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.
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.
I can't remember the last time we had multiple #1 vs. #2 games. And if Monday night had gone differently, we'd be looking at three matchups between top-two teams.
This #1 vs. #2 matchup pits the only two champions the AFC has seen in its four-year history. Zerger slipped up in Week One, but his Redlegs have been on a tear ever since, averaging 180 points per game since then. Meanwhile, Venable and War Pony have ridden a strong (auto)draft to a 4-0 start. With a win, they'll move their playoff odds to 100%. Fortunately, they're facing the Redlegs on a bye-heavy week. Look for the auto-drafted team to get to 5-0. Life isn't fair; nothing matters.
Another #1 vs. #2 matchup featuring the first champions of this storied league (Lucky Enuf in 2006 and 2008; Whackers in 2007). Unlike Venable, though, each of these managers drafted their own teams. Morgan is a favorite to win the whole thing, and he's facing his biggest competitor at a good time. Pyle's team is hit hard by byes this week. Conversely, the Whackers made it to 4-0 without the aid of Julian Edelman and Alshon Jeffery. Adding those two WRs to an undefeated team seems unfair, but hats off to Morgan for an amazing draft. Whackers get to 5-0 this week.
We're at the point in the season where a single loss can drop a team's playoff chances by as much as 30%. Unfortunately, we're also getting into bye week and injury season. The NFC number-one Whackers lost their starting QB for the year. Multiple star players are on byes. But the season rolls on. To the games:
War Pony is a two-time champion in this league, so his number-one ranking is not a surprise. But the Brewmasters have never been a true contender. If they're to make a bid for a championship, it starts here. Fortunately, War Pony is dealing with a host of bye weeks and injuries. That's why I'm picking the second-ranked Brew Crew to knock them off and ascend to the top spot.
Last week's number-one team faces this week's number-one team. The upstart Roughnecks vs. two-time champion Lucky Enuf. If Pyle can pull it out, his playoff chances will increase to 90.9%. The Roughnecks can move to a 59.6% playoff chance with a win. Although Baldwin's averaging 12 more points per game, I'm picking Lucky Enuf to get to 4-0. Baldwin just has too many injuries and byes.
The winner here sees their playoff odds move to 59.6%. The loser? 43.2%. Unfortunately, Cordes and Sixers are dealing with injuries to TE Evan Engram and RB Jay Ajayi. I'm picking Tadlock to march further towards the playoffs.