Written by Hunter Norwood and Jack Wall
SFL Preseason Top 10
*Based on an aggregation of our 3 main Elo sheets. For a deeper understanding of all things Elo, tune into Axis Live on Tuesday night to hear us talk all things Data.
Hunter Norwood (HN): The Season 15 kickoff is upon us and we figured y’all would enjoy some content to fight over before starting this new campaign. I understand the roleplay nature of the league and I get it; but speaking for myself, I know this all comes down to builds, schemes, and a little HFC (Home Field Coincidence, as tests have shown there is no “advantage” to playing at home. “HFA Simulations” Alan Armatys, Charleston Owner, 2019). This is what the numbers are telling us to expect from each franchise this season, mostly based on historical performance with more weight on recent history, sprinkling in things I’ve learned about the SFL over the last 6+ seasons.
Jack Wall (JW): Seeing as how I am kicking off only my 2nd full season, I’m going to lean on Hunter for the historical context. However, as a seasoned vet in the Data Analyst business, I’m here to provide a more subjective view of these rankings – well, as subjective as you can get when discussing a power ranking that eliminates subjectivity. Also, I’m really here to make Hunter look better! A John Oates to his Darryl Hall. His Paul Simon to my Art Garfunkle.
1. Jacksonville Kings (1560.92 // End Of Season 14 #2)
HN: I swear this isn’t biased! I fiddled with different aggregates and JAX will always be first here. I guess that’s what we get when a team consistently makes the playoffs since Season 8. With the fifth toughest Strength of Schedule (SoS) in the league, I still expect Jacksonville to be around the top at season’s end.
JW: Hard to argue here. While losing some key players to retirement…or brief hiatus…on defense, the core of this team is coming back for what seems like a 10th straight season. Frank Goodin always puts his team in position to win, and this year should be no different, despite the tough SoS, sources close to the team say.
2. Atlanta Swarm (1552.63 // EOS14 #1)
HN: I can already hear the angry comments with this one and just to reiterate here, don’t blame me; blame the math. The Swarm have their man with Dynasty and will hope he lives up to his namesake. I think they’ll definitely be in the conversation. ATL opens their season with the next team on this list in what should be a doozy of a game for both teams, and could decide some Tiebreakers later down the road.
JW: As the old adage goes, “To be the best, you have to beat the best! WOOOOO!”. Unfortunately, Elo does not understand idioms. This isn’t your mother’s defending champions. They lost the SFL’s John Elway, as reigning MVP, Championship MVP…all the awards. Marcus Dunhill retired, leaving big cleats to fill for the incoming rookie. Losing Dunhill was big, but BDG Hollewood and the rest of the Swarm will do their best to defend their title, heading into the season on everyone’s radar this year.
3. Baltimore Vultures (1552.27 // EOS14 #3)
HN: Oh Baltimore, another high seed playoff appearance and another early exit. I always have you guys making a deep run and I still want a JAX v BAL final one of these days! I don’t see the Vultures letting up anytime soon and a #3 in the Preseason Top 10 feels like where we’ll find them after Week 12.
JW: This is a scary matchup week in and week out for any team facing the Vultures. The Vultures were quietly the best team in the SFL last season for a few short weeks, before everyone agreed to finish at 8-4 (ATL missed the memo). Baltimore is as safe a bet as any to make the playoffs every season – should be the same story this season.
4. Florida Storm (1540.81 // EOS14 #10)
HN: Florida was on the top of the sim world and tried out some new coaches, but when that didn’t work, Mighty came back to right the ship. Mighty is now starting with a clean slate and here we go again! Will Florida retake their dynasty after a down year? Probably, as Mighty is a damn wizard!
JW: For those of you that think this ranking is way too high, this is the same franchise that still holds the highest single season Elo mark ever and could make a case for the greatest dynasty in the post-progression era. If you think this team is staying down for long, think again!
5. Sioux Falls Sparrows (1531.08 // EOS14 #5)
HN: If you pull anything from this list it’s going to be that the top teams are consistent. Take the Sparrows here, always seems to be in the playoffs or in the discussion and they almost put it all together last season. Atlanta just had a perfect all around product that was hard to beat! By the end of Week 2 or 3, we should know what this Sioux Falls team is about this season.
6. Queen City Corsairs (1529.44 // EOS14 #4)
HN: The final team of the “Original 7” remains to carry the torch and they put on a good showing last season, making it to the semis as a wildcard team. The Corsairs don’t have multiple “down” seasons and I expect them to be fighting for good seeding again this season. If they can make it through that opening slate at least at .500, they should be set up well to do so.
JW: For my money, this squad has the best uniforms/color scheme in the SFL. What that has to
do with a preseason power ranking column? Absolutely nothing. Does it deserve to be mentioned somewhere? Maybe. Losing elite weapon Stephen Hacker will open the door for a new weapon at WR to emerge, but that new weapon will be hard pressed to match Hacker’s S14 production.
7. Denver Nightwings (1528.93 // EOS14 #13)
HN: Another case of trying out new coaches, Denver’s previous season saw them miss the playoffs and tumble down the overall rankings to 13th. Now with Season 15 upon us, Jizzy V(Jeremy Vega), is taking the reins back in Denver and things are going to get interesting for this team and everyone on their schedule.
JW: I’m not sure that Jeremy Vega has done anything except polish his Season 13 championship
ring since it arrived in the mail. Can he bring his team back to glory? Can he even fit another ginormous ring on his hand? All these questions answered, and more! This season on the SFL!
8. Mexico City Aztecs (1528.70 // EOS14 #9)
HN: Mexico City is an interesting one here in the Top 10 after losing Ray Bentley and flipping their FB to HB. Turnover happens and Elo is unchanged due to it, but it will be interesting to see if MXC comes out the gates rolling with a big piece of their teams’ puzzle taking on a new look.
9. Chicago Wildcats (1520.84 // EOS14 #7)
HN: Chicago is looking to get back to the promised land and finally cash in, unlike Season 9, and they’re on the right path. From missing the playoffs in Season 12, to getting to the Wild Card round in Season 13, and last season reaching the Quarterfinals. Chicago is one of those sneaky good teams and they’ll be looking to leapfrog their next expected step right into the finals.
10. Vancouver Legion (1515.91 // EOS14 #6)
HN: Andy seems to have figured it out after being on the edge of playoffs, going all the way to the 2nd seed and a semi finals appearance. They have seen some big name turnover but filled the gaps with well built vets; now it’s time to see if they’re for real or if last season was an outlier.
JW: I had thoughts to share on the final 3 teams of our preseason power rankings, but, seeing as how we’re about to breeze past 1500 words, I decided/realized the people are here for Norwood. I’m merely David Spade to his Chris Farley.
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