan Mitchell

Interesting match-up here in the south. St. Louis is coming off of back-to-back powerful wins against Chicago and Seattle, both contests in which they posted 36 or more points. Atlanta is the current top team in the Power Rankings, and looks to be the early front-runner for team to beat come April. Two teams on the rise will clash this Saturday night, one of which will fly even higher going into Week 10. The thing to watch for in this brawl will be the efficiency of these teams; the Gladiators are #1 in turnover differential with +13 while Atlanta is tied for 2nd at +6. In reality, it’s hard NOT to root for St. Louis, who with a win this week would set a franchise record for wins in a season with 5. Since the team’s inception back in Season 8, the Gladiators hold an all-time record of 17-55, while not having eclipsed 2 wins in the last three seasons. With a realistic chance of achieving 5+ wins, a winning record, and perhaps a playoff berth, this is a great time to be a Gladiators fan. I’m going to give the win here to the Swarm based on their dominant play this season, but just remember, STL has gone 3-1 over the last four weeks.
Chicago Wildcats 23
Houston Hyenas 17

Saturday, March 14 | 9:15pm EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Robert Garrett Jr. | Stephen Hacker

Important match-up for both of these teams this week. For Chicago, this game is all about taking care of a weaker opponent to stop the losing skid, currently at two games. For Houston, this game is about bringing excitement back to this franchise in front of the home crowd and proving to the league that they are not a team to be taken lightly, despite their record. At the end of the day though, I think the season stats and number to this point are fairly telling of what the outcome of this game will probably be. Houston has the worst ranked offense and QB play, most turnovers, and worst point differential this season. Opponents they have beaten only have an aggregate 5 wins. Schedule could be a factor in the poor play, but the losses sting just as much. The Wildcats eked out a 16-14 win against the Hyenas in Chicago back in Week 3, which kicked off a 4-game winning streak for the Orange and Black. After making strides to improve on both sides of the ball, Chicago appears primed to take this game to the bank. I just hope for their sake they don’t let the current 2-loss streak become a 3-loss streak.
Sioux Falls Sparrows 33
London Knights 23

Sunday, March 15 | 12:00pm EST [YouTube]
Broadcasters: Eric Vinson | Ryan Caudill

The Sparrows fly east this Sunday to face off in London in a game that could potentially have major playoff implications… for one team anyway. Sioux Falls is holding strong in the standings at 5-3 with one of the tougher schedules by SOV in the league. Led by one of the stronger passing games in the league and QB Julian Tyree, SXF will be a formidable opponent in the post-season if the team can maintain its level of play moving forward. The Knights hope to play spoiler this weekend while they play host to the visiting American-based team. To do so, they must drastically improve on defense. Offensively, London is hovering right around the middle of the pack in terms of total yards, points, and 3rd down percentage. Alternatively, their defensive unit ranks last or second to last in basically every relevant statistical category. With the right game plan in place, this team could very well upset a Sparrows team trying hard to keep up in the playoff race. Unfortunately, that is not my prediction for this matchup.
Baltimore 30
New Orleans Pharaohs 21

Sunday, March 8 | 2:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Michael Trulio | Eddie Gauge

Tremendous win for the New Orleans Pharaohs last week. After having only two wins to their name heading into Week 8, the Pharaohs showcased their offensive AND defensive chops when the 2nd ranked Charleston Predators took a trip to the bayou, putting up enough points against the top defense in the SFL to secure a win at home. Can lightning strike twice? There’s really no reason to believe that Xander Gold and company CAN’T knock off those pesky vultures, who have been up and down (mainly up) this season. My advice for NOLA this week: I want to see Streeter, and I want him now! Season 13’s rushing king, who traveled across the pond in a blockbuster free agency acquisition by New Orleans, is in the bottom five for rushing attempts per game among league runningbacks this season (excluding FB). It would seem you’d want a guy like that more involved, no? Meanwhile, Baltimore is looking strong on defense, and even more so on offense, as they have all season. Just give Mike Dazzo and his near 77% completion percentage the ball and he will be sure to guide your team to victory. Even down in the swamps.
Charleston Predators 20
Mexico City Aztecs 24

Sunday, March 15 | 3:30pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Colin Northrup | Rick Northrup

Greetings from Mexico City! At least, that’s what the postcards from T.D. Drew will say that he sends to his family this Sunday. And hopefully for him and his fansbase north of the border, such message will also herald news of victory. From here, however, it is difficult to predict what outcome we will behold on that fateful night, as Charleston’s previously de facto #1 defense was stymied in Week 8 when they visited the hungry Pharaohs. That's not to say the Aztecs haven't been confounding the league this season either; sitting at a 3-5 record for the first time in a few seasons, this truly is anybody's game. Much like before, where we predicted a close game between the Aztecs and the Knights, the coin keeps landing on its side to spite us, so we're leaning Mexico again by four this week. Hopefully they get the memo down in Estadio Azteca, as well.
Queen City Corsairs 35
Las Vegas Fury 24

Sunday, March 15 | 5:30pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: T-Roy Gaines | Jeremy Vega

Las Vegas is not the same team that started the season, this much is for certain. They are, so far, the only team to hang an L in the Vancouver Legion's Season 14 yearbook, and are currently on a 2-game win streak. Meanwhile, the Corsairs have been sailing fairly smoothly, with only two losses to their name for the season, while racking up multiple Player of the Week awards. This game boils down to which Vegas team will come out of the locker room Sunday afternoon: the one we saw in Weeks 1, 2, 5 and 6? That's not going to be a pretty match-up with Queen City ranking high in so many metrics. The Fury are currently in position to make a playoff run, so they better hope that it's the team from Weeks 3, 4, 7 and 8 taking the field; otherwise, they're about to get swashbuckled. Erik Barkley's team, to me, just seems stronger overall, and will plunder another W for his hoard this week.
Carolina Skyhawks 27
Arizona Scorpions 19

Sunday, March 15 | 7:30pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Chris Curtis | Gerald Giudicessi

Hawks are natural predators, with sharp vision and a keen eye for spotting prey. They are carnivorous, and can eat insects, rodents, and even other birds. Why am I sharing this? Well, it's a great segue into why I'm giving Carolina the W this week, and also, facts are neat! Sully Richardson and his crew from Raleigh head west for a game against the newly-minted Arizona Scorpions team, and by all accounts, they'll sew this one up. It doesn't hurt that they have a top-ten receiver in Harish Prasad to catch Sully's passes. Arizona's James Hands isn't too far behind, but when it comes down to yards per attempt, once again, the Skyhawks have the edge with a nice 0.3 lead (6.6 to 6.9). Logan Jack is also outpacing his Scorpions counterpart 6 to 4 touchdowns. While their venom may be potent, and a single sting fatal, a scorpion is still lower on the food chain than a hawk is. Carolina will be eating well come Sunday night.
Seattle Tyrants 17
Denver Nightwings 10

Sunday, March 15 | 9:30pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Cameron Irvine | Charles Dougherty

Oh, heck, why'd I have to try and figure out who was gonna win this match-up? While we already got our first rematch earlier in the season (seen here) between the two previous championship contenders, this week's game has them slotted in the correct Home / Away spots as they were last October. Since then? Ohhh, gosh. When I was asked for a hot take for Season 14 back before the live draft, I offered (with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek) that Denver not only wouldn't make the championship, but wouldn't even make the postseason. Now that each team has a sub-.500 record, that doesn't seem terribly far off, but I digress. This game will have to have a winner, and even though their record is worse, I'm calling it for Seattle. Zack Sandlin will be the difference-maker in this match-up, as he's been trading spots in the top five running backs all season long. Without being able to contain him, Denver and Seattle each sit with a 3-6 record after the close of business in Week 9.
Jacksonville Kings 13
Vancouver Legion 14

Tuesdday, March 17 | 7:00pm EST [FTF]
Broadcasters: Mike Daggs | Matt Willson

Oh, heck, why'd I have to try and figure out who was gonna win this match-up? Vancouver is sitting at the top of the record boards with a single loss, and the Kings have three, but these teams feel fairly evenly-matched to me. Even looking at averages per game, the teams are relatively close! I'm picking the Legion to take the W here, ultimately, as Tom Pepper and Sudo Nakai average roughly what Jacksonville allows in yardage per game, give or take a few yards here and there. Now, I don't know about you all, but I can't stand trying to crunch the numbers for... anything, really, so this was painful, but if the Vancouver offense is allowed to play an average game? They're taking an easy homefield win. For the sake of fun, though, this is going to be a close, evenly-matched game that Jacksonville will lose when their field goal unit is pushed back due to a wacky call, putting them just out of range to hit 3-for-3.
Florida Storm 17
Tulsa Desperados 31

Tuesday, March 17 | 9:00pm EST [Twitch]
Broadcasters: Andy Hamilton | Steven Mullenax

Boy, it's weird picking against the 3-time champions to lose twice in a row, but here we are. After an offensive experiment in the Sunshine State with former Indianapolis HC James Richard went awry, the Florida Storm are looking to pick up the pieces, and quick, before they're blown out of postseason contention. Meanwhile, Tulsa has been turning heads as of late with their impressive 5-3 season, including last week's confident dismantling of the Mexico City Aztecs - in Mexico City, no less! Tulsa is sporting the league's 7th best offense at the moment, while Florida's is tied for second to last, and this week they're switching who gets to stay home. Now, we know this season has had its share of shocks and surprises, so it wouldn't be terribly far off for us to lean towards Max Paul's team, but we're getting into the final stretch and we just don't see Tulsa dropping this one - especially at home. Desperados take the W in a 2-score game.