Week Nine Power Rankings

1. Seattle Orcas (8-1) – No change
Last Week: W – @ Atlanta – 20-10

Cross country trips are tough, but the Orcas took care of business the same way they always do; their defense shut Atlanta down, Isaiah Crowell wore them down and they got a 20-10 victory on the road to stay at the top of the league.

2. Orlando Rockets (7-2) – No change
Last Week: W – @ New Orleans – 41-9

Ricky Ray took back his starting job with four touchdowns and 249 yards. And even better, Devonta Freeman came back and rushed for 128 yards and a touchdowns, giving some physicality back to that offense. Freeman was a game-time decision and got work down to wear down a physical Nightmare defense.

3. Michigan Stags (7-2) – No Change
Last Week: W – San Antonio – 34-20

This was the game when Zach Collaros reminded everybody he can win some games for the Stags. Collaros is great at managing games, but every now and then he’ll burn a defense. It’s always greatest by the running game, though. Jeremy Langford has taken a bit of a back-seat now to Thomas Rawls and Dexter McCluster, but overall the entire group combined for 179 yards and Langford did get the score.

4. Pittsburgh Forge (6-3) – Up 3
Last Week: W – @ Washington – 55-25

What a shocker this one was. Pittsburgh’s offense has been as good as any in the league but seeing them blow out Washington in the Nation’s capital to move into first place in the division was not expected. But Jon Jennings is making his case for the MVP with six touchdowns and 415 yards. He’s been great this year and doesn’t look like he’s stopping.

5. Carolina Generals (6-3) – Up 1
Last Week: W – @ Louisville – 24-17

Erik Meyer showed he wasn’t just a flash in the pan early in the year. He threw for over 300 yards with three touchdowns against the Louisville Cougars for an important road win against an opponent that was primed to pull an upset.

6. Los Angeles Stars (6-3) – Up 5
Last Week: W – Nashville – 13-10

A low-scoring, but back-and-forth game that ended up going in the favor of the Stars. It was very important for them to get that win and take control of the Metropolitan Conference Wildcard spot and also keep within striking distance of the Orcas at the top of the Pacific. Ronnie Hillman was the one guy who got into the endzone for the Stars and his fourth quarter touchdown did the trick.

7. Washington Wave (5-4) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Pittsburgh – 55-25[/b]

Tyreek Hill had another big all-purpose yards game, but the one area of the field he doesn’t impact is defense and the defense got ripped apart by a top-notch offense. They gave up 55 points and were never in the game after falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter.

8. New Orleans Nightmare (5-4) – Down 4
Last Week: L – Orlando – 41-9

New Orleans had a chance to step up and prove to be an elite team in the league this year, but they got whooped by the Rockets. It wasn’t pretty. Nick Davila was sacked six times and their physical defense was out-manned. Devonta Freeman wore them down and Ricky Ray passed all over the place in the blowout.

9. Philadelphia Bulldogs (5-4) – Down 1
Last Week: L – @ Charleston – 9-3

Charleston’s defense has shut down some great teams this year and Philly was the latest one they shut down. Michael Vick completed 23 of his 29 passes and didn’t throw an interception, but couldn’t get anything going against the Dragons. Jay Ajayi was very limited too. Their defense did great, but the offense couldn’t do anything against against the Dragons.

10. Birmingham Predators (5-4) – Up 4
Last Week: W – Houston – 40-10

With five passing touchdowns, Dak Prescott proved something to the Houston Wranglers for trading away the right to draft him. Remember, Houston had the No. 1 overall pick but opted to trade it and they went with Connor Cook. Prescott remembers that well and made them play. Along with his five passing touchdowns he had 350 total yards and was unstoppable in the second half.

11. Phoenix Scorpions (5-4) – Up 2
Last Week: W – @ Minnesota – 26-14

The Pacific division is as tough as they come and Phoenix got a bit win to stay relatively close to the other two top teams in their division. Mike Reilly was spectacular, completing 21 of 24 passed for 282 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. Adrian Peterson looked as good as he has all year long, averaging 4.8 yards per rush. Watch out for DJ Foster. He’s a rookie who can catch and run and he had 19.6 yards per touch. He might be an increased workout moving forward.

12. Columbus Explorers (5-4) – Down 3
Last Week: L – Omaha – 15-13

You have Terrelle Pryor with over 300 yards and Theo Riddick giving them over 100 yards rushing to help out and their defense allowing only 15 points, you’d expect a win. But the Explorers just couldn’t punch the ball in the endzone and finish drives. They were only 7-for-17 on third-down conversions.

13. Atlanta Firebirds (5-4) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Seattle – 20-10

Atlanta shouldn’t fret, nobody scores against Seattle. Matt Barkley’s poor game could have been way worse and Terron Ward at least had 5.9 yards per carry against such a physical defense. It was the result they were figured to get.

14. San Antonio Marshalls (4-5) – Down 4
Last Week: L – @ Michigan – 34-20

San Antonio just isn’t getting it done against the better teams in the league. They’ve been widely inconsistent all the way around. Their running game managed only 39 yards and Bo Levi Mitchell had no scored and less than 200 yards. Not good enough for this team.

15. Charleston Dragons (4-5) – Up 1
Last Week: W – Philadelphia – 9-3

Philly became the latest offense that was shut down by the Dragons. This Charleston team, even with Aaron Murray, doesn’t have any explosive ability on offense, but that defense is one of the very best in the league this year and will make even great offenses scared.

16. Nashville Renegades (4-5) – Down 1
Last Week: L – @ Los Angeles – 13-10

Frickin’ Sam Fickin. He missed three field goals in a three-point loss to the Los Angeles Stars to drop the Renegades below .500. Jordan Howard has 188 yards, but pretty much of nothing as the Renegades were held to only 10 points. AJ McCarron had a very poor game and surprisingly Allen Hurns was held to only one catch for six yards in his debut in the Music City. That’s not at all what they traded to get.

17. Omaha Express (4-5) – Up 1
Last Week: W – @ Columbus – 15-13

While Tim Tebow had another below average game and the running game did pretty much nothing, Omaha’s defense shut down Columbus’ drives and held them to only 13 points. Da’Quan Bowers did a great job in the trenches to shut Columbus down.

18. Dallas Six-Shooters (3-6) – Up 1
Last Week: W – New York – 37-14

All of a sudden the Dallas Six-Shooters are putting some things together and got back-to-back wins. They’re still far away from the playoffs, but they’re improving. James Franklin looks to have brought some sort of stability to the quarterback position and Jalen Richard has great promise as a running back. Chris Matthews made for a third piece to the puzzle and he had a great second game with Dallas.

19. New York Marauders (2-7) – Down 2
Last Week: L – @ Dallas – 37-14

After falling to 2-7, do the Marauders start to evaluate whether they’ll continue on with the Ryan Nassib era. His contract is up at the end of the year and they’ll be faced with a very tough decision of whether to keep their Championship-winning quarterback or let him walk. The problem is neither Drew Willy, nor Vad Lee look like guys who can take over. New York has had a very bad year despite a great start with that win over Orlando on opening night. How they won that game will be the biggest mystery of the season.

20. Louisville Cougars (1-8) – No change
Last Week: L – Carolina – 24-17

Until the offensive line improves this Cougars team is going to keep having troubled. Jeremiah Masoli has endured a beating this year and was sacked four times again. He really did play well, completing 22 of 29 passes, but the pressure hurt him. Karlos Williams also got nothing going, finishing with only 24 yards and averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. Clearly, it’s the o-line that needs to be fixed before anything else.

21. Houston Wranglers (2-7) – No change
Last Week: L – @ Birmingham – 40-10

It was a nice start to the game, and that was about it. After taking a 10-6 lead, Houston gave up 34 straight points and got blown out in Birmingham. Connor Cook only had 113 yards passing. He’s just a rookie and doesn’t have much help, so it’s too early to take off the franchise quarterback label, but he too needs to improve.

22. Minnesota Freeze (0-9) – No change
Last Week: L – Phoenix – 26-24

This team is getting close to a win, and had the lead with one second left, but Richie Leone gave Phoenix the win as the time ran off the clock. Josh McCown showed he’s not done yet with 335 yards and three touchdowns. But it just wasn’t enough to get the victory.

Week Nine Awards

Offensive Player of the Week
QB Jon Jennings, Pittsburgh Forge
25-for-45, 415 Pass Yards, 6 Pass Tds, 1 INT

Defensive Player of the Week
DE Jonathan Bullard, Orlando Rockets
3 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 1 Hurry

Special Teams Player of the Week
P, Mike Scifres, Charleston Dragons
7 Punts, 359 Punt Yards (51.3 YPP), 2 In20, 56 Long

Rookie of the Week
QB Dak Prescott, Birmingham Predators
24-for-35, 287 Pass Yards, 5 Pass Tds, 1 INT, 63 Rush Yards (7.0 YPC)

Playoff Watch

Empire Conference
1. Orlando Rockets (7-2) vs. 4. Birmingham Predators* (5-4)
2. Pittsburgh Forge (6-3) vs. 5. New Orleans Nightmare (5-4)

*Wildcard Watch: Washington Wave (5-4), Philadelphia Bulldogs (5-4), San Antonio Marshalls (4-5), Charleston Dragons (4-5)

Metropolitan Conference
1. Seattle Orcas (8-1) vs. 4. Los Angeles Stars* (6-3)
2. Michigan Stags (7-2) vs. 3. Carolina Generals (6-3)

*Wildcard Watch: Atlanta Firebirds (5-4), Phoenix Scorpions (5-4), Columbus Explorers (5-4)

Yearly Awards Watch List

Barry Sanders Most Valuable Player
1. RB Isaiah Crowell, Seattle Orcas – 1,685 Rush Yards (6.1 YPC), 15 Rush Tds, 14 Rec, 67 Rec Yards (4.8 YPC)
2. QB Dak Prescott, Birmingham Predators – 252/338 (74.6%), 2,883 Pass Yards, 24 Pass Tds, 3 INTs, 398 Rush Yards (5.3 YPC), 5 Rush Tds, 1 FUM
3. QB Jon Jennings, Pittsburgh Forge – 227/315 (72.1%), 3,257 Pass Yards, 28 Pass Tds, 8 INTs, 222 Rush Yards (6.3 YPC), 3 Rush Tds
4. DT Almond Sewell, Orlando Rockets – 16 Tackles, 10 Sacks, 4 Hurries, 1 PD
5. WR/RB/RET Tyreek Hill, Washington Wave – 428 Rush Yards (7.1 YPR), 10 Rush Tds, 45 Rec, 750 Rec Yards (16.7 YPC), 5 Rec Tds, 33 Krs, 1,012 KR Yards (30.7 YPR), 2 KR Tds, 7 Prs, 57 PR Yards (8.1 YPR)

Clint Dolezel Offensive Player of the Year
1. RB Isaiah Crowell, Seattle Orcas – 1,685 Rush Yards (6.1 YPC), 15 Rush Tds, 14 Rec, 67 Rec Yards (4.8 YPC)
2. QB Jon Jennings, Pittsburgh Forge – 227/315 (72.1%), 3,257 Pass Yards, 28 Pass Tds, 8 INTs, 222 Rush Yards (6.3 YPC), 3 Rush Tds
3. QB Dak Prescott, Birmingham Predators – 252/338 (74.6%), 2,883 Pass Yards, 24 Pass Tds, 3 INTs, 398 Rush Yards (5.3 YPC), 5 Rush Tds, 1 FUM
4. WR/RB Tyreek Hill, Washington Wave – 428 Rush Yards (7.1 YPR), 10 Rush Tds, 45 Rec, 750 Rec Yards (16.7 YPC), 5 Rec Tds
5. WR Kenny Stills, Birmingham Predators – 88 Rec, 1,282 Rec Yards (14.6 YPC), 11 Rec TDs

Antonio banks Defensive Player of the Year
1. DT Almond Sewell, Orlando Rockets – 16 Tackles, 10 Sacks, 4 Hurries, 1 PD
2. CB Charles Gaines, Michigan Stags – 37 Tackles, 9 PD, 1 INT
3. DT Brent Urban, New Orleans Nightmare – 26 Tackles, 7 Sacks, 10 Hurries, 2 TFL
4. LB Jeff Knox Jr., Seattle Orcas – 40 Tackles, 5 Sacks, 2 Hurries, 2 TFL, 2 PD
5. DT Watson Tatuiaki, Nashville Renegades – 24 Tackles, 8 Sacks, 13 Hurries, 1 TFL, 1 FF

LaDainian Tomlinson Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. QB Dak Prescott, Birmingham Predators – 252/338 (74.6%), 2,883 Pass Yards, 24 Pass Tds, 3 INTs, 398 Rush Yards (5.3 YPC), 5 Rush Tds, 1 FUM
2. RB Jordan Howard, Nashville Renegades – 1,265 Rush Yards (4.5 YPC), 5 Rush Tds, 22 Rec, 217 Rec Yards (9.9 YPC)
3. WR/RB Tyreek Hill, Washington Wave – 428 Rush Yards (7.1 YPR), 10 Rush Tds, 45 Rec, 750 Rec Yards (16.7 YPC), 5 Rec Tds
4. RB Jalen Richard, Dallas Six-Shooters – 806 Rush Yards (6.2 YPC), 3 Rush Tds, 22 Rec, 130 Rec Yards (5.9 YPC), 3 Rec Tds
5. RB Devontae Booker, Pittsburgh Forge 628 Rush Yards (3.0 YPC), 11 Rush Tds, 27 Rec, 295 Rec Yards (10.9 YPC), 2 Rec Tds

Kirk Morrison Defensive Rookie of the Year
1. FS Brian Poole, Los Angeles Stars – 34 Tackles, 4 PD, 2 INTs
2. DT David Onyemata, Birmingham Predators – 20 Tackles, 6 Sacks, 4 Hurries, 1 TFL, 1 PD, 2 FF
3. LB Tyler Matakevich, Houston Wranglers – 32 Tackles, 3 TFL, 1 FF
4. FS Deon Bush, New Orleans Nightmare – 33 Tackles, 4 PD, 2 INTs
5. DE Dean Lowry, Birmingham Predators – 38 Tackles, 1 Sack, 8 Hurries, 11 TFL, 1 PD, 2 FF

Trindon Holliday Special Teams Player of the Year
1. RET Tyreek Hill, Washington Wave – 33 KRs, 1,012 KR Yards (30.7 YPR), 2 KR Tds, 7 PRs, 57 PR Yards (8.1 YPR)
2. RET D’Anthony Thomas, Minnesota Freeze – 38 KRs, 1,026 KR Yards (27.0 YPR), 1 KR Tds, 24 PRs, 489 PR Yards (20.4 YPR), 3 PR TDs
3. K Wil Lutz, Atlanta Firebirds – 13-for-14 FGs (92.9%), 6 40+ yrds, 4 50+ yrds, 24-for-24 XP (95.8%)
4. RET Trindon Holliday, Atlanta Firebirds – 29 KRs, 760 KR Yards (26.2 YPR), 19 PRs, 245 PR Yards (12.9 YPR), 2 PR TDs
5. RET Quentin Demps, Columbus Explorers – 27 KRs, 951 KR Yards (35.2 YPR), 1 KR TD

Steve Hutchinson Offensive Lineman of the Year
1. OT Ryan Schraeder, Seattle Orcas – 34 Pancakes, 2 Sacks Allowed, 4 Bad Blocks
2. C Matt Paradis, Philadelphia Bulldogs – 26 Pancakes, 2 sacks Allowed, 1 Bad Block
3. C Richie Incognito, Dallas Six-Shooters – 20 Pancakes, 1 Sack Allowed, 1 Bad Block
4. OT Andrew Norwell, Columbus Explorers – 22 Pancakes, 0 Sacks, 3 Bad Blocks
5. C Lyle Sendlein, Seattle Orcas – 21 Pancakes, 0 Sacks Allowed, 2 Bad Blocks

Jim Zorn Coach of the Year
1. Jim Zorn, Seattle Orcas – 8-1 (9-7 in 2016)
2. Dan Campbell, Pittsburgh Forge – 6-3 (Expansion Team)
3. Mark Hudspeth, Los Angeles Stars – 6-3 (7-9 in 2016)
4. Mike Singletary, Carolina Generals – 6-3 (4-12 in 2016)
5. Ralph Friedgen, Washington Wave – 5-4 (0-16 in 2016)

Week Ten Preview

San Antonio Marshalls @ Birmingham Predators
As great as Dak Prescott is playing, his mouth should be drooling as he goes up against the 21st-ranked pass defense in the league. The San Antonio Marshalls have a very high-powered passing game, so this could be a shootout, but so far this year their fourth-rated pass rush hasn’t helped a struggling secondary.
Pick: Birmingham Predators

Pittsburgh Forge @ Carolina Generals
Jon Jennings and Erik Meyer have been two of the biggest quarterback surprises in the league this year and they’re leading two of the biggest team surprises in the league two. Neither of these teams were expected to do much this year, but both find themselves at the top of their respective divisions. But while Meyer has been slowing down, Jennings has been elevating his play each week.
Pick: Pittsburgh Forge

Washington Wave @ Louisville Cougars
Washington has lost back-to-back games, but they should get back in the win column here. Louisville has the third-rated passing offense in the league, but that is all they had. They won’t slow down a Wave team that has put up some of the highest single-week scoring totals this year.
Pick: Washington Wave

Philadelphia Bulldogs @ Nashville Renegades
Philadelphia has slowed down a little bit, but both of these teams look purely middle of the pack right now. That makes this a real toss up. The key battle will probably be in the trenches. Nashville has the most sacks of any team in the league this year and while Philly’s offensive line is very good, they have let players through. But, The Bulldogs certainly will look to avoid those situations with a heavy dose of the run against an average-at-best Renegades run defense.
Pick: Philadelphia Bulldogs

New York Marauders @ Houston Wranglers
This week’s toilet-bowl. New York has one of the best defenses in the league but their offense has done absolutely nothing this year, despite the loads of talent they have. But even worst is Houston’s offense, and defense, and offensive line. This will more be which team will be worse, but the Marauders simply seem to have more talent on their underperforming roster.
Pick: New York Marauders

Charleston Dragons @ Michigan Stags
Charleston is the toughest team in the league to pick and pick against. They’ve shut down Seattle, Washington and Philadelphia this year, but they keep losing to teams they probably shouldn’t lose to because their offense is so bad, the worst in the league actually. Michigan is so much more well-rounded and actually had the best offense Charleston has faced. It still wouldn’t be a shock to see Charleston grind out a low-scoring win, but it is hard to pick that.
Pick: Michigan Stags

New Orleans Nightmare @ Dallas Six-Shooters
The Nightmare have been trending down and the Six-Shooters have been trending up ever since James Franklin took over at quarterback. He has given Dallas some much-needed stability under center and they’re gotten back-to-back wins with him. The real battle will be NOLA DT Brent Urban vs. Dallas center Richie Incognito and that could decide this one. But for our pick we’ll stick with the hot-hand at home.
Pick: Dallas Six-Shooters

Atlanta Firebirds @ Phoenix Scorpions
Both these teams really need this win but the matchups really favor Atlanta. Phoenix has a pretty solid offense right now, but the Firebirds have the second-rated defense in the league and are led by their secondary. Adrian Peterson certainly could go off, but he hasn’t yet this year. Phoenix also really struggled defensively, which isn’t what a team can afford to do against a passing game that has weapons.
Pick: Atlanta Firebirds

Columbus Explorers @ Los Angeles Stars
LA’s passing game vs. Columbus’ run game. The Explorers ability to wear down a defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in stopping the run will be the Stars’ undoing. Columbus also has a pretty solid defense and are above average in pass defense. Without any balance yet this year the Stars passing game has been slowing down too.
Pick: Columbus Explorers

Orlando Rockets @ Seattle Orcas
A repeat of last year’s championship game and very possibly a preview of this year’s championship game, this Rockets vs. Orcas matchup is going to be the most must-see game of the entire year. Both of these teams have been great all year long and with Ricky Ray coming off a huge performance to re-take the reigns as the Rocket’s quarterback it adds another big level to this game. These are the most well-rounded teams in the league. We’ll have to flip a coin.
Pick: Seattle Orcas

Minnesota Freeze @ Omaha Express
Will the Freeze finally pick up their first win of the season in Omaha? If any matchup seems ripe for the picking it’s this one. The Freeze have been very competitive since Carlton Jefcoat took over operations but they still haven’t put everything together. A big positive for them was a huge game by Josh McCown, who shows he still very much has it. If he has another one, the Express don’t have anything to keep up or slow it down.
Pick: Minnesota Freeze

Pick ‘em Record
Week 1 – 5-6
Week 2 – 3-8
Week 3 – 6-5
Week 4 – 5-6
Week 5 – 8-3
Week 6 – 8-3
Week 7 – 6-5
Week 8 – 6-5
Week 9 – 4-7

Season Record: 51-48

League News

Reggie Bush back in the SFL

When Omaha signed LeGarrette Blount in the preseason it really made Toby Gerhart’s job impossible. Those two running backs have almost the same skillset, but Blount was just better and more proven. But the Express still were on the search for a flanker back to spell the bulldozing Blount. Rookie Josh Ferguson was not providing that spark so the team reached a free agent deal with Reggie Bush. The former Heisman Trophy winner spend two seasons in Phoenix a decade ago before going to the NFL. His NFL career never took off like it was expected and at 32-years-old it is impossible to see him being an explosive weapon or full-time back, but as a third-down guy behind Blount it could be interesting to see what he does in Omaha.

Iowa hired coordinators

It’s incredible uncommon to see a team hired their coordinators before their head coach, but that is what the new Iowa franchise has done. Owner Eric Murray announced the hiring of Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback coach Ken O’Keefe as his team’s offensive coordinator and North Dakota State defensive coordinator Matt Entz as his defensive coordinator. The team is still on the lookout for a head coach and may be targeting a current SFL coordinator.