Top IFL Teams (1 month until camps open)
Only a month until camps open so rosters are definitely starting to take shape and you can definitely see what teams are front runners for a championship season.
1- Sioux Falls Storm (11-3)*- Can't do anything but put them at #1. Though they are a year older and lost some talented players they still have a great offense and the top player in the league in Chris Dixon. Would be scared with his age if the OL wasn't any good, but by far the best OL in the league will be in Sioux Falls next season. Their defense will probably cost them a few games this year, with very little returning on the DL and at DB. Not as strong of a team as last year, but still the favorites heading into the season.
2- Tri-Cities Fever (11-3)*- A team that I wasn't as high on a few months ago has added some great talent since then. By far the most explosive offense in the entire league; if they can find an OL this team could be putting up 50-60 a game. Again, defense will be interesting as they lost some top players from that side of the ball, but would fully expect some of the newcomers to fill in nicely. May lose some early due to getting a new OL put together and working in some new defensive players, but definitely would not want to see this team once their offense gets going. Don't be surprised if Houston Lillard is the 2012 MVP.
3- Colorado Ice (11-3)*- A team that quietly has been lurking for the past few months as they did most of their signings early in the off season. A lot of players with arena experience on the roster could help them get off to another fast start. QB, David Knighton will be entering his 3rd season with the team and could be primed for a great season. The WR group could hurt this team early with a lot of unknowns for them. Arguably the best group of DB's in the league; this title will be tested very early with early season match-ups against Tri-Cities and Allen.
4- Allen Wranglers (10-4)*- The more I look at this team the less I like them as a title contender. NO argument about the talent they have in Allen, just have a weird feeling that there will be plenty of problems with the players and coaching staff there with all of the lofty expectations. No secret that there is money being thrown around there with the recent TO negotiations, so with money comes expectations and if expectations aren't met there will be changes. Very good group of OL, DL, and DB's, but beyond that not sure about the talent level to be a Top 3 team at least. Whoever the QB ends up being will determine how this team finishes this season (in my opinion Tuitama gives them the best chance).
5- Omaha Beef (9-5)*- Much like the Ice, have been sitting on a talented group of players for most of the off season. A very large group of young players will probably cause some problems early on, but by the end of the season the talent level should take over. The schedule looks very favorable for them to get those young guys accustomed to the league as their first seven games are against Wichita twice, Nebraska, Wyoming twice, Green Bay, and Cedar Rapids. The defense and James McNear will be responsible for carrying this team early on, and then we will see how all those young athletes can play after that. Very solid team overall; no immediate strengths or weaknesses.
Middle of the Pack
6- Reading Express (8-6)*- Will be interesting to see how this team plays with a new coaching staff and QB. They have a lot of talent all over the place and much like Omaha, could be relying on some young players early on. Only difference is that those young players are in some pretty important positions. No doubt they will be able to play with the top teams this year, just a matter of closing out those games. Opening with Green Bay and then Sioux Falls will let them know real quick if they are going to be a contender or not. Like the group of OL and DL that they have. Much better than some think.
7- New Mexico (7-7)*- One of those teams that has been a little under the radar this off season. Have put together a very good roster that could very well win the Intense Conference. The WR group is by far the weak point of this team, but with a good OL and good QB they can probably push through some of these issues early on. A very good RB group will also help relieve some pressure. A solid defense will give them plenty of opportunities to win games early on. Open up with Colorado at home in the first game; will be a good opportunity to show what type of team they will have this season. Will probably be a much better team than their record will indicate.
8- Cedar Rapids (8-6)*- Another team that is a little under the radar, but putting together a solid team. With Terry and Jackson this is easily a playoff team because of the talent they have elsewhere. Without Terry and Jackson, this is still a playoff team because of experience at key positions, but it wouldn't be as easy. QB Willie Copeland has been one of the better QB's in the league over the past few seasons and will definitely lead them to some early wins. A good mix of veterans and rookies could be very beneficial throughout the entire season.
9- Everett Raptors (6-8 )- The scheduling committee didn't do much to help them out, but with some solid players they will have chances in every game. That being said, this team will most likely finish worse than their talent would lead you to believe; play Tri-Cities three times, Allen three times, Colorado twice, New Mexico twice, Nebraska twice, and Wyoming once. With a schedule like that they will not have many opportunities to pad the win column. One of the most exciting QB-WR combo in the league with McCullum and Piper-Jordan. A very suspect DB group could lead to many problems though, especially with the passing attacks they will face throughout the season.
10- Green Bay Blizzard (8-6)- I was giving them some added spots in the rankings only a few months ago because of the expectation that they would be able to bring in some solid talent. A month away from camp they have a total of 6 guys on the OL and DL; and not a very impressive group at that. A good group of receivers and defensive backs coupled with a great linebacker and solid QB play will allow them to win some games they shouldn't. If they don't make some moves soon to bring in some better prospects on the OL and DL it could be a very long year though.
11- Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (6-8 )- Still my surprise team in the league as I think they can put together a solid season and sneak into the playoffs. Will have to rely on getting guys up to speed very quickly at some positions, but when that happens they could be a very dangerous team. With Thompson now in place as the head coach, they have been able to bring in some talented players to fill some of the holes they had only a few months ago. A group of solid players in place already and the ability to add a few more in the final month could mean some big things early on.
12- Chicago Slaughter (6-8 )- Another team that could surprise because of some talented players in important positions. Much like last year though, the offense could be stuck having to carry the team. Solid group of skilled players on the offensive side of the ball will lead to a very exciting team that will put up a lot of points; but with the defense they have, Chicago could need 50 a game to win. Will be a very interesting battle at QB between Juice Williams and Ben Sankey. Not sure there is a good way to handle the situation with both being very capable, but not too willing to take a back-up role or split time.
13- Nebraska Danger (4-10)- A group that has plenty of talent, but little direction. Right now they have 10 roster spots being spent on WR's that are either older or unproven. Very little depth elsewhere, which doesn't matter much if they stay healthy and all the talent shows up for camp, but with knowing the IFL, neither are things I would bet on. Lack of direction at the top killed a solid team last year, and could do the same this year after loosing some of their best players on both sides of the ball. OL will be the strong point of this roster.
14- Wichita Wild (4-10)- Good enough team to play with some teams, but with losing their two biggest offensive weapons in Fudge and Solomon, they will have some big holes to fill. Competing with Everett for toughest schedule in the league; having to play Allen four times, Omaha three times, Sioux Falls, New Mexico twice, Nebraska Twice, Bloomington, and Green Bay. Phil Staback is good for 2-3 wins by himself, but beyond that it could be a long season. Lost too much talent to follow up on last years strong finish.
15- Wyoming Cavalry (2-12)- Have some more talented players than usual in Wyoming, but with their schedule it will be a very long season in Casper. Play Colorado four times, Everett, Omaha twice, Nebraska, Tri-Cities three times, New Mexico twice, and Sioux Falls once. That is 8 of their 14 games against arguably the Top 3 teams. Offense will be very solid, but the lack of talent on the defensive side will hurt them with the offenses they will face. The type of offense they run could keep them closer than expected though.
16- Bloomington Edge (2-12)- Unless they plan on playing Antonio Ficklin on both sides of the ball it will be a very very long season in Bloomington if their roster doesn't improve. With a roster full of rejects from other teams, or players that didn't produce much for them in years past, Bloomington is setting themselves up for a 0 win season. Would fully assume they add some more talent over the next month because there is no way they can expect to win with that roster.
*Projected Playoff Team
Last edited by dizzy; 01-12-2012 at 03:16 PM.