Week Four Rankings

1. San Antonio Marshals (4-0) – No Change
Last Week: W – Indianapolis Speed – 41-0

Would any blowout margin of victory scoreline for San Antonio surprise you at this point? A 41-0 victory over the Speed might be what is to be expected at this point. Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns, all three going to Jacob Hollister, who has 133 yards. Hollister is just another weapon the Marshals have learned they can rely on. While Aaron Jones is typically their lead rusher, a heavy workload the past three games left him tired, but D’Onte Foreman was tremendous taking over, rushing for 93 yards and a score. The Marshal’s depth of weapons jut gets better and deeper by the week.

2. Birmingham Predators (4-0) – No Change
Last Week: W – @ Mississippi Gators – 42-3

There was no doubt the Predators would win this game, but the fact that they scored 42 points was a good thing for them to see. Their offense had been efficient and they were winning, but they weren’t electrifying. The Predators switched up their receiving depth chart and SJ Green rose from the dead, scoring three touchdowns with 111 yards on nine receptions. He was incredible last year and putting him in better situations in this game has sparked the passing game. We’ll have to see what happens against better competition, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t be good.

3. New York Marauders (4-0) – No Change
Last Week: W – @ Boston Dragons – 45-12

Things really couldn’t be going any better for the Marauders. They have scored another blowout win and their offense has been unstoppable. Mike Reilly spread the ball all around the field with Stefon Diggs and Will Tye catching a pair of touchdown each from him. They have proven they can dominate the game through the air, on the ground, or beat you up with both at the same time. The defense has seen a nice improvement on the back end in their secondary since they traded Charles Gaines. Young up-and-comers Kris Boyd and Holton Hill have been up for the challenge.

4. Omaha Express (4-0) – Up 3
Last Week: W – @ Seattle Orcas – 16-10

The Express running game and defense did it again. Rex Burkhead carried the way this time with 178 yards and a touchdown. The Express were actually out-gained offensively, and lose the time of possession battle, but their defense did not break. They picked off Brett Rypien twice and he fumbled the ball once (though he did recover it, it killed the drive) and that was crucial. They got to him three times, but consistently pressured him. Kwaku Boateng, Adam Bighill, and Jake Ceresna all has sacks while Nathan Gerry and TJ Heath had the picks.

5. Michigan Stags (3-1) – No Change
Last Week: W – @ Nashville Renegades – 17-12

Welcome Chase Winovich. The Michigan Stags have an uncanny ability to roll out incredible talented pass rushers no matter who makes the move to the NFL. The Stags lose Za’Darius Smith, but Chase Winovich came into the year looking like an impact pass rusher and he was huge against the Renegades, sacking A.J. McCarron twice and hurrying him three more times while leading the team with seven sacks. If he’s on like that already as a rookie, the Stags defense is loaded more than initially thought and that’s going to put them in great position to stay at the top of the league standings.

6. Nashville Renegades (2-2) – No Change
Last Week: L – Michigan Stags – 17-12

While Greg Hardy is having a tremendous season, and is leading a strong Renegades pass rush, their offense was really slowed down by Michigan. The Stags were able to put the pressure on A.J. McCarron the entire game and they were able to get in the backfield to slow Jordan Howard down. Without Howard going, the Renegades were unbalanced and it wasn’t a successful offensive outing.

7. Columbus Explorers (3-1) – Up 1
Last Week: W – @ Carolina Generals – 12-9

Columbus won a kick fest, with Cole Hedlund making four field goals, and the Explorers needed every one of them. While Joshua Dobbs was a very disappointing 9-for-22, and the offense overall was abysmal, the Explorers defense was tremendous, with Marcus Coopers and Quinton Demps shutting down Carolina’s pass game and Sam Hubbard and Alex Singleton feathering Colin Kaepernick and preventing him from ever getting going on the ground.

8. Buffalo Gunners (3-1) – Up 3
Last Week: W – Pittsburgh Forge – 26-20

Thought they beat a one-win opponent, the Gunners might have picked up their signature victory of the year. At least right now, a win over Pittsburgh is still very impressive. Orleans Darkwa was a grinder, rushing for 91 yards and a score, and that helped take pressure off Gardner Minshew, who threw for 218 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score. The Gunners are doing well spreading the ball around but the big story is their defense, and particularly their pass defense. That includes their pass rush, which racked up five sacks, and it helped kill the Forge’s passing game. Karter Schult and Freddie Bishop each had two sacks.

9. Atlanta Firebirds (2-2) – Up 5
Last Week: W – Dallas Six-Shooters – 31-0

Atlanta’s strength is their defense, and their defense couldn’t have played any better than they did against Dallas as they pitched a shutout. Corey Littleon had two sacks while Aldon Smith, Ryan Carrethers, and Ethan Westbrook each has one. Smith also had three tackles in the backfield, completely shutting down Chris Carson from ever getting in a rhythm. And with the defense destroying their opponent it wasn’t long before their offense started to get into a groove. Rodney Anderson plowed forward for 99 yards and a touchdown while Nick Arbuckle had a solid game and hit Preston Williams in the endzone. Atlanta nearly doubled Dallas’ time of possession and allowed only six first downs and 82 yards.

10. Orlando Rockets (2-2) – Down 6
Last Week: L – @ Miami Mustangs – 30-28

Orlando got punched in the mouth in the first half and while they tried to mount a comeback and did shut Miami out in the fourth quarter, they didn’t have enough time to get back. Orlando might not be the elite quad we’ve come to know for so long, but they certainly still are the favorites in most games they play. Eric Rogers is pretty much unstoppable, and he killed Miami for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 13 catches, but the rest of the team just wasn’t able to get much done. The Orlando secondary, lacking the true elite piece they usually do have, gave up 272 yards and three touchdowns to Bart Houston.

11. Utah Raptors (3-1) – Up 7
Last Week: W – @ San Diego Diablos – 37-17

The Raptors pass rush has been clicking on all cylinders since moving back to a 4-3 defense. They sacked Luke Falk six times in this game and prevented the Diablos from ever being able to get going offensively. Easton Stick performed great against the Diablos, completing 22 of his 31 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns passing. That was most Dede Westbrook dominating the game, catching five passes for 129 yards and all three scores, but the Raptors tight ends were incredible helping move the chains as their three combined for 10 catches for 155 yards and eight first downs.

12. Los Angeles Avengers (3-1) – Up 7
Last Week: W – New Orleans Nightmare – 41-17

Jacob Dolegala passed for five touchdowns in a blowout of New Orleans. It was a great bounce-back for the Avengers after they suffered their first loss of the season to Utah last week. Dolegala did what many quarterbacks do, and that is rely on their tight ends. It just so happens Mark Andrews is one of the very best in all of football. He was the recipient of three of those touchdown passes. Joe Hills has one and Phillip Lindsay had the other. But while Dolegala tossed five scores, Lindsay was actually the one who carried the Avengers. He rushed for 118 yards and set Dolegala up in great situation for easy scores.

13. Boston Dragons (2-2) – Down 1
Last Week: L – New York Marauders – 45-12

Boston’s strong start has hit some road blocks but at the same time everybody is getting blown out by New York, so it’s not a loss they really should beat themselves up about. At the same time, though, Boston really wants to take a big step and suffering those bad losses can’t happen if they are to be the team they think they can be. The deficit caused their gameplan to get away from them. They never want to see Cooper Rush dropping back 50 times in a game.

14. Carolina Generals (2-2) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Columbus Explorers – 12-9

Colin Kaepernick couldn’t keep it up against the Explorers. Columbus’ defense kept the him in check and without Kaepernick able to make big plays, the rest of the Generals offense was able to get going. They feed off Kaepernick’s success but he totaled just 174 yards passing and rushing combined. The Generals needed to rely on their kicker Jake Elliott exclusively for points. He converted two 50-yarders. But while the offense struggled so bad, the defense played great. Jake Metz was fantastic, racking up eight tackles with one sack, two tackles for a loss and three hurried. Cleyon Laing has just as good of a game. That is some serious talent on the edge.

15. Miami Mustangs (2-2) – Up 10
Last Week: W – Orlando Rockets – 30-28

Miami has to be ecstatic about their win over the powerhouse Orlando Rockets. Bart Houston threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns, dominating the Rockets secondary. He did that without much help from his team on the ground either. This ranking disparity with Orlando still much higher than Miami probably isn’t right, but the win should mean more than the ranking to Miami. They do need to work on their secondary. Eric Rogers dominated everyone, but 169 yards and two touchdowns is still a massive game for even the very best wide receivers.

16. Pittsburgh Forge (1-3) – Down 7
Last Week: L – @ Buffalo Gunners – 26-20

What’s going on with Pittsburgh? Has the magic run out for them after a run of total dominance? The Forge seemed to have a nice spark out of their running game by moving back to the more dynamic Devontae Booker as their lead back, and he rushed for 114 yards at an incredible 7.1 yards per carry average. He also led the team with seven catches for 109 yards and two scores. But the Forge just couldn’t get the outside passing game going. Buffalo needs credit, because they are a very good and underrated team, especially defensively, but Pittsburgh was a team that never really had elite scoring options, just a lot of really good ones. Right now, their system’s success and high numbers have led to many of those receiving options getting big paydays in other places and the depth of weapons just isn’t there anymore.

17. Washington Wave (2-2) – Down 8
Last Week: L – Philadelphia Bulldogs – 31-10

Things started out so amazing for the Wave but they have to be worried about falling out of playoff contention right now, especially after losing to the previously winless Philadelphia Bulldogs. The Wave do have a decent passing game, but Tony Pollard struggled against a very strong front seven and the Wave couldn’t keep things balanced. Zach Collaros is able to dominate team, but throughout his career his teams have struggled to win when they have no other choice but to rely on him entirely. But the Wave have to be disappointed in their defense. The Bulldogs rushed for 194 yards and three touchdowns against them and that helped Trace McSorley, who has really been struggling, get into a nice rhythm.

18. Louisville Cougars (2-2) – Up 4
Last Week: W – @ Milwaukee Warriors – 26-23

We finally got to see the Cougars defense play up to their ability. Their secondary didn’t break at all, largely thanks to a tough front seven. Yes, they gave up 166 yards on the ground, and 269 yards through the air, but they sold out to shut down Antonio Brown and held strong just enough to give their offense a chance to win. And to no surprise, the offense was carried by Jeremiah Masoli. He has 216 yards passing and a touchdown to Rico Gathers, along with a team-best 93 yards rushing and another score.

19. Virginia Admirals (2-2) – Up 5
Last Week: W – Jacksonville Stingrays – 17-16

McLeod Bethel-Thompson looked very good against Jacksonville, throwing for 279 yards and a touchdown, leading the Admirals to their second win of the year. In the Admirals’ two wins, he’s been very good. In their losses, he hasn’t looked nearly as good. He’s likely going to remain being an inconsistent quarterback, but if he’s on, the Admirals will have a chance to win.

20. Jacksonville Stingrays (2-2) – Down 4
Last Week: L – @ Virginia Admirals – 17-16

The Stingrays are a middling team, and that’s just perfectly fine for a first-year expansion team. They have talent, few greater than Devin Singletary. The rookie running back totaled 97 yards in the game and was an impact both rushing and receiving. Fellow rookie Hunter Renfrow led Jacksonville with five catches for 109 yards and a score. The defense is playing well, but in this game, their offense just couldn’t finish enough. Marc Orozco capped off three stalled drives with field goals.

21. Milwaukee Warriors (1-3) – Down 6
Last Week: L – Louisville Cougars – 26-23

Andrew Harris has 166 yards on the ground, by far the best game rushing for the Warriors and the best game of Harris’ career. However, it didn’t lead to a win. The Warriors played strong the entire game, quarterback Matt Barkley threw two interceptions and had a fumble and those mistakes were just a bit too many in a very close game. Antonio Brown was slowed down again, catching only three passes for 40 yards.

22. Indianapolis Speed (2-2) – Down 5
Last Week: L – @ San Antonio Marshalls – 41-0

The Speed have yet to get their running game going, which is surprising because they have talented running backs. Without a running game, against a very strong defense, Case Keenum threw for less than 100 yards and the Speed had no chance against an opponent that was far superior. They need to figure out how to get their running game going right away.

23. Seattle Orcas (1-3) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Omaha Express – 16-10

Seattle will be disappointed to have out-gained their opponent in yards and won the time of possession battle but lost and only scored 10 points. Isaiah Crowell, who has been playing great this season, really struggled to run the ball and Brett Rypien made rookie mistakes that hurt the Orcas. They are much more competitive than last year, though. Their defense is still tremendous. They just need more consistent help from the offense.

24. Philadelphia Bulldogs (1-3) – Up 4
Last Week: W – @ Washington Wave – 31-10

Jay Ajayi went off for 158 yards and three touchdowns and that was huge. It made everybody better. With Ajayi dominating the game, the Bulldogs won the time of possession battle and kept Washington from getting in any sort of an offensive rhythm, and were able to really protect rookie quarterback Trace McSorley, who ended up with a very efficient game passing. But it all started with Ajayi, their star.

25. St. Louis Stallions (1-3) – Up 5
Last Week: W – Sacramento Bandits – 29-14

Maybe the Stallions are a one-trick pony, but when their passing game is going, they can be dangerous. Zach Mettenberger was tremendous, completing 22-of-29 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Brice Butler used his breakaway speed to separate from the Bandits for a huge game, catching seven passes for 149 yards and two scores. Tight End MyCole Pruitt had eight catches for 152 yards. But the pass rush also really got going as the Bandits had to drop back a lot in an attempt to make a comeback. They sacked Blake Bortles seven times, with Dawuane Smoot and Max Valles each getting three sacks. Ziggy Hood had the other.

26. Dallas Six-Shooters (1-3) – Down 6
Last Week: L – @ Atlanta Firebirds – 31-0

Despite making no gameplan adjustments since the season started, except demanding his players play better, Dallas head coach June Jones seems confused why his team hasn’t performed very well. Since their week one victory, the Six-Shooters have lost three in a row and have scored just 14 points, including this week’s shutout. Their offensive line has made things much worse. Josh McCown has been killed on drop backs. He was sacked five times by Atlanta and 17 times so far this season.

27. Sacramento Bandits (1-3) – Down 1
Last Week: L – @ St. Louis Stallions – 29-14

Sacramento finally got LeSean McCoy going. He rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown, averaging a remarkable 8.8 yards per carry. However, their secondary was obliterated and the Bandits needed to rely on Blake Bortles and their passing game more than they would have wanted to. And because they had to try to play catch up, the Stallions were able to put out an all-out-blitz and the Bandits couldn’t stop it. Bortles was sacked seven times in the game.

28. New Orleans Nightmare (0-4) – Down 5
Last Week: L – @ Los Angeles Avengers – 41-27

The Nightmare desperately need more from their return men. Josh Gordon is explosive, but he hasn’t looked comfortable at all returning the ball and it’ hurt the Nightmare in their attempts to get into scoring position. It’s telling when Aaron Murray passes for 424 yards, and has three receivers with over 100 yards receiving, but the team only managed three offensive touchdowns. They keep stalling out after length drives that don’t result in touchdowns. If the Nightmare can help their return game, it could be a huge benefit. Their defense hasn’t been great, but they could be better with some more offensive help too.

29. San Diego Diablos (0-4) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Utah Raptors – 37-17

Everything went right for San Diego last year, and nothing has gone right for them this year. With a tougher schedule and their divisional opponents getting much better, this has been brutal for San Diego. Luke Falk did what he could but until the Diablos get some athleticism and explosive guys on their offense it’s going to be tough for the Diablos to really get things going this year. Alex Collins is their best playmaker, but the Diablos have been playing from behind far too much for them to commit to him throughout the entire game. The defense has struggled too because they are just on the field a lot. The Raptors had nearly a 10 minute advantage in time of possession.

30. Mississippi Gators (0-4) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Birmingham Predators – 42-3

Vad Lee can only do so much. He just doesn’t have the best of talent around him. But maybe even more than getting him more talent, the Gators could benefit from improving their defense. Opponents have had their way against Mississippi and if they can start limiting what opponents can do, it will take pressure off their offense. Vad is a tremendous talent, but not even tremendous talents can do it entirely by themselves.


Week Four Awards

Offensive Player of the Week:
RB Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Bulldogs
29 Carries, 158 Rush Yards (5.4 YPC), 3 Rush TDs

Defensive Player of the Week:
DE Dawuane Smoot, St. Louis Stallions
6 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 1 TFL, 1 Hurry

Special Teams Player of the Week:
K Cole Hedlund, Columbus Explorers
4-for-4 FG (39, 47, 44, 31), 12 Points

Rookie of the Week:
DE Chase Winovich, Michigan Stags
7 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 3 Hurries

First Quarter Review

Empire Conference

Atlantic Division

What looked to be one of the most competitive divisions in the entire league early on, the Atlantic Division at this point has one elite team and a bunch of teams looking to figure out who they are. The New York Marauders (4-0) are playing great ball and their offense doesn’t look like it can be slowed down right now. The Washington Wave (2-2) and Boston Dragons (2-2) appear to be in best position to fight for a playoff spot. The Wave need consistency out of Zach Collaros, but look forward to rookie running back Tony Pollard progression to accompany their defense. The Dragons are not sexy, but will be led by their defense. The Virginia Admirals (2-2) are leaps and bounds better than they were last season and being 2-2 already this year has to make them feel great. McLeod Bethel-Thompson has given the Admirals a much greater threat at quarterback than they had last year. The rest of the team is growing. While the Philadelphia Bulldogs (1-3) have had the roughest start to the year, they certainly could make a strong run the rest of the season. They made a gutsy switch to Trace McSorley at quarterback. He will make a lot more mistakes than Nate Sudfeld has, but he also has way more upside. He’s just young but has gotten better every week. Jay Ajayi is still a dominant force for the Bulldogs and their defense is still tough as nails.

Southern Division

It’s a two-team race at the top of the division right now with one other team looking like they could push for one of the last playoff spot in the Empire Conference. The Birmingham Predators (4-0) were in this situation last year when they had the best record in the league and needed the entire season to clinch the division with the Orlando Rockets hot on their trail. This year the San Antonio Marshals (4-0) are going to be fighting them the entire way for the division crown. Both teams are as good as they come, with remarkable talent on the offensive end and very strong defenses. The Atlanta Firebirds (2-2) might not be exactly where they had hoped at this point, but they are getting thing together heading into the middle part of their season and are coming off a big shutout win. While the Dallas Six-Shooters (1-3) are very upset about the start they have had, they do have the talent on the team to right the ship. They just need to figure out what adjustments to make to improve. They also need more out of their offensive line. They have scored just two touchdowns in the past three weeks, suffering three-straight losses. The Mississippi Gators (0-4) are really struggling and just don’t seem to have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot at this moment. Of course, Vad Lee does make them a threat, and the Gators are consistently changing things up in an attempt to get things going, but they have struggles offensively and defensively that are keeping them down.

Midwest Division

The Pittsburgh Forge (1-3) were a huge favorite to win this division with a high-powered offense and a much improved defense. However, things haven’t played out that way. The Forge defense has been tremendously disappointing and their offense doesn’t have the large number of weapons they have had in previous seasons. There is no denying that the Forge could still make a big run and still run away with the division, but the Forge need to figure it out. Right now, the Omaha Express (4-0) are the class of the division, and are the only loss the Buffalo Gunners (3-1) have suffered. Neither the Express nor the Gunners are flashy. Both are led by their tough defense. The Express have an overwhelming running game that they have relied on. The Indianapolis Speed (2-2) are a solid team but are very inconsistent. They have yet to get their running game going, which is strange considering the talent they have at running back. If they do get it going, they could push for one of the final playoff spots. The St. Louis Stallions (1-3) is a very one-dimensional team. That dimension can be explosive and will net them some victories, but they likely don’t have enough to make them a postseason contender.

Empire Conference Playoff Seeds

1. San Antonio Marshalls (4-0) – Southern Division Champions
2. New York Marauders (4-0) – Atlantic Division Champions
3. Omaha Express (4-0) – Midwest Division Champions
4. Birmingham Predators
5. Buffalo Gunners
6. Atlanta Firebirds

Metropolitan Conference

Southeastern Division

While the Orlando Rockets (2-2) coming into the season seemed like they could run away with the division, they have really struggled to get things really going through the first four games of the year. They typically do have early season struggled, it usually only last two weeks. This year they are four weeks in and are coming off a loss. The Rockets don’t have the consistency on offense they usually have, and their defense has been struggling. It’s hard to imagine they don’t figure things out, but they aren’t looking like a sure bet to run away with things at this moment. The Carolina Generals (2-2) are looking very strong. Colin Kaepernick has carried the way for the Generals with dominant performances, particularly with his legs. He might be the favorite to win the comeback player of the year award. The Jacksonville Stingrays (2-2) are a very competitive team, especially for an expansion team. They have put a lot into their defense and might have a future star in running back Devin Singletary, but it is their passing game that has led them to their two wins. They will be a very competitive team against anybody they play. Last week the Miami Mustangs (2-2) picked up a huge win over the Orlando Rockets and officially made this a four-team tie at the top after the first quarter of the season. Their win also opened things up for any team to take control. Bart Houston is performing very well right now. While there are four teams at the top of the division the New Orleans Nightmare (0-4) are struggling. They had a very nice run the past few seasons and we know from history they can bounce back from a 0-4 start, but they need to get going right away.

Central Division

After a few down years the Columbus Explorers (3-1) are finally seeing a resurgence. They went through growing pains the last few seasons and now their patience is paying off. But while Joshua Dobbs has significantly cut down on his mistakes, Austin Ekeler has been a huge boost for the team, giving them a tremendous weapon on the ground. The defense is really benefiting from the improved offense. But the Michigan Stags (3-1) are still looking like they could be the team to beat in the division. By no means are they running away with things, though. The Stags have lost a lot of talent over the past few years. They have done a good job of replacing them and through four games some of those new young guys, like Chase Winovich, are really starting to get into a groove and are playing well. Vernon Adams, Jr. is the x-factor. He’s giving them more explosiveness than Zach Collaros gave them the past few years, but he also makes more mistakes. It’s boom or bust with him running the show. Showing the incredible depth of this division, the defending Metropolitan Conference Nashville Renegades (2-2), are currently tied for third place. The Renegades are loaded with talent and might be a sleeping giant ready to go on a huge run. The Louisville Cougars (2-2) have as gutsy and gritty of a quarterback leading the show, Jeremiah Masoli, but their defense and running game have been somewhat disappointing. The Milwaukee Warriors (1-3) are very disappointed in their first quarter of the season. They have a lot of high-end talent, including Antonio Brown, but their defense has been terrible and their line has been disappointing. If they get better in those areas they can make this the most competitive division in the entire league.

Pacific Division

While the Pacific division looked like it could be very competitive, it’s looking pretty weak. The Utah Raptors (3-1) currently lead the division with a head-to-head tie-breaker over the Los Angeles Avengers (3-1) but neither really look like an elite team. The Raptors certainly have played great the past two weeks and made some big adjustments to get better, but they are young and their secondary is susceptible to giving up big plays. The Avengers have big play ability, but like the Raptors, they have a rookie quarterback leading the way and that means they can and will make mistakes. The Seattle Orcas (1-3) are much better than they were last season, even despite their 1-3 record. They also have a rookie quarterback, though they have perhaps the most talented defense in the division and the best overall player in Isaiah Crowell. If they figure out how to get anything out of their passing game on a consistent basis they could make a big run – two games back in this division isn’t seem like a big deficit at all. The Sacramento Bandits (1-3) finally got a big game out of LeSean McCoy last week, thought it did not lead to a win. Their problem has been inconsistency, but that can’t be unexpected out of an expansion team. They can’t overreact to losses and need to stay the course and the success will come. The San Diego Diablos (0-4) already have more losses this year than they did all of last season. It is pretty clear the Diablos were helped last season by a very easy schedule. They didn’t even beat a team with a winning record in 2019 but the success last season means they have the tougher schedule this year and they haven’t been able to hold up. The Diablos don’t have the best weapons in the passing game, but they do have a dynamic running back they can rely on and a strong defense. However, that defense hasn’t performed well at all this year because the team has been trying to play from behind and haven’t been able to keep up, getting their defense back out on the field too soon before they get a proper rest.

Metropolitan Conference Playoff Seeds
1. Michigan Stags (3-1) – Central Division Champions
2. Utah Raptors (3-1) – Pacific Division Champions
3. Carolina Generals (2-2) – Southeastern Champions
4. Columbus Explorers (3-1)
5. Los Angeles Avengers (3-1)
6. Orlando Rockets (2-2)

First Quarter Awards

Most Valuable Player
QB Bo Levi Mitchell, San Antonio Marshalls
107-for-142 (75.4%), 1,237 Pass Yards, 14 Pass TDs, 2 INTs, 16 Rushes, 101 Rush Yards (6.3 YPC), 1 Rush TD

Offensive Player of the Year
QB Bo Levi Mitchell, San Antonio Marshalls
107-for-142 (75.4%), 1,237 Pass Yards, 14 Pass TDs, 2 INTs, 16 Rushes, 101 Rush Yards (6.3 YPC), 1 Rush TD

Defensive Player of the Year
LB Anthony Walker, New York Marauders
28 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 TFL, 2 PD, 2 INTs

Offensive Lineman of the Year
OG Brandon Fusco, Buffalo Gunners
11 Pancakes, 1 Sack Allowed, 1 Bad Block

Special Teams Player of the Year
RET Kyran Moore, Atlanta Firebirds
4 KR, 114 KR Yards (28.5 YPR), 11 PR, 196 PR Yards (17.8 YPR), 2 PR TDs

Offensive Rookie of the Year
QB Easton Stick, Utah Raptors
77-for-104 (74.0%), 1,018 Pass Yards, 9 Pass TDs, 1 INT, 14 Rushes, 101 Rush Yards (7.2 YPC), 1 Rush TD

Defensive Rookie of the Year
DE Chase Winovich, Michigan Stags
19 Tackles, 4 Sacks, 9 Hurries, 2 PD

Coach of the Year
Bob Stoops, San Antonio Marshals
4-0 Record

Comeback Player of the Year
QB Colin Kaepernick, Carolina Generals
66-for-120 (55.0%), 746 Pass Yards, 7 Pass TDs, 1 INT, 53 Rushes, 349 Rush Yards (6.6 YPC), 3 Rush TDs

Breakthrough Player of the Year
RB Austin Ekeler, Columbus Explorers
62 Rushes, 289 Rush Yards (4.7 YPC), 6 Rush TDs, 8 Rec, 64 Rec Yards (8.0 YPC)

Newcomer of the Year
C Stefan Wisniewski, Philadelphia Bulldogs
9 Pancakes, 1 Sack Allowed, 1 Bad Block

Executive of the Year
Ryan Clark, San Antonio Marshals
4-0 Record

Week Five Preview

Boston Dragons (2-2) @ Omaha Express (4-0)
This is going to be a great battle of strengths. Omaha is a great running team, but Boston is very strong against the run. Omaha has proven they have a nice depth of backs and with Terrelle Pryor capable of making huge plays with his legs, the Express have many ways to move the ball on the ground. But Boston has Andre Ellington. He’s a tremendous back in his own right. Omaha also has a great run defense. Which back will be better? Boston’s passing game has far superior than Omaha’s. That could be the difference.
Pick: Boston Dragons

New York Marauders (4-0) @ Philadelphia Bulldogs (1-3)
Don’t let these records make you thin otherwise, Philadelphia always plays incredibly tough against the Marauders. That is what makes this rivalry game so great every time. The Marauders should run away with this game, but history shows it should be close.
Pick: New York Marauders

Virginia Admirals (2-2) @ St. Louis Stallions (1-3)
Both teams successes are based on their quarterbacks. Virginia has seem strong efforts out of McLeod Bethel-Thompson and St. Louis just got their first win of the year thanks to a tremendous effort by Zach Mettenberger. The Admirals have the much better pass defense. Maybe Alfred Blue reverts backs to some old form and exploits Virginia’s weakened run defense, but until he proves otherwise the Admirals have the advantage in the passing game.
Pick: Virginia Admirals

Washington Wave (2-2) @ Utah Raptors (3-1)
Utah has played tremendous football the last two weeks since switching to their 4-3 defense. The Wave have been trending down. The Raptors at home are going to be a tough game, but, their secondary is definitely their greatest weakness. If Zach Collaros is on his game, he could have a huge day.
Pick: Utah Raptors

Dallas Six-Shooters (1-3) @ Birmingham Predators (4-0)
Unless Dallas makes some changes, it’s going to be hard to pick them to beat the seemingly unstoppable Birmingham Predators. Birmingham is clicking on all cylinders. Dallas has been playing terrible the last three weeks.
Pick: Birmingham Predators

Mississippi Gators (0-4) @ Atlanta Firebirds (2-2)
The Gators have been struggling a great deal on offense. Going against an opponent that just shut out a Josh McCown led offense might be an impossible challenge for them.
Pick: Atlanta Firebirds

San Antonio Marshals (4-0) @ New Orleans Nightmare (0-4)
New Orleans could be a sleeping giant if they get their return game figured out, but they have had a lot of issues this year. We know they could go on a run, they have done it in the past, but San Antonio is playing better than anybody right now. They are a favorite against even the most elite teams. New Orleans is far from playing at that level right now.
Pick: San Antonio Marshals

Indianapolis Speed (2-2) @ Pittsburgh Forge (1-3)
What’s Pittsburgh’s deal right now? There defense hasn’t played anywhere near up to their expectations coming into the season, but their offense hasn’t been as dynamic either. They are very susceptible to a pass rush. Indianapolis hasn’t gotten theirs going this year. And even against a down Forge offense, they might not have enough to keep up with them.
Pick: Pittsburgh Forge

Carolina Generals (2-2) @ Jacksonville Stingrays (2-2)
This should be an interesting game. Carolina’s success is based on Colin Kaepernick and in particular his ability to get going on the ground. Jacksonville is against against the run, entering the week with the second-best run defense. Jacksonville has the third-best passing offense on their own, and Carolina ranks fifth in pass defense. It’s a tremendous matchup and will be an ultimate chess match of divisional rivals looking for a spot at the top of the division. In these sort of toss ups, the home team gets the edge in picks.
Pick: Jacksonville Stingrays

Miami Mustangs (2-2) @ Seattle Orcas (1-3)
Miami is coming off a huge victory over Orlando. That is the kind of win over a powerhouse team that could set the Mustangs on a path to greatness. At the same time, they have lost some games they shouldn’t be losing as well. Miami is inconsistent and hoping to get some consistency. They can. They have the talent to win a lot. But their opponent is a very gritty one. The Orcas are trying to regain their footing as a consistent playoff contender. They have some young players and are trying to improve in certain spots, but they still have a great defense and running game. Isaiah Crowell absolutely can exploit a struggling Mustangs run defense. He can dominate great run defenses. The Orcas defense is going to be a tough matchup for any opponent.
Pick: Seattle Orcas

Columbus Explorers (3-1) @ Milwaukee Warriors (1-3)
Milwaukee’s been very disappointing through the first quarter of the season. They are a team that looks awesome on paper, but haven’t gotten it all together yet. The Explorers actually have. Their youth the past few years have grown up and their running game is great. The Warriors haven’t had much success slowing down the run. If the Warriors click on offense, they have the talent to overwhelm opponents, but it’s not common they click.
Pick: Columbus Explorers

Louisville Cougars (2-2) @ Michigan Stags (3-1)
We’ve learned over the years that Jeremiah Masoli has the ability to put the Cougars in position to win any game he plays in. However, it is hit or miss if the rest of his team steps up and give him the help to close those games out. The Stags have suffered some inconsistency, but they are seeing some of the young players on their team step up a quarter way through the year. The Stags pass rush is really taking a tremendous step up.
Pick: Michigan Stags

Nashville Renegades (2-2) @ Orlando Rockets (2-2)
Nashville and Orlando both suffered very disappointing losses last week. The Renegades couldn’t get their offense going at all last week and the Rockets suffered a very unexpected upset to Miami. Both teams came into the year as top contenders to win the Metropolitan Conference but both sit at 2-2 and are facing a losing record heading into the second quarter of the season. This is a critical game for both squads. Orlando is always a tough team to pick against, but Nashville’s pass rush is truly elite and make things difficult for every opponent.
Pick: Nashville Renegades

Los Angeles Avengers (3-1) @ Buffalo Gunners (3-1)
This is going to be an interesting battle between two rookie quarterbacks on teams that are led by their running backs. Phillip Lindsay and Orleans Darkwa are different kinds of back. Lindsay gives the Los Angeles Avengers a lot of explosiveness, while Darkwa is a grinder who wears opponents down. Both styles have their advantages. The Avengers can score in a hurry thanks to Lindsay and other explosive players on their offense, like Joe Hills, Mark Andrews, and Jamal Custis. The Gunners are a the opposite of LA’s flash. They are the blue-collar group that perfectly embodies what their host city is. They play much better on the defensive side of the ball and focus on winning in the trenches. This will be a close game, that could go either way.
Pick: Buffalo Gunners

San Diego Diablos (0-4) @ Sacramento Bandits (1-3)
Both the Diablos and the Bandits are looking for something to smile about right now. Both should think this is a great opportunity to get a win. The Diablos are very desperate after dropping to 0-4. Their one hope might be to rely on Alex Collins to attack a poor Bandits defense. If he gets going and has a lot of success, the Diablos could be looking at their first win. San Diego’s defense has really struggled though. With LeSean McCoy finally having a big game last week, the Bandits would win a ground game too. And Blake Bortles has a higher ceiling than Luke Falk at this point.
Pick: Sacramento Bandits