NIFL Weekly

06/06/03 Rocky Larson

Is it too early to start talking about the playoffs? As could be expected, all ten of the NIFL games to be played this week have playoff implications. No team has wrapped up home-field advantage and the picture isn’t clear as to which teams will even make the playoffs. Rest assured, there will be a handful of teams with solid records who will miss the NIFL playoffs this year. Keep your foam fingers and team shirts handy, football fans. It’s gut-check time.

It’s been a few weeks since I have updated you on my prediction abilities. Not that most of you missed me, but my friends and family read the article and like to see if I’m as smart as I keep telling them I am. At the last mark, I was sitting with an accuracy record of 53-31. Since then, I’ve been on a tear and managed to go 30-4 over the past 3 weeks. That brings my yearly accuracy to 83-35, for a percentage of 70.3%. 

Friday, June 6th

Tennessee RiverHawks (4-5) @ Fort Wayne Freedom (6-3)

Fort Wayne is making a habit out of destroying sub-par teams. Over the past two weeks, the Freedom have scored a combined 120 points while only giving up 39. Tennessee strikes me as a “bubble team” that simply does not have enough gas in the tank to be a winning ball club. To top it off, the Freedom will probably need to win out if they hope to make the playoffs. Talent plus incentive spells a long night for the RiverHawks. Fort Wayne wins big.

Lincoln Capitols (6-5) @ Tri City Diesel (3-8)

In the battle of surviving Bruce Bailey franchises (Bailey lost Rapid City earlier in the season due to financial problems and mismanagement.), the playoff hopeful Capitols travel to Kearney to face the struggling Diesel. Lincoln is starting to hit their stride in the crowded race for a Pacific Conference Wildcard spot, and seeing the Diesel on their schedule brought a collective smile to this organization. But watch out, the Diesel are a team that is playing for pride and respect, and that can be the most dangerous type of opponent in football. Expect a close contest with a very motivated Diesel squad forcing the Capitols to win it in late in the fourth.

Beaumont Drillers (5-5) @ Show Me Believers (3-7)

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home. Just ask the Believers, whos three victories all came on their home field. Beaumont has dropped three straight games and would need a miracle to make the playoffs. No miracles this week, but I do smell an upset. Go against the grain, football fan! I Believe!

Louisiana Bayou Bucks (8-3) @ Oklahoma Crude (1-9)

The Bucks are playing for playoff positioning and can’t afford a mental lapse this late in the game. The Crude are playing for….hell, I don’t know. Avert your eyes. This won’t be pretty. Bucks win big.

Saturday, June 7th

Lake Charles Land Sharks (8-2) @ Austin Rockers (6-4)

Yes this is a battle of decent teams in the Atlantic Conference, and yes the Austin Rockers are 4-1 at home, and yes the Land Sharks have proven that they can be beaten, and yes Austin has everything to play for after a very difficult year off of the field. But…Land Sharks still win.

Billings Outlaws (5-6) @ Rapid City Red Dogs (6-5)

After a stunning turnaround to their season, the Billings Outlaws are back in the playoff hunt and could squeeze into the post season if they win out. The Red Dogs find themselves in the same situation, but their turnaround lately has been for the worse, not the better. The Red Dogs get passed on so often, they might as well sew “Slower Traffic Keep Right” onto their jerseys. Here’s a stat for you: In the 5 Red Dogs losses, the Dogs secondary committed 6 pass interference penalties and racked up 374 total yards in penalties. In those 5 losses, their competition committed 0 pass interference penalties and totaled only 161 penalty yards. Billings quarterback Albert Higgs should have a banner night as the Outlaws win by 17.

Wyoming Cavalry (4-7) @ Bismarck Roughriders (6-4)

While they might end the season around .500, the Wyoming Cavalry are out of the playoff picture. On the other hand, the Bismarck Roughriders are sitting pretty and control their playoff destiny. All that is left for Wyoming is the chance to play spoiler, but I just don’t see it happening this week. In a high-scoring affair, the ‘Riders pull off a victory by single digits.

Lexington Horsemen (7-2) @ Evansville Bluecats (0-10)

Lexington is perfect on the road, winning all 4 away contests. The Bluecats are perfect as well, but not in a way that anyone would brag about. (0-4 at home, 0-6 on the road.) Lexington is in a fight for their playoff lives and need to keep winning in order to grab a wildcard spot. Luckily, the Bluecats are a very accommodating host. The Horsemen win by 24.

Ohio Valley Greyhounds (9-0) @ Myrtle Beach Stingrays (3-6)

It’s a fact, the road to the NIFL Championship will go through Ohio Valley. Yes there is a chance that the Greyhounds could drop a few games and end up a wildcard on the road. Yes there is a chance the Greyhounds could lose in the early rounds of the playoffs. But there is no chance that the Greyhounds will lose this week against the Stingrays. Bank on it. If I condoned betting, which I don’t, I’d tell you to put your kids college fund on the Greyhounds this week, which I won’t.

Utah Warriors (8-1) @ Sioux Falls Storm (6-4)

Utah is the team to beat in the Pacific Conference, without a doubt. Their average defense if offset by a potent offense that seems to score 14 points during the National Anthem. Sioux Falls is right in the playoff hunt and ends their season with 4 straight home games. In a twist of irony, the Storm  host the very same teams that have given the them their four losses. (Utah, Fort Wayne, Rapid City and Bismarck.) I predict a 7-7 finish for the Storm, with that familiar .500 record starting to creep up as the Warriors leave town with a victory.

Every week, a group of NIFL experts ranging from media personalities to rabid fans put together the NIFL Power Poll. Back for its third year, our pollsters rank each NIFL team from top to bottom. The poll results are then averaged and each team is ranked according to power.

Rank Team Record Comments
1 Ohio Valley Greyhounds   They’ll go undefeated for the entire season.
2 Utah Warriors   Will their counter-punch style of offense leave them one possession short?
3 Omaha Beef   Top of their conference and a team to be feared.
4 Lake Charles Land Sharks   Why don’t they show up on OV’s schedule?
5 Lexington Horsemen   Surprise team of the year.
6 Fort Wayne Freedom   Looking good, but will they be at home for the playoffs?
7 Bismarck Roughriders   Is they no stopping their passing attack? Hot!
8 Rapid City Red Dogs   They don’t have a secondary, they have a triciary.
9 Houma Bayou Bucks   They can play with the best and could make some playoff noise.
10 Sioux Falls Storm   Tough at home. Tough competition. Good football.
11 Lincoln Capitols   I’m not sold. A resounding win this week and I’ll believe.
12 Billings Outlaws   Just win, baby!
13 Beaumont Drillers   What happened to the Drillers? Good to mediocre.
14 Sioux City Bandits   They’ll need help to make the playoffs.
15 Austin Rockers   So will they.
16 Wyoming Cavalry   The best spoiler team in the league.
17 Tennessee RiverHawks   Do they have a home?
18 Show Me Believers   Upset-minded!
19 Lacrosse Night Train   This team is packing it in for the reset of the season.
20 Tri-City Diesel   This isn’t high school. Coach to the strengths of the game.
21 Myrtle Beach Stingrays   Kindof a quiet team, aren’t they?
22 Tupelo FireAnts   Jerry, NIFL Webmaster, loves these guys. Somebody has to.
23 Oklahoma Crude   They’re on top of the world! Okay, they’re on top of Evansville. But beggars can’t be choosers.
24 Evansville Bluecats   All they need is 1 win. Just 1!

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