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.
Week 10 saw three records being tied or set. Zerger clinched his fifth-straight winning season, tying Cliburn's record from 2006-2010 while Pyle tied the record for most consecutive playoff appearances (joining Jessen and Finch) with four. And Rogers sadly set the record for longest losing streak, with 10. Two teams have now clinched playoff spots: Pyle and Venable.
There is a new number one in the OIL Power Rankings, as Morgan was upset by Yancy's Roughnecks (although, even with the loss, Morgan only fell to third, evidencing how strong his team has been). Of the top 10, four are from the AFC, three from the NFC, and three from the PFC.
Just four weeks remain in the regular season, and no one has clinched a playoff spot (although it's safe to say the 8-1 teams will be in the tournament). Morgan's Whackers are one of those 8-1 teams, and they are on pace to break the Redlegs record for most points scored in a season. Morgan can break the record if he averages 161.34 points per game over the final month of the season. He is currently averaging over 172 points per game, so that seems doable.
On the flip side, the AMMODOGS are on pace break the Hangovers record for most difficult schedule. Should their opponents average 147.12 points per game these final four games, Rogers sets the record. Unfortunately, facing that tough of a schedule has had its toll on the DOGS, and in Week Nine they set the record for most consecutive losses to begin a season (nine). You can view all records here.
The OPR is updated and the top 10 consists of three AFC teams, three NFC teams, and four PFC teams. Finally, two teams scored their season-high totals this week and yet lost. That's got to sting for Baldwin and Cordes.
This is a huge week in the OIL, as all three conferences feature matchups pitting fop-five teams against each other. The winners will be that much closer to a first-round playoff bye while the losers will have to re-think their playoff chances.
But the sneaky game of the week is the AMMODOGS-Dirty Hippies matchup. The DOGS tied the record for longest losing streak last week, and a loss here would give them sole possession of that ignominious record. Check the Record Book for the rest of the OIL milestones.
Doughboys manager Nick Green has been in the last two championship games, but he's yet to take home the trophy. If he wins here, he he has a 64% chance of making the championship game for a third time. He'll face the Cocks, who are on their third-straight winning season after finishing third in 2016 and sixth in 2017. But the Doughboys are clearly a better team with a better starting lineup and more depth. The Cocks may very well make a deep playoff run, but it's not starting here.
This is a David vs. Goliath matchup. The Whackers are 8-1, with their only loss coming against 8-1 Lucky Enuf. They're on pace to set the record for most points in a season, and, if the season ended today, their OPR would rank first in OIL history. Meanwhile, the Roughnecks have been doubted all season. But they're 6-3 the old-fashioned way: by leaning on workhorse RBs who don't catch a lot of passes. But their WRs remain a liability, with FantasyPros ranking his WR corps 11th in the league. Going up against such a complete team as the Whackers, you can't afford to be so below average at a key position. Look for the Roughnecks to get whacked.
These two teams may be the two that want it the most in the PFC, as they each lead the conference in transactions with 23. The Falcons have ridden Patrick Mahomes and Alvin Kamara to the fifth spot in the PFC, but they now face three top-four teams to close out the season. In order to make the playoffs, they need to at least spllit those four games. That'll be tough with the Chiefs on the horizon, as they're the fifth-best team in the entire OIL. The Falcons are also without Lamar Miller, who is on a bye. All that being said, I can see them pulling off the upset. All it takes for Mahomes and Kamara to have big games to make up for weaker spots elsewhere. I'm picking the Chiefs, as I think they're the best team in the PFC, but it will be closer than you think.