Week 4 Rankings

1. San Antonio Marshalls (4-0) – No Change
Last Week: W – New Orleans Nightmare – 48-21

We know Bo Levi Mitchell is one of the best in the league and he is performing at a high level right now, but this team is showing some tremendous balance on offense with a surging running game that may actually be better and more explosive this year despite losing Jacquizz Rodgers. Rookie running back D’Onta Foreman has to be the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year as he ranked fourth in the league in rushing yards, and combine with Khiry Robinson those two have 10 rushing touchdowns through four weeks.

2. Atlanta Firebirds (4-0) – No Change
Last Week: W – @ Boston Dragons – 30-20

We got to see the athleticism of the Firebirds this week with Albert Wilson breaking out and Matt Brieda pushing for a bigger role over the powerful veteran DeMarco Murray. It’s such a tremendous situation to have; a team having to figure out how to work in their great athletes more than they have been because the starters ahead of them have been so good. The Firebirds continue to be right in the mix as the league’s best team.

3. Seattle Orcas (4-0) – Up 1
Last Week: W – @ Philadelphia Bulldogs – 23-14

Isaiah Crowell might be the most dominant player this league has seen in a long time. The Bulldogs have a good defense, and yet Crowell still ran through them like it was nothing for 179 yards and a touchdown. The Orcas won’t scare a team with their passing attack, but they don’t need it. They have been built around a tremendous run game and a dominant defense and they have that.

4. Michigan Stags (4-0) – Down 1
Last Week: W – Carolina Generals – 23-21

The Stags did nothing wrong but go down one spot. Still, any argument could be made for them to be the league’s No. 1 team. They have very few holes, except it is easy to see this team struggling in a shootout because of a lack of top-tier receivers. That was really exposed after Tajae Sharpe exited the game with an early injury, but moving forward this team figures to go back to their rushing roots with Marlon Mack and Thomas Rawls being their one-two punch.

5. Orlando Rockets (2-2) – Up 2
Last Week: W – Pittsburgh Forge – 34-13

For an unknown reason Ricky Ray was put back in as the team’s starter, and he had a tremendous game with 233 yards and three touchdowns all to Eric Rogers, who now has seven touchdowns in two games. Devonta Freeman also was great with 130 yards and a score on the ground. The Rockets showed once again they are still an elite team as they blew out the Pittsburgh Forge, but don’t think the Ricky Ray resurgence will continue. The Rockets have announced they are still committed to turning things back over to Trevor Harris. Expect him back starting next week. Regardless, the Rockets are still an elite team now that they’ve figured some things out after their 0-2 start.

6. Pittsburgh Forge (2-2) – Down 2
Last Week: L – @ Orlando Rockets – 34-13

Pittsburgh has to be looked at as a gate-keeper team now. The Forge are going to beat most teams, but back-to-back blowout losses to San Antonio and Orlando have shown they just won’t beat the elite teams. Their defense just isn’t good enough for that, but their offense will score a lot. Against the Rockets, their offense did struggle, but based on over a year of their history, we can see that as a one-off struggle for the unit.

7. New York Marauders (3-1) – Up 5
Last Week: W – Washington Wave – 59-21

Things couldn’t have gone more perfect for the Marauders against the Washington Wave. Vad Lee had had these big games before, but six touchdowns is just insane. Stefon Diggs, Brandon Coleman and Will Tye each caught two touchdowns in the game. Even backup quarterback Josh Woodrum hooked up for a touchdown to reserve rookie receiver Carlton Agudosi. The Marauders destroyed the Wave’s struggling defense that came out with a bad gameplan. Don’t expect anything like this again, but the fact that it was possible was eye-opening.

8. Louisville Cougars (3-1) – Up 7
Last Week: W – @ Omaha Express – 35-30

Raise you hand if you though Louisville would be 3-1 at this point. If you’re not named Alex Gray you are lying, and even then him calling for a 3-1 record was purely a homer pick. Louisville was able to withstand a 225-yards, 4-touchdown game by Rex Burkhead and win a game, which is pretty unthinkable really. Julian Edelman was just unstoppable as he had 10 catches for 256 yards and two scores. But the big reason the Cougars are improved is because of Karlos Williams. The running back had added some really good balance to their offense and is letting Jeremiah Masoli play in less pressure situations, allowing him to just take advantage of his athleticism and arm. And while their defense got lit up by Burkhead, that side of the ball has quite a bit of top end talent that is coming together well.

9. Carolina Generals (2-2) – Down 1
Last Week: L – @ Michigan Stags – 23-21

After two bad weeks, Colin Kaepernick has looked great the last two weeks, but Michigan’s ability to shut down the run made the Generals abandon it. First round pick Tarik Cohen just couldn’t get it going against a physical defense. They might turn things back over to Kenneth Dixon more. Expect the bigger back to be involved, but there is nothing really to frown about over a close road loss at Michigan. The Generals are still a good 2-2 team.

10. Dallas Six-Shooters (3-1) – Down 4
Last Week: L – Houston Wranglers – 23-20

Even good teams will have that rough, disappointing outing in a touch divisional game, and this was that for Dallas. They suffered their first loss of the year to the hapless Houston Wranglers, but over the past two years the Wranglers have had their number, beating them three times in a row. We are also starting to see James Franklin come back down to life with a so-so game after a stretch of very good ones. Dallas is a running team, expect Jalen Richard and Austin Ekeler to take over the offense, but they are both still young, so that might be why the team is slow to turn it over completely.

11. Omaha Express (2-2) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Louisville Cougars – 35-30

Omaha has to be very disappointed in their defense that they put so much effort into. This is a team that will want to run the ball with LeGarrette Blount and Rex Burkhead as much as possible. Blount got hurt early in this game, but that didn’t hurt their offense at all as Burkhead had 225 yard and four touchdowns on the ground. They just need their defense to bounce back and they will still win a good number of games.

12. Philadelphia Bulldogs (2-2) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Seattle Orcas – 23-14

The Mark Sanchez era didn’t even last 10 passes before he was pulled for his poor play. Bryce Petty did some in and was better than usual, but still, the Bulldogs need Jay Ajayi to lead them to a victory every single time they are out on the field and he just couldn’t get it done against the Orcas defense. Maybe some of that had to do with the team having to pass to play catch up, but the team is far too one-dimensional to be too much of a threat to the good teams.

13. St. Louis Stallions (3-1) – Down 3
Last Week: L – @ Iowa Threshers – 16-13

St. Louis’ offense hit a wall at Iowa and suffered their first loss of the season. Zach Mettenberger had only eight completions for just 104 yards, which completely negated the 150 yards and a touchdown by Alfred Blue. Still, St. Louis has the ability to bounce back from this loss.

14. Memphis Bombers (2-2) – Up 2
Last Week: W – Columbus Explorers – 19-14

Whether it’s by an inch or by a mile, a win is a win. In this case, it was by just a few feet as Joshua Dobbs slid inside the one yard line as time expired when he had a chance to run into the endzone to win the game. AJ McCarron targeted Jamison Crowder 23 times and it resulted in 181 yards while Jordan Howard had 133 yards on the ground. The Bombers will look to spread the ball around more in games, but they were able to take advantage of injuries in the Explorers secondary that left Crowder in a major mismatch. Still, it was enough for a win offensively while their defense led the charge with a strong physical effort to get them back to .500.

15. Boston Dragons (2-2) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Atlanta Firebirds – 30-20

What has typically been an inconsistent offense, the Dragons scored more points than any other team against the Atlanta Firebirds this season. Cooper Rush still had his rookie moments, but his 309 yards and two touchdowns along with Luke Tasker’s dominant effort were tremendous signs for Boston even in a loss.

16. Utah Raptors (2-2) – Up 3
Last Week: W – @ Mississippi Cottonmouths – 18-3

The Raptors signed Johnathan Hankins to $2.5M to improve their run defense, and it worked as the Cottonmouths leading rusher totaling only 58 yards and the Cottonmouths were held to only three points. However, the Raptors win still has to leave them a bit upset about their offensive effort, scoring only one touchdown with less than 300 yards of total offense.

17. Columbus Explorers (1-3) – Down 3
Last Week: L – Memphis Bombers – 19-14

Oh Josh Dobbs. You will forever go down in infamy for sliding on the one-yard line with a chance to win the game. That’s been his story, making bad decisions in clutch situations, his entire career. He had a tough game, and the Explorers will hope it’s just his growing pains. They successfully got Alvin Kamara more involved this game and played very well defensively, but it was a bad way to fall to 1-3.

18. Birmingham Predators (2-2) – Up 4
Last Week: W – @ Minnesota Freeze – 24-20

What a comeback for Birmingham. After falling behind 20-7 in the third quarter they rallied back for a 24-20 win. Early in the game, Birmingham was giving up big plays to Josh McCown, but shut things down later in the game and that defense sparked their comeback. David Onyemata and Dean Lowry dominated in the trench to disrupt McCown. Then Dak Prescott was having his way throwing the ball to Chris Williams and Justin Blackmon. Blackmon had seven catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the game.

19. Los Angeles Stars (2-2) – Up 3
Last Week: W – San Diego Diablos – 16-7

Finally! After four weeks the Stars have scored a touchdown. Case Keenum threw a touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett in the second quarter and that helped lead to a win for the Stars, but it was still a very uninspiring offensive effort for them as it was only 16 points. At least their defense has looked good this season.

20. New Orleans Nightmare (0-4) – Down 3
Last Week: L – @ San Antonio Marshalls – 48-21

It was a tough draw to finally get their quarterback back and having to go against the San Antonio Marshalls, but despite all of the adversity and tough schedule to start the 0-4 start is unacceptable in the eyes of ownership and they fired their entire staff. It’s a huge risk to make a total overhaul in the middle of the season, but Jack Del Rio was brought in to turn things around, and he will have a healthy quarterback to try to do it.

21. Mississippi Cottonmouths (1-3) – Down 3
Last Week: L – Utah Raptors – 18-3

TJ Yates did not spark Mississippi’s offense at all. He only passed for 77 yards. Maybe at 1-3 you might see a trade for one of these legends that could be on the move. If not, it might just be time to go back to Chad Kelly to let him get his lumps in.

22. Iowa Threshers (1-3) – Up 4
Last Week: W – St. Louis Stallions – 16-13

The Threshers are thrilled to finally get their first win in franchise history. Despite just a 2.7 yards per carry average, they stayed committed to running with Alfred Morris and is made it a bit easier for CJ Beathard. He did just enough to steal the close win over a previously undefeated divisional rival, but this probably won’t be the story too often this year.

23. Houston Wranglers (1-3) – Up 2
Last Week: W – Dallas Six-Shooters – 23-20

Even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and then, but the Wranglers fans have to be loving it more that it was against the previously unbeaten Dallas Six-Shooters, a team that has given them three of their four wins since their return to the league. Even more about this upset, this came just days after Wranglers owner Chris Dunn said he expected Dallas to be the last unbeaten team in the league. Maybe that lack of faith sparked his team and they decided to stick it to him. Either way, seeing Aaron Jones finally get implemented into the offense into a role the team has wanted to get him into, and seeing him go off for 177 yards and a touchdown was made so much sweeter with the overtime victory.

24. Washington Wave (0-4) – Down 4
Last Week: L – @ New York Marauders – 59-21

Washington went into their game against New York with a terrible gameplan and it let to a blowout and head coach Ralph Friedgen’s firing. Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh was also fired while offensive coordinator Keenan McCardell was promoted to the team’s interim head coach. Things really looked like they were going up for this franchise that went from 0-16 two years ago to 9-7 last year, but their miserable defense has really killed their effort this season.

25. Minnesota Freeze (0-4) – Down 4
Last Week: L – Birmingham Predators – 24-20

Things started off very well for Minnesota, but as the game went on and their offensive line started to succumb to the pressure of the Predators defensive line, the offense crumbled. McCown had a lot of success early, but just couldn’t keep it going down the stretch. The Freeze clearly have to fix a lot of things, it’s just hard to exactly see where it will have to start.

26. San Diego Diablos (0-4) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Los Angeles Stars – 16-7

San Diego tried out Seth Russell at quarterback, but that certainly didn’t work out as he completed only nine passes for just 73 yards. It wasn’t pretty at all. The team had 142 yards rushing, but that lack of a passing game is killing them.

Weekly Awards

Offensive Player of the Week
QB Vad Lee, New York Marauders
20-for-40, 393 Pass Yards, 6 Pass TDs, 59 Rush Yards (11.8 YPC)

Defensive Player of the Week
DE Gabriel Knapton, Louisville Cougars
9 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 2 TFL, 1 Hurry

Special Teams Player of the Week
RET Dexter McCluster, San Diego Diablos
4 KR, 158 KR Yards (39.5 YPR), 1 TD, 86 Long

Rookie of the Week
RB D’Onta Foreman, San Antonio Marshalls
206 Rush Yards (7.9 YPC), 1 Rush TD, 3 Rec, 34 Rec Yards (11.3 YPC)

SFL News

Nightmare fire entire coaching staff, hire Jack Del Rio

While they have faced an injury to their starting quarterback and a difficult schedule, the 0-4 start for the New Orleans Nightmare was enough for ownership and they took action, firing their entire staff and bringing on a new group of coaches. In their second season, head coach John Grass, offensive coordinator Tyler Cherubini Pat O’Hara, and defensive coordinator Michael Barrow were all relieved of their duties. The Nightmare hired an entire new staff headed by Jack Del Rio, with former Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze as their offensive coordinator and Jim Mora Jr. coming in as their defensive coordinator.

Ralph Friedgen and Chris Cosh axed in DC

While Ralph Friedgen led a nine-game turnaround for the Washington Wave last season, a 0-4 start to this season has led to his firing as their head coach. And after allowing 59 points and seven touchdowns to the New York Marauders, defensive coordinator Chris Cosh was also fired. Offensive Coordinator Keenan McCardell was hired as the team’s interim head coach while assistant coaches Chris Samuels and Lawrence Samuels (brother) were promoted to offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively.

Brandon Marshall signs with Houston, but doesn’t impress in return

Future SFL Hall of Famer Brandon Marshall has returned to the league after a stint in the NFL, but looked his age in his first game back. Marshall led the Houston Wranglers with five catches, but only had 50 yards and a long of 19 yards.

Minnesota looks to boost offense with Dontrelle Inman

After four NFL seasons, 29-year-old wide receiver Dontrelle Inman has made his way to the SFL, signing with the Minnesota Freeze. Looking for a spark to their offense, the Freeze have turned to Inman’s outside explosiveness. In four NFL seasons he caught 130 passes for 1,797 yards and eight touchdowns. His best season was in 2016 with the San Diego Chargers when he started 16 games and caught 58 passes for 810 yards and four touchdowns.

Week 5 Preview

Mississippi Cottonmouths @ Atlanta Firebirds
Missisisppi did pull off a major upset in Week 2, but it’s hard to imagine they pull another one this week. The Firebirds not only have one of the most balanced offense in the league, but they have the best defense in the league, allowing only 40 points through four games.
Pick: Atlanta Firebirds

St. Louis Stallions @ New York Marauders (@ New Era Field in Buffalo, NY)
We have two 3-1 teams and it can be argued that both are a surprising 3-1. They both are going off very different results though, with the Stallions coming off a bad loss at Iowa and the Marauders scoring the most points in the league this season against Washington. But really, this game is a toss up considering how the teams are built. But the Marauders defense is more physical with more top end talent.
Pick: New York Marauders

Iowa Threshers @ Pittsburgh Forge
Iowa picked up their first win of the season and the Forge have lost back-to-back, but it’s impossible to imagine the Threshers can scored even close enough to compete in this game.
Pick: Pittsburgh Forge

Philadelphia Bulldogs @ Washington Wave
Washington got beat so bad last week they fired both their head coach and defensive coordinator, while the Bulldogs are trying to figure out how to get a passing game going. But the Bulldogs at least have a dominant running back to stand on and until the Wave show and improved defense it’s hard to imagine him being slowed down by them.
Pick: Philadelphia Bulldogs

Carolina Generals @ Louisville Cougars
Colin Kaepernick is really picking things up and is making the Generals much more dangerous, but the Cougars are showing they are really dangerous too. This will be their biggest test yet this season and will show if they are for real. And you know what, I’m picking them. They have an ability to grind an opponent down or pass the ball, while the Generals right now are only able to move the ball with Colin Kaepernick. Louisville’s defense is really improved and that could make things difficult for Kaepernick too.
Pick: Louisville Cougars

Dallas Six-Shooters @ Memphis Bombers
While Memphis is coming off back-to-back wins and the Six-Shooters are coming off a very disappointing loss to the hapless Houston Wranglers, the Six-Shooters still have to be the favorites in this one. Memphis hasn’t impressed in any of their wins. Dallas has had some big ones.
Pick: Dallas Six-Shooters

Houston Wranglers @ New Orleans Nightmare
Houston got their first win of the season last week and are going to be riding a major high heading into New Orleans, but the Nightmare are in desperation mode. They fired their entire coaching staff, brought in more veterans and while that’s very risky in the middle of the season, the Nighmare have the talent to turn it around.
Pick: New Orleans Nightmare

Omaha Express @ Minnesota Freeze
Minnesota signed Dontrelle Inman with the hopes of sparking their offense, but it’s not so clear that wide receiver was the problem position for them. It’s not really clear what their problem is, except they just can’t figure out how to win right now. The Express will be looking to bounce back from a tough loss last week but their running game should rip through the Freeze’s struggling defense.
Pick: Omaha Express

Seattle Orcas @ San Antonio Marshalls
What a power matchup this is, and it could be a preview of the Metropolitan Conference Championship game. Both teams could beat any team in this league, but the rise of D’Onta Foreman has no longer made this air vs. round. San Antonio has a more balanced offense, and their defense might not be as good as Seattle’s but if they can score in bunched, even a dominant Isaiah Crowell might struggle to keep pace.
Pick: San Antonio Marshalls

Los Angeles Stars @ Utah Raptors
Neither team is happy with their offense, though both defenses have performed well lately. Utah has the No. 1 pass defense and No. 2 scoring defense, while LA is fifth in the league in points allowed. With how these offenses have been playing, this might be a field goal game, but if the Raptors don’t finally get a home win, heads might start rolling.
Pick: Utah Raptors

Boston Dragons @ San Diego Diablos
San Diego is still looking for a win, but they just don’t have much to make you think it will come, even against a team with an inconsistent rookie quarterback. The Dragons don’t have the most inspiring group of players, but they have enough to be favored in this game.
Pick: Boston Dragons

Birmingham Predators @ Columbus Explorers
Will Josh Dobbs give the owner who traded him another win with a terrible rookie mistake? He probably got reamed out by his coaches and players for that weak move, but while Columbus’ defense has been leading the way, the Predators are starting to get going and have a much better quarterback.
Pick: Birmingham Predators

Orlando Rockets @ Michigan Stags
Another tremendous powerhouse matchup and this one could be the preview of the Empire Conference Championship game. Trevor Harris figures to be back in the starting lineup for this game, but this is going to be a battle between two great running games. Devonta Freeman might be the best player in this game, but the Stags also have the league’s best run defense. Marlon Mack and Thomas Rawls are very effective for the Stags, and they have a better matchup against the No. 26th ranked run defense. That might be the difference in this game.
Pick: Michigan Stags