Week 9 Rundown: Building Identities
Eight weeks in, we're really beginning to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these teams. As games get more serious and every play matters, we're here to take a deeper dive into what makes these teams tick. It's a 13-game slate, so there's no time to waste. Let's go >>>>>>>>
- When the schedule was built a couple of months ago, it figured that Vancouver and Fort Worth (Saturday 6:30 pm ET) would be the marquee matchup of the week and in many ways it is. The Legion are 3-3 and just on the outside looking in of the playoffs, coming off a bye after a 54-43 loss to Portland - the most points Vancouver has ever given up in a game at home. Star safety Marc Lopez was injured but the Legion will need to be fully healthy to contend with the Toros (6-0). Fort Worth has the best red zone scoring defense in the league, giving up scores on just 77.27% of drives that get inside the 20. Vancouver is tops in the league in yards per carry, averaging 6.23 yards per tote.
- The last time Minnesota faced Indianapolis, the Legend hung 69 points on the Ramblers at the 2023 Convention. That's the most points Minnesota's ever scored, or Indy's ever given up. The rematch is this Sunday, 9:00 pm ET. What has happened since then? The Legend are 2-3 and the Ramblers are 2-4 - not much difference. An interesting stat: More teams have passed against Minnesota than any other team. Teams average 35 passes and 24 runs against the Legend, maybe because that stacked defensive line knows how to fill rushing lanes. They can get to the quarterback too - the Legend only give up 7.12 yards per pass - second best in the league. On the flip side, the Ramblers could get more aggressive and efficient: they're last in pass yards per attempt, 7.30. They averaged a season low 6.0 in that category Week 1 against the Legend.
- One of the most cherished rivalries in the SFL hits center stage Monday night when the 3-4 Nightwings meet the 3-4 Fury. Denver leads the all-time series 7-6 and the last seven games have been decided by 14 points or less. These two running backs have been spectacular with one difference: Hubba Kimbrel has 1,218 rush yards and 13 TDs. Baylee O'Shusghnessy has 1,308 rush yards and 10 TDs. Baylee cost $3.77 million against the cap. Hubba cost $1.13 million against the cap. It's going to be interesting to see what happens to running back contracts this off-season.
- Louisiana (4-3) meets Carolina (4-3) Friday at 8:15 pm ET. One team is surging - the Revolution started 0-2 and have won four of their last five. One team is lagging - the Skyhawks have lost two of the last three and have scored a combined 36 points in those three games. Carolina is 25th in first downs, last in total yards and 26th in red zone trips and is in desperate need of an offensive jolt. Louisiana is laser focused: Quarterback Tommy Utah has gone three-straight games without an interception and they're still one of two teams (Portland) that has scored on every red zone trip this season.
- Is Los Angeles trending? The Lycans meet Arizona Friday, 10:15 pm ET coming off an upset win at Houston, while Arizona is off an upset loss to Las Vegas. The problem is no team gets run on more than Los Angeles. Opponents average 42 runs to just 19 passes per game against the Lycans defense - LA gives up 6.3 yards per attempt, the second-worst run defense only trailing Portland. It's a fact: if your team has a weakness, opponents will see a mismatch and attack it. Arizona is third in the league in rushing yards and has scored 14 touchdowns on the ground, including a SFL-record 10 from fullback Justin Williams. On the flip side, Los Angeles' Sully Richardson has over 250 yards in three-straight games - only Vancouver's Christian Brown can say that and Arizona's pass defense is ranked 20th. It's strength on weakness on both sides of the ball - whichever team can best correct their weakness will win this game.
- Our last big game of the weekend to take a deep dive into focuses on Houston (4-3) visiting Seattle (5-2) Saturday at 6:45 pm ET in another test for both formattable squads here in Season 21. Both these offenses can seriously play. Houston is 4th in yards per pass attempt, 7th in first downs and 4th in yards per carry. Seattle is 2nd in yards per pass attempt, 6th in first downs and 9th in yards per carry. Both teams have lost a pair of games to the unbeaten. The HeadHunters and the Nemesis have never met. Will this expected shootout live up to the hype?
We've got seven games left to get to. Here's one interesting note about each of them:
- Florida at Atlanta, Friday 8:00 pm ET - The Storm average 23:00 time of possession - that's best in the league - twice possessing the ball over 26 minutes this season. Atlanta averages 18:24 time of possession - 4th worst.
- Alamo City at Portland, Friday 10:30 pm ET - The Fleet rank 5th in yards per carry this season - 5.66. Alamo City has the best run defense in the league, giving up just 3.74 yards per carry this season.
- Canton at Queen City, Saturday 1:00 pm ET - A rematch from last week, the Corsairs need more than 9 first downs from their offense - the second fewest first downs of any team this season. Queen City attempted 10 third downs in that 30-7 loss. Will the Corsairs use the element of surprise against the Classics this week in an attempt to mix things up?
- Jacksonville at Baltimore, Saturday 1:15 pm ET - Did you know the Vultures have more first downs, rushing yards and red zone field goals (13) than any other team in the league? Me neither. Jacksonville has given up more passing yards than any team, 282.29 per game and has turned the ball over more than any other team - 21.
- Sioux Falls at Mexico City, Saturday 9:00 pm ET - Sioux Falls has scored 64 of their 173 points off turnovers this season. Mexico City has scored 10 of their 118 points off turnovers this season.
- San Diego at Tulsa, Saturday, 9:15 pm ET - Tulsa is last in the league in rushing yards, second to last in yards per carry. Tulsa is third in the league in passing yards. Only problem is their 24th in yards per attempt. Combine that with the 23rd best average starting field position this season and you've got a recipe for an offense having to do way too much way too slowly.
- D.C. at Motor City, Sunday, 9:15 pm ET - The Dragons have the fewest turnovers this season of any team - 5, tied with Florida. Did you ever think we'd be taking about a team in the SFL with five turnovers in seven games?