The War Between the Walls #6

04/17/03 Josh Stein

I’m starting to feel like Chris Berman in some of the stretches he goes through.  He’ll go through a 1-3 week after 1-3 week while predicting NFL games for ESPN’s SportsCenter.  Well, he keeps doing it, and so will I.  I went 3-7 last week, and it even got so bad as me receiving an Instant Messenger IM from a Lincoln fan begging me to tell Jerry to change my prediction in my game of the week.  Well, with the lucky string I’m having, just listen to the opposite of how I feel, you’ll be right 70% of the time. 

That’s not how this is supposed to work, is it?

With that said, there are eleven games to savor this week, most of which have some tasty looking matchups.  Of course…I said that last week, too.  Notice a theme here?

(1-3) Billings Outlaws @ (2-2) Wyoming Cavalry

Both teams need this win very much.  Wyoming to stay in the hunt for a hotly contested playoff spot in the Pacific, Billings to try and get back into that race.  The season started with a blasting of the rival Bismarck Roughriders, but Billings hasn’t been able to do anything since.  Sure, Higgs has been Higgs, throwing a bunch of touchdowns, but Higgs has also thrown a lot of interceptions, making it known around the league that he doesn’t handle pressure as well as the Outlaws fans would like.  That ties in with the most important part of this game.  The winner will be the team who’s defense really has improved from a year ago.  Let me let you in on a secret here.  Wyoming’s defense, with the performance at Tri-City last week, has shown it is vastly improved.  Billings still has trouble stopping people, spotting 47 points to offensively-challenged Sioux Falls.  Let’s think here, who would you pick?  Cavs in a cakewalk.

With that said, this game showcases two of the more high-flying quarterbacks in the NIFL.  You know what that means.  It’s time for Touchdown Watch v. 4.0.

Player  GP TD  Pace
Danny Ragsdale (Utah) 3 15 70
Antoine Taylor (Fort Wayne) 3 13 61
Albert Higgs (Billings)  4 17 60
Matt Strand (Wyoming) 4 17 60
Shane Franzer (Ohio Valley)  3 12 56
*Chris Schwab (Bismarck) 3 12 52
* Chris Weibel (Myrtle Beach) 3 12 52
  • - can only play in 13 games, because they didn’t play in a previous contest.

(1-2) Show Me Believers @ (2-1) Omaha Beef

Omaha has amassed this plethora of talent for this season, and it hasn’t really paid off yet.  Sure, they have two wins, but only recently have they started to outclass teams they should have.  Omaha barely put away this same Believers team in Missouri, and they lost at home (!) to the Bismarck Roughriders.  Then, in my game of the week last week, they went to Lincoln’s Pershing Center and absolutely obliterated the home Capitols.  Okay, enough talk.  The Believers have lost their two games by 8 points, one at home by 3 and one at LaCrosse by 5.  Omaha is looking to make a statement that they’re still the premier team in the division.  Omaha just has too much talent, as they ground up the Believers by 17.

(1-3) Lincoln Capitols @ (2-2) LaCrosse Night Train

The Capitols are starting to make me think they’re a road team, rather than a home team.  Last year, they went 7-0 at home and 3-4 on the road.  Maybe the playoff loss at home changed them.  Their win is a convincing one at Rapid City.  LaCrosse is the Omaha of 2003, 2-0 at home, 0-2 away.  They are going through a coaching change that will hopefully stop any infighting that may be going on.  The way it seems, the loss of Mike Brown and hiring of Reggie Mathis as the Train’s head coach will not really affect performance any.  If anything, the team will be looking to make a statement for the new guy.  Both teams are defensive in nature, but the Night Train did have a better offense…until Chris Floyd left to try out for the NFL.  That hurts more than the coaching change will, as LaCrosse tries to break in a new running back.  Using that, Lincoln will take a small advantage and get an upset win by 3.

(2-2) Houma Bayou Bucks @ (1-2) Austin Rockers

They have a half-price ticket deal of some sort down in Austin, as they try to attract a good crowd to what will be a good game.  Of course, this game will feature two run teams and two fairly decent defenses, as both pass games leave much to be desired.  Houma brings Michael Burks and Nemesis Bates, as well as a very strong defense to the other Texas team (they lost in Beaumont last week), and Austin brings home the troops after a well-deserved win in Tupelo a week ago.  Austin has some momentum from the second half they had in Tupelo, and Houma is reeling.  Houma needs this game desperately to stay in the division race, as if they lose, they’ll be three games behind the leader (4-0 Lake Charles and Beaumont play this weekend, so someone will be 5-0).  But, the game’s in Austin, and they will have a pretty good home crowd.  The team has won most recently will win again.  Houma needs to go home.  Austin by 6.

(3-1) Sioux Falls Storm @ (1-3) Bismarck Roughriders

Tough home loss last week for the Riders.  They lost on a last second field goal to Rapid City.  Hard-fought win away for the Storm, as they pulled out a big win at Billings.  The pass offense has seemingly started to heat up for the Storm, as QB Ryan Johnson does have 8 touchdown passes on the year.  Chris Schwab is still trying to get this team back to the 2000 form he had the Roughriders.  Sioux Falls has arguably the best defense in the NIFL.  Defense wins championships, and I don’t really care that it’s Sioux Falls’ fifth game of the season (they always start losing after the inevitable 4-0 start that hasn’t happened this year).  Storm by 7.

(2-1) Fort Wayne Freedom @ (1-2) Tennessee Riverhawks

The Hawks now have to prove that they can draw in a normal situation.  Their first game, the team was going against the UT Women’s Basketball team and NCAA Women’s tournament in Knoxville.  That’s not very nice, is it?  This time, there isn’t anything serious.  Except for the front office.  The head coach is gone, the staff and players have to be in disarray, right?  WRONG.  They go up to Evansville and shut down the Bluecats.  When we discount Tennessee, we all forget what happened last year.  The players basically ousted owner/head coach George Lemon, and in came the savior, Avery Atadero (he’s now in Evansville).  The offensive and defensive coordinators took over the show and Tennessee got a big win.  Maybe the off-the-field leadership of Bunny Jefferson is worth him not knowing how to read a playbook.  Fort Wayne has never played an away game, and now they have to do their first one against a team hungry to get back into the playoffs.  I consider them a legitimate threat at this time.  Hawks by 14.

(2-2) Tri-City Diesel @ (3-1) Sioux City Bandits

The Diesel lost to Sioux City at home, which is a surprise…Tri-City doesn’t lose at home very often.  Neither does Sioux City, as they have possibly the most intriguing home field advantage there is, and not because of the fans.  The little arena with little 3-yard end zones can wreak havoc with teams.  Especially passing teams that need what end zone they can get.  Well, that’s not a problem.  Tri-City has a great run offense with Sherman Jones, but it was shut down a week ago against Wyoming.  The Diesel’s defense will get theirs, but the game depends on how well Tri-City comes back from a bad performance last week on offense.  I can’t see it happening.  Bandits by 10.

(0-3) Oklahoma Crude @ (1-1) Lexington Horsemen

Oklahoma had a hard-fought match with an underpowered Lake Charles team, losing only 40-29 at home.  Now they get to go to a plenty-powered Lexington team, one with Dusty Bonner waiting to warm up and start flying lots of touchdown passes.  If RB Martez Johnson keeps it up, Bonner could be one of the only quarterbacks ever to get more touchdowns in a college season than in a full indoor season.  It doesn’t matter.  Oklahoma is a better team than last year, but they haven’t improved to nearly the level of the improved competition.  Horsemen by 24.

(3-0) Utah Warriors @ (3-2) Rapid City Red Dogs

Which Rapid City team will show up?  Is it the one that put 81 up on Wyoming, or the one who has sputtered since?  Which Utah team will show up?  The one that beat Billings twice or the one that smacked Houma…oh, I guess there isn’t much difference there.  70-16…70-16…70-16.  That’s the preseason score with these two teams, with Utah winning it.  That score is useless, except as locker room fodder for Rapid City.  The Dogs have a great offense when they want to be, with Terrance Bryant throwing to a host of quality receivers.  Of course…so does Utah, with Danny Ragsdale throwing to a host of equally, if not higher, quality receivers.  But, Utah is going to Rapid City.  Can they pull out another big win on the road?  Another blowout of the Red Dogs might make them the going-away favorite to win the Pacific Conference.  It won’t be anything near 70-16, but the Warriors will win by 10.

(1-2) Myrtle Beach Stingrays @ (3-0) Ohio Valley Greyhounds

Sure, MB has a win…but it was against the “old” Tennessee team, you know, the one that’d have trouble beating a middle-school team?  The Hounds have three good wins.  They haven’t lost at home since their first home game in 2001.  That’s 18 straight home wins (playoffs included).  You need analysis for this game?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  The fans get their 70-point big mac this week, as the Hounds win by 30.


(4-0) Lake Charles Landsharks @ (4-0) Beaumont Drillers

A team’s record can be misleading at times.  Beaumont has been impressive, as QB Derrick Taite has lit up basically everyone he’s faced.  But, he’s a quarterback that when pressured, will (as according to The Edge’s Coach John Bronkhorst) “fold up like a tent.”  He hasn’t had to fold against Tupelo, Evansville, Austin and Evansville.  Ted Robison, his counterpart in Lake Charles, hasn’t had much pressure either, and the Sharks have played Tupelo, Austin (hmmm), Lexington and Oklahoma.  So, neither slate has been imposing.  The Sharks beat a potential playoff team IN Lexington, that’s the lone quality win in this group.  Whoever wins here gets another one, though.  Backtracking, as I’m so good at doing, Ted Robison is not what makes this team humm.  It’s the running game, formerly led by just David Winbush, who could be an NIFL MVP candidate if he performs well in the big games.  He now doesn’t have to worry about getting beat up on the short yardage, as the Sharks signed the most experienced player in indoor football, SIXTH YEAR veteran Byron Allen.  Allen will only get 21 yards on 7 carries or so, but all will be for first downs or touchdowns, thus taking pressure off of Winbush.  Another problem for Mr. Taite is the Landshark defense.  It is basically the same as last year’s group, and they have four games under their belt this year.  Taite will get hit around and played with at times like a cat toy.  I see some rain, time to fold up the tent.  Sharks take control of the division by 14.

I am confident in my abilities to call games.  Take it as you may, a joke, or whatever…actually, that’d be actually kind of funny…reading this and laughing at every prediction.  If I go 0-11, I’d probably start laughing.  Oh well, who cares.  Have a happy Easter, everyone.  This is the War Between the Walls.  Don’t miss a single snap.

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