Week 1 Power Rankings
1. San Antonio Marshalls
It’s Bo Levi Mitchell’s time to run the league. He just has to take that next step. This year, he won’t have many excuses either as the Marshalls have invested a lot to get him what might be the best receiving corp. he’s had since joining the team. And while the offense will miss Jacquizz Rodgers, they brought in Chris Carson and D’Onte Foreman, two very young and explosive running backs who will team with Khiry Robinson in the backfield. The defense has always had talented pass rushers, including the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Ted Jennings.
2. Orlando Rockets
Not many people could replace the legendary Ricky Ray but Trevor Harris really looks like a guy that can, and it’s a change the Rockets really seem committed to. It’s always tough when we see legends take a step aside for the next group of stars, but it seems like it’s going to be a seamless transition. Orlando has a bevvy of talent, are stacked at running back with Devonta Freeman, Robert Kelly and Jerome Messam, and have plenty of talent on their defense that work perfectly in the system.
3. Michigan Stags
Zach Collaros may be the only thing holding the Stags back, but the team has plenty of talent everywhere else to make up for it. They stick with their dominant defense and powerful and deep rushing attack to get the job done. Collaros plays his role very well and wins. It’s just questionable whether he can lead them to a big win if the situation wins.
4. Los Angeles Stars
WHAT? The Stars rank higher than the Powerhouse Seattle Orcas? WHAT??
Los Angeles have one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. It took Case Keenum a while, but he’s worked hard, continued fighting and took full advantage of his opportunity last season as the starter. Meanwhile, the Stars have also really improved their defense. Entering his second season Brian Poole already looks like a star and his job is made so much easier with all of the pass-rushing talent the team has up front. This team still might be able to improve their running game, but Brian Hill has a lot of hype and Buck Allen and Troymaine Pope are still young and getting better.
5. Seattle Orcas
So why are the Stars ranked ahead of the Orcas? It’s the nature of salary-capped sports. The Orcas have lose a lot of talent over the past few years because they simply couldn’t afford to keep them all. The loss of Tony Jefferson is going to hurt their defense. He was their enforcer. The loss of Ryan Schraeder is going to hurt their offense. He was the best offensive linemen in the league last season. But that doesn’t mean the Orcas aren’t going to continue being one of the best teams in the league. They certainly will be.
6. Atlanta Firebirds
The Firebirds have a lot of firepower in their passing game with Matt Barkley taking over in their offense and Cameron Meredith, Malcolm Mitchell and Albert Wilson making up a tremendous trio of receivers. But the additions of DeMarco Murray and Mike Tolbert really even this offense out with a powerful, powerful run game (assuming Murray can stay healthy). The Firebirds missed the playoffs despite a great passing attach and strong defense last year because their running game was fairly absent. Now, they have that running game. Defensively, the Firebirds have one of the deepest secondaries around with plenty of talent in the front seven as well. Telvin Smith is one of the elite linebackers in the league and while he’s just a one-year rental before he likely goes to the NFL on a huge contract, but if his tremendous athleticism gets them a title, they won’t mind he is only a rental.
7. Carolina Generals
The Generals made a shocking run to the championship game last year and they lost quite a few important pieces, like starting quarterback Erik Meyer and wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Those two losses could prove to be big, but in many people’s eyes the Generals improved at quarterback with the signing of Colin Kaepernick. He’s looking for a second chance after the NFL has black-listed him. He has had his struggles on the field, but he’s still an electrifying athlete and with a young running back corp, expect this to be a different sort of offense as Tarik Cohen and Kenneth Dixon expect to be the focal points of the offense.
8. Philadelphia Bulldogs
Like Carolina, the Bulldogs made a pretty unexpected run to the championship game and ultimately the championship last season and have as well lost some key pieces of their team. Michael Vick, Roddy White and Clevan Thomas all retired. Now the Bulldogs will have to hope that Bryce Petty is ready for to take over at quarterback. He’s a tough person to switch to after Michael Vick has so few turnovers last season, but the Bulldogs still have a dominant running back in Jay Ajayi and have sured up their defense with some key signings. It will be a little bit different of a team, but the Bulldogs should still be one of the best around as long as Petty doesn’t hurt them.
9. Pittsburgh Forge
Heading into last season the Forge on paper looked like a team that would have a strong defense and a struggling offense. Well, that couldn’t have been further from what they proved to be on the field. Despite all that NFL talent on defense, the Forge had the worst defense in the league, but their offense was maybe the best. Jon Jennings broke passing records with a deep group of receivers and that is back with an improving defense. The Forge might still give up a lot of points, but they will often times score more.
10. New Orleans Nightmare
The Nightmare have been on the rise for a while and with Aaron Murray now in at quarterback, they very much look like a playoff team. They have a deep crop of receivers for the former 4,000-yard passer to throw to, led by All-SFL honoree Rueben Randle. The Nightmare also have a trio of solid backs running behind one of the league’s best offensive lines – featuring La’el Collins, AQ Shipley and Russell Bodine. Defensively, The defensive line makes everything behind them better. Willie McGinnis and Brent Urban are the best duo of defensive tackles in the league. Deon Bush is a bright young safety who is quickly ascending into the league’s elite group.
11. Washington Wave
As Ryan Nassib looks to revitalize his championship-winning career, the Wave look to have their best QB yet in their second run back in the league. Nassib has had some underwhelming efforts, but he doesn’t make many mistakes. In his career, he has a remarkable ratio with 72 TD and only 11 INTs. Paired up with a dynamic player like Tyreek Hill and a powerful runner like rookie Samaje Perine, this offense has plenty of good pieces now. As for the defense, they have committed to improving the unit the last two offseasons and as the defense catches up, they are going to be one tough opponent.
12. New York Marauders
Is Vad Lee a playoff caliber quarterback? He certainly has a lot of critics but he’ll be out to prove that last year’s remarkable five-game run in which he had 11 passing touchdowns and only on interception was no fluke. The Marauders some really big weapons for him, with perhaps the best receiver in the league in Stefon Diggs, the always reliable Brandon Coleman, and one of the top budding tight ends Will Tye. The Marauders also may have finally fixed their deplorable running game with the addition of the pass-catching threat Jacquizz Rodgers and the drafting of the powerful Devante Mays. Their offensive line has note quite improved as much as they would have hoped, but the Marauders may have one of the best defenses in the league. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they do with their switch to a 3-4. The free agent selections of Navarro Bowman, Eric Reid and John Ojo bring in three of the very best defensive players around.
13. Memphis Bombers
There is zero room for injuries with this team. We saw what happened in the exhibition when one of the team’s five offensive linemen got hurt and Scott Chandler had to move inside to play guard and they only ended up scoring three points. The Bombers have top-heavy talent, but zero depth. And we’ll have to see if AJ McCarron plays with any sort of energy now that he has his pretty much guaranteed contract. He certainly didn’t look so great in the preseason despite having some great receivers to work with. The offense might rely on Jordan Howard, but again, any injuries to the offensive line and he’s going to have a nearly impossible job. Defensively, the Bombers have invested in a lot of talent with their starters. John Chick is winding down at his age, but Greg Hard, Beau Allen and Watson Tautuiaki are a devastating trio on the front line. Kwon Alexander and Thurston Armbrister and two very good, well-versed linebackers. They may never get into elite status, but they certainly help the team in a lot of different ways. Their secondary is a major worry though, and it will get exposed throughout the year.
14. Columbus Explorers
The Explorers have moved on from the Tyrelle Pryor experiment and we certainly have to wonder if Joshua Dobbs is up for the task right away. He’s a gifted athlete, but he wasn’t that great in the preseason. We didn’t get to see Alvin Kamara this preseason, but likely because we didn’t need to. He’s a tremendous running back who could be a favorite to be Offensive Rookie of the Year and should keep the team’s running game among the best in the league. But the receiving corp and offensive line are mostly unproven. The Explorers also made a very questionable decision to trade Beau Allen this offseason. He was perhaps their best player in their front seven. Nobody up front particularly stands out, which will put a lot of pressure on a secondary that is good, but might end up over-worked.
15. Utah Raptors
It was a really tough job for Mike Reilly last year with very little to work with in the receiving corp. This year he has a much, much better group to work with. Reilly can be great and the Raptors are hoping the additions of Dede Westbook, Kenny Shaw and Marquess Wilson with the returning Jesse James will help him reach that level. They have also had a bit of a youth movement on defense with Scooby Wright now taking over things. The defense will have to prove itself, but the offense should be in a much better position than it was last year.
16. Birmingham Predators
Trading for Jeremy Langford was a tremendous move and will take pressure off the tremendous young quarterback Dak Prescott. But without Kenny Stills we have to wonder how the passing game will keep up. Chris Williams had a lot of catches last season, but can he have that sort of production as the top threat? Or will be be able to play off Justin Blackmon? Who hasn’t played football in five years. Blackmon was explosive in the preseason game, but had a couple drops. Defensively, David Onyemata and Dean Lowry are an exciting duo and Pat Watkins brings a nice veteran presence to the secondary that features two talented young safeties in Eddie Jackson and Josh Evans, but in between those guys there is very little to like.
17. Dallas Six-Shooters
Who will start at quarterback? James Franklin? Robert Griffin III? Johnny Manziel? None of them seem particularly inspiring. The team will be a running team with Jalen Richard and Austin Ekeler in a Thunder and Lightning type of tandem. Chris Matthews and Kendall Wright are two great possession receivers too, but there might not be enough explosiveness. Julius Thomas is an explosive tight end, but that shouldn’t be your most explosive receiver on the team. At least their offensive line is among the very best in the league. That will really help the offense, but the defense has a lot of youth that needs to grow together.
18. Minnesota Freeze
Corey Clement is a very talented running back, who the Freeze expect to finally give some balance to their miserable running game that plagued them the past two seasons. If he’s a factor, Josh McCown will have help and may even get the Freeze back into the playoffs out of an overall poor division. The ageless McCown still set records last year. He’s a legend and with the weapons he has we could see another big year out of him. The secondary needs some work with the loss of the dominant Malcolm Butler, but who knows, maybe the Freeze can just outscore all of their opponents.
19. San Diego Diablos
Despite such a low team payroll the Diablos certainly impressed this preseason and showed they have some pretty dangerous weapons on their offense. Kellen Moore has plenty of experience and is looking to revitalize his career with Mychal Rivera, Rod Windsor and Eric Decker catching his passes now. But this is going to be a running team. Alex Collins, Donnel Pumphrey and Dexter McCluster are all play-making backs. The defense has a few good players, but that side of the ball will make things difficult for them. Byron Maxwell will lead the secondary while Brad Watson shows promise as a d-league signing, and Justin Capicciotti and Deatrich Wise Jr. certainly show promise as a defensive-end duo, but there are a lot of other holes on that side of the ball.
20. Mississippi Cottonmouths
Joe Callahan didn’t take over as the starting quarterback this preseason. Maybe it will have to be Chad Kelly. Either way, that’s not a good situation to not have a settled QB situation heading into the season. Mississippi has invested a lot in their defense and in their offensive line, which will help them. Captain Munnerlyn is an elite defensive back and Keon Raymond is a fantastic replacement for the retired Deron Mayo. But ultimately, it’s about scoring points and we have to see how many Mississippican score.
21. Omaha Express
Omaha went out with their first-team offense and defense and got crushed by an expansion team few had high expectations for in the preseason. Rex Burkhead is a tremendous play-maker, but they have a very unsettled quarterback situation and not the greatest receiving corp either. The defense certainly has some talented prospects, but might go through some rough growing pains.
22. Iowa Threshers
They had a tough time going against Seattle’s No. 1s in the preseason exhibition, but Alfred Morris needed to do more than he did. Even against a strong defense, averaging just 2.7 yard per carry on the ground isn’t good. He caught some passes, but that might also be an indictment on the receiver they have. Their offense needs to figure some things out. Their secondary also looks like it’s going to struggle as they are having to rely on a lot of older veterans who are past their prime.
23. Boston Dragons
Cooper Rush doesn’t look ready yet, but maybe having Andre Ellington, Luke Tasker and Jordan Matthews in games during the regular season will help him. That is the best group of weapons the Dragons have had yet, but neither Tasker nor Matthews are particularly explosive. They just lack a big-play receiver. With a young QB who doesn’t look ready yet, it probably will be another trying season.
24. St. Louis Stallions
Zach Mettenberger has looked very good this preseason and Alfred Blue and Anthony Wales look like a strong running back duo, but the rest of the team has major question marks. Their receiving corp. lacks any real threat. They’ve invested a lot in their offensive line, but their defense is really young and figures to struggle.
25. Louisville Cougars
Karlos Williams is going to get a lot of work, and Julian Edelman is going to grab a ton of passes, but those two are the only real bright spots the Cougars have. Their quarterback situation hasn’t been settled. Their defense could be decent with Rey Maualuga, Red Bryant, Gabriel Knapton and Taylor Mays, but the rest of the unit is really lacking competitive talent.
26. Houston Wranglers
After a miserable first season, the Wranglers don’t look too much better. Connor Cook actually may have talent a step back from what we’ve seen in the preseason. He did have a touchdown, but only four completed passes. Ouch. They just lack top-end talent all around their roster.
Empire Conference Wild Card Round
6. Washington Wave over 3. Minnesota Freeze
4. Atlanta Firebirds over 5. Pittsburgh Forge
Metropolitan Conference Wild Card Round
3. Los Angeles Stars over 6. New Orleans Saints
4. Seattle Orcas over 5. Carolina Generals
Empire Conference Divisional Round
1. Orlando Rockets over 6. Washington Wave
4. Atlanta Firebirds over 2. Philadelphia Bulldogs
Metropolitan Conference Divisional Round
1. San Antonio Marshalls over 4. Seattle Orcas
3. Los Angeles Stars over 2. Michigan Stags
Empire Conference Championship Game
1. Orlando Rockets over. 4. Atlanta Firebirds
Metropolitan Conference Championship Game
1. San Antonio Marshalls over. 3. Los Angeles Stars
SFL Grand Finale XIX
San Antonio Marshalls over Orlando Rockets
Most Valuable Player: Bo Levi Mitchell – San Antonio Marshalls
Offensive Player of the Year: Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Bulldogs
Defensive Player of the Year: Matt Judon – Michigan Stags
Offensive Lineman of the Year: Matt Paradis – Philadelphia Bulldogs
Special Teams Player of the Year: Tyreek Hill – Washington Wave
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara – Columbus Explorers
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Karter Schult – Iowa Threshers
Comeback Player of the Year: Aaron Murray – New Orleans Nightmare
Breakout Player of the Year: Jalen Richard – Dallas Six-Shooters
Newcomer of the Year: Eric Reid – New York Marauders
Coach of the Year: Mike Jones – Minnesota Freeze
Week 1 Preview
Orlando Rockets @ Philadelphia Bulldogs
It’s going to be a huge party for the Bulldogs as they unveil their championship banner, but the unsure quarterback situation is going to be tough for them. Bryce Petty hasn’t been in a significant game in his career and will get thrown in against the Powerhouse Rockets. This party is going to get crashed by the hungry Rockets.
Prediction: Orlando Rockets
New York Marauders @ Pittsburgh Forge
New York is going to go out with a lot to prove after two very disappointing seasons, and the Pittsburgh Forge will be out to prove their 2017 season was no fluke. But the key matchup here will the best passing attack in the league vs. a secondary that has the potential to be the best in the league. Eric Reid and John Ojo are going to make things very difficult for the Forge. They might not just simply be able to outscore the Marauders defense, which looks much more improved than the Forge defense looks.
Prediction: New York Marauders
Minnesota Freeze @ Boston Dragons
Boston’s offense might be better with the additions of Jordan Matthews and Andre Ellington, but it’s impossible to pick a team led by Cooper Rush over a team led by the legendary Josh McCown, with a very strong wide receiver corp. and an improving defense.
Prediction: Minnesota Freeze
Dallas Six-Shooters @ Washington Wave
Ryan Nassib is going to look to make a huge statement in his first game with the Washington Wave. The Six-Shooters are a bit more of a mystery right now with the loss of Rex Burkhead and a quarterback situation that hasn’t been completely settled.
Prediction: Washington Wave
St. Louis Stallions @ Mississippi Cottonmouths
Two expansion teams duking it out for their first victory… Mississippi has the better defense, however, you’d have to imagine that Zach Mettenberger, who is coming off a very strong preseason, will want to stick it to Terrill Weil, the owner of the New Orleans Nightmare, which gave up on him and shipped him out of town. Mississippi also have major questions with their own quarterbacks. Mississippi might be better suited to have more success by the end of the season, but this first game might go to the Stallions.
Prediction: St. Louis Stallions
Columbus Explorers @ Louisville Cougars
Neither team is particularly set offensively, but Columbus’ defense is so much better. Expect this to mostly be a battle of the running backs Alvin Kamara and Karlos Williams as the quarterbacks settle in, but the Explorers defense will be the bigger factor in this one.
Prediction: Columbus Explorers
Los Angeles Stars @ New Orleans Nightmare
It looks like the Nightmare will push through and make the playoffs this year, but this Week 1 matchup isn’t a great one for them. Their secondary lacks any real standout players, which isn’t a good thing when going up against the Los Angeles Stars with Case Keenum able to sling the ball all over the field. Aaron Murray has looked great in the preseason as he looks to rebound after a rough 2017 season, but the Stars were one of the best teams in the league last year and got better as well.
Prediction: Los Angeles Stars
Memphis Bombers @ Michigan Stags
Memphis has an offense that can be explosive, and a pass rush that can disrupt the passing game, but they will be facing one of the very elite defenses in the league and a team that runs so much that they neutralize a strong pass rush. The Stags shouldn’t be threatened at home in Week 1.
Prediction: Michigan Stags
San Antonio Marshalls @ Houston Wranglers
Anything can happen in football, but this looks like a severe mismatch with perhaps the best team in the league going against maybe the worst team in the league. The Wranglers just simply don’t have anything on their offense good enough to keep up with Bo Levi Mitchell.
Prediction: San Antonio Marshalls
Iowa Threshers @ Omaha Express
Iowa has a nice young group of players coming up, but the Express now have to playmakers on their offense. Their defense will be steady, but their running game with the Thunder of LeGarrette Blount and the lightning of Rex Burkhead is going to be very tough for the Threshers to march up against.
Prediction: Omaha Express
Utah Raptors @ San Diego Diablos
The Diablos have more offensive weapons than we originally thought, but the Utah Raptors have one of the best quarterbacks in the league with a much improved passing game and will be facing a very young San Diego secondary. This might have a lot of points scored in his, but the Raptors probably have the edge.
Prediction: Utah Raptors
Birmingham Predators @ Atlanta Firebirds
Dak Prescott has some receivers to work with, but the Predators defense isn’t going to be able to slow down the high-powered Atlanta Firebirds. Atlanta has a bad taste in their mouth after missing the playoffs last season. They will want to kick the 2018 season off with a big win as they look to get back.
Prediction: Atlanta Firebirds
Seattle Orcas @ Carolina Generals
This is a different kind of Generals team that we saw make a run to the championship game last season. Colin Kaepernick provides a much greater deal of explosiveness, but while that team got hot at the right time, the Seattle Orcas were one of the most dominant teams around and beat up on everybody. That defense will make things difficult for Kaepernick in his SFL debut.
Prediction: Seattle Orcas