Week 13 Rundown: Better Late Than Never
We've reached the point in the season where everyone's focused on the middle-of-the-pack race. The eighth-best record is 6-5. The 20th-best record is 4-7, just a two-game difference over 12 spots. And while those teams fight over the last of the playoff spots, Fort Worth is trying to become the first team to go undefeated in a SFL regular season since the Season 11 Alaska Storm. With another 11-game slate in front of us as most of the teams reach their final bye, let's break down the most critical games on the schedule:
- All eyes are on Sin City this week, where the Las Vegas Fury can still win the West and the Indianapolis Ramblers can still win the Central. A loss by either team Saturday at 6:30 pm ET would or could crush those hopes. Shockingly, Indianapolis is dead-last in the league in red zone scoring. The Ramblers score on 75% of red zone possessions, while Las Vegas has scored on 97.2% of tries - second in the SFL. The fact that Indy has eight empty red zone trips in 10 games is a bit alarming. They can overcome that if they can overcome Hubba Kimbrel. Vegas has the 8th-best yards per carry this season (5.1) while the Ramblers give up 5.3 yards per carry (24th).
- Charleston (5-5) visits Carolina (5-5) tonight to start Week 13 (8 pm ET) in a rematch of Charleston's 27-10 victory over the Skyhawks September 16. Charleston is trending up (4-1 in its last five games) while Carolina is trending down (1-3 in its last four). It's Charleston who now leads the league in first downs per game - 21.5 - with at least 21 first downs in five of its last seven games and the Predators are doing it by throwing the second-most pass attempts in the league this season - 366. Carolina's pass defense is 12th in YPG allowed and 10th in YPC allowed.
- Portland (4-6) hosts Vancouver (5-5) Monday night as the most interesting six-loss team in the pack right now. The Fleet have given up more points than any other team this season (35.6 PPG) but are the only team to beat Alamo City. The Fleet's strength of victory is the best in the league among legit playoff hopefuls - .525 - but have been blown out in back-to-back weeks by two other top contenders Arizona and Fort Worth since that win. Both teams have been beaten by very good teams: Portland has the 8th highest strength of defeat (record of teams lost to) and Vancouver has the 3rd - the Legion's losses have come to teams with a combined record of 36-15. Quietly, the Legion are now the league's No. 1 run defense, giving up just 3.8 yards per carry.
- Tulsa (4-6) is in Houston (4-6) Saturday night at 9:15 pm ET. Houston has to win out and get the right tiebreakers - the Headhunters have only two head-to-head wins in the mix for a wild card spot - that's Portland and Indianapolis (4-6). Houston needs to hope they win out, Indy doesn't win the division and Portland wins out, while the rest of the teams with better SOVs clear the path for a Houston head-to-head sweep. The rub is if Tulsa loses to Houston, that makes a Central winner not named the Ramblers look a lot less likely - Houston's in a bind. Both teams just need to take things one game at a time and here's how they do that: Tulsa's defense is very underrated, only allowing opponents 28 red zone trips this season - that's fewest in the league. They want to keep the Headhunters under wraps. Houston's got to push the ball down the field - Tulsa has more penalties this season than any other team and gives up 8.8 yards per pass attempt (15th).
- We can't leave without talking about Canton (7-4), who will be playing their last game of the regular season against D.C. (5-5) Sunday at 9 pm ET thanks to a Week 14 bye due to the odd number of teams playing in Season 21. These two pass defenses are legit: D.C. is 3rd in passing yards per attempt (7.33) and Canton is 2nd in pass yards per attempt (7.15). The Classics number is even more impressive considering Canton has had a lead in games the majority of their season, when teams are more likely in need to pass. The Classics are in the playoffs and the Dragons desperately need a resume win: D.C. has no wins against a winning record this season losing their three opportunities by a combined seven points.
- There are teams in contention for a playoff spot who need a win against lesser competition this week. Louisiana (5-5) hosts Jacksonville (3-7) Friday at 8:15 pm ET and Los Angeles (4-6) hosts unbeaten Fort Worth Friday at 10:30 pm ET.