— WATCH THE GAMES —
I finished the regular season at 82.1% with a cumulative 175-38 win-loss record. I went 10-1 (90.9%) in round 1 of the playoffs.
Richmond Black Widows (5-2) @ TOLEDO REIGN (6-2)
I think this may turn out to be one of the best games this week. At 6-2, Toledo has pulled out gritty wins all season, dispatching two D2 teams along the way, with losses only to the Passion and Comets. Richmond, on the other hand, has dominated their opponents, losing only their two interdivisional matchups. Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.
ORLANDO ANARCHY (8-1) @ Mississippi Royalty (6-1)
While I believe Mississippi is a very strong team, I think their ascendence to the top seed is something of a mathematical mirage. Regardless, this game will be a true challenge for the Royalty, and I expect for Orlando as well. If the Anarchy prevail, I expect the will return to the D3 National Championship.
Austin Outlaws (4-5) @ ARKANSAS WILDCATS (9-0)
Austin’s defense held Arkansas to 22 points in their regular season matchup, the Wildcats’ lowest point total of the season. It will take that and more for the Outlaws to upset the defending D3 champions.
Rocky Mountain Thunderkatz (5-4) @ COLORADO FREEZE (6-3)
The Freeze may have defeated Rocky Mountain twice in the regular season, but they should not underestimate the Thunderkatz, who have shown their ability to win games, including back-to-back wins agains the Utah Blitz. Colorado, after starting the season 1-2, has gained momentum. If the Freeze stay hot, and avoid spotting the Katz an early lead, they should come out on top.
Columbus Comets (7-2) @ NEW YORK SHARKS (6-2)
Columbus backed into a first round playoff game, but still they upset the Philadelphia Phantomz for the right to face New York. They were victorious in their most previous meeting with the Sharks — a 22-20 playoff victory in 2013. And surprisingly, the Comets are a slight favorite over the Sharks according to Massey. The Comets certainly fit the definition of that type of dangerous team you don’t want to meet in the playoffs. As much as I’d like to see a Battle Royale, I think the Comets will run out of steam against a better football team in New York.
Jacksonville Dixie Blues (6-3) @ TAMPA BAY INFERNO (6-2)
Jacksonville has had something of a return to form this season. Not so long ago, they were the perennial playoff contender from the southeastern region. They have some work to do before they topple the likes of Tampa Bay, Orlando or Atlanta, but they may very well be on their way. The Inferno, meanwhile, has been toiling discreetly following a couple of early losses. Their last regular season loss was back in 2015, so many might think Tampa Bay has taken a step backwards. But I feel they are coming together at just the right time, on both sides of the ball. If their top play makers remain healthy, I predict the Inferno to contend for the D2 national championship.
Wisconsin Dragons (5-3) @ MINNESOTA VIXEN (7-1)
This will likely be a lopsided affair in favor of the Vixen, who are the favorites to represent the American Conference in the D2 National Championship.
San Diego Rebellion (6-2) @ MILE HIGH BLAZE (6-2)
This is one of the more unpredictable games of the set. Which makes sense seeing as these teams have no history and no common opponents this season. I can see the Blaze running away with it. But I also see the Rebellion making a game of it. I think it is feasible San Diego takes a narrow victory. But I don’t see the Rebellion dominating Mile High.
Atlanta Phoenix (6-1) @ DC DIVAS (6-2)
This will be a hard fought game; this matchup always is, even though the final score rarely shows it.
BOSTON RENEGADES (6-2) @ Pittsburgh Passion (7-1)
Pittsburgh is looking better than ever. I don’t think Boston is going to lose to them twice in one season.
Arlington Impact (7-1) @ KANSAS CITY TITANS (7-1)
The Impact finally gets another chance at the Titans! I think it was just last year or two years ago, KC pulled ahead of Arlington in the Massey Ratings in the final week of the regular season, thusly knocking the Impact from the playoffs. If that isn’t a bitter enough memory, in their most recent meeting, the Titans thumped the Impact 62-6 in the 2016 playoffs. Unfortunately for Arlington, Kansas City is stacked this year.
Portland Fighting Shockwave (6-2) @ LOS ANGELES WARRIORS (8-0)
In 2017, Portland looked like they were growing into a very strong contender, dominating their opponents in the PNC by wide margins following a merger between that city’s two teams, the Shockwave and the Fighting Fillies. A lot has changed since then. Portland has struggled, and instead, Los Angeles has emerged as the best in the west.