Written by Matthew Slinn
Images by Hubba Kimbrel

Introduction

#1 Denver Nightwings (11-1)

Record vs. Playoff Teams – (3-0) 16-31 vs. Baltimore (Week 3); 36-23 @ Arizona (Week 4); 27-31 vs. Las Vegas (Week 12)

Key Players – Jarrod McChesney, RB; Josh Miller, QB; Kramer Jackman, K

Surprise Superstar Dez Troyer, DT

Prediction – Shakes of muted criticism of an easy(ish) schedule by winning home games in the QF and SF rounds, only to lose in the Championship Game by less than a touchdown. 

#2 Florida Storm (10-2)

Record vs. Playoff Teams – (6-1) 23-45 @ Lone Star (Week 1); 10-17 vs. Jacksonville (Week 2); 17-27 vs. LA (Week 4); 31-41 vs. Mexico City (Week 5); 10-27 vs. St. Louis (Week 7); 20-38 vs. Vancouver (Week 9); 25-13 @ Jacksonville (Week 12)

Key Players – Ron Cockren, QB; Erich Hammer, LB; Ryan Davidson, CB

Surprise Superstar Charlie Biletsky, RB

Prediction Florida have shown a champions mentality all season and it doesn’t slow down in the playoffs. They make it to the championship game on the back of two nervous, but sure performances, taking their 4th SFL crown by beating the Denver Nightwings in a close and drama-filled match.

#3 Baltimore Vultures (8-4)

Record vs. Playoff Teams – (3-2) 21-27 vs. Arizona (Week 1); 16-31 @ Denver (Week 3); 30-27 @ Vancouver (Week 6); 16-24 vs. Lone Star (Week 10); 24-26 @ Mexico City (Week 11)

Key Players Ivory Ervin, WR; Giovanni Bolt, FS; Troy Loshaw, SS

Surprise Superstar Lloyd Graham Jr, TE

Prediction The Vultures scrape through their home QF against a hungry Wildcard winner, falling at the next hurdle without ever really getting into their stride. They have a champions mentality, but that can only take them so far. 

#4 Vancouver Legion (8-4)

Record vs. Playoff Teams – (3-4) 21-34 @ St. Louis (Week 4); 21-32 @ LA (Week 5); 30-27 vs. Baltimore (Week 6); 37-24 @ Jacksonville (Week 7); 20-38 @ Florida (Week 9); 37-43 vs. Jacksonville (Week 11); 13-31 vs. LA (Week 12)

Key Players Tom Pepper, QB; Robert Redford, RB; Brett Killian, WR

Surprise Superstar Josh Farnzy, LB

Prediction Vancouver’s high-powered offense carries them through their QF match with flying colours, only to let them down in the semi-finals against a powerhouse team. The Legion’s struggles against top quality opposition comes back to haunt them as their powerful offense falters.

#5 Fort Worth Toros (8-4)

Record vs. Playoff Teams – (1-3) 13-20 @ Arizona (Week 7); 31-20 vs. Las Vegas (Week 8); 33-38 vs. Mexico City (Week 10); 42-44 @ Lone Star (Week 12)

Key Players Robert Garrett Jr, TE; Stephen Hacker, WR; Katherine Horrell, DT

Surprise Superstar Cameron Curtis, QB

Prediction The Toros come up against the 6-6 LA Lycans in the Wildcard, confident of a victory and with good reason. They manage to stifle the Lycans’ offense for most of the game, advancing to the QF where their ‘one-dimensional’ defensive style comes back to bite them against an elite team that can put over 30+ on their stellar D.

#6 Mexico City Aztecs (8-4)

Record vs. Playoff Teams – (3-3) 31-41 @ Florida (Week 5); 9-24 vs. Lone Star (Week 6); 3-38 vs. St. Louis (Week 8); 15-28 @ Lone Star (Week 9); 33-38 @ Fort Worth (Week 10); 24-26 vs. Baltimore (Week 11)

Key Players Matt Willson, QB; Phoenix Jones, RB; Dan Tritz, DT

Surprise Superstar KL Barrett, WR

Prediction The Aztecs have made it to the playoffs once again, where they will face the 6-6 Arizona Scorpions. Unfortunately, this is as far as the Aztecs will go as they become the victims of an upset in this Wildcard round. 

#7 St. Louis Gladiators (7-5)

Record vs. Playoff Teams –  (1-3) 21-34 vs. Vancouver (Week 4); 10-27 @ Florida (Week 7); 3-38 @ Mexico City (Week 8); 40-27 vs. Las Vegas (Week 11)

Key Players Eagle Mondavi, WR; Geralt Winkler, FS; Colin Dougles, SS

Surprise Superstar Phil Kos, TE

Prediction The Gladiators won their divison on the final day of the season and they fully deserve to be in the Wildcard round, however they come unstuck against a roaring Las Vegas team that already beat them quite badly in Week 11. St. Louis will be looking to next season to make a deeper playoff run .

#8 Lone Star Glory (7-5)

Record vs. Playoff Teams – (4-2) 23-45 vs. Florida (Week 1); 22-38 vs. Jacksonville (Week 4); [email protected] Mexico City (Week 6); 15-28 vs. Mexico City (Week 9); 16-24 @ Baltimore (Week 10); 42-44 vs. Fort Worth (Week 12)

Key Players Ace Fenech, QB; Greg Soto, WR; Lincoln Kingseed, SS

Surprise Superstar Cameron Collier, FB

Prediction After two ridiculously close victories towards the end of the season, the Glory made it back to the Wildcard round. They will use that experience to sneak a victory at home to the Jacksonville Kings in a wild affair, however this will take its toll. Come the QF, the adrenaline dump will be real and LSG will crash out in dominant style. 

 #9 Jacksonville Kings (7-5)

Record vs. Playoff Teams  (1-5) 10-17 @ Florida (Week 2); 22-38 @ Lone Star (Week 4); 37-24 vs. Vancouver (Week 7); 26-10 @ LA (Week 9); 37-43 @ Vancouver (Week 11); 25-13 vs. Florida (Week 12)

Key Players Christian Christiansen, QB; Ken Gossett, WR; Succo Lohmano, FS

Surprise Superstar Keenan Samuels, LB

Prediction As previously mentioned, the Kings will crash out at the Wildcard round in a memorable, but unsuccessful game at the Lone Star Glory. A 1-5 record against the best teams in the league isn’t promising. 

#10 Las Vegas Fury (7-5)

Record vs. Playoff Teams (3-3) 44-54 @ LA (Week 3); 21-37 @ Arizona (Week 5); 31-20 @ Fort Worth (Week 8); 23-25 vs. Arizona (Week 9); 40-27 @ St. Louis (Week 11; 27-31 @ Denver (Week 12)

Key Players Max Jackson; SS: Slinn Shady, LB; John Blades, WR

Surprise Superstar Scott Johnson, RB

Prediction The Fury do as many predict and beat the Gladiators in the Wildcard round, although this will be a much closer and tenser game than the first one. The QF round will come around and it will be one step too far. Having a low #10 seed will catch up to Vegas as they have to travel to one of the powerhouse teams, where they will unfortunately lose.

 #11 Arizona Scorpions (6-6)

Record vs. Playoff Teams (2-3) 21-27 @ Baltimore (Week 1); 36-23 vs. Denver (Week 4); 21-37 vs. Las Vegas (Week 5); 13-20 vs. Fort Worth(Week 7); 23-25 @ Las Vegas (Week 9)

Key Players Donnie Hands, WR; James Hands, WR; Iverson Gamble, CB

Surprise Superstar DJ Moses, RB

Prediction The Scorpions come into the playoff bracket with limited expectations, but surprise most in the community on Wildcard Saturday with a win @ Mexico City. Their brave run will, like Vegas, be stunted at the QF stage as their propensity for turnovers and poor pass defense catches up with them. 

#12 Los Angeles Lycans (6-6)

Record vs. Playoff Teams (2-3) 44-54 vs. Las Vegas (Week 3); 17-27 @ Florida (Week 4); 21-32 vs. Vancouver (Week 5); 26-10 vs. Jacksonville (Week 9); 13-31 @ Vancouver (Week 12)

Key Players Robert Johnson, RB; Buddy Blaze, LB; Ryan Yoseph, SS, 

Surprise Superstar Davius Reid, WR

Prediction The Lycans have done beautifully to get to the playoffs in what is practically their first season. I know they won’t be happy with a one-and-done visit, but on the road against the Fort Worth defense – I just can’t see it going well for them.