Week Eleven Power Rankings
1. Michigan Stags (10-1) – Up 1
Last Week: W – @ Memphis Bombers – 20-10
Hey, the team just wins. The Stags don’t particularly wow you in many ways, but they don’t have many weaknesses at all and they get the job done and that is what matters. They’ve had games where it’s been Zach Collaros leading them to a win. They’ve had the games where their backs have grinded them to a win. And then like this past week, they’ve had games where their defense led them to the win. They are a complete team and they just keep winning.
2. New York Marauders (9-2) – Up 1
Last Week: W – Los Angeles Stars – 21-12
It really was an ugly win, but with the win the New York Marauders improved to 9-2 and stayed atop the Empire Conference. Plus, you can look at it as a bad offensive effort, or a great defensive battle that they gutted out a win. The defense has been able to come up with some big games this year. This was another one of those big ones where NaVorro Bowman again proved himself as an elite player in the middle of he group and the secondary again proved it is among the best in the league.
3. Seattle Orcas (8-3) – Up 3
Last Week: W – Orlando Rockets – 26-24
Seattle bounced back from last week’s bad loss to Dallas in a tremendous way with a great win over the Orlando Rockets. And this one just proved again how unreal Isaiah Crowell is. He did it all by himself offensive. The best help he had was from kicker Brad Craddock and the defense did a great job too. But hey, power running game, special teams and a great defense is such a classic formula for success in football.
4. Orlando Rockets (8-3) – Down 3
Last Week: L – @ Seattle Orcas – 26-24
Orlando’s tremendous run of eight-straight wins came to an end against another great team in what was very possibly a championship game preview. There is no shame in losing to the Seattle Orcas. The Rockets had Eric Rogers going and Devonta Freeman playing well. Their own defense had a strong effort too. They just got beat by the better team on game day.
5. San Antonio Marshalls (7-3-1) – No Change
Last Week: L – Houston Wranglers – 38-27
It was a tough loss for the Marshalls, but in their defense, this was a tough situation they faced. The Wranglers have come a long way since the beginning of the season, but this week they started a very talented quarterback, but a quarterback who had no film on him. We knew Matt Nichols could make plays, but it was the first time he got any sort of significant playing time. It’s impossible to prepare for that and in this game, he got the best of them with four passing touchdowns.
6. Dallas Six-Shooters (8-2-1) – Down 1
Last Week: L – @ New Orleans Nightmare – 31-13
If anything has been holding the Six-Shooters back it’s been their pass rush, or lack there of this season. Their pass rush ranks in the bottom half of the league and that time given to Aaron Murray allowed him the time to throw three touchdowns against them in this game. Dallas is still a pretty complete team that may not stand out in any way but doesn’t have many weaknesses either, but they still have some things to prove before breaking into the conversation as an elite team and title contender.
7. Atlanta Firebirds (8-3) – No Change
Last Week: W – @ Birmingham Predators – 38-24
While the Firebirds have committed to Matt Barkley, the offense has continued to show off their big play ability through their passing game. This game, Albert Wilson took his turn as the big man exploiting the opposing defense with six catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns. But against Birmingham, a team that put up 34 points against a very talented New York Marauders defense, the Firebirds showed their defensive ability as they held Alvin Kamara to just 64 yards rushing and made key big plays against Dak Prescott, including a pick-six by Bacarri Rambo early in the game.
8. New Orleans Nightmare (7-4) – Up 1
Last Week: W – Dallas Six-Shooters – 31-13
With now seven-straight wins, the New Orleans Nightmare are officially the hottest team in the SFL. Aaron Murray is also putting up a tremendous fight for Comeback Player of the Year honors with another three touchdowns in a key victory that puts New Orleans in great position to make their final push for the playoffs over the next few weeks.
9. Boston Dragons (7-4) – Up 1
Last Week: W – @ Pittsburgh Forge – 31-21
It’s interesting how under-the-radar the Boston Dragons have been all year long but after a signature victory over the Pittsburgh Forge we can see them as a legitimate playoff contender. Cooper Rush is playing very well for a rookie and had a nice group of weapons. Andre Ellington has no problem leading the way with his legs though, and the Boston defense has proven all year long they can play against the best of them. The Dragons still may not be a sexy pick, but they have proven they can compete with even the very best in the league.
10. Pittsburgh Forge (7-4) – Down 2
Last Week: L – Boston Dragons – 31-21
The Forge just aren’t able to out-throw and out-score everybody like they were able to last season. They are still getting wins more often than they aren’t but the one-dimensional nature of the team is catching up to them. Devontae Booker has done well, but hasn’t balanced the offense and the defense has left them pretty vulnerable to being upset.
11. Utah Raptors (7-4) – No Change
Last Week: W – @ Columbus Explorers – 23-19
Utah didn’t have the easiest time out there against Columbus, but Mike Reilly came up with a huge clutch touchdown in the final seconds of the game to give the Raptors a victory and to put them back in position for the playoffs. Their defense was also huge with six sacks in the game, coming against a very good offensive line and mobile quarterback.
12. Carolina Generals (6-5) – Up 2
Last Week: W – Louisville Cougars – 34-7
What a win for the Generals. Colin Kaepernick had two touchdowns in the game, but it was an overall effort by the Generals running backs that wore down the Cougars defense, and then their defense made things even worse for he Louisville offense. If Carolina can put up over 200 yards rushing with a three-headed backfield and quarterback all getting opportunities, it’s going to be hard to stop them as they’ll be fresh the entire game. Defensively, their front even has been great and it’s made their secondary better.
13. Philadelphia Bulldogs (5-6) – Up 2
Last Week: W – St. Louis Stallions – 45-11
What a blessing Nate Sudfeld has been for the Bulldogs. He almost seemed like a dartboard addition when they got him as they were trying to figure out the mess at quarterback, but he’s been really good them and doing exactly what they needed. The Bulldogs are led by Jay Ajayi and just need Sudfeld to make a few completions and move the ball. 13-for-19 for 165 yards and four touchdowns is above and beyond just the “be capable” demands the Bulldogs have.
14. Louisville Cougars (6-5) – Down 2
Last Week: L – @ Carolina Generals – 34-7
After a remarkable 6-2 start the Cougars have hit a mid-season wall and have lost three games in a row, but that does not mean it is time to give up on them, even after a bad blowout loss to the Generals. Every team hits their period of adversity. They do really have a tough schedule coming up, but Jeremiah Masoli is athletic enough to challenge any team. Alfred Blue can grind opponents down. The last few weeks injuries have been problems for the Cougars. Nothing has carried over for multiple weeks, but if they keep all of their guys on the field they will be in better positions to get back in the win column.
15. Houston Wranglers (5-6) – Up 4
Last Week: W – @ San Antonio Marshalls – 38-37
After 10 weeks of trying to figure out their quarterback situation, Matt Nichols needed just one week to showcase himself as their franchise guy. Nichols was stellar in his first SFL start, completing 12-of-15 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns. He didn’t pass the ball around a lot, but the three guys he targeted game up huge in the game while Aaron Jones continued to grind his team down the field. If Nichols continues to play at the high level he is believed to be able to play at, this franchise is going to be one to watch down the stretch.
16. Omaha Express (5-6) – Up 1
Last Week: W – Minnesota Freeze – 47-28
Omaha allowed Josh McCown to throw four touchdowns against them, and still, they blew the Freeze out. That’s not something you see often, but they were able to dominate the Minnesota defense. Their ground game totaled four touchdowns to match McCown’s effort and Matt Moore had another two passing touchdowns of his own. The Express fans were loving it and are hoping this is the win that sparks the Express to the playoffs.
17. Birmingham Predators (5-6) – Down 4
Last Week: L – Atlanta Firebirds – 38-24
Consistency is just a big issue that is hard to explain with this team. The Predators played tough, but couldn’t make as many big plays and limit the mistakes against Atlanta third week as they had last week when they upset New York. At 5-6, the Predators still have a road to the playoffs, but little room for error. Their secondary got picked on by a big passing team, and going down early took the ball out of the hands of their biggest offensive weapon, Alving Kamara. The outside weapons or Birmingham couldn’t make up the difference.
18. Washington Wave (4-7) – Up 3
Last Week: W – @ Iowa Threshers – 31-17
While Everett Golson has to watch in street clothes on the sidelines, Cardale Jones dind’t play poorly at all and earned his team their fourth victory of the season. But really, it was another great defensive effort that got them this victory. One week after getting five sacks against Minnesota, the Wave had six more sacks against Iowa. The Threshers never had a chance against that sort of pressure.
19. Iowa Threshers (4-7) – Down 3
Last Week: L – Washington Wave – 31-17
The Threshers time at the top of the division didn’t last long. Their offensive line fell apart against Washington. They allowed six sacks and new running back Orleans Darkwa was constantly met in the backfield throughout the game. Darkwa did look better than his final stat line, but the Threshers are exactly what you’d expect an expansion team would be. They are inconsistent. At least they are in a division without a truly good team. With only four wins, they are only one game out of their division.
20. St. Louis Stallions (4-7) – Down 2
Last Week: L – @ Philadelphia Bulldogs – 45-11
Amazingly, at just 4-7, the St. Louis Stallions aren’t out of it, jut one game back in their division with a game against the Omaha Express still ahead of them on the schedule, but if the Stallions want to make their push they have to do something to tighten up their pass defense. The Stallions got behind early against Philadelphia and then couldn’t play catchup as their offense tried to force too many things. Their 25th-ranked defense and 21st-ranked pass defense has held them back in a big way.
21. Memphis Bombers (3-8) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Michigan Stags – 20-10
Trevor Knight didn’t do much better than AJ McCarron, but you can’t blame the Bombers for trying something out. Their team just isn’t consistent and Jameison Crowder is having a really down year on top of it. It’s just one of those years that is hard to explain. The Bomber fans and owner virtual Jed Clampett don’t want to hear that as the reason, but it’s true. The Bombers have loads of talent, it just hasn’t come together like they want to.
22. Los Angeles Stars (3-8) – No Change
Last Week: L – New York Marauders – 21-12
While technically, mathematically, the Stars are not dead yet, expect them to turn things over to Cody Kessler for the rest of the season. That is not even to say Case Keenum’s time in Los Angeles is finished, but the 3-8 Stars needs to see what else they have while they spend the offseason improving their receiving corp. After Joe Hills, the Stars don’t have any reliable threat. Teams double Hills and the other guys haven’t been able to be reliable targets and it’s killed the Stars this season.
23. San Diego Diablos (2-9) – Up 2
Last Week: W – @ Mississippi Cottonmouths – 31-20
‘Bad Boy’ Boykin did it again for the Diablos. He had three total touchdowns against Mississippi to give San Diego their second win of the season. Just imagine what he could do when they give him better weapons. Trevone Boykin certainly has a lot of people who don’t like him after his run in with the law before the season started, but as long as he keeps making the Diablos competitive they will forgive him.
24. Mississippi Cottonmouths (2-9) – Down 1
Last Week: L – San Diego Diablos – 31-20
This week Nick Montana got is opportunity at quaterback. He wasn’t anything particularly inspiring, but Jeremy Langford certainly lookd good and Terrence Magee had a huge kick return, his fourth of the season. They had the big plays, but the injury to Ricky Ray just killed this team.
25. Columbus Explorers (2-9) – Down 1
Last Week: L – Utah Raptors – 23-19
While their season is over, Joshua Dobbs is coming on pretty strong and might even be fighting to break the record for rushing yards by a quarterback. That’s encouraging at least to see him developing down the stretch. If that happened, this would have been a completely lost season.
26. Minnesota Freeze (0-11) – No Change
Last Week: L – @ Omaha Express – 47-28
Josh McCown is too good for this team to go winless in a season, but this team is just frozen right now. McCown threw four touchdowns, but the defense got destroyed and got blown out despite their own offensive effort.
Offensive Player of the Week
QB Matt Nichols, Atlanta Firebirds
12-for-15, 216 Pass Yards, 4 Pass TDs
Defensive Player of the Week
SS Bacarri Rambo, Atlanta Firebirds
5 Tackles, 1 PD, 1 INT (45 Yard TD)
Special Teams Player of the Week
K Brad Craddock, Seattle Orcas
4-for-4 FGs (39, 36, 44, 46), 2-for-2 XP, 14 Points
Rookie of the Week
QB Nate Sudfeld, Philadelphia Bulldogs
13-for-19, 165 Pass Yards, 4 Pass TDs
1. New York Marauders (9-2) – Atlanta Division
2. Orlando Rockets (8-3) – Southeast Division
3. Omaha Express (5-6) – Midwest Division
4. Atlanta Firebirds (8-3)
5. Boston Dragons (7-4)
6. Pittsburgh Forge (7-4)
1. Michigan Stags (10-1) – Central Division
2. Dallas Six-Shooters (8-2-1) – Mid-South Division
3. Seattle Orcas (8-3) – Pacific Division
4. San Antonio Marshalls (7-3-1)
5. New Orleans Nightmare (7-4)
6. Utah Raptors (7-4)
Teryl Austin canned in Memphis
Dropping to 3-8 was the last straw for Memphis Bombers head coach Teryl Austin. The Bombers were viewed as a true playoff contender before the season and have made significant moves during the season to acquire even more wide receiver talent, but the wins just haven’t been coming. And instead of promoting an interim head coach from within, virtual Jed Clampett looked at the success of the New Orleans Nightmare, making a total coaching staff change during the season, and hired a new staff for his team. Offensive coordinator Jay Graham was also fired.
Memphis’ new head coach will be Doug Nussmeier. He was most recently the tight ends coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but before that was Bombers quarterback AJ McCarron’s quarterback coach at the University of Alabama. Nussmeier hired former Georgia running back coach Dell McGee as his offensive coordinator and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line coach Marion Hobby as his defensive coordinator.
Terryl was 11-16 in two and a half seasons as the Tennessee franchise’s head coach.
Cougars beef up o-line for playoff push
After three-straight losses and falling outside the top six for the playoffs in the Metropolitan Conference, Louisville Cougars owner Alex Gray had a midnight meeting with his coaching staff and front office to see how he can improve his team and made a push to get to the playoffs. With generally limited options to get an impact skill position player, the Cougars focused in on their offensive line. Ranking 22nd out of 26 teams in sacks allowed proved in their eyes to be more of the issue with their team the past few weeks. That led to the signing of versatile interior offensive lineman Brian Schwenke, a 27-year-old who previously played for the Tennessee Titans, and long-time NFL veteran offensive tackle Alex Boone. Schwenke made 30 stats in the NFL since being a 4th round draft pick by the Titans in 2013. Boone made 86 NFL starts for the 49ers, Vikings and Cardinals since being undrafted in 2009.
The Cougars also did address wide receiver by releasing the struggling second-year wide receiver Evan Spencer, who made just one catch this year. They signed NFL veteran Arrelious Benn. In five NFL season split between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars, Benn has totaled 990 yards and six touchdowns.
Stallions focus on improving secondary
Even at 4-7, but in a very down division, the St. Louis Stallions are just one game back from the division lead, and with one of the league’s better quarterbacks and better running backs leading a successful offense, the made some big waves to improve their No. 21-ranked pass defense in an effort to make a push for the playoffs. The Stallions signed cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and safety TJ Ward for a combine $4.0M for the rest of the season. The team had $3.0M in cap room and cleared another $750k after placing quarterback Phillip Walker and running back DeAndre Washington on injured reserve, which also opened up two roster spots. Additionally, they signed NFL veteran defensive back Will Davis. The team released struggling expansion draft pick Damian Swann to clear enough cap space.
Week 12 Preview
Pittsburgh Forge (7-4) @ New York Marauders (9-2)
This is a huge game for both teams for different reasons. The Forge are fighting for their playoff lives and a win over the Marauders would be huge for that push. For the Marauders, there are trying to prove they can beat the Forge, which are 3-0 against them since their return. A win over a team that can score as the rate they can would be big in proving the Marauders as a championship contender.
Pick: New York Marauders
Columbus Explorers (2-9) @ Atlanta Firebirds (8-3)
This may be a trap game for the Atlanta Firebirds. They could look at a 2-9 team and not come in ready to play but the Explorers, as bad as they have been, have the No. 1 pass defense in the league and they go create a pass rush. Joshua Dobbs has also been playing a lot better the past few weeks. It is still hard to see the Explorers pulling off the upset, but the Firebirds better not take them lightly.
Pick: Atlanta Firebirds
Mississippi Cottonmouths (2-9) @ Boston Dragons (7-4)
Mississippi is just trying anything and everything out at this point while the Dragons may not have the most interesting team, they have a winning formula. The Cottonmouths could find something and click, but until they do it is impossible to pick them against a team that just gets the job done week in and week out like Boston does.
Pick: Boston Dragons
San Antonio Marshalls (7-3-1) @ Philadelphia Bulldogs (5-6)
Carlton Jefcoat is still fuming over last year’s Empire Conference championship game and his Marshalls will be out there looking to stomp on the Bulldogs and possibly even end their playoff hopes. The Marshalls are the better team, but the Bulldogs are coming on strong, especially since finding Nate Sudfeld to provide a capable quarterback. It will be tough for the Marshalls to slow down Jay Ajayi, but they have a lot of talent and more quick-strike ability on their own offense.
Pick: San Antonio Marshalls
Michigan Stags (10-1) @ Louisville Cougars (6-5)
Michigan has so few holes it’s hard to see them not being a big favorite against any opponent at this point in the season. However, Louisville is in desperation mode after a rough slump and they are not happy. Owner Alex Gray went out and made some key signings to beef up their offensive line. You have to respect when an owner isn’t happy and is willing to go out to make big moves to fix the problems. And improved o-line will help their offense get out of their funk, but a game against the Michigan Stags defense could also keep them in it.
Pick: Michigan Stags
Birmingham Predators (5-6) @ St. Louis Stallions (4-7)
This is a critical game for both teams, maybe moreso for the Stallions as they still have a chance to win their division. Once again, their owner wasn’t happy with their rough patch they have been going through and he went out and spent big money on NFL veterans Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and TJ Ward. Can they still be impact players enough to get the Stallions a key victory as they try to make a run to the playoffs or will Dak Prescott and Alvin Kamara be able to showcase their elite skills
Pick: Birmingham Predators
Memphis Bombers (3-8) @ Houston Wranglers (5-6)
Virtual Jed Clampett likes Trevor Knight’s athletic ability, but it’s really hard to ever pick him, especially when he’s up against a team that now features Matt Nichols, coming off a four touchdown debut against San Antonio, and star rookie running back Aaron Jones.
Pick: Houston Wranglers
Minnesota Freeze (0-11) @ Dallas Six-Shooters (8-2-1)
Josh McCown can win a game by himself, but we’ve also been saying that all season long and it hasn’t happened yet. It’s going to happen through. He’s throwing the ball to well and has a lot of weapons to throw too, but the rest of the team just isn’t good at all. It’ll be really tough for him to pull off the win against a team with the No. 2 scoring defense in the league.
Pick: Dallas Six-Shooters
Iowa Threshers (4-7) @ San Diego Diablos (2-9)
Trevone Boykin hasn’t started many games, but in just a few weeks he already has 10 touchdowns and got the Diablos two wins. He’s made the Diablos much more competitive considering what else they have to work with on that roster. Iowa has their own issues, but is still in a division race. CJ Beathard hasn’t been bad at all and now they can look for Orleans Darkwa to start leading the offense more.
Pick: Iowa Threshers
New Orleans Nightmare (7-4) @ Seattle Orcas (8-3)
If the New Orleans Nightmare can pull off their eighth-straight win they will have proved they are a true title contender. Now fully healthy, the Nightmare are 7-0 under Jack Del Rio. He made their offense much more balances and he’s gotten their pass defense going too. But the one big matchup problem is going to be their 23rd-ranked run defense against Isaiah Crowell, who is on pace to rush for over 3,000 yards this season. That’s going to be dangerous for the Nightmare in their attempt to get their eighth-straight win.
Pick: Seattle Orcas
Utah Raptors (7-4) @ Los Angeles Stars (3-8)
With how these two teams have been playing this game might not be a pretty one to watch, but the Raptors are perfectly fine with putting everything on Mike Reilly right now. He’s regarded as a top-notch quarterback despite just modest overall numbers. But over the past two weeks since they’ve let him drop back more and air it out, they won two-straight games. The Stars are a bit of a myster as they are likely turning it over to Cody Kessler. Kessler has potential, but if a preseason MVP candidate like Case Keenum couldn’t get the offense going, will Kessler be able to?
Pick: Utah Raptors
Omaha Express (5-6) @ Washington Wave (4-7)
Washington is picking things up under Keenan McCardell, who is 3-3 as the interim head coach. And now with Cardale Jones the Wave might be a bit more dangerous throwing the ball because of his huge arm. The problem is he doesn’t quite have the accuracy to go with the arm, but Jones has exceptional potential considering his side, strength, arm, release, and mobility. Omaha is a team we really don’t know what to think of. They are leading their division, but at 5-6. They have on paper the best backfield duo and a physical defense, but they also had the worst pass defense in the league. But they do have the best run defense in the league. Omaha is just inconsistent and still lacking a real identity even this far into the season.
Pick: Omaha Express
Carolina Generals (6-5) @ Orlando Rockets (8-3)
This game looks a lot more interesting than it did a few weeks ago. Now the Generals are a hot team and looking more like the Metropolitan Conference champions they were last season. Colin Kaepernick is playing and running well with a very nice young trio of running backs coming out of the backfield with a lot of effectiveness. The Generals are also playing much better defensively. But Orlando is an upset team right now coming off their first loss since the second week of the season. Trevor Harris, Eric Rogers and Devonta Freeman is very likely the best QB-WR-RB trio in the league and they have the league’s best defense to go with them.
Pick: Orlando Rockets