By OIL Commissioner Justin C. Cliburn
42 teams have been whittled down to 18 in a quest for trophies, jerseys, a helmet, and everlasting pride. The OIL Playoffs are here. Congratulations to those teams that earned a first-round bye, in particular Zerger and Pyle. Zerger set a new OIL record for most points in a season while Pyle tied the OIL record for best regular season record (12-1, previously held solely by Cliburn's 2010 team). Peacock received a bye after setting a record for least points in a season last year. Cobb earned the bye for the first time in his OIL career, as did Tadlock and Buehre in the PFC. Full analysis of each first-round matchup after the jump.
Teams Enjoying a First-Round Bye:
Zerger and Peacock (AFC); Pyle and Cobb (NFC); Tadlock and Buehre (PFC)
AFC: First Round
By Redlegs Manager Lance Zerger
#6 Vultures vs. #3 Rebel Alliance
Regular season result: Vultures 150.80 - 129.05 (Week 10)
The first matchup of playoff weekend is the Vultures vs Rebel Alliance. For some reason, the Vultures are favored, even though they have a lower seed. They open up with a one-point lead against last year's Thunder Bowl runner-up. The projected scores right now have the Rebel Alliance losing 144.09-145.51. To be honest, I see that line getting closer before Vegas starts closing the bets. When these two teams met in week 10, the Vultures overwhelmed the Rebel Alliance 150.80-129.05, which was their first win against a could-be-rival in the Rebel Alliance.
There is something else we should point out. Both owners have now faced each other in the regular season twice and once again in last year's playoffs. The Rebel Alliance have won two out of three of those matchups, including the playoff game. The Rebel Alliance are currently 2-1 in the playoffs. Their only loss was last year in the Championship Game against former two-time champ War Pony. Last year, the Vultures went into the playoffs with a first round bye and where bounced out of the playoffs by guess who? The Rebel Alliance. If the Vultures win this game and knock off the Rebel Alliance, this could turn into a secondary rivalry that could continuously have playoff importance or implications on the Championship game. This is the game of the week in my opinion.
#5 Doughboys vs. #4 Warm Bodies
Regular season result: 167.40 - 137.40 (Week Two)
The Doughboys are coming in hot, and they have been scoring quite a bit of points. They are second in total points scored in the league this year. The overall record when these two teams have faced off is 2-1 with Nye on the winning side. They have not faced each other since week two, when the Warm Bodies won handily by 30 points: 167.40-137.40. However, going into the first round of the playoffs, the Doughboys are the favorites by 14 points.
The Doughboys have an even .500 record in the playoffs, and their two games played in the playoffs is two more than the Warm Bodies. This is the first time the Warm Bodies have made the playoffs, which to some of the experts I work with, they seem to point out that they are too young and inexperienced to get wrapped up in how truly big the moment is. Of course, there is always the argument that they have never been there before and will be overwhelmed. The Doughboys, like I said earlier are a 14-point favorite and I expect them to win this game by possibly more than 14.
NFC: First Round
By Arrogant Americans Manager Justin C. Cliburn
#6 Dirty Hippies vs. #3 Arrogant Americans
Regular season result: Arrogant Americans 162.15 - 126.20 (Week Two)
Secondary rivals Trovillo and Cliburn (overall head-to-head record: Cliburn 7-6) meet again for the right to advance to the semifinals here. Cliburn won the first matchup by 36 points . . . but that was in week two. The 'Mericans have been held together by duct tape and bailing wire for the second half of the season and got to 9-4 by fighting tooth and nail for the next startable RB every waiver period. Cliburn's RB2 position has been a revolving door of lottery tickets all season, and they're now down to James Starks (who played just 12% of snaps last week) and Shane Vereen (who is just this week coming off IR and not even a starter in New York).
Meanwhile, the Hippies are better than their 8-5 record and have the points to show for it. They boast Ben Roethlisberger at QB and the amazing Le'Veon Bell at RB1 . . . and they complement those two stars with perhaps the most underrated WR corps in the league: Doug Baldwin; Jamison Crowder; and Brandon Marshall. The Hip is favored slightly, but, as much as it pains me to say this, I predict they'll win by double-digits.
#5 Hard Targets vs. #4 DominationStation
Regular season result: DominationStation 153.40 - 149.95 (Week Seven)
These are the only two NFC playoff teams without a championship. Sadly, one of them will exit 2016 keeping that stat alive. Initially, I believed Jessen would win this one, but I've warmed up to the Hard Targets' chances. Both teams have impressive rosters. Finch benefitted from Henderson choosing Cam Newton at 1.01 and was able to select Antonio Brown with the second pick of the 2016 draft. He followed that up with Amari Cooper, giving him the best 1-2 punch at WR in the league. Jessen has been lighting it up thanks to Tom Brady (who he drafted and then patiently waited for) and David Johnson (who he astutely traded Allen Robinson and some change for), but he just lost Rob Gronkowski for the season. He replaced Gronk with Dwayne Allen in week 13, who promptly scored three touchdowns on Monday Night Football. But Allen faces Houston this week. The Texans have allowed the third-fewest points to TEs on the season. I'm calling for a five-point victory for Finch over DominationStation.
PFC: First Round
By Team Tadlock Manager Derrick Tadlock
It came down to the Monday night game to solidify the final playoff spot. In the end, the Blue Falcons claimed the sixth spot. Despite losing Alshon Jeffery and A.J. Green, Cordes’ SECFOR Sixers took the fifth spot. The Boomtown Brawlers took the fourth spot and the Great PlainsDrifters are at number three. The Dirty Dogs reeled off six wins in a row to claim the two seed while Team Tadlock finished the regular season in first.
#6 Blue Falcons vs. #3 Great Plains Drifters
Regular season result: Drifters 145.50 - 122.10
This should shake out to be a very close matchup. The Blue Falcons will have Andrew Luck going against a struggling Houston D while the Drifters have Brady going against Baltimore. I feel like Luck may have the edge, but you can never sleep on Brady. This one may come down to just one player having a big game. I’m going to pick the Blue Falcons, who have been hot at the end of the season, to win a squeaker.
#5 SECFOR Sixers vs. #4 Boomtown Brawlers
Regular season result: Brawlers 161.90 - 160.55
It wouldn’t be the playoffs without good close games and this matchup should not disappoint. Both teams match up fairly even across all positions. I’d give the slight edge to the Sixers WRs and TE. I think that that alone may be enough to win this one. But I do feel that one big performance from a Brawler could turn this game around in his favor. I’m going to say that the Sixers edge out the Brawlers . . . barely.