Round One of the OIL Playoffs is here. While there are plenty of familiar faces in the field, several strong contenders are seeking their first championship. In all but one first-round matchup, the stronger team is actually the team with the worse record. This may be the most wide-open the field has ever been.
When I came home from the cabin, I told my wife that I made a $1,000 bet with Schuster over who would win their conference first. After seeing the shock and anger on her face, I told her it was actually Jessen who made that bet. Well, Schuster rose to the occasion, finishing 10-3 to mark his best season to date. Two-time champion Venable is the two-seed and the only AFC playoff team to have already hoisted the Killman Memorial Trophy.
Neely locked up the three-seed, Musselman's four-seed marks his first playoff appearance, Lynn is the five-seed, and perennial contender Green is the six-seed. If any of these four won the title, it would mark their championship.
Green has made the semifinals every year for the past four seasons. Although Neely has had the stronger team throughout the season, his Hooligans simply do not set up well this week. I am picking Green to avenge his regular season loss in this one. View the matchup here.
MUSSELMAN HAS MADE THE PLAYOFFS! I repeat: MUSSELMAN HAS MADE THE PLAYOFFS! Since joining the league in 2014, the Mutinous Apes had never won more than four games, let alone had a winning season. After the playoff berth, their odds to win any particular season are now 3:97. But they're a strong contender this year, and I am picking them to defeat Lynn's Brewmasters, who won their final two games to make the playoffs. View the matchup here.
Last year at this time, I had this to say:
Some things in life are inevitable, like death, taxes, and SoonerJack making a late run to secure a first-round bye.
Well, here we are again, as SoonerJack overtook Lucky Enuf during Rivalry Week to claim a first-round bye. Joining him on the couch during Round One are the Arrogant Americans, who clinched their sixth first-round bye in 10 playoff appearances. If either of these teams win the title, it will be the manager's fourth championship.
Back-to-back defending champion Pyle is the three-seed, Jessen is the four-seed, Schmidt is the five-seed, and Henderson rounds out the NFC playoff field as the six-seed.
The NARCS fell to 7-6 in Week 13 but snuck into the playoffs due to the Hangovers' loss. Despite finishing two games behind Lucky Enuf, their OPR ranks higher, and they've averaged four points per game more than Pyle's squad. But their roster doesn't great this week, and I'm picking Pyle to make his fourth-straight semifinals. View the matchup here.
Dead Again has made the playoffs two years in a row for the first time since 2006-07. DominationStation is playing with a lot of pressure on its shoulders as Jessen made the aforementioned bet with Schuster. Well, Jessen better hope Schuster gets upset in Week 15 because I see Dead Again winning their first playoff game since 2009. View the matchup here.
After finishing 3-10 and in last place in 2019, Baldwin flipped the script, going 10-3 and clinching the one-seed. Two-time champion Buehre is the two-seed.
Defending champion Lutonsky is the three-seed, followed by four-seed Mitchell, five-seed Gray, and six-seed Bellar, who surged ahead of Tocco in Rivalry Week to secure his sixth winning season in six years.
Fun fact: The Xtreme have never posted a losing season. They narrowly avoided one this year by winning their final matchup to finish 7-6. The Vandals finished a game better, but their OPR ranks 21st. After starting 8-2, they lost their final three games to finish a pedestrian 8-5. Make it their final four games, as I'm picking The Xtreme to make it to the semifinals. View the matchup here.
The Nightmares are the luckiest team in the OIL. They have the OPR of a 6-7 team but sport an 8-5 record . . . despite ranking ninth in the PFC in points per game. The Drifters have been a better team all season, but the Nightmares' roster actually sets up well for Week 14. I'm picking them to win a ninth game as their lucky streak continues into the semifinals. View the matchup here.