Week 13 Rankings

1. Birmingham Predators (12-1) – No Change
Last Week: W – Michigan Stags – 38-17

Blowout wins over Orlando, New York and now Michigan, this might just be Birmingham’s year.

2. Orlando Rockets (11-2) – Up 1
Last Week: W – @ Iowa Threshers – 27-24

It’s a bit crazy how perhaps the second best team in the league with the second-best record could have to be a wildcard in the playoffs with multiple road games, but that is how it is set up. The Rockets are forcing the Predators to keep their foot on the gas as any slip up and the playoff bracket can be very different.

3. Michigan Stags (11-2) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Birmingham Predators – 38-17

Michigan still may be a favorite to win the Metropolitan Conference, but after suffering a lop-sided loss to the Predators on their home field they might still have a thing or two to figure out if they want a title.

4. San Diego Diablos (11-2) – No Change
Last Week: W – San Antonio Marshalls – 27-6

Despite being one spot lower in the rankings, San Diego is up in the standings over Michigan. It’s been a shocking season for San Diego to be this good. They have had a very favorable schedule, but they are also picking up the wins over good teams. Most amazingly, though, the Diablos were without starting quarterback Trevone Boykin, who was sitting in a Texas prison during the game. That kicked off the Luke Falk era and the rookie already looks better, making the Diablos even more dangerous.

5. Nashville Renegades (9-4) – No Change
Last Week: W – New Orleans Nightmare – 22-10

Nashville’s win over New Orleans was a huge one in that tough division. The Renegades have flown a tad under the radar, but their defense is stacked and is shutting down even the best offenses.

6. New York Marauders (9-4) – No Change
Last Week: W – Pittsburgh Forge – 30-23

Vad Lee has been on fire the past few weeks, and now with Eric Reid back to anchor that secondary, the Marauders are in prime position to make another run at the division title and first-round bye.

7. Pittsburgh Forge (8-5) – No Change
Last Week: L – @ New York Marauders – 30-23

Pittsburgh is still tough team and will beat a lot of good teams in the league, but when it comes to taking that step to beating top-notch teams, they continually come up short.

8. Dallas Six-Shooters (8-5) – Up 4
Last Week: W – @ Minnesota Freeze – 20-13

Thirteen weeks in, still no real identity. Is Josh McCown just going through the motions now with his huge contracts? The Six-Shooters have one of the worst run games in the league, yet the past few years they had one of the best with mostly the same group. Maybe they would be more consistent if they focused on the run again.

9. Boston Dragons (8-5) – Down 1
Last Week: L – @ Carolina Generals – 26-19

Not sexy, just solid. Boston will beat some good teams, but they will lose to some teams they shouldn’t lose to. They are the hardest team in the league to predict.

10. Atlanta Firebirds (7-6) – Up 5
Last Week: W – @ Philadelphia Bulldogs – 44-14

Despite the Firebirds feeling like they have little hope, they actually are close to the playoffs if a game or two break their way. While they are disappointed Matt Breida has not taken the step to become their lead back yet, veteran Mike Tolbert stepped up and took over in amazing fashion and that could be huge down the stretch.

11. Los Angeles Stars (7-6) – Down 2
Last Week: L – @ Columbus Explorers (29-17)

Inconsistency has plagued the Stars all year long. If they have their rookie running back playing lights out, they are unstoppable. If he’s playing like a rookie, they are beatable.

12. New Orleans Nightmare (7-6) – Down 2
Last Week: L – @ Nashville Renegades – 22-10

The middle of the league is loaded with inconsistent teams, which is why they are middling teams. The Nightmare are hanging in there for the playoffs, though and we know they can be as good as any teams in the league when they are on.

13. Omaha Express (7-6) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Louisville Cougars – 24-7

Omaha is winning their division again, which again, is the worst division in the league. Hey, you just have to win your division to get to the party, and they are likely to accomplish that. Any more than that might not be likely, though.

14. Philadelphia Bulldogs (6-7) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Atlanta Firebirds – 44-14

Philadelphia has been horribly unbalanced and very conservative this year and it has really hurt them. Running with Jay Ajayi is not really conservative, but they do it all the time and when they do pass the ball, they aren’t trying to catch the defense off guard, they are just making short passes.

15. Houston Wranglers (6-7) – Down 1
Last Week: L – St. Louis Stallions – 31-17

Houston may have given up too early. They benched Matt Nichols, got stomped and had they won, they could be tied at the top of the division. But they have been acting like they are out of it for half the season. Might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it is an example of why not to give up.

16. Carolina Generals (6-7) – Up 3
Last Week: W – Boston Dragons – 26-19

Colin Kaepernick has proven that he by himself can be enough to beat any team in the league, but unless he is complete magic, the Generals don’t have enough to get wins week in and week out.

17. Miami Mustangs (6-7) – Up 1
Last Week: W – Oklahoma Roughnecks – 23-7

Bart Houston has been a diamond in the rough find for Miami, plucking him out of the d-league. That proves the worth of development after the d-league’s second year. He’s given Miami more to cheer about that most expected at this point.

18. San Antonio Marshalls (6-7) – Down 2
Last Week: L – @ San Diego Diablos – 27-6

Benching Bo Levi Mitchell has been a mystery. Now for the first time ever the team’s ownership is in flux. San Antonio is going to have a bumpy end to the year.

19. Minnesota Freeze (6-7) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Dallas Six-Shooters – 20-13

Hey, this team barely had one win last year and people are complaining that they are underachieving this year with six wins. The Freeze still have a lot of holes, but are very competitive now.

20. Oakland Odyssey (6-7) – Up 2
Last Week: W – @ Washington Wave – 23-0

Oakland put a whoopin on Washington. Now level of competition played a factor in this one, but hitting here with six wins through 13 weeks is a huge accomplishment for this team whose owner was ready to pack it in after week 1. They are a very young team that has set a nice platform for the future.

21. Columbus Explorers (5-8) – Up 3
Last Week: W – Los Angeles Stars – 29-27

Columbus did this last year where they had a terrible start but hit their stride at the end of the season. The problem is, they are likely out of the playoffs by this point. It still gives them momentum for next year, where maybe they can avoid the slow start.

22. Iowa Threshers (5-8) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Orlando Rockets – 27-24

Iowa has to be disappointed with how the last few weeks have gone after their strong start to the year. In their division, they still are not out of things yet, but they will need a lot to go right for them in a short amount of time to play the playoffs.

23. Utah Raptors (5-8) – Up 2
Last Week: W – @ Seattle Orcas – 30-6

Jamaal Williams went from benched to star these past few weeks. After a year and a half of not running well, Utah gave him one final opportunity to prove he can be a franchise back and he’s above and beyond proved it with four-straight 120-plus yards games with scores. Since he’s caught fire, the Raptors have as well. They are not going to make the playoffs, but they at least can see they have some good pieces for next season.

24. Washington Wave (5-8) – Down 3
Last Week: L – Oakland Odyssey – 23-0

For some reason the Wave are curious why their offense has tanked since trading Tyreek Hill. It’s just proven that after him, there aren’t many options. Well, that isn’t entirely true. Keelan Cole is a very good wide receiver, but without a strong No. 1, he’s not ready to take on the bulk of the coverages.

25. St. Louis Stallions (4-9) – Up 2
Last Week: W – @ Houston Wranglers – 31-17

Zach Mettenberger can throw the ball, but the offensive line in St. Louis has hurt him this year. But when going against Houston and he had time, he showed he can still carve up a defense.

26. Oklahoma Roughnecks (4-9) – Down 3
Last Week: L – @ Miami Mustangs – 23-7

Is Landry Jones the future? He has been solid and hasn’t really been a problem, but he hasn’t been an answer either. While the Roughnecks are out of it, they will be paying a lot of attention to these last few weeks to see what and who they have moving forward.

27. Louisville Cougars (3-10) – Up 2
Last Week: W – @ Omaha Express – 24-7

Louisville’s defense was able to take over against a non-so-great offense and it let to a great win for Louisville. They need more on offense to help out that defense that can’t always have this much success.

28. Virginia Admirals (2-11) – Up 2
Last Week: W – Mississippi Cottonmouths – 36-0

Two wins in three weeks the Admirals are on a roll! Alex McGough was in over his head earlier in the year but he’s really grown and looks more comfortable and it’s clearly showing.

29. Seattle Orcas (2-11) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Utah Raptors – 30-6

Just one of those years for Seattle. How the mighty have fallen.

30. Mississippi Cottonmouths (3-10) – Down 4
Last Week: L – @ Virginia Admirals – 36-0

“Rock Bottom” was the word used by the Cottonmouths owner to describe where they are at now after getting blown out and shut out by the Admirals. The Cottonmouths don’t have too much to be excited about heading into the offseason either. These last few weeks will be about finding somebody to rally around.

Week 13 Awards

Offensive Player of the Week
RB Kareem Hunt, Birmingham Predators
16 Rushes, 27 Rush Yards (1.7 YPC), 1 Rush TD, 5 Rec, 158 Rec Yards (31.6 YPC), 3 Rec TDs

Defensive Player of the Week
OLB Jayon Brown, Utah Raptors
2 Tackles, 1 Sack, 4 Interceptions

Special Teams Player of the Week
K Greg Joseph, Louisville Cougars
6-for-6 FG (50, 23, 24, 24, 24, 41), 18 Points

Rookie of the Week
QB Alex McGough, Virginia Admirals
19-for-27 (70.3%), 224 Pass Yards, 3 Pass TDs

Playoff Standings

Empire Conference
1. Birmingham Predators (12-1) – Southeast Division
2. New York Marauders (9-4) – Atlantic Division
3. Omaha Express (7-6) – Midwest Division
4. Orlando Rockets (11-2)
5. Boston Dragons (8-5)
6. Pittsburgh Forge (8-5)

Metropolitan Conference
1. San Diego Diablos (11-2) – Pacific Division
2. Michigan Stags (11-2) – Central Division
3. Nashville Renegades (9-4) – Mid-South Division
4. Dallas Six-Shooters (8-5)
5. Los Angeles Stars (7-6)
6. New Orleans Nightmare (7-6)

Projects Draft Order

1-2. Jacksonville Stingrays / Sacramento Bandits
3. Virginia Admirals (2-11)
4. Seattle Orcas (2-11)
5. Mississippi Cottonmouths (3-10)
6. Louisville Cougars (3-10)
7. Oklahoma Roughnecks (4-9)
8. St. Louis Stallions (4-9)
9. Utah Raptors (5-8)
10. Iowa Threshers (5-8)
11. ColumbusExplorers (5-8)
12. Washington Wave (5-8)
13. Minnesota Freeze (6-7)
14. Oakland Odyssey (6-7)
15. Philadelphia Bulldogs (6-7)
16. Houston Wranglers (6-7)
17. Miami Mustangs (6-7)
18. San Antonio Marshalls (6-7)
19. Carolina Generals (6-7)
20. Atlanta Firebirds (7-6)

Week 14 Preview

Utah Raptors (5-8) @ Boston Dragons (8-5)
Utah has come on strong lately with Jamaal Williams having really turned things on after being benched in the middle of the season. That woke him up and he’s been on fire, but the Raptors are still very inconsistent. Boston isn’t flashy, but they are consistently solid and expect to get the job done against a team coming across the country.
Pick: Boston Dragons

Philadelphia Bulldogs (6-7) @ Washington Wave (5-8)
While Washington picked up a pretty surprising win a few weeks ago over New York, trading Tyreek Hill has taken away their only really explosive player on their offense. The Wave just don’t have the pieces to get into the endzone much, proven last week by them being shut out. Philadelphia’s defense has been very disappointing this year, but they are still tough enough to get this win.
Pick: Philadelphia Bulldogs

New York Marauders (9-4) @ Atlanta Firebirds (7-6)
Atlanta is coming off a very key victory last week that has kept their playoff hopes alive, but they enter a brutal schedule at the end of their season. The Marauders have had a few hiccups, but they are otherwise playing very well and have plenty of dynamic pieces. Eric Reid is also back to their their secondary, which is going to be a crucial matchup against Atlanta.
Pick: New York Marauders

Iowa Threshers (5-8) @ Carolina Generals (6-7)
While both teams have laid some eggs this year, both of these are tremendously competitive, tough teams that will put together a battle on the gridiron. Iowa’s defense has been a lot better than Carolina’s this year, but despite their pass rush ability, Colin Kaepernicks’ ability to scramble can neutralize that.
Pick: Carolina Generals

Miami Mustangs (6-7) @ Orlando Rockets (11-2)
Bart Houston has been diamond in the rough found for the Mustangs, but while he’s been very good, a win over Orlando would be next level and should not be expected for this Mustangs team right now.
Pick: Orlando Rockets

Michigan Stags (11-2) @ Columbus Explorers (5-8)
Michigan is coming off a rough loss to Birmingham. While they have clinched their division, their loss dropped them out of the spot for homefield advantage. They are going to want to get that back. Now the records do say Michigan should run away with this, we all know this great rivalry won’t be an easy one for either team. Columbus has also really been playing well lately, but Michigan looking for a bounce back win is the safe bet.
Pick: Michigan Stags

Louisville Cougars (3-10) @ Nashville Renegades (9-4)
This I-65 rivalry seems a lot more interesting now that Louisville is coming off a big win against Omaha last week, but the Renegades have been playing very well this year and lead their division. That lead is not something they will want to give up with plenty of other playoff contenders right behind them.
Pick: Nashville Renegades

Virginia Admirals (2-11) @ Minnesota Freeze (6-7)
Virginia has two wins in three games and last week pitched an unimaginable shutout, but the Freeze has so many more playmakers than the Admirals.
Pick: Virginia Admirals

Seattle Orcas (2-11) @ St. Louis Stallions (4-9)
It just feels like Seattle has lost all hope. The great Pacific division dynasty is going through the motions now. St. Louis is out of the playoffs as well, but they are still going out there enthusiastic to try to get a win every time out.
Pick: St. Louis Stallions

Pittsburgh Forge (8-5) @ Dallas Six-Shooters (8-5)
A win for either of these teams would almost guarantee a postseason appearance for either team. Dallas is 13 games in the season and while they are in solid position for the playoffs, they still have not found their identity and have been most inconsistent. Pittsburgh, we knows what they are, dynamic passing offense, the best in the league. Dallas’ defense might not be able to slow them down.
Pick: Pittsburgh Forge

Birmingham Predators (12-1) @ Houston Wranglers (6-7)
Can anybody stop Birmingham? They just throttled New York, Orlando and Michigan. Houston is in a rough spot. A loss here would really damage their postseason chances, though they would still be alive in a weak division.
Pick: Birmingham Predators

New Orleans Nightmare (7-6) @ San Antonio Marshalls (6-7)
It’s a big wonder why in postseason position the Marshalls benched Bo Levi Mitchell. It’s a wonder if they will put him back in after a miserable performance by Ryan Higgins, but that shakeup might be tough to comeback from one week later when playing a tough New Orleans team that is fighting hard for their playoff lives.
Pick: New Orleans Nightmare

San Diego Diablos (11-2) @ Oakland Odyssey (6-7)
When Trevone Boykin was arrested and in jail for last week’s game, Rookie Luke Falk got his chance and he stunned everybody with a strong performance to get San Diego a dominant victory. Oakland has been playing much better in the second half of the season, but the Diablos could be the No. 1 overall seed. They are more than just a quarterback. Their running game has been great as well and as long as Alex Collins is running strong, the Diablos are still a major threat.
Pick: San Diego Diablos

Omaha Express (7-6) @ Los Angeles Stars (7-6)
Neither of these teams are consistent enough to have too much faith in week to week, but it’s a matchup against one of the best running backs in the league – rookie Phillip Lindsay against an Express team that mostly relies on their pass rush. If the Stars aren’t dropping back, the Express’ pass rush will be a non-factor.
Pick: Los Angeles Stars

Oklahoma Roughnecks (4-9) @ Mississippi Cottonmouths (3-10)
Mississippi his rock bottom last week when they got shutout by the Virginia Admirals. Ricky Ray does not seem interested in playing anymore really, he’s believed to be looking at retirement in just a few weeks. Maybe the Cottonmouths try another option at quarterback again in an attempt to shake things up and to get a glimpse of the future? Outside that, it doesn’t seem like they will be inspired enough to beat the Roughnecks.
Pick: Oklahoma Roughnecks