Written by Matthew Slinn
Images by J.R Lawless

Hello SFL! This article comes with a disclaimer, one which almost annoys me to put out, as it feels like an excuse, but it is necessary. Originally, the vision was to take a deep dive into why each team was either ‘unbeaten’, or ‘winless’. Each team would get a paragraph that was well thought out and explained in detail. Such is life, I had difficulties writing this week due to the warm hug of COVID deciding it would help me through the week. This is the second time I’ve had it and thankfully, my symptoms have been fairly mild compared to some. Still, it has knocked me out for a few days. The resulting article is now more of a ‘snapshot’ of why each team is where they are, rather than a deep dive. Apologies in advance, for having to release the skeleton of  an article without the meat on the bones. I hope you still find it entertaining and informative. 

Which Teams are Undefeated?

Baltimore Vultures – Home win vs. London Knights/Road wins @ Houston Hyenas, Fort Worth Toros

D.C. Dragons – Home win vs. Houston Hyenas/Road wins @ Fort Worth Toros, Lone Star Glory

Vancouver Legion – Home win vs. L.A. Lycans/Road wins @ Carolina Skyhawks, Jacksonville Kings

No Championship Hangover for the Vultures

  • The Vultures’ offense are flying at a level above every other team at the moment (1st in the SFL in Pass YPG, Points per game, Pass TDs, turnover differential; 2nd in 3rd down%, fewest takeaways; 3rd in Yds per game; it is just all going well – even the running game is effective enough)
  • The defense are no slouches either (Baltimore’s defense is in the Top 10 for every major category that we track in this league; every one – consistency is key)
  • The winning mentality surrounds everything the Vultures do (Baltimore’s players haven’t taken a backward step, even the new additions – Joe Duncan and Devin King are proving to be very nice additions in the front 7)

D.C. Becoming the Bully Boys of the SFL

  • Kevin Seay is cementing himself as the best in the SFL (Seay is currently the rushing leader with 541 Yds, at a rate of 6.4 per carry no less – he has 5 TDs on the ground and has looked good in the passing game; D.C. are reaping the rewards of 2 seasons of player development)
  • A dominant running game also helps in passing situations (QB Shabazz Psynergy has also started the season well; he hasn’t had to throw much, but when he has, he’s been pretty effective, currently holding a QBR of 95.8, with 6 TDs through the air – Josh Gill also seems to have a nose for the endzone, 4 of those TDs coming his way)
  • Narrow losses have turned into nail-biting wins (some of us around the league predicted D.C to make the playoffs by transforming the multiple losses by less than a TD last season into wins; this is an example where a team actually backs up what the so-called ‘experts’ predicted)

Signs of  Change in Vancouver

  • Not as potent as we are used to, but still a Top 5 unit (The Legion’s offense looks more like an arrow from a bow string this season than a bullet from a good; not quite as explosive, but still does the job well – having said that, 7 rushing TDs is leading the SFL)
  • High risk, high reward defense (Vancouver’s defence is blurring the lines between giving up too many yards and forcing the opposition to turn the ball over – currently, they are the right side of that blurred line – 12 takeaways is good for 1st in the SFL)
  • Getting one over on a division foe early – (The L.A Lycans were arguably Vancouver’s toughest test to begin the season, a test that they passed with merit – if the Legion just stay this course, keep things steady, the playoffs beckon once again)

Which Teams are Winless?

Fort Worth Toros – Home losses vs. Mexico City Aztecs, D.C. Dragons/Road loss @ Baltimore Vultures

London Knights – Home loss vs. Lone Star Glory/Road losses @ Baltimore Vultures, Mexico City Aztecs

Portland Fleet – Home losses vs. Jacksonville Kings, Charleston Predators/Road loss @ Florida Storm

Problems in Reverse for the Toros

  • This young D can’t seem to replicate Season 17 for Fort Worth (24th in the SFL in PAPG, Passing YPG, Overall YPG and 3DA%, the Toros defensive identity is being tested – I will concede though, that they have faced Baltimore)
  • The veterans need to step up (Fort Worth’s leading turnover merchant is rookie, Frank Bernstine, with a pair of picks; that should say it all, really)
  • Rookie QB, Johnny Reno, has improved the QB play (It is pleasing to see Reno come in and play well after last season’s troubles; the youngster has spread the ball well – every receiver, bar the fullback, has a TD to their name…but it’s not proving to be enough)

Air Travel Across the Pond is Expensive

  • The offence is the imbalanced in the SFL (I know Baltimore also has a large discrepancy between passing YPG and rushing YPG, but they still get at least 50 rushing yards on average – 19 YPG on the ground is a killer, especially when trying to hold a lead)
  • Opposition pass-catchers too open in the red zone (The Knights’ experienced secondary in finding life tough at the moment, giving away 11 TDs through the air, the most in the SFL – cue same Baltimore Vultures excuse from me)
  • Pichler is a good QB, but turnovers have been a problem (The Knights have given the ball away 9 times and taken it away from their opponents 5 times; changing that turnover differential from -4 to +4 may go a long way to turning losses into wins)

Underperformance in Key Areas is Sinking the Fleet

  • The passing offence is arguably the worst in the SFL (Fleet 24th in Yds per game; QB, OJ Bruin last in passing yds, Yds per attempt, QBR)
  • Receivers look overmatched against tough SFL secondaries (Portland have only caught 3 passes in the endzone – 2 for Benjamin Warner, 1 for rookie, Mike Savage; Jean Valentine needs to step up as #1)
  • The defense isn’t playing to it’s potential (For a defence stacked with talent, so few turnovers is a problem; yes, they are forcing a lot of field goals from poor starting field position, but the D needs to take the ball away more to support this struggling offence)