XFL 2015: Our Too-Early Playoff Preview
By: Connor Lenahan
There are two games left in our XFL schedule before the playoffs, but it continues to look like we will know who makes the bracket in the end. With only minor exceptions, most of the teams in the league are either confirmed to make it or mathematically eliminated. These next two weeks are important, but with the teams largely set we get to look elsewhere. Seeding is all we need to worry about.
Let’s have some fun and look at what our playoff picture would be if the season were over right now. There’s a strong possibility some if not all of these games end up taking place in two weeks. Given the knowledge that there will be some shifts in the picture, we can still look how everyone is matching up thus far in their championship hopes.
#1 Baltimore Bears (8-3) vs. #8 New York Titans (6-5)
After this Monday’s Patriot victory the Baltimore Bears have regained their top spot in the playoffs. Aside from the apparent voodoo curse that has struck the position players from the league leader, things are continuing to look up for Laura LaBrecque & co. Oh, what is this voodoo you ask? Somehow Laura has had nearly all of her running backs this season get hurt one way or another. Matt Forte (MCL sprain), Devonta Freeman (concussion), Dexter McCluster (MCL sprain), Dion Lewis (ACL tear), De’Anthony Thomas (concussion), and Kadeem Carey (concussion) have all either been knocked out of games or missed extended time this season. That’s before adding in injuries to players like Malcolm Floyd and Danny Amendola. This isn’t comprehensive, but it is fairly scary for the Bears. Luckily the lurking giant of Rob Gronkowski and the eternally hot hand of Tom Brady are safe bets to continue producing these next few weeks.
The New York Titans are stuck in an interesting situation, however. Chase Lenahan’s team has been well in the playoff picture for weeks now, but the opportunity to miss the bracket still exists. The Titans need to take care of business this week against the Seattle Rage in order to eliminate the New Orleans Tigers from contention. The best record possible for the Titans is 8-5, while the worst is 6-7. If the Titans lose out, and the Tigers finish 6-6-1, Paul Bruzzano will take Chase’s spot. Aaron Rodgers gets to eviscerate the Chicago Bears this Thanksgiving night, so Chase might be able to head into Black Friday/Post-Turkey sleep comfortable.
#2 Green Bay Blizzard (8-3) vs. #7 Las Vegas High Rollers (6-4-1)
Well, so much for Matt Bruzzano’s plan to win a title with Johnny Manziel. The legendary Johnny Football was again demoted due to his partying ways and has yet again left the Blizzard without an answer at quarterback. Now the position becomes critical more than ever for Green Bay. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Sam Bradford are all available, but none are exactly terrific choices going forward. Then again, I won a title with Derek Anderson and almost won another with Matt Stafford, so it’s not like riding Adrian Peterson down the stretch with a plug-n-play approach at QB is impossible, just not preferable.
Out in Nevada Tony Romo has regained his spot atop the High Roller lineup. But it’s not Romo that’s leading the team as of late, but the combination of Julio Jones and Jonathan Stewart. The former makes a lot of sense, Jones is an all world performer and has been destroying defenses this year along with Devonta Freeman for the crazy-lucky-yet-sorta-awful Atlanta Falcons. Jonathan Stewart was doing a whole bunch of nothing for the Pittsburgh Spikes and was sent out to the desert, only to thrive. Stewart is now, quietly, the 9th ranked back in the league, and has one again left the High Rollers in their favorite spot. They don’t usually win a boatload of games during the regular season, but twice before they have won three games in a row in the playoffs when they are counted out. What I’m saying is that Dan Griffith taking home his third ring this December would not be shocking.
#3 Washington Senators (8-3) vs. #6 Pittsburgh Spikes (7-4)
Another week, another thousand points for the Senators. I mean this entirely as a compliment, but this team might be the least flashy good team I can remember in the XFL. Cary Lenahan’s team has only scored over 1300 points twice this season and otherwise has just put together solid game after solid game. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, after all, an 8-3 record is terrific. While other contenders are terrifying for singular players, the Senators continue to frighten me because of consistency. This isn’t anything new, but then again, that’s a great thing for Cary. He just needs Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, and Russell Wilson/Marcus Mariota to show up on Sunday and a W seems likely.
The Pittsburgh Spikes dropped their fourth game this past week. This is the least instructive loss possible. While critics could point that this team has dropped two of their last three, that would be insane. The Oklahoma City Lions put up 1965 on the Spikes, rendering a victory next to impossible in such a fluky fashion. This past week the Spikes lost by less than 100 without Eli Manning, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Marshawn Lynch. I’m not kidding when I say that Pittsburgh should probably be the top team in the league if not for these two losses that are not in any way their fault. Matt Gronsky is likely frustrated about both, but he can cackle like a Bond villain watching Brown and Bryant down the stretch.
#4 Waverly Chargers (7-4) vs. #5 Oklahoma City Lions (7-4)
Well that changed quickly, no? The Waverly Chargers are inexplicably 3-0 over their last three weeks after losing Le’Veon Bell and Keenan Allen about an hour apart. Somehow good fortune has come to the Chargers by way of James Jones and Ronnie Hillman. Scrap heap choices at the beginning of the season have suddenly become crucial starters here with little time left to play. Waverly only has Denver and Philadelphia – who, in a cruel twist of fate, lost Joe Flacco to an ACL tear this week – to go, which might mean the little engine that could might keep going after all.
Unfortunately for the defending champions another injured Raven has potentially sworn Andrew Rebensky off all Baltimore players forever, Justin Forsett broke his wrist early on Sunday in decently gruesome fashion – don’t watch the clip, just don’t. Now faced with starting Duke Johnson and Matt Jones, or potentially Andre Ellington, the Lions are in a bit more of a panic than they were just days ago. Thankfully Drew Brees and the crazily talented receiving corps of the Lions can carry a lot of weight, which still gives Andrew a lot of hope. This matchup would be a rematch of this week’s Chargers-Lions drubbing, but no one would predict another 1995-645 Waverly win, and I’m as big a narcissist as any.
Week 12 Matchups:
Wavily Chargers vs. Denver Blaze
Baltimore Bears vs. Green Bay Blizzard
Seattle Rage vs. New York Titans
Chicago Hitmen vs. New Orleans Tigers
Washington Senators vs. Pittsburgh Spikes
Kansas City Killers vs. Philadelphia Panthers
Oklahoma City Lions vs. Las Vegas High Rollers