NIFL weekly report
by Rocky Larson
April 25, 2002 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL)
We're nearing the midway point of the season for the NIFL and already teams are talking about the playoffs. Having your head in the clouds with ten weeks of football remaining is a dangerous way to play the game. Perhaps that is why two of the three teams that remain undefeated, Sioux City and Lake Charles, squeaked out wins by less than a touchdown last week. Keep your chinstraps fastened, boys. The hitting has just begun.
Scoring was down slightly this week as teams combined to average just over 69 points per game. Home teams are keeping the pressure, and the winning percentage, on their visiting opponents by averaging 41 points per game last week while only giving up 28 points. The winning percentage for the home team on the year is just over 66%.
Have you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? In a nutshell, it is when you believe something is going to happen and end up making it happen. Last week I stated that I seemed to be destined to pick three games wrong per week regardless of my stats-wrangling, game-studying, coin-flipping style. Well, I did it again, going 6-3 in accuracy. This brings my total accuracy to 30-15 on the season.
Twenty of the twenty-one teams in the NIFL take the field this week, with several key matchups on the card.
Thursday, April 25
- Wyoming Cavalry (0-5) @ Rapid City Red Dogs (2-4)
The Cavalry gave the 5-1 Billings Outlaws a scare last week, falling short of their first win of the season by a touchdown. It is true that Billings was without several key players, but the Cavalry effort proved that this team has no intention of giving up on their season. The Red Dogs are a team that is plagued with mistakes and miscues. This game will come down to who makes fewer mistakes. The Cavalry earn their first victory of the season with a gritty road win.
Saturday, April 27th
- Louisiana Rangers (2-1) @ Austin Knights (1-3)
The Rangers sit alone atop the NIFL Atlantic-East conference with little flash, fanfare or tongue wagging being done by the team. The Knights feel that they are ready to turn their season around after nearly upsetting the steamrolling Lake Charles Land Sharks last week. The turn-around won't be this week, Knights fans. Rangers win.
- La Crosse Night Train (0-4) @ Billings Outlaws (5-1)
The Night Train are one of three teams in the NIFL that have yet to win a game. Billings has looked vulnerable at times on their run to a 5-1 record, but they manage to put games away. This game could be a good one if Billings isn't careful. Even then, I don't see any outcome other than an Outlaws win.
- Lincoln Capitols (3-1) @ Bismarck Roughriders (3-2)
The Capitols are coming off of a 61-39 pasting at the hands of the Omaha Beef while the Roughriders earned a less-than-pretty home win against the Rapid City Red Dogs, 29-20. Bismarck has yet to find a rhythm with the passing game, relying on a running attack and turnovers to win. Lincoln is a solid, steady team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes but has difficulty stopping the run. I predict that the Capitols will jump out early and force the Roughriders to pass. That will spell the end of the game. Capitols improve to 4-1 on the season.
- Houma Bayou Bucks (1-3) @ Lake Charles Land Sharks (4-0)
Last week the expansion Bayou Bucks earned their first win by smacking around the Tupelo FireAnts and winning by twenty points at home. Lake Charles was caught napping and was lucky to get out of Austin, TX with a win. Don't expect a lack of effort from the Land Sharks this week. It's statement time. Land Sharks win big.
- Winston-Salem Energy (2-2) @ Mississippi Firedogs (1-2)
These two teams played three weeks ago with the Energy winning by eleven. Since then the Energy have split a pair of games while the Firedogs have enjoyed back-to-back bye weeks. I think that the Firedogs have used their time wisely and will be a new team for the remainder of the season. Firedogs win at home.
- Sioux Falls Storm (5-1) @ Omaha Beef (3-1)
This game features two of the top teams in the NIFL Pacific Conference. Both teams have suffered only one loss on the season. Both teams were depleted with injuries which contributed to those losses. Of their victories, both teams have won convincingly. So who is the better team this week? Without knowing the depth and severity of the Storm injuries, I've got to give the edge to the Beef. Expect sunny, storm-free skies in Omaha this weekend.
- River City Renegades (0-4) @ Tennessee Thundercats (2-2)
You've got to feel sorry for the Renegades. Of the four games they have played, and lost, the Renegades have lost by 2 points, 52 points, 29 points and 55 points. The Thundercats managed to win a game, then lose a game, then win a game and then lose last week. Hey, let's stick with the pattern. Thundercats win by at least 30.
- OV Greyhounds (3-0) @ Tupelo FireAnts (1-2)
To put it bluntly, this game is going to get ugly. Tupelo has the worst scoring offense in the league, bar none. They Greyhounds are balanced and tough. Too tough for the FireAnts. This game will be over by half-time and will showcase a Greyhounds victory.
Sunday, April 28th
- Sioux City Bandits (4-0) @ Tri City Diesel (2-3)
These two teams have a history of playing each other tough. I expect more of the same in this Sunday match up. The Bandits are sitting at 4-0 and are looking at a fairly difficult schedule for the rest of the season. The Diesel are looking up at divisional rivals Sioux City, Lincoln and Omaha and simply must start beating these teams. They must, but they won't. Sioux City wins, but wins by single digits.
NIFL Power Poll
The power poll a ranking system voted upon by a host of NIFL fans and experts from around the league. The pollster ranks each team from best to worst, 1st to 21st. A first-place vote is worth 21 points while a last-place vote is worth 1 point. The points are then averaged and each team is ranked according to power.
- Rank Score Team Comments
- 1 20 Lake Charles Land Sharks Their close game last week was a fluke.They are the team to beat in the NIFL.
- 2 (Tie) 19 Ohio Valley Greyhounds They're back near the top and are really the only competition the Land Sharks have in the Atlantic Conference.
- - 19 Sioux City Bandits Are they as good as their 4-0 record suggests? I don't think so.
- 4 (Tie) 17 Sioux Falls Storm Sioux Falls will be hard-pressed to keep up with Billings, who have an easier schedule.
- - 17 Billings Outlaws Billings is my odds-on favorite to take the Pacific-West division title.
- - 17 Omaha Beef Say, their 3rd string qb/former rb is doing pretty darn well. Are the Beef back?
- 7 16 Lincoln Capitols There is no better cure for a tough road loss last week than an easy road game this week.
- 8 14 Louisiana Rangers They're a top team, but have the earned the respect of the rest of the league?
- 9 12 Tennessee Thundercats They haven't strung two wins together yet this season. Hard to see the playoffs in their future without a winning streak.
- 10 (Tie) 11 Bismarck Roughriders How a team can be ranked this high with no qb is beyond me.
- - 11 Tri City Diesel They could surprise a few teams that may take them for granted.
- 12 10 Winston Salem Energy So could they.
- 13 9 Rapid City Red Dogs Here's a summer movie title for you: The Bad News Bears in "Football Follies."
- 14 8 Mississippi Firedogs With 2 weeks off they have no more excuse for poor play.
- 15 7 Austin Knights Football is a learning experience, and they're looking to put up some wins in the second half of the season.
- 16 (Tie) 6 Tupelo FireAnts Here's a novel concept: If you put the ball into the end zone you just might win the game!
- - 6 Bayou Bucks They cream Tupelo last week yet are tied with them in the poll. There is no justice.
- 18 (Tie) 4 Oklahoma Crude Things are starting to turn for the better in Oklahoma.
- - 4 Wyoming Cavalry I refuse to think that this team is as poor as their record. Too bad they're in one mean division.
- 20 (Tie) 2 La Crosse Night Train The helmet goes on with the face-mask to the front, guys.
- - 2 RiverCity Renegades River City, the NIFL's answer to shooting fish in a barrel.
All rights reserved by the author.
• Discuss this story on the National Indoor Football League message board...
National Indoor Football League Stories from April 25, 2002
- NIFL weekly report - OSC Original by Rocky Larson
- Defensive Lineman Hartweg Joins Capitols - Lincoln Capitols
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.