NOTE: Not every team in the PFC has a logo and uniforms. Therefore, we'll refrain from using logos in this post. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was the OIL. It will take time to build the franchises into something comparable to the NFC's and AFC's.
The PFC is in its first season as an OIL conference. There will be growing pains as several of the managers are first-time fantasizers (what my wife calls fantasy football fanatics). But each manager shares a common bond: military service. Twelve of the 14 were on the 2006 SECFOR mission that created the OIL. Of the remaining two, one (Derrick Tadlock) deployed with the 158 during their 2008 Ramadi mission. The final piece to the puzzle (Brian Gauthier) is a USMC vet that met randomly met Cliburn at an Oklahoma City bar (no, not that kind of bar). Over the course of the season, they'll develop team names, logos, and uniforms. But, most importantly, they'll strengthen a bond that transcends so much and keep in touch 41 other brothers-in-arms during the OIL's 10th season.
Dirty Dogs vs. Blue Falcons
Scott Buehre served as Third Platoon's platoon sergeant during the 2006 SECFOR mission. Third Platoon's nickname: the Dirty Dogs. The Blue Falcons are managed by first-year fantasy footballer Derek Baldwin. "Little Baldwin" as he was known in 2005 was a First Platoon soldier. When we got to Balad, he was part of the all-OIL fire team of Brosh, Finch, Cliburn, and Baldwin (before we all got orphaned and sent elsewhere). He later served on the 2008 mission and now lives in Ohio with his wife and children. As for the matchup . . .
Baldwin put together a surprisingly-balanced roster during his first draft. The Blue Falcons are weak at QB but look strong enough to knock off the Dirty Dogs. Buehre's team is weak, but cut him some slack. This is a guy who drank all day and night Saturday with his SECFOR brothers. He didn't even try to go to sleep so he'd make the 0600 bus to the draft. Then, as commissioner, he input everyone else's picks into Clicky Draft. Drafting for yourself and 13 other teams on no sleep? Recipe for disaster. Baldwin wins his OIL debut here.
Team Tadlock vs. Orangebloods
Derrick Tadlock is a veteran of the 2008 Ramadi mission the 158 served on. Jessen recruited him to the OIL. The Orangebloods are managed by former Third Platoon soldier Randy McKay, who, if memory serves, spent the 2006 mission getting blown up left and right on the highways of northern and western Iraq.
Team Tadlock is a heavy favorite after Tom Brady blew up for 38 points on Opening Night. The Orangebloods got disappointing performances from Markus Wheaton and Danny Amendola and have a questionable Alshon Jeffery at WR. I'm going to be safe and pick Team Tadlock here.
SECFOR Sixers vs. Great Plains Drifters
Sixers manager Nate Cordes was stationed at Camp Echo during the 2006 SECFOR mission. Drifters manager Aaron Gray was a medic based out of Camp Liberty. Cordes picked up boom-or-bust QB Sam Bradford later in the draft, allowing him to stock up on RB and WR depth early. Meanwhile, Gray chose Aaron Rodgers early, hurting his overall depth but giving him as close to a sure thing as you can get any position. Still, the Sixers just look like a deeper, more balanced team and they should win their OIL debut.
Bill Straily is a retired law enforcement officer. Therefore, his team is aptly named the Enforcers. Straily was a First Platoon soldier stationed at Camp Echo in 2006. Zack Brake was a Third Platoon soldier stationed at Camp Liberty. Since getting back, he's spent his work days in the oil fields and boom towns of the American plains. His Boomtown Brawlers boast a unique name and color scheme in the OIL.
Straily was awarded the "Best Draft" by Yahoo!, but he left WR Julian Edelman on the bench Thursday night (along with Edelman's 21 points). The Enforcers were already short-handed as they await the returns of LeGarrette Blount, C.J. Spiller, and Antonio Gates from injury or suspension. And the Brawlers are looking good despite having suspended WR Martavis Bryant on the bench. The Brawlers' look primed to start the season off right and beat the "Best Draft."
Preppers vs. Greasy Vandals
The Preppers are managed by former First Platoon soldier Jon Gomez, who spent 2006 at Camp Delta near al Kut. The Vandals are managed by the only non-158 soldier of the PFC. Brian Gauthier is a USMC veteran who lives in Seminole, Okla. He met Cliburn at Powerhouse Bar in Oklahoma City and is excited to join the OIL.
On the field, the Vandals got a huge boost from TE Rob Gronkowski on Thursday Night Football. That helped offset the poor showing by RB Brandon Bolden. Unless Gomez gets an unexpected breakout from one of his guys, I expect the Vandals to pull this one out.
Bellar vs. Nightmares
Bellar spent the 2006 mission with Third Platoon, as did Nightmares manager Jimmy Mitchell, so these guys go way back. And this is a toss-up if I've ever seen one. The key will be the play of Kenny Stills and Dorial Green-Beckham for the Nightmares. If they both score in the double-digits, the Nightmares win. If not, who knows?
Eagletown Combovers vs. Machines
The Combovers are managed by first-year fantasy footballer Grant Hudson, who (like Cliburn) spent the 2005 training mission with First Platoon before eventually landing with a Third Platoon squad in Baghdad. Machines manager Vincente Pierre was a member of Headquarters Platoon and was a key part of a fantastic maintenance staff during the 2006 mission. Hudson is now out of the Guard, while Pierre keeps on truckin'.
On paper, the Machines are a strong favorite with perhaps the best WR corps in the OIL: Odell Beckham, Jr.; Calvin Johnson; and Jarvis Landry. Meanwhile Hudson is forced to start Dexter McCluster at RB while he waits on Le'Veon Bell to return from suspension. This is not a roster that can afford to wait, either. The Machines win big.