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

The season has given us no shortage of star turns, disappointments and surprises. Two teams have yet to lose more than one game. That one is the Atlanta Swarm is not a surprise. That the other is the Vancouver Legion most assuredly is. But after watching the Legion freeze the Storm in Week 8, there can be no doubt the team is the real deal.

Conversely, 5 teams have yet to notch more than two victories. The Hyenas, Knights, Scorpions, Tyrants, and Storm are all in desperate need of “W’s.” Sooner or later their luck must change … right?
The Charleston Predators and St. Louis Gladiators have both exceeded expectations. Charleston looks to gain positioning into the playoffs, and St. Louis finds themselves battling for their first run into the post-season. The Mexico City Aztecs, Denver Nightwings, and Seattle Tyrants have not played up to their potential, falling into the bottom half of the league.

BUT – let’s not forget we have a ferocious Big Four at the top of the Power Rankings. Could a team invade the space of the Top Four and replace one of the members of the “Holy Quadrant?” Sure. A lot can happen between now and the end of the regular season. But as things stand right now? There are the first four teams in the SFL’s Power Rankings … and then there’s everybody else.

The SFL Beat has gathered to sort through the happenings of Week 8 and rank the league’s teams from the top to the bottom. Here’s the SFL’s pecking order heading into Week 9. Let’s get to it.

Rank
Team
Record
(Movement)
Recap

1

Atlanta Swarm
7 - 1
(-)
Atlanta sustains their spot as Queen Bee in the SFL after a game that most media pundits would call "for old school fans," for their trip to the Windy City ended on the low scoring end of things. Ending just 6-3 after 4 quarters of defensive football. The player who surprisingly wasn't very affected? Marcus Dunhill. Through the entire game, only 2 passes fell to the ground for the mainstay, while 2 more were picked off. But hey that's pretty much a typical day at the SFL office so let's call it a wash. The main thing to highlight from last week was that defense. Lordy that defense, picking off CHI-town 4 times and shutting the Wildcats out after the first quarter, as well as only holding them to 229 total yards, while holding up their end of the bargain and giving the Swarm the win. The win over Chicago effectively put Atlanta in the driver's seat for the number 1 seed in the playoffs. For the Swarm, that means one thing: JUST. KEEP. WINNING. They look to keep that going against one of the hottest teams in the league in St. Louis. Records wise it should be a piece of cake, but never count out the Gladiators.

2

Vancouver Legion
7 - 1
(▲ 1)
This past week the Legion traveled to play no longer their regional rival in the Florida Storm, turning a 5 and a half hour flight to a nearly 9 hour long journey for the Legion. Even through all the additional jet lag they may have experienced, the Legion went out to take care of business, and take care of business they did. Defeating Florida 27-21 in what may have been a bit of a closer game than the Legion fancies. However through it all the offensive powerhouse that is Vancouver was on full display. Racking up nearly 450 total yards total, and with MVP contender Sudo Nakai racking up 105 yards on the day while he took it to the house once, while potential HoF-er Tom Pepper flung the rock around for nearly 350 yards while topping it with 2 TDs. The defense also came to play for the full 4 quarters, even being able to fend off the Storms comeback attempt in the 4th quarter to plunge Florida away from having an above .500 record for the first time in team history. For Vancouver though? It's the first time since Season 9 the Legion have secured an above .500 record and now are riding cozy into the playoffs, bar some major collapse down the backstretch. They start that journey this week by hosting the other Florida team, the Jacksonville Kings, and should they win, it should be smooth sailing to a home playoff game.

3

Baltimore Vultures
5 - 3
(▲ 2)
Baltimore, rather unsurprisingly, is continuing a solid streak of dominance through Week 8, having gone into a midair bird battle against the Sioux Falls Sparrows that went about as you'd expect an avian boxing match between a Sparrow and a Vulture to go. Maybe a bit closer actually, as the Vultures were actually outgained on offense and didn't even have the courtesy of giving us something nice, with 419 yards of total offense against the Sparrows to their opponents 459. However even though they were certainly outgained, they weren't overmatched, pretty much going tit for tat with the Sparrows. Shark Tarkington nailing 2 field goals rather turned out to be the difference in the big win for the Vultures. There really wasn't much for concern for Baltimore, everyone did what they needed to. But in the race for the playoffs, good is not enough, you have to be great. Baltimore just needs to crack in to the greatness level and a home playoff game could very well be in their future.
4
Queen City Corsairs
6 - 2
(-)
I was wondering and having a bit of writer's block about how exactly to discuss Queen City for this week as they had not been in my purview for a while. So I decided, like any rational human, to let my feelings out in song. Now what better song to sing about the Corsairs than an old time Sea Shanty, eh? Let's give er a whirl!

What do we do with the Queen City Corsairs
What do we do with the Queen City Corsairs
What do we do with the Queen City Corsairs
In the Power Rankings!

Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
In the Power Rankings!

They beat the London Knights 26-14
They beat the London Knights 26-14
They beat the London Knights 26-14
In the Power Rankings

Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
In the Power Rankings!

They outgained the Knights by 100 yards more
Outgained the Knights by 100 yards more
Outgained the Knights by 100 yards more
In the Power Rankings!

Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
In the Power Rankings!

They're looking like a solid playoff team now
Looking like a solid playoff team now
Looking like a solid playoff team now
In the Power Rankings!

Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
Way hay, and up they're rising
In the Power Rankings!

That's what we do with the Queen City Corsairs
That's what we do with the Queen City Corsairs
That's what we do with the Queen City Corsairs
In the Power Rankings!

I surely hope that sea shanty fully explains ahat QCC has going for them as they climb in to the Top 5.
5
Charleston Predators
6 - 2
(▼ 3)
Splish, splash, Charleston took a bath - down in the muddy waters of the ol' Mississip this past Tuesday, dropping one to the New Orleans Pharaohs 17-20. Something to consider here is that the Predators had New Orleans as far as total yardage and first downs, but Charleston's offensive burst was stymied by the Pharaoh's newfound defensive prowess. Meanwhile, the top defense in the league wasn't able to keep the tenth-best offense from outscoring them by three; another thing to consider when Charleston takes to the road next week against the down-but-not-out Mexico City Aztecs - the third best offense this season, as far as points scored. I, personally, have no doubt these apex predators of the sea will bounce back, and are almost a lock for the postseason, but the front line is going to have to do a better job of protecting T.D Drew if they want to make a deep run.
6
Jacksonville Kings
5 - 3
(▲ 1)
Long live the king, indeed. Frank Goodin's Kings were able to prowl into the Hyena's Den and assert their authority over the Houston Hyenas, in something reminiscent of an animated movie I once saw. References aside, this game wasn't really a contest from Jacksonville's second score onward, as they were able to hold Houston to a mere 10 points - all scored in the first half, no less! The Kings are sitting at a 5-3 record with a match-up next week against the electric Vancouver Legion. Christian Christiansen and his receiving corps are going to be expected to put on a show this week, considering they were essentially the sole offensive bright spot on-field all night long. Yes, Jared Willis suited up, but he's clearly following the Ray Bentley School of Swing Passes, and with 8 total rushing yards for the night, he earned 71 thorugh the air. The question for the Kings is this: will they be able to stymie Sudo Nakai like they did Warren Murray, and force the Legion to go through the air all night? Right now, they'll sleep soundly as Kings of the Jungle; or at least, Kings of the Outside-the-Top-Five.
7
Sioux Falls Sparrows
5 - 3
(▼ 1)
TWO BIRDS ENTERED! ONE BIRDS LEFT! Unfortunately for the Sioux Falls Sparrows, it was not the avian they were hoping. After a noble effort in Baltimore against the Vultures, they were left with a 28-34 loss. Not for lack of trying, though, as Sioux Falls was actually more effective on offense (with more rushing and passing yards than Baltimore). On the other hand, they had more tackles on defense as well... because Baltimore kept moving the chains. Ahh, jeez. With a 5-3 record, there was some argument on the team as to where Sioux Falls and Jacksonville belonged, but ultimately, the defensive play of the Sparrows wasn't enough to keep the Vultures out of field goal range, while Jacksonville kept Houston out of most everything range. Sioux Falls won't get much time to rest, as they fly east for an encounter with the London Knights in Week 9. Julian Tyree and Colin Hart are ready; can the same be said for their defense?
8
Tulsa Desperadoes
5 - 3
(▲ 2)
In the interest of editorial fairness, I would like to begin this paragraph by saying that our assignments have been set in stone since the first week of games, so the fact that I, Ray Bentley of the Mexico City Aztecs, the team just ritually dismantled in the 3rd quarter in their own stadium for God and everyone to see, has to write this means I will do my best to keep my low-boiling rage and bias at a minimum. In all seriousness though, that's exactly what happened. We had a not-so-close game through the first half, with the Aztecs leading 7-20; to start the 4th quarter it was suddenly 38-20. Tulsa just couldn't stop scoring; even their defense got in on the action with a pick-six from Barry Barkley. To be quite frank, they played a darn fine game against the Aztecs, all things considered. Darn... heckin.. fine. Shoot. The Desperados are now sitting at a nice-looking 5-3 and a possible postseason berth, if they keep playing their cards right. With an at-home meeting against the floundering Florida Storm this upcoming week, expect them to do just that; otherwise, the shootout for the remaining seeds is going to get intense.
9
Las Vegas Fury
4 - 4
(▲ 2)
The flaming birds are looking a lot better going into Week 9 than they did going into Week 7, getting walloped twice on the road before adding a pair of impressive home wins to their record - one of which they knocked off the final remaining undefeated team in Vancouver. The truth is, the Fury are a MUCH stronger team at home than they are on the road. Case in point:

LV at home this season: 4-0 record, outscored opponents 126 to 59 (+67)
LV away this season: 0-4 record, outscored by opponents 59 to 145 (-86)

Basically a tale of two teams in the Silver State, both of which are simultaneously holding on to its playoff hopes in a dense field of 4-4 and 3-5 teams. The good news is that Las Vegas is on track to net at least 6 wins by the end of the season, which could very well see them playing in April. If they can snag another road win or two, that’s just icing on the cake.
10
Chicago Wildcats
4 - 4
(▼ 2)
Chicago drops two spots this week after dropping again in the standings with a close, yet brutal loss at home to the top ranked Atlanta Swarm. The positives: holding Atlanta’s potent offense to two Shane Short field goals. The negatives: only posting 3 points at home in a turnover riddled performance that resulted in one of the lowest scoring games in SFL history. After having fallen asleep at the end of the 1st quarter, the Wildcat offense did little to bolster confidence as a potential playoff contender. Additionally, a two-game losing streak for any team, especially in front of the home crowd, is a tough pill to swallow. The Chicago brass should use these shortcomings as a springboard for how they will emerge stronger down the final four game stretch to the season. Speaking of which, fortunately for the orange and black faithful, the Wildcats won’t face any team with more than 3 wins per current standings, meaning they are positioned to run the table and storm into the playoffs as a high seed, if they can keep their house in order.
11
St. Louis Gladiators
4 - 4
(▲ 3)
There are few teams hotter in the Simulation Football League right now than the St. Louis Gladiators. After stumbling through the first third of the season, the Gladiators are on a two game winning streak while having won three of their last four. Rookie QB and prior 1st overall selection Jonny Pichler is playing like the franchise leader St. Louis hoped he’d be, currently boasting the league’s best QBR and lowest turnover rate by far. He is quickly cementing himself as a top-5 quarterback in this league, which is definitely a good thing for the Gladiators who have seen nothing but a revolving door of milquetoasts at the position since the franchise’s inaugural season, back in Season 8. In fact, STL is on the verge of posting their first 5-win season ever and making their first ever bid to the post-season. Off-season acquisition and new General Manager and Head Coach Gerald Smith is literally taking this team to new heights while capitalizing on the strengths of their new QB/RB duo. If he can tighten up the defense a bit, this team could be a contender for years to come.
12
Mexico City Aztecs
3 - 5
(▼ 3)
It’s been tough sledding for Mexico City in Season 14. After enjoying some of the best offensive numbers in league history in Season 13 while having two offensive players tagged for league honors (MVP QB Matt Willson and OPOTY RB Ray Bentley), the Aztecs’ 3-5 campaign over the first two-thirds of this season have been fairly unexpected and disappointing. Although their numbers on offense have only dipped slightly since last season, the defense has slid tremendously. Mexico City’s 33.25 points allowed per game is just a hair shy of worst in the league, just behind London, and their yards allowed per game is ranked dead last. The secondary needs to be a major focus for Owner and HC Matt Ramos as we head towards the end of the season. In what is projecting to be a large playoff race, the Aztecs still have a decent chance to make the post-season if they can string a good number of wins together down the stretch. Their schedule hasn’t been all that forgiving either, but with a rather favorable slate of games forthcoming, don’t be surprised if we see the perennial playoff contenders back in the ring again come April. As long as they can, let's say, R-E-L-A-X.
13
New Orleans Pharaohs
3 - 5
(▲ 4)
With the “upset special” of the week the New Orleans Pharaohs struck GOLD at home, stunning the Charleston Predators 20-17. That was a potential season-saving performance at Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore’ Stadium. After trailing 10-3 heading into the fourth quarter, Quarterback, Xander Gold found his favorite wideout, Deezer Powell, with the offensive play of the game going for a 60-yard TD reception. After that, the Pharaohs never looked back. Powell notched 6 catches for 109 yards to go with his TD. The Defense was also timely, collecting four sacks and intercepting Charleston’s QB, T.D. Drew twice. Chris Leone and Zigg Washington checked-in with two sacks apiece, and Bryce Lincoln along with Ray West snagged an interception. The stat line of the game - New Orleans Defenders came up bigtime on third down, only allowing the Preds to convert 2 out 13 for a dismal 15%. This victory could be viewed as the new starting point for the Pharaoh’s Kingdom. This could mark the new heights of their power and prosperity. Xander Gold leads the way and has control of his team. They feed off his energy. When he plays well, the Pharaoh’s play well. In Egypt, gold was the color of the sun, and the flesh of gods was gold. Gold-fever has always been something that recurs throughout history. The Pharaohs defend their Golden Empire versus the Baltimore Vultures in Week 9. Gold has always been the treasure of the rich, or will it be cursed to be pecked apart by the birds?
14
Denver Nightwings
3 - 5
(▼ 2)
Denver has struggled to put anything consistent together to gain any kind of momentum. After losing two games to open the season, they’ve split their games over the last 6 weeks and seem to be the team that have fallen into the proverbial category of, ‘win one, lose one.’ Going into Carolina, they were confident, and with the score tied 6-6 at halftime felt like they were in position to get their fourth win of the season. However, when the third quarter ended, the Nightwings fell asleep, finding themselves down by 14 points, and eventually losing on the road 23-16. Running Back Jarrod McChesney was held out of the endzone for the third straight game, and QB Josh Miller continues to play sub-par throwing for only 3 touchdowns to go with 7 interceptions in that same timespan. He has not passed for 300 yards during any game up to this point of the season. Denver’s pass game has suffered, but Wide Receiver Jockamo Jones has made a positive impact. Jones contributed 6 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Skyhawks, and leads the team in receiving TDs, receptions, and yards. However, football is a team game, and his team has not performed like it did in Season 13, winning the championship. The defense has not done enough to stop ‘big plays’ from opponents scoring. The Nightwings fly back to Denver in week 9 to defend their home turf against the Seattle Tyrants, and if their “proverbial trend” continues, they are due for a ‘W,’ or are they? The Mile High flyers may be in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.
15
Carolina Skyhawks
3 - 5
(▲ 3)
Is there anything finer than the Skyhawks winning two in a row in Carolina? The SkyGang have find themselves flying high, and Wide Receiver Harish Prasad is one of the main reasons why this team is trending upward. Prasad went-off, grabbing 9 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown to dominate the game in the Skyhawks' win versus Denver. Two weeks ago, he had 8 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown against London and continues to lead the way on special teams with two TD-kickoff returns. Prasad has made the catches, moved the chains, and given the Skyhawks hope. After 6 weeks, Carolina was staring into the abyss with a record of 1-5. The last two games have proved just the opposite, as the Skyhawks have fought off the SFL monsters and turned into becoming monsters themselves. This team is refusing to embrace the suck! Zane Doty continues to lead the SFL with a whopping 12 interceptions, and Defensive Tackle, Christopher Colon has piled up 5 sacks and 11 tackles for losses. Over the last two, the defense has picked-it-up on third down, holding teams to converting less than 35%, forcing punts. They’ll be circling, high above the dessert searching for their third straight win. They see opportunity and head west to the Grand Canyon state to take on Arizona. The Skyhawks plan to lock-in their talons and it may not take long to start tearing the Scorpions apart.
16
Seattle Tyrants
2 - 6
(▼ 3)
“Sleepless in Seattle…” Owner, Crash Combs can not be sleeping well in Seattle after his team’s loss in Week 8 to the St. Louis Gladiators, along with going 1-5 over their last 6 games. People who don’t get enough sleep are likely to become less creative. They tend to become very anxious and often find themselves making poor judgment. Seattle would certainly like to erase the decisions they’ve made over the last 6 weeks. Certainly, this team has not looked like the ferocious giants who made it to the championship in season 13. The Tyrants are looking more like alligator shoes and have been kicked down 5 spots over the last two weeks from # 11 to #16 in the Power Rankings. The Dinosaurs are playing like fossils with an ugly record of 2-6. Positive notes include running back Zack Sandlin, who leads the league in rushing, and wide receiver Junior Senior III who continues to dominate in the passing game. However, QB Jacques Luyindula has a rating of 68.9 and been thrown to turf with 22 sacks. He is ranked last in the SFL’s overall Quarterback Rankings. The Seattle Defense has also been extinct. Their defenders are 19th against the pass allowing just over 324 yards per game, and have given up a league worst, 22 passing TDs. The team also has a point differential of -63. Is season 14 doomed for Seattle? The Tyrants are in Denver for week 9 and destiny is probably real. Maybe the Dinosaurs need to get some sleep?
17
Florida Storm
2 - 6
(▼ 2)
Another week, another marginal improvement for the Florida Storm. Although they fell to the visiting Legion of Vancouver, their effectiveness was noticeably rounding back into form for stretches in that contest. As expected here within the Power Rankings Team, Florida will continue to better return to form as the playbooks are re-formed from week to week. Vancouver, a Top 3 team this year, was taken to the limit as the Storm surged unexpectedly late in the game, requiring a game-saving INT in the end zone to withstand the gale of the last second offensive push to avoid dropping a crucial contest at home. This week, they’ll face a rough looking group of Desperados from Tulsa, fresh off the sacking of an always dangerous Mexico City club at home in Estadia Azteca. Not the ruffians you’d want to run into as you’re still trying to achieve that cohesiveness on offense and defense that the Storm is known for. This week will be especially important for Florida in reference to their playoff chances, as well – it doesn’t look like a sub .500 record is going to take you to the playoffs here in Season 14. If Tulsa get the W this week, Hurricane Season will be over.
18
Arizona Scorpions
2 - 6
(▼ 2)
Unfortunately for the Scorpions, they ran into an unexpectedly tough defensive performance from the Las Vegas Fury in their visit to the Silver State last week. Their offense was largely in-effective for the majority of the game, and their defense stepped it up above their already highly productive performance benchmarks to keep the Scorpions within stinging distance. Unfortunately, even a TD in garbage time wasn’t enough to make up for the loss in the playoff standings, especially with such a crowded competition to take the 9th and 10th spots. Arizona will have to win out to have a shot in, starting off with a legitimate test for them in a rising Carolina Skyhawks team that took down the defending champions last week. One thing that the Scorpions won’t have to work on in the lead up to that contest is their defensive playbook, which has been tough to figure out for most of the teams they’ve played this season. If Owner Eddie Gauge and Co. can figure out the other side of the ball, then expect Arizona to vault into a playoff dark horse role in the next couple of seasons.
19
London Knights
2 - 6
(▲ 1)
It’s been a tough rebuilding season for the Knights of London, as they lost key members of their order last season in a schism that has led to the induction of many new faces in the Queensway. Training continues, however, as the Squires have donned their suits of armor and now stand among the frontlines in the Crusade to the playoffs. They’ve been battered but have continued to develop new strategies from the lessons learned in every skirmish this season… but it wasn’t quite enough to survive and arise victorious as the visiting force against the Corsairs of Queen City. Their invasion a failure, they’ve retreated back to London to host the Sparrows of Sioux Falls… no easy engagement for any SFL team. The Sparrows are a hard-hitting team on both sides of the ball, who have clearly decided to move towards a more vertical passing threat as they’ve been VERY productive in the air here in Season 14. London will have to keep their shields up during this fight, the Sparrows are fierce, and strike true. If they could turn the tide and come away with a victory against Sioux Falls, their chances will be slim, but still existent, to take this prototype and test it in the post-season.
20
Houston Hyenas
2 - 6
(▼ 4)
Woof. Week 8 started with a game that wasn't so much as lopsided as it was unpleasant for the Houston Hyenas. The good news first: Quarterback Kentez Johnson improved his TD:INT ratio in this game dramatically, posting a 1:2 without any pick sixes. Houston's defense was able to hold Kings running back Jared Willis to a dramatic-sounding 8 total yards for the evening. Warren Murray was even posting a respectable 6.8 yards per carry in the game. Unfortunately, no matter how many silver linings you have, there's still a cloud surrounding it, and that cloud is getting harder to ignore. With a 2-6 record, it'll be something else if the pumpkin turns back into a carriage for the Hyenas this season, but not out of the realm of possibility. Just need the Fairy Godmother to get here, and soon, as they face off against another feline predator in the Chicago Wildcats this week. Bippity, boppity... oooh.
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