Wildcard Weekend Recap
Boston Dragons – 37 @ Iowa Threshers – 7
Iowa just could not get out of the starting blocks while Boston stormed out to a strong start. Boston had a 27-0 lead at halftime and extended it to 34-0 by the middle of the third quarter. While on offense, Andre Ellington was able to set the pace, Cooper Rush picked his passes and threw two touchdowns in the game. Joe Callahan just looked lost against the Dragons top-notch pass defense. With their big deficit early, they had to stop running with a very effective Orleans Darkwa and hope Callahan could make plays with Charone Peak and Greg Ellingson. It didn’t work and Boston blew them out to advance.
Game MVP: S Winston Guy – 4 Tackles, 2 PD, 1 INT
Pittsburgh Forge – 31 @ Orlando Rockets – 28
What an amazing back-and-forth game this one was. Instant classic that came down to the final seconds of the game. Both teams had dominant games on the ground to help take pressure off their high-octane passing offenses. Or was it that both teams had to prepare to defend the pass and both teams took advantage by running? Either way, there were six rushing touchdowns in the game with James Conner and Devonta Freeman both getting hat tricks. Conner’s final one came with 10 seconds left to get the win. Jon Jennings threw for 356 yards and a touchdown to Simmie Cobbs. Trevor Harris also had a touchdown pass to go the clutch postseason performer Derel Walker. The only difference was an interception by Jonathan Newsome helped Pittsburgh end an early drive by Orlando and gave them first blood and ultimately the final victory.
Game MVP: CB Shaquille Richardson – 4 Tackles, 2 PD, 1 INT
Los Angeles Stars – 0 @ Nashville Renegades – 30
Poor Eric Murray, his final game in Iowa was a blowout and then his final game with the Stars franchise was a shutout, and both 30-point losses. Nashville’s defense just destroyed them. Phillip Lindsay had moderate success, but Cody Kessler didn’t help as he completed just 10 of 24 passes for only 75 yards. Jordan Howard was able to be a battering ram for Nashvlle while Tyreek Hill and Malcolm Mitchell showed off their explosive ability. Nashville’s defense just locked down the entire game with a huge effort by their secondary to get the playoff win.
Game MVP: RB James Conner – 28 Rushes, 133 Rush Yards (4.8 YPC), 3 Rush TDs, 4 Rec, 29 Rec Yards (7.3 YPC)
Oakland Odyssey – 20 @ New Orleans Nightmare – 23
Early on it looked like Oakland was going to get it done, but in the fourth quarter the Nightmare came up huge, overcoming a 17-6 deficit for the victory. Jeremy Hill rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns while the team combined for 307 yards on the ground. It wasn’t a great game by Aaron Murray, who had only 72 yards passing, but with that ground game gashing Oakland, the Odyssey just couldn’t prevent the comeback from happening.
Game MVP: RB Jeremy Hill – 25 Rushes, 175 Rush Yards (7.0 YPC), 2 Rush TDs, 3 Rec, 10 Rec Yards (3.3 YPC)
Playoffs Round 2 Preview
6. Boston Dragons @ 1. Birmingham Predators
Boston blew out Iowa last week, but Birmingham is a totally different animal. The Dragons do have momentum, but do they have the ability to stop a team loaded with talent like the Predators? Probably not. Birmingham had so many different way to gain victory and have dominate just about everybody this year.
Pick: Birmingham Predators
5. Pittsburgh Forge @ 2. New York Marauders
The Marauders beat Pittsburgh twice, so maybe they have the formula, but the Forge had nowhere near the effort running the ball like they had in the wild card round all year. If James Conner can grind down a tough New York defense like that, and allow Jon Jennings some extra advantage against the Marauders secondary, they can have a lot of success. New York had a ton of weapons too on offense. It should be another tough back-and-forth game.
Pick: Pittsburgh Forge
4. New Orleans Nightmare @ 1. San Diego Diablos
Believe it to not, the No. 1 seed San Diego Diablos have not faced a team as good as New Orleans all year long. Luke Falk has been good since becoming the starter, but if he ready for this big a of a test? New Orleans is just so much more experienced in big games as they look to return to the Grand Finale.
Pick: New Orleans Nightmare
3. Nashville Renegades @ 2. Michigan Stags
Nashville is on a role and with Tyreek Hill, they have the most explosive player in most games they play. Michigan is an all-around tough team with an absolutely dominant defense. They could slow him down. Their biggest issue in the playoffs every year has been quarterback. Zach Collaros was always good but never great. Now, though, they have Dom Davis. He is a much bigger threat, and he’s proven that in the few weeks he’s played. But he has also proven he has a lot lower of a floor. It’s high risk, high reward with him.
Pick: Michigan Stags