We're getting closer and closer to the playoffs and the field is taking shape. The games below will play a huge role in determining seeding and playoff chances moving forward.
The Sawtooths sit at just .500 entering Week Nine, but they're OPR ranks 11th in the 42-team OIL. They're a solid team, but they're facing a championship favorite in War Pony, who won the first two AFC championships. If Reed's Sawtooths pull this off, they'll set themselves up well for a run at the playoffs. If War Pony wins, they'll all-but-assure themselves a first-round bye in the playoffs. I predict Venable will do just that, leaving Reed having to win out to guarantee a playoff spot.
To date, the Roughnecks have been maybe the surprise of the league. At 6-2, they're poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012. And they're ranked ninth out of 42 OIL teams, but they're playing this week without Joe Mixon and Zach Ertz, each of whom are on a bye this week. That's why I'm picking the lower-ranked Dogs of War this week.
UPSET ALERT: The Blue Falcons average 14 fewer points per game than the Dirty Dogs, but I'm predicting them to eke out a close victory here while Buehre is dealing with bye weeks for his top QB, top RB, and top two TEs.
. . . and then there were none. The AFC's War Pony and the PFC's Great Plains Drifters each lost their first games of the season, ensuring no OIL team will go undefeated.
Although Green (who has lost the last two Thunder Bowls) has the better record, Reed's Sawtooths are a more impressive team (despite barely being above .500). A win here could cement Reed as a title contender after two years of Danny Woodhead-induced mediocrity. And that's what I'm predicting will happen as Reed starts making a run.
Pyle and Lucky Enuf have been jockeying for a first-round bye all season, and a win here could go a long way in that pursuit. But Cobb's Dogs of War have been sneaky-good thus far, sitting at 5-2 and clearly in the playoff hunt. This game will be a toss-up but is equally important for both squads.
I chose this matchup because Brake, at 2-5, absolutely needs a win to keep his playoff streak alive. The Brawlers have not only made the playoffs in each of their three OIL seasons, but they've made it to the championship game in each of those seasons. He'll need to win out to guarantee a playoff spot this year. Meanwhile, Gray's Great Plains Autodrafters are on the verge of setting the OIL record for most wins to begin a season. Either way, this game has real stakes, and I'm picking Brake to pull off the upset.
Of the 10 strongest teams by OPR, three are in the AFC, three are in the NFC, and four are in the PFC.
Roe's Rebels have won three of four since beginning the season 0-2. But the Warm Bodies are the stronger team this week, and I predict them to cement their status as playoff contenders here.
Lucky Enuf manager Kevin Pyle is one Aaron Rodgers touchdown away from being 6-0, while the Hangovers have dropped two despite averaging over 166 points per game. The winner here sets themselves up nicely going into the second half of the season, and I believe that winner will be Duffy. Pyle is without JuJu Smith-Schuster this week, and I expect that to be the difference.
Two-time champion Brake began this season 0-4, but he's won two straight in dramatic fashion. If he can win this week, he'll almost be out of that four-game hole he dug. No team has ever started 0-4 and made the playoffs, so keep an eye the Brawlers. Team Tadlock has averaged over 12 more points per game than Brake, but this week is too close to call. Selfishly, I'm hoping Brake wins just for the story of an 0-4 team turning it around though.
With Pyle's last-minute loss to Finch, there are only two unbeaten teams remaining in the OIL (and both of them were auto-drafted). On the flip side, Rogers remains the only OIL team without a win as his nightmare season continues. Below the standings is the current OPR for each team. The top 10 features two AFC teams, four NFC teams, and four PFC teams.
One advantage to adding the OPR to the OIL spreadsheet is that we can now more easily compare managers from one conference against another. Below is a ranking of all OIL teams heading into Week Six (Spicer and Stanley took over teams mid-season, so theirs are not being included).
Although these two teams share a common record, looks can be deceiving. The Redlegs average 15 more points per game and boast an OPR over 20 points higher than Steel Reign. Look for Zerger to get to 4-2.
Despite averaging almost 30 points less per game than the Roughnecks, Cliburn's 'Mericans sit a game higher at 4-1. Under normal circumstances, I would pick Baldwin, as he has the better team. But he's dealing with injuries and bye weeks, so I'm cautiously predicting the 'Mericans to move to 5-1.
This is another case where looks can be deceiving. Despite the same record, the Chiefs are vastly superior to the Enforcers . . . and the Enforcers QB is on a bye week. Look for Pennington to get to 4-2.
Congratulations to Kevin Pyle, who not only knocked off the top-ranked Whackers to move to 5-0 but also clinched his 100th victory in the process. Here are your standings heading into Week Six.
SHAWNEE — Drew Brees wasn't the one making history Monday night. After 173 games, 13 seasons, seven playoff berths, and two championships, Lucky Enuf clinched their 100th victory at the close of Monday Night Football. They are the second OIL franchise to reach the milestone. Congratulations to Lucky Enuf manager and original OILer Kevin Pyle, who also moved to 5-0 and first place with the victory.