Commentary and picks by Backseat Coach. Photograph © Helen Parker.
Last week’s record: 21-1 (95%)
Record in 2017: 137-24 (85%)
Boston Renegades (D1) @ Chicago Force (D1) — This is the game both teams have been preparing for all season. Both teams are in the D1 playoffs; what is at stake in this game is home field advantage. But the players on both teams aren’t thinking that way. They just want to win. I’ve liked Boston’s defense all season, and they will need an excellent defensive performance to slow down Chicago and give the Renegades offense ample opportunity to find their groove.
NY Knockout (D3) @ Maine Mayhem (D3) — This is the first meeting this season between these squads, so there exists the element of surprise, but Maine (3-1) will win this handly. While the Knockout (0-5) are virtually out of playoff contention, Maine is fighting for a slot in the D3 Northeast Region playoff bracket with the Toledo Reign and the Richmond Black Widows standing in their way. It would be a shame if Maine missed the playoffs. They have been playing with a “why not us” kind of attitude and its been working for them. Aside from having played the Montreal Blitz, the Keystone Assault are the only team on the Mayhem’s schedule that offers strength-of-schedule. They meet next week so Maine will want to win that one. Not to look past this week, of course!
New England Nightmare (D3) @ Philadelphia Phantomz (D2) — Sorry, but this won’t be pretty. Philadelphia (3-3) will go full margin against New England (2-2) to protect their playoff postion in the D2 Northeast Region.
Richmond Black Widows (D3) @ Baltimore Nighthawks (D2) — As Baltimore (2-4) is essentially out of playoff contention, all eyes will be on Richmond (3-2) who is trying to fend off Maine, Keystone, and the Flint City Riveters from taking their playoff position in the D3 Northeast Region bracket. While D2 Baltimore is the favorite, I think this may end up being a close matchup. I think these teams may be evenly matched. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Black Widows put a stinger down on the Nighthawks, but my brain wants to take Baltimore because they chewed up some decent D3 teams already.
Keystone Assault (D3) @ Connecticut Hawks (D3) — This could be a great game! I expect it to be. Two weeks ago I predicted that Hampton Roads would defeat the Keystone Assault. Keystone (2-3) handed it back to me, winning 33-0. In my mind, a win against Connecticut this week sets up an epic matchup with the Maine Mayhem next week. Depending on what happens in that game, and with D2 Northeast Region frontrunners (Toledo Reign and Richmond Black Widows) we could be talking about Keystone’s ascension to playoff status by Week 10. It is a long shot, though.
On the other had, a victory by Connecticut (1-4) will not do much to improve the Hawks’ playoff chances, as they do not face any other playoff contenders for the rest of the season. But it would help strengthen Maine’s rating since the Mayhem narrowly defeated Connecticut twice this season. That, in turn, would make next week’s match between Maine and Keystone an epic one! See what I did there? Guess what game I wanna go to next week.
Cleveland Fusion (D1) @ Detroit Dark Angels (D2) — It is highly unlikely that Detroit could enter the D2 Northeast Region playoff conversation without an upset victory over Cleveland, period. That would be shocking. The Fusion (3-2) are cemented as a D1 Northeast Region playoff team.
Columbus Comets (D2) @ Toledo Reign (D3) — I’d love, one day, to see this as the Official Women’s Tackle Football Throwback Game, where the Comets can dress in Columbus Pacesetters uniforms while the Reign would don Toledo Troppers unis. Pipe dream? Anyhow, this is a pretty important game for both teams. In the D2 Northeast Region playoff picture, Columbus (3-3) is on the outside looking in. They need a solid win over an above average Reign squad to keep that door open. Toledo (3-2) presently sits atop the D3 Northeast Region playoff race, but finish with a challenging schedule: Columbus, the Indy Crash, and then Flint City Riveters. The Reign do not want to slip up with the likes of Flint City and the Maine Mayhem waiting to pounce.
Indy Crash (D2) @ St. Louis Slam (D2) — St. Louis (5-0) will be the top seed in the D2 Midwest Region and are the favorites to win the D2 American Conference. They won’t lose to Indy. Though plagued by injuries, Indy (1-4) claimed their first victory of the season over the Madison Blaze last week. They possess the scrappiness to stand toe-to-toe with the Slam, but only for so long. St. Louis will pull away before the first half ends.
Prediction: St. Louis
West Michigan Mayhem (D2) @ Madison Blaze (D2) — West Michigan (2-4) has baffled me a bit this season, but I know they are tough, Mayhem Tough, in fact. And they’re due. I think they are going to win this game, though it may prove hard on the road against a Madison (2-3) team who is feeling primed after rolling up 42 points on the Minnesota Machine last week. The Mayhem are too far back in the D2 Northeast Region to make the playoffs, and Madison qualifies for the D2 Midwest Region bracket by default [only two teams in the region] so there is no more to this game than competition and pride, and that’s enough for me.
Prediction: West Michigan
Carolina Phoenix (D2) @ D.C. Divas (D1) — Carolina (5-0) sits atop the D2 Southeast Region, and deservedly so, as they are performing at a high level. They a reasonable chance of winning this game depending on the health of the Divas, who were depleted from a tough three-game stretch playing Boston twice with Chicago in between. A full-strength Divas team would soundly defeat the Phoenix. Having the benefit of a bye week, I think D.C. has recovered sufficiently to win this. The good news for both teams is the outcome of this game will not have a negative impact on either team’s playoff status.
Cincinnati Sizzle (D3) @ Derby City Dynamite (D3) — The playoff picture in the D3 Southeast Region is not yet settled. While it looks like the Orlando Anarchy has a berth in hand, the second playoff spot is still up for grabs. Right now, Cincinnati (4-1) has the advantage, but they cannot slip up. Losses against Derby City, or the Flint City Riveters next week, opens the door for South Carolina, and to a lesser degree, Music City.
Derby City (1-5) would like nothing more than to play the spoiler against Cincinnati. This has shaped up to be a bit of a grudge match, truth be told. The Week 4 tilt between these teams was ended by officials before regulation on account of a melee between the two squads amidst a heated contest on the field. The official score was reported as 50-34 Sizzle, but in social media accounts some have claimed the match was closer on account of a touchdown not being logged as a result of the fracas. I’ve seen other reports that Derby City was on the comeback trail when the game was stopped, so some on that team may feel like an opportunity was taken away from them. On the other side, Cincinnati players had to serve suspensions the following week and that may have played a part in their suffering a loss to the Flint City Riveters, spoiling an otherwise undefeated season. For that, some on the Sizzle may feel that they have been wronged.
In the end, I think Cincinnati is the better team on the field, but I also feel Derby City has a chance. Anyhow, should be an interesting game.
Tennessee Train (D3) @ South Carolina Smash (D3) — This is the last winnable game for either team this season. Tennessee (1-4) will collect a forfeit in Week 10, so this is the last game of their season. Though not mathematically eliminated, they have no realistic shot at the playoffs. I am excited to see what improvements they make for next season. The Smash (2-3) on the other hand still have a sliver of hope in reaching the D3 playoffs in the Southeast Region. They would need to win this game by a wide margin, which I think they can do. Then they will need to take advantage of a matchup in Week 9 with the highly ranked Richmond Black Widows. If the Smash can upset Richmond, they could be in a position to jump in the rankings ahead of Cincinnati who face a tough Flint City Riveters in Week 9.
Prediction: South Carolina
Music City Mizfits (D3) @ Huntsville Tigers (D3) — The Tigers are unlikely to reach the playoffs, though a win this week, and another against the highly ranked Cincinnati in Week 10 could drastically change that situation. That said, I don’t typically like teams coming off a forfeit loss, and here I feel no differently. Huntsville (2-3) forfeited last week to heal up and prepare for Music City, to whom they lost 26-0 in Week 1.
The Mizfits (3-3) are presently ranked higher than Huntsville, but with the weaker Derby City the only other team remaining on their schedule, Music City’s playoff chances are very, very, very, very slim. It pretty much needs a miracle succession of events: If Derby City blows out Cincinnati this week, and Music City blows out Derby City in Week 10, then maybe — MAYBE — the Mizfits can slide into the playoffs. Presuming of course Music City takes care of business against Huntsville this week.
Prediction: Music City
Tampa Bay Inferno (D2) @ Jacksonville Dixie Blues (D2) — Tampa Bay (6-0) have virtually locked up a playoff berth in the D2 Southeast Region. I don’t even think a loss this week would derail it. But that ain’t gonna happen anyway, though Jacksonville (0-6) has a fun history of being a spoiler. The Dixie Blues are all but eliminated from playoff contention, and next week they collect a forfeit, so their season comes to a close this week. While it wasn’t the kind of season the Blues are accustomed to, you can look back on the close battles with Miami and Orlando with pride.
Prediction: Tampa Bay
North Florida Pumas (D2) @ Miami Fury (D2) — There is no longer any reason to believe that Miami (4-2) will miss the playoffs except in case of a monumental meltdown against the Pumas (0-5). They are solidly set to visit Tampa Bay in Round 1 of the D2 Southeast Region playoffs.
Last week, the Pumas scored their first ever touchdown, so congratulations on a historic milestone for your franchise. Paint that game ball! The Pumas will collect a forfeit next week, so this game with Miami marks the close of their inaugural season. Again, congratulations. I hope you return next season, and find it in yourselves to work more harmoniously with the other team in your city.
Minnesota Vixen (D1) @ Kansas City Titans (D1) — I am not expecting a much different result from the earlier meeting of these teams, which saw Minnesota (4-1) score a convincing victory. Should the Titans (1-4) upset the Vixen, they could contend with the Arlington Impact for the final playoff spot in the D1 Midwest Region.
Houston Power (D3) @ Arkansas Wildcats (D3) — This interesting game may determine who will be the top seed in the D3 Midwest Region, though the Austin Outlaws are also in the running. Should the Wildcats (4-2) prevail, they will all but lock up the top seed in the region. Should Houston win, they will need another victory in Week 10 over the Austin Outlaws to maintain possession of the top spot.
Dallas Elite (D1) @ Austin Outlaws (D3) — Not much to see here. Dallas (4-0) is a presumptive D1 playoff contender and will defeat Austin this week. Austin (3-2) is in a neck-and-neck race with the Houston Power for a playoff berth in the D3 Midwest Region. The Outlaws won’t get much help from Dallas this week, but they do face Houston in the final week of the season, so that should be a doozy.
Acadiana Zydeco (D3) @ Arlington Impact (D1) — Arlington (4-1) look to be playoff bound, so long as they can avoid a loss against the Zydeco (0-6). I think they’ll manage.
Update: The Acadiana Zydeco forfeited this game.
Tacoma Trauma (D2) @ S. Oregon Lady Renegades (D3) — Tacoma (2-4) are still in contention for a D2 playoff spot in the Pacific Region. A convincing win over Southern Oregon (0-5) may help, but a close game or a loss would almost certainly knock the Trauma out of the playoff picture. The Lady Gades still have an outside shot at the D3 Pacific Region playoffs; a win over Tacoma would put them right in the thick of the playoff race with the Rocky Mountain Thunderkatz, Inland Empire Ravens, and La Muerte de Las Cruces.
Everett Reign (D2) @ Portland Fighting Shockwave (D1) — With a 50-0 shutout of Seattle last week, the Fighting Shockwave (5-1) has emerged as the top team in the northwest. In regards to the playoffs, Portland is within striking distance of San Diego for the final playoff spot in the D1 Pacific Region, but their weaker schedule works against them. Portland must take care of their own business and hope for a major stumble by San Diego.
With both Portland and Seattle on Everett’s schedule, the Reign (2-3) have opportunities to distance themselves from Tacoma in a race for the final playoff spot in the D2 Pacific Region. Everett has the upper hand presently, but their playoff standing is far from decided.
Mile High Blaze (D2) @ La Muerta Las Cruces (D3) — Las Cruces (1-2) has fallen back to earth after its season-opening win against the Utah Blitz, but they are still in contention for a playoff spot in the D3 Pacific Region, and this matchup against a high-ranked Blaze team presents an opportunity. A strong showing against Mile High (6-0) could catapult La Muerte past the Inland Empire Ravens and position them for the playoffs. Unfortunately for Las Cruces, no team has put together a strong showing against the Blaze so far this season. In fact, Mile High hasn’t given up a single point.
Prediction: Mile High
Update: La Muerte forfeited this game.
Rocky Mountain Thunderkatz (D3) @ Utah Blitz (D3) — The Thunderkatz (4-1) sit atop the D3 Pacific Region, but Utah (2-3) still poses a threat, losing their previous matchup by only a single score. I don’t think Rocky Mountain’s playoff chances are in jeopardy unless the Blitz somehow scores a blowout win.
Prediction: Rocky Mountain
San Diego Surge (D1) @ Central Cal War Angels (D1) — It appears that Central Cal (5-0) has emerged as the top team in California with previous wins over L.A. and San Diego (4-2). The should finish the season as the top seed in the Pacific Region.
Prediction: War Angels
Kern County Crusaders (D3) @ Inland Empire Ravens (D3)
The Ravens (2-3) have a tenuous hold on a D3 Pacific Region playoff slot, with Las Cruces and Southern Oregon breathing down their necks. The will probably blow out Kern County (1-4) but it might not be enough to keep their position if La Muerte or the the Lady Gades perform well this week.
Prediction: Inland Empire
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