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, 10-0 MOVEMENT:  -0

You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m going to hit the snooze bar on the Baltimore Vultures until the postseason. At this point, every game just seems like a foregone conclusion. Sorry Queen City and London… I just don’t see how you pull one out. I would love to see myself made a liar. But, let’s face it, Baltimore is just that good this season! While getting only 19:07 in time of possession, this game wasn’t even close. QB Jack Wigmore was 22 of 33 for 444, 4 TDs and 0 INTs. They put up points in bunches, unmercifully, and in a hurry. Their defense is not very good against the pass, though dominant against the run. None of this matters. The Vultures offense is like a V12 in a field of V6s. Don’t get me wrong, they ARE vulnerable. However, no one has come close to succeeding. There is just too much speed to cover all across the field! They have not been forced to run by a single team. If someone can stop the pass and waste the clock that team will have a chance. The problem is: We have yet to see 4 quarters of that yet. Baltimore hosts the Queen City Corsairs this week.

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TEAM: Florida Storm, 8-2MOVEMENT: -0

Is it just me or did Alex ‘Big Sexy’ Dominguez look a bit like his old self in Week 10? The All-Time leader in sacks in the SFL wrecked through London’s offensive line for a whopping 4 sacks, something that would have been a rarity even in the old days. Dominguez’s destructive ability helped his Florida Storm team ease to a 13-27 victory, that was a lot closer than the score suggests. A clutch 4th quarter by the Storm pushed them into a home win, and keeping up a remarkable level of consistency, only bettered by the undefeated Baltimore Vultures. Charlie Biletsky was well-handled by the London front seven, however that wasn’t a factor due to the connection between Ron Cockren and his TE, Valadin Zharkov. Zharkov went for over 100 yards and a score in a performance that has been rare from the tight end position in the last couple of seasons. Receiver EJ Mincin also nearly went for 100 with a score, once again proving to us that he is probably one of the more underrated receivers I the SFL. Week 10 saw another ‘Florida Storm’ style victory – that ability to score a good amount of points, enough to look comfortable whilst not blowing anyone to pieces. They just know how to win.

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TEAM: Mexico City Aztecs, 8-2MOVEMENT: -0

If time of possession is an artform, Mexico City painted a masterpiece in the first half this weekend against Fort Worth. The Aztecs lead from wire to wire as Mexico City clinched the South Division title with a 28-10 victory over their division rivals. The Aztecs controlled the entire pace of the first half with grinding, time-consuming drives to start – while hitting big plays in the two-minute drill portion of the first two quarters ro run the halftime lead to 21-0. That includes an opening 17-play, 77-yard drive that culminated in a Fox Highwind touchdown reception. The Matt Willson to Highwind connection powered a precise, steady offensive motor. New signee Bill Henry caught a key 65-yard reception that set up Mexico City’s third score of the half to help put the Toros in a huge hole. Phoenix Jones found the end zone twice and had 117 yards on the ground. From there, Mexico City’s defense wore down the Toro offense. The Aztecs forced three turnovers and allowed only 218 yards of total offense and three offensive points. With the South Division title now secure, the Aztecs now turn their attention to jockeying for first round bye position in their final two contests. They’ll host Arizona this weekend before closing out the season against Houston to ensure they are set up well for the postseason.

RANK:                  TEAM: Queen City Corsairs, 8-2MOVEMENT: ↑1

The Corsairs make middle to lower tier teams look truly “lesser than.” They hold their own fate in their hands on their way into the postseason. Complete domination is what we saw this past week. Charleston didn’t have a chance, completely smothered by the QCC defense. The more interesting topic this week is: Can they put a stop to division leader and rival, the Baltimore Vultures? The Corsairs have not seen the Vultures since Season 16, when they lost handily, 21-6. But, they travel to Baltimore this coming weekend. The difference this season is a QCC team that is in a 4-way tie for 2nd place in the SFL, with a defense that is 6th against the pass and 7th against the run. They are pretty much the only team that stands in the way of the Vultures and a perfect regular season. Can they at least send a message? Right now, it is hard to see anyone stopping Baltimore. If Queen City can’t, it may be that the Baltimore Vultures waltz all the way through the title game and a completely perfect season. It all goes down this week in the Vultures’ home town!

RANK:  5       TEAM: Arizona Scorpions, 7-3MOVEMENT: ↓1

Ok so interesting tidbit about Arizona. The Scorpions have always been known for their defense and people have always wondered what they would be like with an offense to match… well this is what they would be like. Arizona is averaging 28.1 ppg. They have scored 30 or more points in 5 of their 10 games. They have only 2 games with less than 20 points and they are 1-1 in those games. Their defense is the traditional Scorpion defense. They give up only 18.7 ppg. Only Queen City has topped 30 points against them. On the flip side 4 teams have failed to score 14 points against them including Vancouver who for all their offensive prowess could manage just 7 points against the Scorpions. They rank 1st in points allowed. The Scorpions also rank 4th in net points at +94. This is not the kind team that many would want to face in a playoff scenario.

Against Sioux Falls the Scorpions found the Sparrows to be a rugged and hearty opponent but one that they could control. While the offense found rough going early on, the defense made it a moot point as they shut down and largely dominated the Sparrow offense. The Scorpions yielded only 23 yards to a limited Sioux Falls ground game. They intercepted 3 passes and held the Sparrows to 3 points thru 3 quarters before yielding a late TD with the game already in hand. Offensively RB DJ Moses led them into the land of plenty 3 times while putting 26-104 on the ground and 5-40 in the air.  QB Ashley Jackson had a solid day going 30-39 293 1 TD but 3 Ints. Interceptions have been a problem for AJ in the past but this season she has limited them with only 16 thru 10 games. That being said now would be a very inopportune time for them to resurface. Something to watch the next 2 weeks. The Hands Bros led the receiving corps but the occasion is rare when they don’t. Donnie had 9-95 while James had 7-70 and a TD. Arizona has locked up the West Division and is now looking to achieve the best seed possible for the playoffs. The remaining schedule should definitely prime them for playoff football. This week they travel to 8-2 Mexico City for what should be an epic and extremely important clash with the Aztecs. If Arizona wins they pull even with MXC at 8-3 and hold the Head to Head tie breaker. If MXC wins they go to 9-2 and cannot be caught by the Scorpions who would drop to 7-4. They finish the regular season welcoming Vegas to town. This game will definitely of high importance to Arizona for playoff seeding. What it will mean to Vegas will depend on what they do due this weekend when they host Lone Star. If they lose it will likely be meaningless other than finishing with a win and playing spoiler for Arizona’s seeding aspirations. Both games will definitely serve as excellent playoff preparation for Arizona.

RANK: 6
TEAM: LA Lycans, 7-3MOVEMENT: -0

Los Angeles hosted the Louisiana Revolution this week looking for another win hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Their wins are not pretty or flashy, but the Lycans keep doing Lycan things.  Their offensive recipe for success seems to be a little bit of Sully Richardson passing the ball to every receiver including his backs, a lot of Ro Jo carrying the ball and a splash of Ramen runs up the middle.  The Lycan’s offense depends on their veteran secondary to win the turnover battle which enables them to play a ball control game.  And this is exactly what happened this week.  The Lycans secondary held QB Tommy Utah to 110 passing yards allowing him one touchdown pass to WR Chase Earl while intercepting him four times.  The offense did just enough with Richardson’s passing touchdown to Davius Reid and Ro Jo’s rushing touchdown.  The Revolution would fall to the Lycans 14-7.  Los Angeles travels to Vancouver next week to take on their division rival looking to clinch their division.

RANK: 7          TEAM: Atlanta Swarm, 7-3MOVEMENT: ↑1

Everyone knows not to agitate or anger bees or yellow jackets because they will attack, even swarm, well Louisiana did just that in week 9 and Tulsa took the full brunt of the angry swarm attack in week 10. Atlanta did what truly good teams do when they play lesser opponents they came out on a mission with focus, intensity and an unrelenting drive to destroy their opponent and leave no doubt how good they are. 48-3 is what happens when a team does that.

The Swarm were heavy favorites in this one and they played up to it. They raced out to a 17-0 and whatever competitive phase of the game there was, was over. QB Bryant Dynasty had a Hall of Fame-worthy day going 30-33 (90.91%) 358 4 TDs and 0 Ints. RB BDG Hollewood had a tremendous all around day as well with 20-60 2 TDs on the ground and an insane 14-129 1 TD through the air. He caught almost half of the passes BD3 completed and made each one count averaging 9.2 yards per catch. While BD3 and BDG powered the offense, the defense, obviously angry about the 41 points surrendered to Louisiana, dominated in a way reminiscent of the 85 Bears. No they didn’t blitz every play and have 10 sacks. They just plain simple shutdown the Tulsa offense. Yielding only 186 total yards for the game. Again 186 total yards for… the… game! If not for a 2nd quarter FG they would likely have registered a shutout of dominant proportions not often seen. If this is a sample of what kind of team the Swarm will be heading into the playoffs well Baltimore and the rest of the SFL better take note. The Swarm are essentially East Division Champs right now all that’s left to do is make it official. They can do just that with a win at home over Portland this week in what figures to be an exciting wide open matchup.

RANK: 8
TEAM: Portland Fleet, 6-4MOVEMENT: ↑2

It was a win they needed to stay ahead of the dreaded playoff cutoff line. And it was a win they got thanks to an all-phase effort. The Fleet torpedoed their Pacific Division rivals, 36-10 to move to 6-4 on the season as they look to clinch their first playoff berth this season. The defense? Stellar. Vernard Patterson was in the backfield often – registering four tackles for loss – and the Portland defense held San Diego to only 39 rushing yards. They would keep the passing game in front of them for the most part to hand the ball back frequently to their offense. The Fleet found a useful balance between the Ezekiel Love running machine and OJ Bruin’s efficient, accurate passing game to put the Mavericks away by the third quarter. Jean Valentine caught a touchdown pass in the win. The win moves Portland into a second-place tie in the Pacific Division with Vancouver, whom they host in a pivotal Week 12 showdown at home. They remain one game behind Los Angeles for a share of the division lead. Portland’s strength of victory at .233 is the lowest amongst the teams currently in the playoffs, so wins down the stretch will be crucial to avoid tie-breaking scenarios. They will, however, get a chance to increase that strength of victory this weekend as they head to Atlanta to take on the host Swarm.

RANK: 9
TEAM: Vancouver Legion, 6-4MOVEMENT: ↓2

In one of the more puzzling performances of this season, the Vancouver Legion fell 30-16 at home to the St. Louis Gladiators, losing in fairly embarrassing fashion to a team that they would have expected to beat. Tom Pepper was largely ineffective, throwing a solitary touchdown offset by 4 INTs which essentially ruined any chances of victory. So, what about big-play RB Robert Redford? Well, he also struggled. We are used to seeing Redford have the odd game off, as though he isn’t even on the field, and this was a great example of one of those games. Redford had less than 30 yards – his long was 6. For a player who is often considered amongst the best in the SFL, this is unacceptable. There were also defensive issues through the air. The Legion gave up 3 TDs to Christian Brown and his receivers, with only Drew Hamilton seemingly ready to play good football. We have to commend Hamilton’s play in a losing cause. Vancouver are fighting for the division. A performance like this would have you thinking they had given up on the season though. Next week’s game against LA will prove this one way or the other.

RANK: 10     TEAM: St. Louis Gladiators, 5-5MOVEMENT:  ↑7

Every now and again, just when you think they are done, just when you think they are written off, the St. Louis Gladiators come back and surprise us all. The Week 10 demolition of Vancouver in their own stadium, in their own country, was another reminder that the Gladiators CAN PLAY. A harassing defensive performance led by veteran Freeman Peltier was the catalyst, Ralgar Lawe and Nicholas Warner also chipping in with some quality, game-breaking play. Season 17 has been tough for Lawe after his DROTY worthy performance last season, so it was nice to see him make only his 3rd pick of the season. The stellar D seemed to give Christian Brown confidence, the young QB threw a trio of touchdowns, spreading the ball nicely and using TE Phil Kos very effectively. This game looked over by halftime. That’s how good the Gladiators were. It is a big momentum boost heading into the final two weeks of the season.

RANK: 11
TEAM: Lone Star Glory, 5-5MOVEMENT:  ↑5

After getting simply annihilated by Arizona last week the Glory came into this game against Houston knowing that another loss could be unrecoverable in terms of their playoff hopes. With that knowledge the Glory gutted out a difficult come from behind win 34-28 win over Houston to improve to 5-5 and put themselves in a better position to make the playoffs.  The difference between 4-6 and 5-5 is stark when viewing the standings so the Glory have to be thrilled to get what could be a playoff making win. Only time will tell.

In this one despite the clear importance of the game Lone Star seemingly picked up where they left off against Arizona as Houston controlled the 1st half and took a 21-10 lead into the halftime locker room. The lone bright spot of the 1st half offensively was RB Ike McBride who ran for 106 and a TD. The defense appeared every bit as vulnerable as it had the week before giving up 21 points and showing no signs that anything would change. While no one outside of the Glory locker room will ever know what transpired there during halftime. Whatever it was, was game changing! The Glory came out in the 2nd half guns blazing. The offense got rolling racking up 24 2nd half points. The defense got tough holding Houston to only 7 2nd half points and making key plays in big moments. One of the biggest being a drive killing interception on Houston’s 1st possession of the 2nd half when the Hyenas were driving in Lone Star territory and looked primed to go up 28-10 and leave the Glory far behind. QB Ace Fenech 23-29 242 2 TDs and ) Ints, RB Ike McBride 26-194 2 TDs and WR Dave Axis 8-98 led the way for the Glory in this dramatic come from behind win. While this win was gratifying and vital the true meaning of this win will be determined by what Lone Star does in the final 2 weeks of the season. They travel to 4-6 Vegas this week which will be no easy task as the Fury are in absolute must win mode now to maintain their slimming playoff hopes. After that they welcome 3-7 Fort Worth in the season finale. Rivalry games are always tricky and records are meaningless so this one won’t be easy either. The Toros would surely like nothing better than to cap their disappointing season by taking the Glory with them into an early off-season.

RANK: 12
TEAM: Louisiana Revolution, 5-5MOVEMENT:  ↓3

If you like watching a defensive battle, then this was the game for you.  The Revolution travelled to Los Angeles hoping to clinch the win.  QB Tommy Utah had a rough day completing only 15 of his 30 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown to WR Chase Earl and 4 interceptions.  Reggie Streeter carried the ball 19 times for 78 yards but could not find the endzone.  The defense showed up as they held the Lycans to only 14 points; unfortunately, this would be enough for the Lycans to win the game.  Defensive standouts were CB Evan Arthur with 8 tackles and 1 PD and Doug Day with 2 interceptions.  The (5-5) Revolution will travel to St. Louis next week to play the Gladiators.  They will need to get the dub here to stay in the playoff contention.

RANK: 13
TEAM: London Knights, 4-6MOVEMENT: ↓1

In a game that has summed up the London Knights’ season to this point, they fell to the high-flying Florida Storm 13-27 despite sticking around deep into the second half. An unanswered ten points in the 4th by the home tram drew them away from London’s challenge, and a good performance on the road went unrewarded. Games like this have been too prevalent in the Knights’ season so far as they have struggled to find any kid of consistency during the middle part of their 12 games. Despite dropping back 43 times, Jonny Pichler had a quiet day, uncharacteristic of his Season so far in the UK. Big plays receivers Vin Calia and Mike St. Green were largely stifled and the offensive burden fell onto Robert Merrill, who actually found success. Merril went over 100 yards with a score, at a clip of nearly 5 yards per carry. If any positives are to come out of this game, it shows that the London coaching staff can trust Merrill to perform. He was probably the player of the game for the Knights, his only challengers being Cam Frosby and Anthony Wyo. Frosby was imperious against the Florida rushing attack, whilst Wyo chipped in with an interception. The London Knights have an uphill battle to make the playoffs. If all that pre-season hype is to be met, a postseason berth should be the minimum expectation.

RANK: 14
TEAM: Charleston Predators, 5-5      MOVEMENT: ↓3

As predicted last week here on the Power Rankings, Charleston was upended easily by the Queen City Corsairs. QB T.D. Drew was 27 of 35 for 243 (a 77% completion rate) but no TDs and 2 INTs. It just goes to show that efficiency doesn’t necessarily breed points. How many points did they achieve against QCC? Six. Two field goals. The defense did their job against the pass, keeping the ball in front of them for the most part to the tune of only 233 yards and 2 TDs. But they allowed 140 on the ground and 3 TDs. Allowing 5 total TDs is not a good way to win. Will they be able to get this going in the right direction to sneak into the postseason? There are 2 games left and both are winnable. Next up is a rematch from their Week 4 battle with the Carolina Skyhawks. The Predators lost that game 27-30, a close affair ruined by 4 INTs. Charleston hopes this game will be different. Carolina is coming off of a loss to Baltimore, but they were in striking distance in the 4th. This could end up being another shootout. We will know soon enough!

RANK: 15
TEAM: Las Vegas Fury, 4-6MOVEMENT:  ↓2

In many great rivalries, it always seems the team with the least to lose is looser and more relaxed. Putting their rival in a tough spot just feels deliciously good. The Nightwings played the role of spoiler well – surging past Las Vegas, 41-27 to claim the latest instalment of Vice Wars. And now, the Fury must rally to avoid having a promising season spoiled. Turnovers and missed opportunities put Las Vegas behind the eight ball in the first half – failing to get off the field on many third downs. Denver dominated time of possession at 28-15 minutes. The Fury turned the ball over four times, which halted their offensive production, which was otherwise fairly solid. Joseph Green threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns with 160 yards and the two scores going to wideout John Blades. The defense gave up yards, but a few players had standout performances. Tom Creeg notched two more key interceptions, Max Jackson tallied 16 tackles and Eric Davis did one better at 17 total tackles. They just couldn’t solve the Denver offense on third down. Las Vegas closes the Season 17 regular season campaign vs. Lone Star and at Arizona. The Glory are one of the last teams in the playoff picture – meaning the Fury must win to close the gap. Sitting at 4-6, this roller coaster season reaches their most crucial twist and turn. With a refocused effort, they are not ready to have another weekend spoiled.

RANK: 16
TEAM: Carolina Skyhawks, 4-6MOVEMENT: ↓2

What a roller coaster ride of a season… It is hard to tell what is the real squad here. First, they get absolutely blown out by the Vultures in Quarter 1. Then they proceed to outscore Baltimore 28-23 over the remainder of the game, to lose 40-28. On one hand, they started extremely slow. On the other hand, they played far better once they got their footing. With 4:28 left in the 4th the score was 30-28. The best team in the SFL was threatened and they responded. Where was the closing fight in the Skyhawks? The opportunity was there. But on 3rd and 2 for Baltimore, they snap just before the 2 minute warning, seemingly catching the Carolina defense off-guard, and convert. 2 plays later, poor pursuit angles allow a pass to the flat to go to the house. Game. Set. Match. The glimpses are there, but Carolina needs to consistently show up. If you look at this season’s body of work, there is no reason why they should have been that close to victory… But they were. There is something here. However, it looks like this season will be in the books before it comes to fruition. Carolina heads to Charleston to play the Predators this week.

RANK: 17
TEAM: Jacksonville Kings, 4-6MOVEMENT: ↑1

What. A. Game. What a come from behind victory for the Jacksonville Kings – on the road. This young, rebuilding team managed to best the efforts of another young team in the DC Dragons, 40-38 in possibly the most entertaining game of Week 10. A touchdown in the 4th quarter proved to be the difference – a largely moral victory for two teams whose playoff chances look extremely slim. Marcus Dunhill has one of his best games since coming back into the SFL fold, tossing a trio of touchdowns to only 1 INT. He leaned heavily on Jared Willis, who turned the game into his show with 3 TDs (1 on the ground and 2 through the air) and well over 100 all-purpose yards. All this would have been for nought however, had it not been for Bernard Goodin’s 88-yard pick 6. The cornerback snatched the ball out of the air and navigated his way to the end zone, making one of the best plays of the season in the process. Optimism rings around this group. They have improved as the season has gone along and Season 18 looks very promising. Heck, even the playoffs aren’t out of the question yet. A LOT needs to go right, but never write off the Jacksonville Kings.

RANK: 18

TEAM: Denver Nightwings, 3-7MOVEMENT: ↑4

My, how the tables turned from just a month ago. After the Denver offense ran into roadblocks in their loss against Las Vegas back on August 27. Credit the coaching staff for making the right adjustments. And credit the players for churning out 438 yards of offense, creating four turnovers and putting 41 big points on the board to help the Nightwings win Season 17’s Round 2 of Vice Wars, 41-27. Baylee O’Shaughnessy seemed to have his best game of his rookie season – exploding for 141 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown to go with 60 yards on 12 catches to give his fellow rookie backfield teammate Eric Price a safety valve. Price only missed on six of his 37 pass attempts. Despite three interceptions, he was able to move the chains in key moments. Price found Jeremy Mosley for three touchdowns – earning the veteran tight end an SFL game ball this week. The difference in this game (well, other than turnovers)? Third down. Denver converted 12 of 15 opportunities, while Las Vegas could only convert three of eight. The Vegas offense got yards, but Denver’s secondary intercepted rookie quarterback Joseph Green three times to help their cause. After giving up a late score to the Fury at the close of their last game, the Denver defense put a stop any similar drama. The weekend was bittersweet for Denver, as they watched Arizona clinch the West Division they dominated season. But still, very little can spoil a rivalry win. The Nightwings are still alive in the playoff hunt at 5-7, but are long, longshots. With winnable game remaining against Fort Worth and Sioux Falls to close the season, perhaps some math magic can help them to an improbable rally into the postseason. Stay tuned.

RANK: 19
TEAM: Houston Hyenas, 4-6MOVEMENT: ↓4

It seems like it has been a lifetime since Houston raced out to a 3-0 start. It probably feels like it has been several lifetimes for the Hyenas who have gone 1-6 since. It’s not like they have just fallen apart though. Their losses have been high quality, Los Angeles 27-20, Queen City 20-7, Florida 41-31, Mexico City 27-24, Carolina 51-42 and this past week to Lone Star 34-28. All of those teams are still in the playoff hunt, 4 of them (FLA, QCC, MXC, LA) are in top 7 in the standings. The Hyenas have shown themselves to just be play here or a bounce there from being among the league’s elite. This is made even more impressive by the fact that Houston has 8 rookies playing big roles including Rookie QB Dave Burr. Big credit goes out to the ownership and coaching staff who have put it all together and could very easily have a 7-3 team. Whether they make the playoffs are not, they will be a team to watch heading into season 18.

This may have been the most heartbreaking loss for the Hyenas given the importance if the game, the way they started it and then the way they finished it. Houston came out and picked up right where Arizona left off against the Glory. Rolling through the Glory defense, controlling the Glory offense on the way to a 21-10 halftime lead and establishing firm control of the game and the Glory. In addition to their lead and their control of the game they would also receive the 2nd half kickoff. A chance to put Lone Star away early, land a decisive knockout blow with another TD. They were on their way to exactly that when one play changed everything. On 1st and 10 from the LSG 40 it a routine throw on a slant route clearly got away from Burr and was intercepted by the Glory. The game was never the same after that. Lone Star started rolling to the tune 24-7 in the second half while the Hyenas stalled out. Late in the 4th quarter Houston pinned the Glory inside their own 5 on a punt with just under 4 minutes to go. Needing 1 stop for a chance to win the game the Hyenas couldn’t get it as Lone Star picked up 1st downs and ground down the clock and possibly the Hyenas playoff chances. While they are not eliminated Houston faces a long and difficult road to the playoffs. Currently 17th in the league standings they have to win their final 2 games, move past 5 teams AND hope that Lone Star is not a team they have to tie break with for 12th. Their journey starts with a visit from rugged 1-9 Sioux Falls. The Sparrows have outperformed their record and like the Hyenas have been a play here, a bounce there from bigger and better things. Houston closes the regular season hosting a rematch with Mexico City of their earlier 27-24 thriller won by the Aztecs. Not exactly the schedule Houston would want in this position but it’s the schedule they have and they are clearly capable of winning both games.

RANK: 20
TEAM: Fort Worth Toros, 3-7MOVEMENT: ↓1

What was a promising Season 16 in Texas turned into much optimism ahead of Season 17. Unfortunately for Toro fans, another offensive power outage has turned that optimism ahead to Season 18 instead – as their 28-10 loss to Mexico City this week all but eliminates them from a chance at a playoff spot. Fort Worth could only piece together 218 yards of total offense – including 128 through the air with three turnovers. Jason Williams was contained under 100 yards making life hard on the passing game and vice versa. The defense played solid despite the loss. Cornerback Adam Leach continued his quality play – getting into the end zone with a pick-six in the third quarter to keep Fort Worth close enough to keep the game in doubt. Jeff Duffy added three sacks as part of his nine-tackle game. They allowed a few sustained drives in the first half to allow the Aztecs to take an early lead that they would never relinquish. For the first time in their three-year existence, the Toros will be on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Mathematically, they still have a playoff pulse. They will play for that pulse – and pride the final two weeks. They prepare for Denver this weekend as they attempt to find some momentum moving forward.

RANK: 21
TEAM: DC Dragons, 2-8MOVEMENT: -0

The DC Dragons have to be the best 2-win team in the history of the SFL. They just can’t win these close games. Every time I seem to watch DC, they are in with a shout, only to lose it at the death. For a season that started so brightly, this losing run will have been the pinnacle of frustration for owners, coaches, players and fans alike. They have one of the best RBs in the league, whom they lean on heavily with good reason, two fantastic young receivers in Jeff Banfield and Josh Gill, yet the wins simply haven’t come. Seay was once again the driving force in this 2-point loss vs the Jacksonville Kings, crossing into the endzone twice on 17 carries, going well over 100 yards on over 7 yards per carry. With numbers like that, DC had better hope they keep hold of him in FA. Kanye Rockafella once again had a big game, defensively and in special teams. The vastly experienced player made an interception (the only turnover from his team) and also returned a kick for a TD. To think that a missed field goal was the difference in this one…the frustration in DC might be par for the course right now. Two winning showings in the final two games of the season will take DC to 4 wins. Will that be seen as a success? I’m not so sure.

RANK: 22
TEAM: San Diego Mavericks, 2-8MOVEMENT: ↓2

The offense couldn’t find the right rhythm all the way down the field. The defense just couldn’t get off the field enough on third down. The result? A hungry Portland squad pulled away in the second half to take down San Diego, 36-10 this past weekend. The progress is there. Sometimes, however, the wins don’t always show up with that progress. Javier Vazquez was efficient – connecting on 76 percent of his throws for 252 yards and a touchdown strike to wide receiver Ryan Owens. The Portland defense, however, did a great job bottling up Jaylin Wells and making them a touch too one-dimensional. They were able to move the ball downfield some, but stalled too often outside of scoring range. San Diego’s defense saw some great play from the No. 1 overall pick linebacker Leon Thunderman, who had eight tackles, three tackles for loss and a pass deflection. They were able to (somewhat) contain the SFL’s leading rusher Ezekiel Love, who had 113 yards on 23 carries, but kept him from breaking any long, back-breaking runs. But, alas, it was a loss for San Diego, who is officially out of the playoffs. Plenty of silver lining to mine from this season. The Mavericks close out their schedule at home – hosting Tulsa and Los Angeles in Weeks 11 and 12, respectively.

RANK: 23
TEAM: Sioux Falls Sparrows, 1-9MOVEMENT: ↑1

Sioux Falls came into this matchup with red-hot Arizona undaunted as usual. The Sparrows clearly not a true 1-9 team. While the margins of their games may not always reflect it Sioux Falls has been in every game they have played at halftime. They have had a few near misses with 4 games decided by 7 points or less. In recent weeks it can be effectively argued that they have surpassed Tulsa in terms of performance despite having lost to them early in the season. They also beat San Diego in week 1. Perhaps the Sparrows are really only behind DC, who by the way is probably the best 2-8 that you will ever see, in the bottom 4 despite their record. Honestly if they could find any kind of consistent offensive production to go with their defense they likely would not be part of this conversation in the first place.

In this game, as has been the case for Sioux Falls recently, it was again their rough and rugged defense that led the way. They battled the powerful Scorpion offense almost to a standstill in the first half yielding only 10 points but were still on the short end of 10-0 score at the half. They intercepted 3 passes on the day. As has happened recently the Sparrow defense spent the majority of the game (28 mins) on the field. With all the weapons it was facing it was again only a matter of time. Trailing 17-3 heading into the 4th quarter with the Scorpions continuously pounding away at them the Sparrow defense finally broke as the Scorpions piled up 17 4th quarter points in the 34-10 defeat. In fairness to the Sioux Falls offense in this one, Arizona is not a team you want to face if you are struggling offensively. Eddie Guage vs a struggling offense is just not fair. That being said the Sparrow passing game gave a good accounting of itself as Julian Tyree went 25-43 304 1 TD but  threw 3 Ints. WR Gunner Lewis led receivers with 6-134 1 TD. The Sparrow running game, well… remember the 31 yard performance against Charleston… I give you 23 yards rushing in this one. That’s right 23, there were probably several backs in the SFL that single carries for more than that. Again though in the interest of fairness they only attempted 10 runs total for the game likely due to game flow. Sioux Falls and its defense heads to Houston this week for a matchup with the Hyenas. The Hyenas will be in desperation mode as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive.

RANK: 24
TEAM: Tulsa Desperados, 2-8MOVEMENT: ↓1

To say that Tulsa has fallen on hard times is like saying The Great Depression was a minor economic hiccup. Since a strong showing in a loss to Queen City in week 6 the Desperados have lost their last 4 games by a combined score 143- 33. During this stretch they have been shutout and held to 3 points in 2 of the games and have 17 and 13 points respectively in the other 2 games. In fairness though the last 2 games were against Vancouver (44-17) and Atlanta (48-3). These games were where most of the sizeable point differential comes from.

Their game against Atlanta was over before it started. The Desperados quickly fell behind 17-0 and were never in the game. Their offense did manage to salvage a FG in the 2nd quarter to make it 17-3 and avoid a 2nd shutout in 4 games but that was the only bright spot on the day. The Desperado offense, there was none. They finished the game with 186 yds of total offense. QB Jay Cue provided most that with 25-34 151 and 2 Ints. RB Sonzo Robinson never saw daylight as he was swarmed under by the Atlanta D finishing with 14-31. No Tulsa receiver gained more than 35 yards on the day. The defense, there was none. They gave up 469 yards, 48 points and never showed any possibility of even slowing the Atlanta O down. They allowed the Swarm to control the ball for 27:32 out of 44 minutes. It was quite simply an abysmal overall team performance. Up next for the Desperados a visit to San Diego where they will take on 2-8 Mavericks in what could be a good game between 2 struggling but seemingly evenly matched teams.