The middle of the season is where you start to separate the wheat from the chaff, and that's what's going to happen here. Lynn's Brewmasters are 4-0 and ranked number one. Lynn deserves credit for that, but does his team have enough depth to survive the bye week blues? I think not. The second-ranked Cocks also have multiple players on a bye this week, but Peacock stacked depth from day one. His squad doesn't look like it will miss a beat this week, even with backups taking on starting roles.
Number one vs. number two. Alpha vs. Bravo. First Platoon vs. HQ. Morgan vs. Schmidt. Two original OklahomIraqis competing in their 14th season. In that time, Morgan has one championship under his belt, while Schmidt has not made the playoffs since 2009. That is about to change, as Schmidt's team is head and shoulders above the rest of the league.
The Whackers, meanwhile, are sitting pretty at 3-1 and led by Deshaun Watson, Alvin Kamara, Cooper Kupp, and pair of top TEs: George Kittle and Austin Hooper. Unfortunately for Morgan, Dead Again has Patrick Mahomes, who I predict will win another one. Schmidt moves to 5-0, which would be the same as or more than his wins in six separate seasons.
While this may not have the caché of a number one vs. number two matchup, there's a lot to like here. The Orangebloods began the season 2-0 but have since limped to a 2-2 record. If they lose this game, their playoff chances drop to 35.1%. This is a caged animal game, and we'll see how McKay responds with his back against the wall.
Meanwhile, Team Tadlock is ranked number one at 3-1, but there are three other 3-1 teams nipping at his heels. If Tadlock wins, he raises his playoff chances to 83.8%. If he loses, he tumbles down the standings and sees his playoff chances drop to below 50%.
There is a lot to like on McKay's team, including promising rookie WR Diontae Johnson. But Tadlock's team is just too strong to pick against him. That's my pick.
It is rare that we get three matchups featuring title favorites this early in the season, but here we are.
Roe's Rebels are 2-0, but they're dealing with the loss of both QB Drew Brees and WR Tyreek Hill right as they face the top team in the AFC. The Vultures won it all last year behind the arm of QB Patrick Mahomes, but they're 2-0 and ranked number one this year thanks to a solid draft that is producing big at every position. Due to injuries, I'm picking Brosh to knock off the Rebs.
Cobb went old school in the draft, and his Dogs of War have continued to turn back the clock over the first two weeks of the season by starting three RBs and two TEs. Meanwhile, the Hangovers are 1-1 after averaging an astonishing 171.95 points per game. While the Dogs have a better record, I'm picking Duffy to win this one, despite losing Tyreek Hill in Week One. Regardless, whoever wins this one will position themselves as the main competitor to Dead Again for NFC supremacy.
The Amarillo contingent of the PFC face off this this week in an early matchup of seemingly playoff-bound teams. But the Vandals are missing WR Alshon Jeffery this week, and WRs Sterling Shepard and Nelson Agholor are no sure bet to play. Therefore, I'm picking Stanley and the Havoc to win in their first full season in the league.
Neely and the Hooligans are fresh off a beatdown of the number-one ranked draft class, after finishing in last place in 2018. The schedule doesn't get easier this week, as they face two-time AFC champion Zerger and his Redlegs. Regardless of whether Antonio Brown plays for the Redlegs this week, I am picking Neely to notch his second win of the season (half of his 2018 total).
This may seem odd that the two worst teams in the NFC qualify as the game of the week. But these two are perennial contenders in danger of falling to 0-2. Historically, less than 25% of 0-2 teams have made the playoffs. DominationStation just lost TE Hunter Henry, but I'm counting on Jessen to fill that position and doom the Hippies to an 0-2 start.
The two-time champion against the newcomer. The Havoc joined the league last season and drafted their own team for the first time this season. I'm picking Stanley to knock off the two-time champ Brawlers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.