Written by Baylee O’Shaugnessey, Josh Farnzy, Stefaun Forge, Rae Colston and Matthew Slinn

Images by Axel Raven and Hubba Kimbrel

 

RANK: 1
TEAM: Baltimore Vultures, 9-0 MOVEMENT:  -0

The Baltimore Vultures were heavily outgained by Jacksonville in offensive yards, gave up a fairly high 25 first downs and held the ball for only 16 minutes. And yet, they never looked like taking their first loss of the season. The Vultures always looked in control. Is this some magic trick or are they just THAT GOOD? We won’t profess to have the answers, but one thing we do now know – Baltimore has a running game. One small criticism of the Vultures last season, and perhaps a large reason why they didn’t make it back to the SFL Championship, was the absence of a running game. Now, with rookie RB Jimmy Hazzard getting a more prominent role week-to-week, the calls for offensive balance are being somewhat answered. Hazzard rushed for nearly 100 yards in Jacksonville and, despite losing a fumble (rookies eh?), looked strong and fast in his carries. Of course Jack Wigmore will get his, but with an uncharacteristic 3 INTs and Ivory Ervin catching less than 10 passes for the first time since what feels like an age ago, Hazzard’s contribution was much needed. The secondary was on form once again led by Giovanni Bolt and storied vet Troy Loshaw. Baltimore once again proved that they are a complete team, overcoming a down performance by their own lofty standards to gain yet another victory. Carolina await in Week 10. Dare we whisper ‘Perfect Season’ yet?

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TEAM: Florida Storm, 7-2MOVEMENT: -0

No matter what you may believe about strength of schedule, the reality is that Florida is 7-2, riding high, and likely to walk into the postseason on an 8 game win streak. Yes. I said it. There is little chance that the last 3 opponents (combined record of 11-16, not one having a winning record) do anything to downgrade this Storm. RB Charlie Biletsky is a nightmare for opposing defenses. He is helping Florida remain in the top 5 in rushing and, in turn, own time of possession. Take this week as an example: Biletsky ran the ball for 28 times totaling 143 yards, and aiding in a time of possession of over 28 minutes! If the opposing offense isn’t on the field they can’t score. The passing game is a little lacking in fireworks. But it doesn’t matter so long as the defense can do just enough. The battle in Week 8 with Queen City showed they can. They held the Corsairs to 180 passing (have averaged 250) and 106 rushing (have averaged 141.6). There just isn’t another “QCC” on the schedule. Any day in the SFL a team can come to play and surprise even the best. But, Florida is playing good football. It is hard to see it ending anytime soon. The Storm host the London Knights this week.

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TEAM: Mexico City Aztecs, 7-2MOVEMENT: -0

Their offense held largely in check by the Nightwings defense this week, there was still a lot to like about what they showed in their 23-17 win. Mexico City QB Matt Wilson was efficient and safe with the ball, and RB Phoenix Jones was productive, though it took him 28 touches to amass 115 yards. This is a team that, when they protect the ball, are really scary. As we enter the final stretch of the regular season, the Aztecs sit firmly in position for the postseason and crushing some dreams in the process. Jones is second only to Fleet RB Ezekiel Love in total yards and carries, but owns a higher ypc. Their QB Wilson is one of the most efficient QBs in the league (3rd in Completion Percentage), though he has run into some trouble with interceptions. Their defense is one of the hardest against the run in the league, holding opponents to an average of 68.8 yards per game (4th best), and solid against the pass as well, holding opponents to 259.3 yards per game (5th best). With that combination, the most important question is: How can they beat us this week? The answer is simple: “However they need.” The Aztecs travel to Fort Worth this week to take on the Toros.

RANK:                  TEAM: Arizona Scorpions, 6-3MOVEMENT: ↑2

Remember when Arizona lost to San Diego and the nay-sayers started to chatter? There were whispers of the Scorpions being overrated off their impressive 2-0 start because they lost 3 straight after that. A streak capped off by the historic loss to San Diego. Well… 4 impressive wins later the critics are silent. They trounced Sioux Falls 34-13, they won an epic battle in Los Angeles 23-20, they beat Vancouver in Vancouver 19-7. That’s right the Legion only scored 7 points. For perspective Vancouver average 32 ppg on the season. Then in their most recent outing, the Scorpions stung Lone Star 44-21. The Scorpions are rolling and ready for the playoffs.

In this game everyone on the Scorpion offense put up numbers BUT RB DJ Moses stole the show, the headlines and anything that wasn’t nailed down with his epic performance! How epic? Well… consider this, he only carried the ball 14 times. No big deal right? That’s a quarter for some backs. Ok fine. How about this, he gained 222 yards and scored 2 TDs on those carries. That’s an average almost 16 yards per carry and a TD every 7 carries! Yeah. He had plenty of support too QB Ashley Jackson was also locked in. She went 28-35 310 and 3 TDs and 1 int. She distributed the ball like a point guard, 5 different players had at least 4 receptions and 40 yards. With their multi-pronged attack on offense Scorpions absolutely decimated the Lone Star defense rolling up 553 and 44 points. Arizona has always been known for its defense, if this is a sign of things to come from their offense well… Speaking of the Arizona D some would say they got ripped by Lone Star for 443 total yards but in reality all that yardage was a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Sure the D took a quarter and 14 points to settle in but once they did, Lone Star didn’t score again until it was 41-14 late in the 4th quarter. Arizon has a 2 game lead over Vegas in the West and barring absolute disaster seems to be in good position to win the division. Their remaining schedule will not be easy though, @ Sioux Falls, @ Mexico City (5 star matchup) and hosting Las Vegas in a game that will have its true importance decided over the next 2 weeks.

TEAM: Queen City Corsairs, 7-2MOVEMENT: -0

After a two-game losing streak which saw chances of an undefeated season and a potential division win sail away, a division win would be the perfect way to stay afloat. That is exactly what the Queen City Corsairs achieved in Week 9 as they shot down the DC Dragons 34-31 in a pulsating overtime victory in the nation’s capital. A 10-point fourth quarter and a game-winning kick by Juda Dorgan secured the all-important win for the players in black and green – a win that will taste even sweeter against a divisional opponent. As the score suggests, this was a close game. AJ Cswell’s offense played well, but despite making three interceptions, the D just couldn’t stop DC from scoring points. The Dragons’ young receiving group gave QCC all they could handle, and if it wasn’t for momentum-killing interceptions by King Jamaal, Cody Griffin and linebacker Jared Crowe, this story could have been vastly different. Dorgan’s game-winner is the main talking point, but QCC’s defensive frailties against an opponent with a lop-sided losing record may be a concern. One thing that isn’t? Jett Zero showing up big. Zero had a monster game vs the Dragons, making nearly 150 all-purpose yards while getting into the endzone three times. Zero has taken the mantle of possibly QCC’s best offensive weapon and he’s running with it, powerfully. This victory was crucial in this young team’s development. It shows that they already have the maturity to grind out a close victory against a team they should beat based on record. The Corsairs will need to draw on that maturity again before this season is done.

RANK: 6
TEAM: LA Lycans, 6-3MOVEMENT: ↑3

After suffering two very close losses in the last two weeks, the 5-3 Los Angeles Lycans hosted the 5-3 Portland Fleet in a divisional matchup.  The Lycans struck early taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter; however, the second quarter did not go their way as Portland scored an unanswered 17 points and would go into halftime with the lead.  The halftime speech must have worked because the 2nd half of the game was all Lycans as they scored 16 unanswered points.  Sully Richardson completed 24 of his 33 passes for 277 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.  RoJo had a slow day with his 21 carries for 56 yards.  K Rob Emms was 3/3 on field goals for the day.  Chris Lee led the receiving core with 5 receptions for 84 yards.  The Lycans secondary once again showed up big as they intercepted QB OJ Bruin four times.  At the end of the day the Lycans would take the victory with a final score of 30-17.  Los Angeles will host the Louisiana Revolution in Week 10.

TEAM: Vancouver Legion, 6-3MOVEMENT: -0

The Legion responded favorably after a loss to Arizona that saw the Vancouver offense only score seven total points. This contest went better. Much better. Vancouver used a vertical passing game and dynamic running attack from Robert Redford to fly past Tulsa, 44-17 this past Saturday. The Legion move to 6-3 and remain tied with Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific Division with a Week 11 rematch looming on the horizon. As for their game against Tulsa, the Legion outgained the Desperados, 533-219 and converted 10 of their 14 third downs to keep applying pressure. Kendra Hall looked near unstoppable – halling in (get it? Hall-ing?? I’ll pause for your laughter and then continue…… …..

…OK, continue). 10 catches for 167 yards and two scores.The Natural scored three times on the ground on 23 carries and caught eight balls to keep the Vancouver offensive juggernaut rolling. The Legion defense was equally impressive. Cornerback Kyler Murray intercepted Jay Cue three times to prevent Tulsa from getting any momentum in the game. Kevin Brackett added 11 tackles and the defense held Tulsa to less than 30 yards rushing. In the end, it was just too much firepower on both sides of the ball for Tulsa to handle. The Legion look to avenge last year’s loss to St. Louis this weekend as they prepare to take on the Gladiators. More importantly, a win moves them one step closer to securing a playoff home game.

RANK: 8
TEAM: Atlanta Swarm, 6-3MOVEMENT: ↓4

Atlanta came into this game riding high on a 4 game winning streak, including a win over the Revs, and looking like a team getting ready to salt away the East Division title. A win over Louisiana would have essentially clinched the division for the Swarm, giving them a season sweep of Louisiana and 3 game lead with 3 to play. Well, as the saying goes, “On any given Sim day…” Instead they came out of it with a 1 game lead with 3 to play and having dropped into the Wildcard standings a game behind the three 7-2 teams in the top 4 bye positions and trailing both 6-3 LA and 6-3 Arizona due to various tie-breakers. Oh and they now have Vancouver right behind them also at 6-3. All that being said the Swarm are a safe bet to make the playoffs and are the still the favorites to win the East Division.

In this game the Swarm got swarmed by the Revolution. The Swarm offense had troubled getting started and only really got rolling in the 4th quarter when they were in desperation comeback mode. QB Bryant Dynasty had an up and down day. The up being 30-44 for 294 yards and 3 TDs. The down being 3 ints including 2 that were returned for TDs. One was an 87 yard game changer by Evan Arthur in the 2nd quarter which resulted in a minimum of a 10 point swing and a maximum of a 14 point swing. It was seismic momentum shift that the Swarm never seemed to recover from. RB BDG Hollewood never got untracked finishing with 14-58 with a long of only 8 yards. WRs Siege Falco and Boo Chisholm were the only real threats. Falco had 8-122 1TD and Chisholm had 14-105 1 TD but it’s fair to wonder how much game flow influenced and inflated these numbers as Atlanta faced a significant double digit deficit the entire 2nd half. All in all it was just one of those days that happens sometimes. Atlanta is still firmly in control of its own destiny. The Swarm head west to take on 2-7 Tulsa in what is now a significantly more important divisional game. Then they welcome 5-4 Portland to the Hive for what should be a must see game. They close out the year hosting 4-5 St Louis. This game will likely be an absolutely must win for the Gladiators while for the Swarm it will likely be about getting the best seed possible for the playoffs.

RANK: 9
TEAM: Louisiana Revolution, 5-4 MOVEMENT: ↑3

This game was a classic example of the saying “That’s why they play the games.” Louisiana came into this rematch on a modest 2 game win streak having beaten London in a 26-24 thriller in London and having trounced the artists formerly known as the Denver Nightwings 23-7. That win streak coupled with the fact that they only lost 30-24 in Atlanta 3 weeks earlier and that now Atlanta had to come to them seemed to spur the Revolution and render meaningless the fact that Atlanta was a on a 4 game streak of their own. This was a vital game for the Revs because being 5-4 at this stage of the season is a definite advantage in the playoff race over being in the 4-5 death-match cluster. It also puts them 1 game behind Atlanta for the division title with 3 weeks to go keeping that option to them as well.

This game was a total team effort. The defense had 3 Ints, 2 pick 6 including a key 87 yarder by Evan Arthur that stopped an Atlanta scoring opportunity and put points on the board for Louisiana, a nice double if you can get it. They also shutdown Swarm RB BDG Hollewood, holding him to 14-58 for the game. The offense was steady and consistent. Rookie QB Tommy Utah was the very the definition of pin point passing going 24-27 (88.89%) for 223 2 TDs and 2 ints. RB Reggie Streeter put in a workman type performance with 22-81 and 1 TD. TE B.E. Robo paced the receiving core with 4-74. K Otis Boudreuax chipped in with 2 FGs and 5 XP. A TOTAL team effort. The road to the playoffs and even the division is open for the Revs but it won’t be easy. They travel to LA this week for a matchup of equal importance to both teams. The 6-3 Lycans have their own battles to fight to hold off Vancouver and Portland. Then they travel to St Louis in another game of the utmost importance to both teams. The Gladiators made this game likely a must win for themselves with their upset loss to San Diego last week. Louisiana finishes their season hosting struggling 2-7 Tulsa which could prove advantageous for the Revs.

RANK: 10
TEAM: Portland Fleet, 5-4MOVEMENT: -0

The 5-3 Portland Fleet travelled to LA looking for their sixth win against their division rivals.  The first quarter did not go exactly their way as they found themselves down 14-0.  A fumble recovery for a touchdown, a field goal by K David John along with a TD reception by WR Jean Valentine gave the Fleet the lead heading into halftime.  QB OJ Bruin had a rough day completing 14 of his 29 passes for 161 yards, 1 passing touchdown and 4 interceptions.  Art Vandelay was the leading receiver with 6 receptions for 58 yards.  RB Ezekial Love had 34 carries for 101 yards but could not find the endzone.  CB Shaud Allen lead the defense with his 8 tackles (1 for a loss), 1 pass deflection and one interception.  The Lycans dominated the second half of the game as they scored 16 unanswered points.  The Fleet would fall to the Lycans 17-30.  The Fleet will host the San Diego Mavericks this week in another divisional matchup.

RANK: 11
TEAM: Charleston Predators, 5-4MOVEMENT: ↓3

At this time last season the Predators stood with the same record: 5-4. Charleston ended Season 16 with a 6-6 record. It does not look like that will be the story this season. Despite the look of this score, 24-40 against the Florida Storm, the Predators have largely played better football this time around. In my opinion, they will likely go 2-1 in the final 3 games and bust into the postseason. They are not lighting up scoreboards. But, they are generally holding opposition offenses to under 21 points per game. The Predators make it tough to pass. However, a good RB can ruin their day. Florida’s RB Charlie Biletsky is a good example. He just kept chipping away at the clock… ultimately helping lead to a time of possession for the Predators of only 14 minutes! Charleston converted only 2 of 8 3rd Downs, and the Storm converted 11 of 16. That is not a stat line you want against a great offense like the Storm. But the next 3 opponents rushing averages are: 141.6 (QCC), 74.8 (CAR), and 39.6 (JAX). This is why I think 2-1 to end the season. QCC will bring the run all day, and both Carolina and Jacksonville will pass it, but that plays to Charleston’s strength. We will see where it ends up. The Predators try to make me a liar when they take on the Corsairs this week.

RANK: 12
TEAM: London Knights, 4-5MOVEMENT: ↑4

The kneel-down to close out the game was about the closest thing the Knights came to a running play this past weekend against Carolina. No runs, no worries. London’s Jonny Pichler amassed 493 yards passing to go with six touchdowns and only one interception as London kept their playoff dreams alive in a 45-28 victory over the Skyhawks. The game proved to be a positive bounceback one week after Pichler threw seven interceptions in a similar air raid approach that lead to a loss against Baltimore. When he was finally done for the day, Pichler was 53 of 63. Someone get that arm some ice. The receiving numbers? Silly good. Vin Calia had himself 16 catches, 228 yards and four touchdowns, while fellow wideout Mike St. Green had 17 catches, 111 yards and a touchdown. Yikes. Robert Merrill did not have a single carry all game – although he did make eight catches for 40 yards to keep the passing machine chugging along. Much credit for the offensive output should go to the offensive line, which in a game with 63 passing attempts only saw Carolina sack their starting quarterback once. Can London sustain this passing approach or will they mix it up? The Knights will be an intriguing case study in offensive preparation down the stretch of Season 17. If they can defeat the Storm on the road this weekend, consider the London air raid locked and ready to claim a playoff spot.

RANK: 13
TEAM: Las Vegas Fury, 4-5MOVEMENT:↑2

Las Vegas should have come into this vital game furious off their loss to Atlanta but they seemed they were slow to boil. They trailed at the half 6-3 and appeared to be headed for potential disaster. A loss in this one would have dropped them to 3-6 made any playoff chances remote. Fortunately they found their Fury in the 2nd half specifically the 4th quarter and pulled away to a convincing 27-13 victory.

The Fury were led by RB Scott Johnson and their Defense. Johnson pounded at Sioux Falls all game long until finally getting them to submit in the 4th quarter as Vegas put up 17 points in the quarter. He racked up 29 carries for 143 yards and 2 TDs. He was the Fury offense. QB Joseph Green had a good day in that he did not throw any Ints on the day. Statistically he didn’t do much 13-20 128 1TD BUT he didn’t need to with Johnson shouldering the load and the defense decimating Sioux Falls. The Las Vegas D was excellent, intercepting 3 passes and limiting Sioux Falls to 6 offensive points for the game. The only misstep came on Special Teams when AJ Levye returned a kickoff for a TD late in the 4th quarter. This win kept the Fury in the wildcard hunt but they will need to keep winning to have a chance at the spot as there 5 other teams also at 4-5 and 4 of them are above Vegas in the standings. That being said the Fury can control a lot of what happens to them in their final 3 games. They host 2-7 Denver in a game that will be tough but they should win. They host fellow 4-5 team Lone Star in what may be an elimination game for the loser. They close the season at Arizona, not ideal. Interestingly that game could be for the division if the Scorpions slip and the Fury get hot over the next 2 weeks. It’s Tums time in Sin City.

RANK: 14
TEAM: Carolina Skyhawks, 4-5      MOVEMENT: ↓3

They kept passing. And passing. And passing. And pa… well, you get the idea. London passed the ball on virtually every play from scrimmage and was able to wear out the Carolina defense en route to a 45-28 Knight victory. Carolina could only muster one sack in a game filled with nothing but London passes – putting a gassed Skyhawk secondary in a tough position. The Carolina offense put up decent enough numbers. Matt South threw for 374 yards and a touchdown to go along with two INTs. Running back Logan Jack had 33 total touches for 173 yards and a score to continue his hot play of late. Ultimately, Carolina could not keep up with the frenetic, break-neck passing pace of their opponent. The loss does damage to Carolina’s playoff hopes with only three games remaining. After working themselves back into playoff contention with two big wins, the loss to London drops them to a large group of 4-5 teams. The Skyhawks, however, look to have the most difficult schedule to navigate. They finish against Baltimore, Charleston and Florida to try and slip into the postseason.

RANK: 15
TEAM: Houston Hyenas, 4-5MOVEMENT: ↑3

The slide is over and the postseason remains very much in play. A focused defensive approach and balanced offensive attack helped the Hyenas drop their five-game losing streak – and drop Fort Worth in the process, 27-16. Warren Murray dashed for 117 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. His running prowess helped take pressure off rookie quarterback Dave Burr, who made smart decisions in the passing game. Josh Rowe had nine tackles, three pass deflections and two key interceptions – of the four they would force on the day – to keep the Toro offense on the sideline. Brody Gulch added 17 solo tackles, defensive end Chris Joseph had nine tackles and a sack and linebacker Alex Perez added 10 tackles for a defense that had no shortage of playmakers show up this weekend in the Hyena’s den. Houston pounced on the Toros early to the tune of 17-0 after one quarter and prevented Fort Worth from breaking any big plays. The win moved Houston into the 4-5 logjam – keeping them alive for a legitimate postseason berth. Their showdown against fellow 4-5 Lone Star might as well be a playoff game for all intents and purposes.

RANK: 16
TEAM: Lone Star Glory, 4-5MOVEMENT: ↓2

Lone Star came into this game off 2 straight wins including an impressive win over Los Angeles the week prior. If they could be Arizona they would move to 5-4 and into a tie record-wise with the Scorpions and hold the H to H tie breaker. Well, there is an old saying about “if”, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, wouldn’t be a Merry Christmas?” Well this game came up a big time Scrooge for the Glory as they were routed 44-21.

Once the game started it became painfully clear that only the Glory offense had gotten off the bus. The defense seemed to have missed the bus entirely and against the Scorpions you need to bring your defense because while you may get after their defense early, they eventually settle in and lock it down. That’s exactly what happened to Lone Star. After trading TDs early on to the tune of a 14-14 tie the Scorpion D stepped up while the Glory D crumbled. They had absolutely no answers for the Scorpion offense giving up 553 total yards and 44 points. The Glory offense did its best to try to keep up.  QB Ace Fenech, RB Ike McBride and WR Greg Soto all had really good days. Fenech went 31-44 341 2 TDs 0 ints. McBride had 22-102 1 TD on the ground. Soto was indeed a missile with his 5 catches totaling 134 yds and 2 TDs. These are winning level numbers most of the time but on this day it wasn’t nearly enough. While the Glory are still in good position for a wildcard spot their situation is more precarious as they fall into the 4-5 cluster due to the loss. Their closing schedule gives them a lot of control over their destiny but will be a serious test of their mettle. They host 4-5 Houston, travel to 4-5 Vegas and host 3-6 Fort Worth.

RANK: 17
TEAM: St. Louis Gladiators, 4-5MOVEMENT: ↓4

I suppose one could argue that every game during a season is ‘must win’, but only occasionally does it apply in the truest sense. For the St. Louis Gladiators, this was one of those times – and they fell short. At 4-4 heading into Week 8 and competing strongly for dominion over the East division, the Gladiators would have expected a rousing victory at the home of a struggling San Diego team. What we all collectively realised though – the Mavericks have more firepower than they once did. A 24-31 loss followed for St. Louis, despite holding the ball for nearly 10 minutes more than their victorious opposition. They just couldn’t turn their possession into yardage or points – well, enough to win anyway. Christian Brown was pretty good, tossing a couple of TDs to Phil Kos and Paul Dillavou, but the lack of connection with Eagle Mondavi really limited what the Gladiators achieved. Mondavi has been All-Pro this season, but San Diego held him in check. Drew Really did his best to rally the troops from cornerback with a pick six, but it wasn’t to be. The Gladiators became the second team beaten by the Mavericks in their young history. The race for the playoffs embarks once more in Week 9, although it presents a much tougher task from the Pacific. St. Louis travel to Vancouver. This time they will be hoping it is they who provide the upset.

RANK: 18

TEAM: Jacksonville Kings, 3-6MOVEMENT: ↓1

The Jacksonville Kings played their Week 8 loss with the defiance of a once great team who have started a new journey. Unfortunately, sheer stoicism wasn’t enough to topple the undefeated Vultures as this young roster, led by Marcus Dunhill, played above itself to no avail. Not many teams have come within 20 points of Baltimore this season, they’re that dominant, but the Kings made a good fist of it. The aforementioned Dunhill did have a personally poor game, getting picked apart by the Vultures’ secondary and a sole TD pass to tight end Jack Wall would be little consolation. Turnovers too came in the form of fumbles, Jared Willis dropping the ball into opposition hands to cancel out his touchdown. The real story for the Kings, and it’s a story of promise, was on the defensive side of the ball. This young unit held the Vultures under 400 yards (it doesn’t seem like much but against the Vultures…well, you get it by now) and picked off Jack Wigmore 3 times. Veterans showed up in a big way from front to back, Hunter Norwood making a sack and recovering a fumble forced by his linemate Taqwuan Hale, whilst Conner Darian and Bernard Goodin hold the fort well in the secondary. This was a good loss for Jacksonville. It gives hope. The playoffs aren’t fully out of the question, but keeping this defensive unit will already be on the minds of the front office.

RANK: 19
TEAM: Fort Worth Toros, 3-6MOVEMENT: -0

The offense just couldn’t find their rhythm, especially four costly interceptions that doomed Forth Worth to a 27-16 loss to division rival Houston. Their defeat drops the Toros into last place in the South Division, and at 3-6, Fort Worth will need to win out and need to have the bulk of the game results from the last three weeks of the season go their way. The Toros found it hard sustaining drives – settling for field goals after finding themselves in an early 17-0 hole. Jason Williams broke the 100-yard threshold, but the Hyena defense more or less contained him from breaking any big runs to get Fort Worth back in the ballgame. The only touchdown came too little, too late in the fourth as Cameron Curtis found tight end Robert Garrett Jr. The defense played well – limiting Houston to 319 total yards for the game.The front seven had seven tackles for loss to help keep the Toros close enough for fans to stay tuned in through the fourth quarter, but the offense just couldn’t get on track. Their longshot quest to make the playoffs makes their Week 10 game against Mexico CIty a must-win.

RANK: 20
TEAM: San Diego Mavericks, 2-7MOVEMENT: ↑3

Writing about a San Diego Mavericks victory is a tricky thing. One doesn’t want to come across as patronising or insincere, but then it’s hard not to treat it like an older brother overly-congratulating a younger sibling for a significant achievement. Due to their struggles, I do find it quite heart-warming when San Diego get rewards for their hard work. In Week 9, that came in the form of a win against the St. Louis Gladiators. In a contest where the Mavericks turned over the ball three times, the defence was notably stern, keeping star receiver Eagle Mondavi in check for the majority of the game. This was possibly San Diego’s best achievement and key to their 24-31 victory. The scoring run during the mid-points of the game didn’t hurt either. San Diego scored 24 of their points between the end of the 1st and the start of the 4th quarters, most of which came from the legs of Jaylin Wells. The former Sioux Falls fullback had one of his best games in the Mavs’ uniform, crossing into the endzone on a trio of occasions for a large personal total. The previously praised defence did a good job of keeping their offense ahead in the points and that solidity paid off. The Mavericks now have their second ever win in franchise history. Could they get a third before the season is done?

RANK: 21
TEAM: DC Dragons, 2-7MOVEMENT: -0

Boy do this young team know how to lose a close game. The feeling, I imagine, is all too familiar for those players, coaches and fans. The Dragons are 2-7, yet have a better Net Points statistic this season than at least three teams whom sit at 4-5 – and it’s not close. Before we recap yet another agonisingly tight loss at the hands of divisional rivals Queen City, let’s just appreciate that fact. It’s disappointing but promising simultaneously. Whilst you want to turn these defeats into victories, it shows that the Dragons may only be a season away. And yes, they do play in one of the toughest divisions in football this season. Anyway, to the game. Turnovers are a killer, the old adage states. DC managed to prove that old statement true as the three interceptions thrown by Shabazz Psynergy matches the amount of points the Dragons lost by…3 (34-31). Psynergy wasn’t the villain of this piece though, redeeming his mistakes with a trio of touchdowns to Kevin Seay, Josh Gill and one of the best young receivers in the SFL, Jeff Banfield. Big defensive performances by Clint Hendershot and the defensive line helped DC take their 7-2 opponents to overtime, but a Juda Dorgan kick sealed the deal. Another close loss for DC. Another opportunity gone begging.

RANK: 22
TEAM: Denver Nightwings, 2-7MOVEMENT: ↓2

The Nightwings keep getting better. They may be out of the postseason at this point… But you have to like what is growing there. They took it to Mexico City this week. There was still a chance at the very end for a last second win. This defense has taken on the best of the best in the SFL and done admirably almost every time. The front 7 is consistently in the opponent’s backfield, and the secondary is knocking down passes or making completions difficult. Those vets have run a tight ship and helped rookie FS Isaiah King III acclimate to the SFL quickly. The offense has a solid receiving core and the three youngsters are coming along very well. Rookie QB Eric Price had a solid week, in spite of a couple interceptions, going 35 of 49 for 252, a TD, and a completion percentage of 71.43. Rookie TE Jim Copeland Jr. has been getting better each week, combining his precious touches with his great run blocking. Rookie RB Baylee O’Shaughnessy has really showed good burst and elusiveness in recent weeks. This week he had 9 carries for 87 yards, one being a run for 52 yards and a TD in which he showed patience, and broke multiple tackles en route to the end zone… He also had 12 catches for 48. This may have been a loss, but it is a “win” for Denver. This game showed how far they have come since the beginning of the year. Their postseason dreams may be over, but they could play spoiler before the regular season ends. Are they high up our power rankings? Of course not. For now, the record and situation is what it is. But, the rest of this season, and into the next, should be intriguing to watch! The Nightwings travel to “Sin City” to take on the Fury for Vice Wars: Part Two this week.

RANK: 23
TEAM: Tulsa Desperados, 2-8MOVEMENT: ↓1

10. 0. 13. 14. Those are the offensive point totals the Desperados have been able to put up on the scoreboard in their last four contests. The result? An 0-4 record in that stretch and a fall to 2-7 that has all but eliminated any thoughts of playing in the SFL’s second season. This past weekend’s loss came at the hands of Vancouver, 44-17. The Tulsa offense could only muster 219 total yards of offense – including 23 yards rushing. Jay Cue threw three interceptions – all to defensive back Kyler Murray. Defensively, Tulsa had a hard time preventing the deep ball. The Legion struck early on long passes to Kendra Hall – trailing 21-0 after a single quarter of play. There was something important to celebrate, however, in this game for Tulsa fans. Safety Justin Reside, who signed with the Desperados a handful of days earlier, had an 81-yard pick-six to give Tulsa a reminder that their squad (especially the defense) has a bunch of young stars that are building their foundations for a big run in the not-too-distant future. Tulsa can now play playoff spoiler for prospective postseason squads starting this week as they get themselves ready to take on Atlanta.

RANK: 24
TEAM: Sioux Falls Sparrows, 1-8MOVEMENT: -0

Another week another outstanding effort by the Sioux Falls Defense. Through 3 quarters LV had 10 points. Holding a team to 10 points after 3 quarters is a path to win a lot of SFL games. Unfortunately for the Sparrows their offense was only able to generate 6 points of its own on 2 FGs during the first 3 quarters. That is a path to lose a lot of SFL games no matter how good the defense is. That turned out to be the case in this one…

The Sparrows held Vegas to 270 total yards on the day. Like last week it was the opposing RB who was their chief nemesis. Scott Johnson pounded at them all game long with 29-143 and 2 TDs. Under that kind of pounding knowing they can’t give up many if any points the defense finally broke in the 4th quarter. They gave up 17 in the 4th allowing Vegas to pull away in the 27-13 defeat. The offense was once again relatively non-existent. Julian Tyree threw 3 more Ints and 0 TDs while going 23-37 for 230 yards. The run game more than doubled last week’s 31 yard output with 22-78 but it was not close to enough. The only TD Sioux Falls scored was a kick return touchdown by AJ Levye with just over 2 minutes left in the game that made the score 24-13. Until the offense improves it’s going to be a rough ride in Sioux Falls. Their closing schedule is the stuff of nightmares as they host Arizona, @ Houston and host equally struggling Denver to finish up.