Six teams. Three trophies. Three previous champions. Three managers seeking their first title. Welcome to Championship Week 2018.
Click on the team logos above to view each team's roster. Analysis after the jump.
Multiple first-round games came down to the MNF wire, and I'm hoping for similar drama this week. One thing is for sure: there will be no back-to-back champions in any conference. 2017 AFC Champion Zerger's Redlegs lost, as did 2017 NFC Champion Cliburn's Arrogant Americans. 2017 PFC champion Brake and Boomtown Brawlers just missed the playoffs.
The six-seed Doughboys trounced the Warm Bodies, as Nye was betrayed by Jordan Reed and Jared Goff (despite a whopping 31 points from Ezekiel Elliott). Meanwhile the Redlegs underachieved at every position except for QB, where rookie Lamar Jackson did more than his part. The Vultures moved on with big games from Patrick Mahomes and Julio Jones.
If Green's Doughboys win this week, they'll be heading to the Thunder Bowl for the third time, although they've yet to secure a championship. If Melvin Gordon plays for War Pony, I think it'll be enough to push Venable's team over the top. But, if not, this is the epitome of a toss-up.
Of 18 playoff contenders, eight of them (almost half!) account for 15 previous championships. They are:
Click on the matchup title to view the game on Yahoo!.
Venable and Peacock enjoy a first-round bye this week, while last year's championship participants (Zerger and Green) join Nye and Brosh in having to fight their way to the semifinals.
The early game Sunday pits Green against Nye, who seems perpetually underrated. The Doughboys lost James Conner to injury this week, but their team is solid. It will have to be if Green wants to move on to the semifinals for the third-straight season. I don't think he does, although his team is arguably superior.
Congratulations to all 18 playoff contenders. There were some incredibly tough breaks (such as Duffy losing two games by a combined 0.15 points or Tadlock missing the playoffs despite having the second-most points in the PFC), but that's the way the cookie crumbled. Pennington set the record for most points in a season while Rogers sadly broke the record for most losses (with an 0-13 record).
The final OPR rankings are below. Pennington topped the league but fell just short of setting the record for best OPR (1.297 in 2010 by the Arrogant Americans). The top 10 is comprised of four NFC teams and three each from the AFC and PFC.
Finally, Rivalry Week is upon us. For some leagues, Week 13 has no special significance. And, if the AFC were one of those other leagues, it would certainly have little relevance, as all six playoff spots are clinched. But the OIL is different, and we reserve the last week of the regular season for rivalry games. See the matchups after the jump. Commentary is limited to matchups that have playoff implications, as 21 matchups is a lot to sift through when the commish is about to head to DFW for the Saints-Cowboys game.
Heading into Rivalry Week, a whopping 12 of 18 playoff berths are clinched. Below are the standings and playoff picture for each conference.
Well, this is a first. With one week remaining, all six playoff spots are clinched. Now all that is left is the seeding. Venable and War Pony are locked into the one seed and a first-round bye. The number-two spot is a toss-up between Green and Peacock, as the Doughboys and Cocks are separated by just 13 points. Should each of them win, it will come down to their point totals to determine who gets a coveted first-round bye. The Warm Bodies and Vultures each sport the same 8-4 record as the second- and third-place teams, but Nye and Brosh are so far behind in points that neither can overtake Green and Peacock. The six seed is Zerger and his two-time defending champion Redlegs. With a win and losses by three of the four teams ahead of him (aside from Venable), he can finish as high as third due to his high point total.
Multiple teams have clinched playoff berths, and more can clinch with a win this week.
The stakes here are huge: the winner is virtually assured a first-round bye in the playoffs. Despite stumbling last week, War Pony has been a superior team all season, and I expect them to win this one easily.
The stakes differ for each team in this NFC matchup between two original OIL franchises. If the Whackers win, they are in the driver's seat for a first-round bye. If they lose, they likely lose the bye. The 'Mericans, meanwhile, absolutely need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Teams that enter Rivalry Week at 6-6 have only made the playoffs 34.3% of the time, and the 'Mericans have the tough Hangovers next week. Sadly, after starting 4-0, the 'Mericans are in real danger of missing the playoffs because I think Morgan will beat my 'Mericans this week.
Similar stakes here, as the Drifters seek a first-round bye and the Falcons need a win to remain in the playoff race. Unlike the Arrogant Americans, though, I think they'll get it, setting up a win-and-in matchup next week against the Vandals.
Just before the 2017 season, the OIL introduced the OIL Power Rating (OPR) system. Today, the OPR has evolved in a way that makes it easier to compare apples to apples across all conferences and all seasons. The formula and full explanation are available year-round at okiraqi.org/opr.
The Adjusted OPR takes your team's OPR and divides it by the average OPR of all teams across each conference. The result is a multiple that illustrates exactly how your team stacks up to the baseline, perfectly average team. Below are the current OPR rankings under the new system. The FDC Chiefs' score of 1.243 means Pennington's squad is about 1.25 times stronger than the perfectly average, baseline team. Anything over 1.0 indicates an above-average team; anything below 1.0 indicates a below average team.
As of now, career OPR still lists the raw score, but that will change soon. The adjusted OPR has been added to each manager page for each season played as well. Below is Pyle's manager page, evidencing the following:
In 2012, Lucky Enuf finished 6-7 and missed the playoffs. But was his team bad or just unlucky? His raw OPR was 172.07, while the average for 2012 was 155.32. Applying the adjusted OPR formula (172.07/155.32) shows that Lucky Enuf was 1.108 times better than the average 2012 team. An adjusted OPR of 1.108 indicates that Lucky Enuf was one of the stronger teams in the league that season but fell victim to a tough schedule (for comparison, the 2012 champion's adjusted OPR was just a tick higher at 1.133).
And the adjusted score makes it easier to compare seasons. Henderson's manager page is instructive.
In 2013, his DARC NARCS finished with a losing record and missed the playoffs. In 2015, they won 11 games and finished second in the NFC. But, compared to the average team of each respective season, the 2013 DARC NARCS were a better team than the runner-up 2015 version, even while having a winning percentage 20+ points worse than 2015 (winning percentage is weighted at 20% of the OPR raw score).
So check out your manager pages and enjoy comparing apples to apples.
The scheduling gods have brought us favor, as all three conferences feature matchups between top-four teams. Two teams (Lucky Enuf and War Pony) have clinched playoff berths, but the rest of the field is wide open. These games will play a huge role in who enjoys a first-round bye.
These two teams have similar records, but have taken different paths to get there. While the Redlegs have relied on huge games from RBs Todd Gurley and Tarik Cohen, the Cocks have won seven games off the strength of the WR corps: Odell Beckham, Jr.; Tyreek Hill; and Amari Cooper. The Redlegs are without top TE David Njoku this week, but they're still favored to win. Look at them to clinch a playoff spot and get that much closer to a first-round bye with a win here.
These two former champions are only one game apart, despite the Whackers outscoring the Dogs of War by an average of 20 points per game. However, due to losing two starters to byes this week, the Whackers are actually underdogs this week. But, with the Dogs missing secret weapon TE George Kittle this week, I believe the Whackers will move to 9-2.
Despite winning 80% of their games thus far, the Drifters appear to be paper tigers . . . and they're without two starters due to byes this week. Meanwhile, the Dirty Dogs are at full strength and have average 15 points per game more than the Drifters this season. Look for the Dirty Dogs to win in a rout.