Written by Hunter Norwood, Jacob Clear, Chad Stinson, Ernest McCray Sr., and Auryn Wicker
Welcome everyone to the inaugural Premier Stats Power Rankings! Throughout the season we will be breaking down the teams and where they rank but with a little wrinkle added in with “Themes of the Week.” As such, this week we will be looking at how teams have fared through four weeks of the regular season and if they are what we thought they were coming into Season 18. You will see that below in rating teams as: Step back, Par or Step up. Although I will say that everyone has taken the theme and made it their own so it may not always be so black and white. I am incredibly happy with the team we have built here to do this and look forward to showing off our work throughout the season. Enjoy!
Rank Team Record Average Rank Last Week Trending
1 4-0 1.20 1 Even
The Vultures are where we have come to expect them to be season in and season out. Baltimore is the only team I see going undefeated and also being the Champs. They are the Kings of the Hill and I do not see a team that can knock them off.
2 4-0 2.20 2 Even
D.C. has had a hot start to this season by going 4-0 after going 3-9 last season. This looks to be a team on a upward trend but they still have a long road ahead with the likes of Denver, and Queen City just to name a few. This is a dragons team that is headed for the playoffs but they will not be undefeated when they get there.
3 3-1 3.20 3 Even
Vancouver is a squad that has begun to know the playoffs well and tends to make a deep run in them. So far it looks like they are par for the course on that front. With the only thing standing between them and a zero in the loss column being a Redford injury I’d say they have come out of the gates running, or well I guess passing with Kendra Hall leading the league in receiving by a mile. The big question mark for the Legion in season’s past has always been how will the defense hold up and will they enter into this cycle where they let up a lot of points but the offense doesn’t stop rolling and they can get out of most binds. Well so far through four weeks the defense has looked a lot better and is top 1/3 in the league in points allowed. Owner Andy Hamilton has always been a force to be reckoned with, and now with the defense starting to close up their gaps this team is looking like they may finally reach the promised land. This is a step up and a half for Vancouver, watch out.
4 3-1 3.40 4 Even
Different coaching – same old Florida. A minor hiccup in Week 1 against the Mavericks did little to deter this elite squad, as they are, as usual, firmly inside the top 4 after 4 weeks. Charlie Biletsky turned on the jets against Portland in Week 2 and their defense has been consistent throughout. Ron Cockren is doing a solid job managing the offense and, like last season, they seem more than content to let Biletsky control the game week to week with JW Doyle in the backfield. Florida is headed well in the right direction once again but will have their championship legitimacy challenged in the coming weeks as they face a hungry Vancouver squad that promises to be a thriller, followed by game one of two against Charleston and a road trip to St Louis. Despite the schedule, Florida are still one of the foremost teams in the league and the loss to San Diego hasn’t hindered their confidence. Art Vandelay and Ben Jackson have this team soaring and it’s going to take a top effort to change that.
5 2-1 6.00 5 Even
A 38-31 loss, that is what has been driving the Atlanta Swarm since Season 17 ended. The Chisholm/Hollewood/Dynasty trio are ready for a championship run. They went out and grabbed Diamond Blackwell in the draft as she provides some stability at OLB and can play sideline to sideline. My concern is the front four; can they get pressure on the QB when needed? Atlanta has always been a proud SFL franchise no matter where they are standing. I have no doubt about them reaching the playoffs and it is championship or bust for them this season. This Swarm team has taken a step up and will be looking to show it in the postseason this year.
6 2-1 8.00 6 Even
Lone Star was all but counted out this season and has come out guns blazing. Even in a loss to D.C. they stayed pretty close in a shootout. The thing that sticks out to me the most with the Glory is whether or not they can get their defense under control because once you start to play the premier squads of the SFL they will eat you alive if your defense isn’t up to task and you can only rely on your offense for so long. At the end of the day though, this is a team that people were not expecting to be here in this position so early on and with that they are taking a step back up towards the top flight.
7 2-1 8.20 7 Even
This team overall seems to be fairly consistent with last season when it comes to ppg offensively and defensively. They’re racking up more yards offensively. They do have a much worse turnover differential than last season 4th worst in the league and 10 ints thrown in only 3 games so far. I will say though that 6 of those ints came from just one game that somehow they only lost by 3. Defensively they have been consistent with last season and though their rushing defense has gotten worse, their passing D has gotten just as much better up to this point. The one thing though that is a positive for this team I like seeing is that they are the best on 3rd down conversion percentage and this has helped them with controlling the game and putting their team in position for finishing out games. If that one 6 int game from Christian Brown was a fluke, than this team is set in good position offensively and defensively to make a push towards being a top 10 team when it comes to playoff time.
8 2-1 10.60 8 Even
When you think of a team that improves from one year to the next, you think of the Mavericks in S18, in all facets of the game. Total yards, ppg, total yards given up, oppg, turnover differential, 3rd down conversion percentage, everything has improved and that alone is an amazing thing to see and this coaching staff and these players should be proud of what they have done so far this season. That’s not to say they can’t take care of the ball better, they’re still just the middle of the pack in turnover differential but it is progress. The one problem I have with Scar Patterson is the 7 interceptions in 3 games and 6 in his last 2, this can’t be a trend or the rest of the season might not go so well, nip this in the bud now. Jaylin Wells is averaging 5.5 ypc, he is a 1st down machine. You have two top wrs in Liam Hammer and Gunner Lewis. This offense is primed to take off as long as they cut down on the turnovers. The defense overall has a solid core, especially when it comes to allowing points scored. If there is a team from S17 who was at the bottom of the rankings that looks to have a chance at being a top 10 playoff contender here in S18 I feel the Mavericks are that team.
9 2-1 11.00 9 Even
Coming off a rebuild season, Jacksonville entered the season with wind in their sails having maintained most of their cohort whilst bringing in some fresh pieces – most notably pulling JR Lawless out of retirement – and began to feel the change of pace in their first two games, securing wins over Portland and division rival Charleston before succumbing to a bitter 28-14 loss to Vancouver which was tarnished by 8 total turnovers by the Jacksonville offense. It’s a shame that the 7 interceptions has spoiled what was a really good start from Marcus Dunhill, but with 7 scores to his name and only going to ground 3 times is a sentiment to his leadership and the blocking he has in the likes of Bryan French and the Bleeker twins. However, once again, the questions surround their veteran tailback – Jared Willis. Willis was phenomenal in Season 15, combining for over 1700 yards with 17 scores as a heavily used runner in the Kings offense, backed up by 1000+ combined yards and 11 scores the following season, but then slipped to an average of 3.2 yards per carry in Season 17 and currently sits at 3.1 after 3 games. As one of the more well-paid backs in the league, it’s certainly confounding seeing him with such little production with good blocking from the front. Defensively, the Kings are giving up 27 points per game, but when considering game circumstances, it’s likely Frank Goodin is content with how his young defensive core is performing. It goes without saying that Jacksonville are one of the most esteemed franchises currently in operation, so they’re never afar from being competitive, but right now Jared Willis could be the key to this team really exploding. A road game in Carolina this week against a patchy defense could be just what the doctor ordered for this Kings offense after literally throwing the game away against Vancouver.
10 2-2 11.40 10 Even
Charleston is an interesting team to put things simply. So far through four weeks of action they are about where you would expect them; right in the middle. Last season to now the offense has seemingly stepped up but the defense has begun to let up more. Despite this, the team is giving and taking an even amount and so they seemed destined to flip flop games to 6-6. But in my mind this is how the Preds like to operate. Right on the edge. With an average margin of victory at 2.5 in their games this team is looking towards grinding out wins or mending broken hearts. If they can get the defensive side of the ball clicking like they were in the past then Charleston could easily eclipse last season’s mark of 7-5 and start to really push themselves up into a higher tier of play.
11 2-2 12.00 11 Even
So far, so good for this Nightwings team. With a new head coach at the helm this Denver team will have big shoes to fill and past history is not on their side. Despite that Wiseman has been leading his team valiantly with their two L marks coming in close losses. Being at .500 through four weeks is a good start for this club and with at least a split before they enter the bye week, this Denver team is looking good from the onset. With the changes that Denver has seen in recent season this is a step in the right direction for them and they will definitely be doing better than what I was forecasting in the preseason.
12 2-2 12.40 12 Even
A nice playoff run in Season 17 that ended at the hands of the eventual champs in Baltimore is what this team has been given to build off of. Can they continue to build towards a better future is the big question for Vegas this season. With RB Scott Johnson back again, who I feel doesn’t seem to get his due, this could really be his year to put himself on the center stage. The BBK trio(Blades, Britton and Kirby) are as good as anybody in the SFL but again the name of the game is balance and within that they can look to find true success. At 2-2 so far they are right where I pegged them to be, Par.
13 2-2 12.80 13 Even
It’s been an interesting start for the Revolution, who opted to stun the league by trading up for Randy Squarebush in the draft as well as adding elite defensive talent in Slinn Shady. They opened with a classy 34-12 win over Sioux Falls but fell to Denver the following week and put up a dismal performance against Tulsa at home in Week 3. The press had to be held though, as they righted the ship with a 30-10 away win over Arizona to enter their Week 5 fixture with Atlanta at 2-2. Tommy Utah has been reasonable but has had trouble protecting the rock with 10 total interceptions. The defense however has lived up to expectations, dropping 20 points a game on average, with Mike Ryan leading the league with 6 interceptions as he looks to explode in his second season with the club. The Revolution however are yet to truly justify their seemingly overpriced rushing attack, as Randy Squarebush remains the least used tailback in the league, averaging just 9 total touches a game. It’s not a pretty slate of games ahead for the Revolution, as they now must face Atlanta, Vegas, and then the entire Atlantic division. Needless to say, Louisiana is doing the right things, and will need to hope that loss to Tulsa doesn’t come back to haunt them when push comes to shove.
14 2-2 13.80 14 Even
Sioux Falls has been an apt name for the past few seasons for t he Sparrows and going into this season the expectation was more of the same. Splitting the opening quarter of games did not seem to be on the cards for them and it is starting to look like they are finally starting to course correct. Getting wins at all is a step forward and they will need all they can get before they start their North division gauntlet after their bye in Week 7. With a chance to be at or above .500 midseason is a dream scenario in my eyes for them.
15 2-2 13.80 15 Even
A disappointing wildcard exit last season means this team has something to prove this year. With some core players coming back on offense they have the means to do so. QB A.J. Caswell has a good core of receivers to chuck the rock to and they can eat up any secondary placed before them. Also everyone knows about Jett “400” Zero’s ability to run or catch out the backfield to do some real damage. The defense might be a liability though and they will need to be able to get the opposing side off the field when need be. The linebackers will tell all for this unit and based on how well Nathaniel Diggs can play is what will determine whether or not they struggle this year. The main issue for the secondary will be locking down on the 3rd and longs and closing those drives as should be expected of them. The way things are going so far is business as usual and as such they receive a Par rating from me.
16 2-2 14.20 16 Even
It’s been a rough start to the season for the Aztecs ranking the 5 worst team when it comes to turnover differential. Offensively this team can score with the best of them and I might argue that they’re better this season then last when it comes to it. However, like a lot of the bottom teams at this point of the season, turnovers are hurtful. Matt Wilson leads the league in passing yards, has 11 passing TDs and is 5th in QBR. He has 10 ints thrown and it just really hurts to see this. Defenses so far this year have thrived on getting turnovers and setting their offenses up and Matt has been helping them with this. Look, the running game has been fine with Phoenix Jones and it would be hard to give him too many more carries a game. You have a top 5 receiving threat in Jacob McCall. Work on reducing those ints, this offense is going to have to carry this team because the defense has taken a major turn down. They are giving up more passing yards, rushing yards, total yards, and passing TDs per game then last year and it’s by a wide margin. Once ranking in the top 5 last season in all categories, they currently are in the back half of all these categories. The Aztecs are giving up 15 ppg more this year than they averaged all of last season! That’s insane. Maybe this goes back to being so bad with throwing interceptions and changing that can help, but the defense needs a complete overhaul and fast. Right now, this team who was a top contender last season, looks like they will be battling .500 all season long if they can’t fix these issues.
17 2-2 14.20 17 Even
Carolina could make a strong playoff push this season. They have to win the close games which will bring them the confidence that they have lacked in the past. I believe that they have to win the turnover battle and be able to flip the field when necessary to be in good shape for season 18. I see them giving the rest of their Atlantic brethren a run for their money but the main bit for them to look out for is their special teams play. Based on what I’ve seen from them so far I’m going to give them a Step Up ranking.
18 1-2 17.40 18 Even
I like this team grabbing up Brad Jones in the Season 18 Draft as it gives them a nice young back to work with, but can QB Dave Burr spread the ball to a good group of WRs? D.R. Sim and Randy Pierce look to be a big part of this offense going forward in my eyes but Houston has to stay balanced when they do that to keep that competitive edge to them. The defense should be ok this season but if Alex Perez and the front four can put some consistent pressure on the opposing QB then watch out for them to crank this side of the ball up a notch. There’s ways for this team to push to the next level but as it stands I give them a Par rating.
19 1-3 17.80 19 Even
Off the back of what was certainly one of Eddie Gauge’s most stressful off-seasons, his team had to start off on the wrong foot after losing the Hands brothers to retirement late into the free agency negotiation phase of the off-season. Still, in true Arizona style, his front office was able to lull Connor Weston and Ryan Owens out of their retirement spell to start for the Scorpions on the opening night of free agency. Despite a turbulent 30-14 victory over Tulsa in Week 1, Arizona has lost 3 on the bounce including a humiliating 30-10 loss last week to the Louisiana Revolution. Arizona did hold firm against tough opponents in Atlanta (20-13) and Las Vegas (27-26) but currently sit at the foot of the Western division. On a bright note, Ashley Jackson’s completion percentage (72%) and total of 1,138 passing yards is certainly respectable, with Connor Weston averaging 16 yards per reception in the process. DJ Moses is operating below expectations on the ground but has found the house 5 times. Joey Tropicana also sits in the top 5 for total tackles with 41. Sadly, Ashley Jackson is back to being a very turnover heavy QB with 10 interceptions in her first 4 games, and has only found the house on 3 occasions, second worst only to Atlanta’s Bryant Dynasty. Eddie’s defense just isn’t taking the ball away enough to offset the errors Jackson is making, thus making Arizona’s next few weeks a steep uphill climb, as they host division rivals Denver at home and then travel to St Louis, then host Queen City and DC. There are some winnable games in the schedule for this talented unit but there are plenty of question marks surrounding the production of Ashley Jackson as she continues to retool this offense. It’s likely a work in progress for Arizona but one can’t completely write off the wonders of the Eddie Gauge philosophy.
20 2-2 17.80 20 Even
Tulsa is an enigma; always has, always will be. Every week I try to decipher how Tulsa will fare against other teams and constantly get caught out. It’s hard to say where they truly stand but at this moment they seem to be starting to figure things out. The first two weeks had a tossup and just one of those games. Now they are sitting on a two game winning streak as they head over to Sioux Falls and while there is tougher matchups later on, I believe that this game coming up is the “prove it” game. The Desperados have stepped up but with this team that can change day-to-day for me but I’m rooting for them.
21 1-3 19.80 21 Even
When I look at this team I see an offense that is okay. They have improved in their passing game so far this season while maintaining close to their rushing abilities from S17, but even then currently this team is ranked in the top 10 when it comes to team rushing TDs so they’re being efficient and getting into the endzone when they need to run. The major issue I’m seeing here with this team are two very key items. The first is that they lead the league in turnovers offensively with a horrendous 15 ints thrown in just 4 games. That is almost 4 ints a game, I don’t know how you can expect to win doing something like that. This coaching staff has to either take the ball out of Sully Richardson hands who has the most pass attempts so far this season, or they need to simplify the reads. It’s not like Robert Johnson is doing bad with his 4.0 YPC, maybe they need to shift focus more on him and try to get closer to that 25 carries a game. Help Richardson get his confidence back and make the reads easier. The other issue here with this team is giving up more ppg than last season, but I feel this can be offset with the offense giving up so many turnovers. It is hard to ask the defense to be out there on average an extra 4 possessions let alone if those start in their own territory. To be honest, the first 4 games for the Lycans have been against tough opponents where their 3 losses have come against all top 10 teams in my rankings. If this team can fix the turnover problems, I do believe that they are capable of turning things around and pushing for a playoff position.
22 0-3 22.20 22 Even
Fresh off their miracle playoff appearance after Chad Roland defeated his previous employers in Week 12 only to be blown out by Eddie Gauge’s Scorpions in the first round the following week, London entered the season with some confidence that their air-raid style offense was the answer and that they had the right to be considered a playoff team. It has been a tough start schedule-wise – they played bravely against a Baltimore team with fresh rings on their fingers but came up short, then had their hearts ripped out at home against the Glory and then lost by 8 at Estadio Azteca. The offense is keeping them in games, but the way they are set up to play, 26 points per game seems a bit disappointing. That said, Pichler has been impressively efficient, completing at nearly 80%, but London fans must feel a little disheartened by the lack of scoring from their dynamic QB. On the flip side however, it feels strange that a defense with so many talented pieces is giving up points a little too easily for comfort, with that final play against Lone Star at the crux of their disappointment. Being stuck in the North division isn’t doing them any favours, but with upcoming fixtures against Fort Worth, Houston and Denver, the coaching staff at London can right the ship if they dig deep enough. The bottom line is that Johnny Pichler needs to keep up with the demand if London wants to stick by their guns, else they are staring directly at a rather dramatic fall from grace.
23 0-4 23.00 23 Even
I don’t care what anyone says about this long losing streak dating back into last season, the Toros should have won this past game. Mental mistakes ruined their chances there. This is a running team that needs to continue and feed Jason Williams, but that line needs to create better holes as Jason is only averaging 3.7 ypc, 23rd in the SFL. The Toros have the ability this season to throw in the redzone with Johnny Reno and this team needs to continue to throw the ball to Stephen Hacker when they do. The big issue though with being a running team is that the Toros defense so far this season has taken a major step back. They can’t stop the pass where as last season they ranked #2. Still middle of the road rush defense, and they’re giving up more TDs while still being a middling scoring offense themselves. We can’t forget still a poor turnover differential and all of this just doesn’t mix into a football team progressing in the right direction. It doesn’t get much easier for this team moving forward, next weeks matchup with the London Knights has to be a heart game for this team to prove that the start of this season was just a tough schedule mixed with a S17 fatigue. Because after the Knights the road becomes bumpy and momentum needs to get built up quickly or the Toros will be drafting 1st in next seasons draft.
24 0-4 23.60 24 Even
The Fleet are a team that went 6-6 last season and now the high seas have turned into a watery graveyard for Portland as they have gone winless. They have had some really close games but every time they load the guns for that final shot one of the gun turrets explode, sending them to the bottom. This is a team that will miss the playoffs and may just do it without a win.