2017 Memorial Day Women’s Football Playoff Preview
Here it is, folks…my third annual Memorial Day women’s football playoff preview! A lot of exciting action to report, so let’s get caught up on the latest news from around all four leagues.
The Women’s Football Alliance – WFA1 Playoff Preview
Every week during the season with the release of the newest Massey Ratings, I break down the weekly WFA1 playoff rankings. This gives readers an idea every week of how the brackets would look if the playoffs started today.
Here are the current WFA1 playoff rankings with two weeks left in the regular season:
WFA1 Playoff Rankings
1. Boston Renegades
2. Chicago Force
3. Pittsburgh Passion
4. D.C. Divas
5. Cleveland Fusion
6. Atlanta Phoenix
Western Conference – Midwest Region
2. Dallas Elite
3. Minnesota Vixen
6. Arlington Impact
Western Conference – Pacific Region
1. Central Cal War Angels
4. Los Angeles Warriors
5. San Diego Surge
WFA1 Playoff Preview – East
In the National (Eastern) Conference, the bracket looks different than it does in the WFA’s other five conferences. Specifically, the six teams in WFA1’s Eastern Conference are not split into two regions – the Northeast and Southeast – the way that it is in WFA2 and WFA3. The reason is obvious…five of the six WFA1 teams are located in the Northeast, with the Atlanta Phoenix being the Southeast’s only representative in WFA1. With six teams willing to compete in the WFA1’s Eastern Conference and with six playoff slots available, that means every team in the East in WFA1 will make the playoffs.
The top two ranked teams in the nation – the Boston Renegades and Chicago Force – squared off in Chicago this past weekend, and the result befit the stakes. Boston nosed out Chicago with a fourth-quarter comeback and won by a single point, 25-24, to all but clinch the top seed in the WFA1 Eastern Conference playoffs.
As a member of the front office of the D.C. Divas, I often give our rival Boston Renegades a lot of (mostly good-natured) grief. But you have to give Boston all the credit in the world…they have played the nation’s #1 ranked schedule and have come out of it undefeated, and that’s no small feat. They haven’t done it without their fair share of scares…they survived their first meeting with the D.C. Divas in overtime and had to stage fourth-quarter rallies to narrowly beat the Pittsburgh Passion by five points and the Chicago Force by one.
Yet the Renegades have taken on all challengers and managed to shoot down each one. It has been a very, very impressive season for Boston, and they have more than earned the #1 seed in the East (barring a collapse against a solid Philadelphia Phantomz squad in their season finale, of course).
The Chicago Force currently sit in the #2 spot in the East, thanks to their one-point loss. They have to be kicking themselves right now, as their blown fourth-quarter lead now ensures that a playoff rematch with the Renegades will have to take place in Boston. Not only that, but they aren’t assured yet of a first-round bye…dropping to the #3 seed is still a very real possibility. Because…
The Pittsburgh Passion are currently slotted as the #3 team in the East. They cannot jump Boston in the rankings, thanks to their head-to-head loss to the Renegades coupled with a weaker overall schedule. However, Pittsburgh does not play Chicago, and a convincing win over the D.C. Divas this weekend (who Chicago defeated earlier in the season, but only by a single touchdown) would make the race for the East’s #2 seed very, very interesting. That makes this weekend’s game between the Divas and the Passion an important one; with a win, Pittsburgh could vie for the #2 seed, but with a loss, they’ll fall to #4.
The two-time defending league champion D.C. Divas are sitting in the #4 spot after two losses to Boston and one to Chicago. Those three defeats make it virtually impossible for the Divas to get a first-round bye and top-two seed in the East, but a win over Pittsburgh would allow them to jump the Passion for the #3 seed. A loss would not only lock D.C. into the #4 seed but also give Cleveland and Atlanta a chance to jump them, although that’s less likely given the strong schedule the Divas have played this season.
The Cleveland Fusion hold the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference at the moment. A head-to-head loss to Pittsburgh makes it unlikely that they will rise above the Passion for a top-three seed in the East. Cleveland’s best scenario is to win out – including a key contest this weekend against the Montreal Blitz – and hope that a lopsided win by Pittsburgh over the Divas the same day could deliver the Fusion the #4 seed over D.C.
Finally, the Atlanta Phoenix reside in the #6 slot in the Eastern Conference, but with good performances against their final two opponents – the Carolina Phoenix and D.C. Divas – Atlanta could play their way up the ladder a seed or two if things break correctly.
WFA1 Playoff Preview – West
The two-time defending American (Western) Conference champion Dallas Elite continue to bide their time, waiting with the top seed in their region and the #2 overall seed in the West. I used this analogy in a previous article, but the Dallas Elite are like a golfer who is already in the clubhouse on Sunday with a six-under-par. Dallas’ problem is that there is another golfer out there – specifically the Central Cal War Angels – who is still on the course with an eight-under-par. Dallas essentially controls nothing that would allow them to catch Central Cal for the top seed in the West…all they can do at this point is wait and hope Central Cal trips up against the Los Angeles Warriors in their season finale.
Anyway, Dallas will cruise to the top seed in the Midwest Region and a top-two seed in the West. The historic Minnesota Vixen, coming off of an IWFL conference championship last year, are holding steady with the #2 seed in the Midwest Region. The Vixen, who are currently 5-1, have a very intriguing game this weekend with the St. Louis Slam; although it has little to no playoff implications, it should be a very competitive game as the Vixen try to finish the regular season on a strong note.
The Arlington Impact appear to have all but clinched the third and final playoff spot in the Midwest Region over the Kansas City Titans. Kansas City’s 40-point loss to the Vixen was their fourth straight defeat by a decisive score, while Arlington is cruising along with a 5-1 record. The Impact will likely head to Minnesota for a conference quarterfinal to face the Vixen, with the winner of that contest squaring off for the regional title against the Dallas Elite.
In the Pacific Region, the undefeated Central Cal War Angels control their own destiny. Central Cal will secure the top seed in the Western Conference if they can defeat the Los Angeles Warriors on the road in their regular season finale June 3. It will likely be their toughest battle of the year: the War Angels survived their closest challenge of the season on April 22, edging the Warriors at home by a 28-19 count. If Central Cal can sweep the Warriors on June 3, they will clinch home field advantage throughout the WFA playoffs.
Right now, the Los Angeles Warriors hold a narrow edge over the San Diego Surge for the #2 seed in the region. The Warriors can solidify their lead over San Diego (and give Dallas a real hand) by knocking off Central Cal in their season finale, but even with a win, the #2 seed in the region is their ceiling given Central Cal’s performance to date.
The San Diego Surge are currently holding on to the #3 seed in the region, which could set up a fun playoff clash. Los Angeles and San Diego have had two terrific battles this season: a 41-40 San Diego victory to open the season on April 1, and a 40-34 win by Los Angeles on May 13. It would be a great, great matchup if these two squared off for a third time in the conference quarterfinals.
The Portland Fighting Shockwave are right in the mix as well, but it looks like they’ll finish just outside of the playoff picture this year. The Fighting Shockwave have had an excellent season with a 6-1 record so far, but they are hampered by playing exclusively weaker competition in the Pacific Northwest and by their 24-21 loss to the Seattle Majestics on April 8. That lone loss and no games against their tougher California counterparts will likely see them get narrowly edged out of the third and final playoff spot in the region this year.
The Women’s Football Alliance – WFA2 Playoff Preview
Once again, the WFA2 playoffs have the potential to be as exciting and entertaining as the playoffs in the top division, if not more so! As was the case last year, there are only two teams in the Midwest Region in WFA2, which means one of that region’s three playoff spots will be voided and only 11 teams will fill out the WFA2 bracket.
Here are the current WFA2 playoff rankings with two weeks left in the regular season:
WFA2 Playoff Rankings
Eastern Conference – Northeast Region
1. Montreal Blitz
2. Philadelphia Phantomz
3. Columbus Comets
Eastern Conference – Southeast Region
4. Carolina Phoenix
5. Tampa Bay Inferno
6. Miami Fury
Western Conference – Midwest Region
1. St. Louis Slam
5. Madison Blaze
Western Conference – Pacific Region
2. Mile High Blaze
3. Sin City Trojans
4. Everett Reign
WFA2 Playoff Preview – East
The playoff chase in the Northeast Region of WFA2 is brutally competitive. Four teams are battling it out for three playoff spots in this region. The Montreal Blitz currently hold the top seed in the region and in the whole WFA2 tier, positioning themselves for championship honors in their first year in the WFA. They have a wide lead in securing a playoff spot in this region, but there is still work to be done…a compelling matchup with the Cleveland Fusion on May 27 followed by their regular season finale against the New York Sharks means Montreal can’t afford a misstep with three other strong regional teams on their heels.
The reigning regional champion Philadelphia Phantomz are holding strong in the #2 spot, thanks largely to an impressive 40-0 victory over the New York Sharks on May 13 as well as what is easily the toughest schedule in WFA2. Philadelphia’s three losses this year are to Boston, D.C., and Pittsburgh, respectively, and when you throw in their regular season finale against Boston, the Phantomz have faced a gauntlet so far this season. Massey is rightly rewarding Philadelphia for loading up on the region’s top-tier powerhouses, which will also have them battle-tested by the time the postseason arrives.
The race for the third seed in the region comes down to two teams: the Columbus Comets and the New York Sharks. The Columbus Comets are clinging to the third and final playoff spot in the region with one game remaining on their schedule, a battle with the Pittsburgh Passion on June 3. Columbus dropped a competitive 30-19 decision to the Passion in their season opener, but they’ll likely need to battle Pittsburgh tough again to hold off the Sharks for the final playoff bid in the WFA2 Northeast Region.
Currently outside looking in but still very much in the picture are the New York Sharks, who have had an up-and-down season. A narrow 21-18 loss to the D.C. Divas and a 9-7 victory over the Cleveland Fusion show how formidable the Sharks can be when they’re clicking. But lopsided losses to WFA2 foes Montreal (32-8) and Philadelphia (40-0) means that getting the third and final playoff seed in the Northeast behind those two teams is about the best the Sharks can hope for.
New York still has work to do, as they presently sit behind Columbus for the #3 seed and out of the playoff picture altogether. The Sharks’ final remaining game, in Montreal against the Blitz on June 3, will obviously have huge implications, as will Columbus’ performance against Pittsburgh that same day. As it stands right now, the New York Sharks are the highest-ranked team in the WFA not currently in line for a playoff bid, which again underscores just how competitive and entertaining this WFA2 regional race has been all season long.
Things are far less murky in the WFA2 Southeast, where all three spots are all but decided. The Carolina Phoenix are in command of the top seed in the region. It’s likely that, due to their schedule, they’ll be playing on the road for the Eastern Conference championship should they make it there. But Carolina has secured a first-round bye and home field advantage for the conference semifinals with a strong performance in their first season in the WFA.
But don’t overlook the undefeated Tampa Bay Inferno, who are the reigning WFA2 Eastern Conference champions. Tampa Bay’s schedule is not as strong as Carolina’s, which gives a distinct advantage to the one-loss Phoenix. But the Inferno have not lost to an Eastern Conference foe since 2015, and that will make them a very, very dangerous opponent for any team come playoff time.
The third and final playoff spot in the Southeast Region belongs to the historic Miami Fury, who are back after a one-year hiatus. The Fury appear headed for a third showdown this season against Tampa Bay, and we can only hope that their playoff meeting is as entertaining as the 24-21 win the Inferno escaped with on April 8. Regardless, it’s good to see Miami back and clicking on all cylinders after their one-year break.
WFA2 Playoff Preview – West
The question in WFA2 remains: can anyone stop the St. Louis Slam? St. Louis is in the best position of the three reigning WFA champions to repeat; the D.C. Divas are currently a #4 seed in the top division, while the WFA3 champion Acadiana Zydeco will miss the playoffs in 2017. But the undefeated St. Louis Slam are holding firm to the top seed in the WFA2 Western Conference playoffs and are in prime position to return to Pittsburgh to defend their title.
It’s hard to imagine St. Louis not holding on to the #1 seed in the West, especially with a strong schedule to finish out the year. Their finale against the Chicago Force could be a tough draw, but I’m particularly excited to see how the Slam fare against the Minnesota Vixen on May 27. That should be a very exciting game and one that will have the Slam ready to go for the playoffs.
The only other team in the Midwest Region of WFA2 are the newcomer Madison Blaze, who are 3-3 this season against some very solid competition. Madison will likely have a difficult time against St. Louis in the regional championship game, but it will be good to see the Blaze in the playoffs in their first season in the WFA.
The Mile High Blaze hold the top seed in the Pacific Region and the #2 seed in the West behind St. Louis. The Blaze were the #2 seed in the region last year and lost a hard-fought road game in the regional championship to the Sin City Trojans, 28-24. This season, Mile High is 7-0, unscored upon, and has all but clinched the right to host the Pacific Regional championship.
Claiming the second playoff spot in the Pacific Region are the Sin City Trojans. Sin City has a 3-3 record, but don’t overlook the Trojans; their three losses are to WFA1 powerhouses Central Cal, San Diego, and Los Angeles, so Sin City will be battle-tested when the WFA2 playoffs begin. They will look to defend their regional title from last season, but they’ll have to win in Denver if they want to capture their second straight Pacific Region crown.
The third and final seed in the region belongs to the Everett Reign, who are bidding for their second straight playoff appearance. The Tacoma Trauma laid claim to the #3 seed in the region for much of the year, thanks to a narrow 6-0 defeat of Everett in their season opener. But the Everett Reign knocked off the Trauma in their rematch on May 13, 14-6, and Tacoma’s lopsided loss last weekend to the Southern Oregon Lady Renegades gives Everett the inside track to capture the region’s final playoff spot for the second year in a row.
The Women’s Football Alliance – WFA3 Playoff Preview
Last season, there were 11 teams in WFA3…this year there are 31! That’s astounding, and as such, the WFA has expanded their Tier III playoffs to an eight-team bracket this year. Eight teams may seem like too few for a 31-team division, but remember, you’re dealing with teams with very small rosters in Tier III. Expanding to 12 or more teams in this tier would create the possibility of some WFA3 team having four playoff games, which could be a bit much, given the small roster sizes of these teams. I think an eight-team bracket works very nicely in this tier, and I’m excited to see how it shakes out this season.
Here are the current WFA3 playoff rankings with two weeks left in the regular season:
WFA3 Playoff Rankings
Eastern Conference – Northeast Region
1. Toledo Reign
3. Richmond Black Widows
Eastern Conference – Southeast Region
2. Orlando Anarchy
4. Cincinnati Sizzle
Western Conference – Midwest Region
3. Arkansas Wildcats
4. Minnesota Machine
Western Conference – Pacific Region
1. Inland Empire Ravens
2. Southern Oregon Lady Renegades
WFA3 Playoff Preview – East
In the Northeast, there are three teams battling it out for two playoff spots in the region. The Toledo Reign are currently the top team in the region (and in all of WFA3), which is a pretty amazing story. The Reign are in their 14th season of play and have never won a playoff game, much less a championship. But they hold a solid grip on the top playoff spot in this region, which could set the stage for a real Cinderella story.
Toledo’s opponent in a regional championship game really comes down to two contenders: the Richmond Black Widows and the Maine Mayhem. Richmond, the reigning WFA3 Eastern Conference champions, are hanging on to a narrow lead for the second and final playoff spot in the Northeast. A lopsided 62-30 loss to the Baltimore Nighthawks last weekend didn’t help their playoff chances, but they still have two winnable games remaining on the schedule that could give them a better grasp on the final playoff slot.
The Maine Mayhem have had an outstanding debut in the WFA this season, coming off of a bowl game victory last year. The Mayhem sit at 4-1 with three games still to play, but the key contest is this weekend when they host the Keystone Assault. Richmond drilled Keystone earlier this year by a 40-0 score, so Maine will need an equally impressive showing to keep pace with the Black Widows for the Northeast’s second playoff spot.
Speaking of Cinderella stories, the Orlando Anarchy have all but clinched the #1 seed in WFA3’s Southeast Region after a 6-0 start. All women’s football fans are surely aware of the tragic passing of Anarchy assistant coach Cory Connell, who was killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting last year. The Anarchy have dedicated their 2017 season to being “Cory Strong”, and after an 0-8 record last year, they have raced out to a 6-0 mark so far this year.
The toughest tests lie ahead, as the Anarchy close out the regular season with games against the Miami Fury and Tampa Bay Inferno, who are both in line to make the playoffs in WFA2. Still, it’s been a storybook year for the Orlando Anarchy, and no matter how the regular season wraps up, they have virtually clinched the top seed in the WFA3 Southeast Region in 2017, which is a pretty terrific story.
The second seed in the Southeast currently belongs to the Cincinnati Sizzle. The reigning USWFL champions joined the WFA this season, and a solid 4-2 record so far this year has them in line for the playoffs. In particular, two convincing wins over the Music City Mizfits is helping to keep Cincinnati above the Mizfits and the South Carolina Smash for the final playoff berth in the region.
WFA3 Playoff Preview – West
Moving along to the Midwest Region, one team clearly stands out above the rest. The Arkansas Wildcats have made a nice return from a one-year hiatus, zooming to a 5-2 record with two respectable losses to the WFA1 Arlington Impact. Arkansas has virtually clinched the #1 seed in the Midwest Region and a home game in the upcoming playoffs.
The second seed in the Midwest Region is currently the Minnesota Machine, which is bound to cause controversy. The Machine are 1-5, with their only victory a forfeit one over the defunct Nebraska Stampede. But even though the Machine haven’t won a non-forfeit game, their losses are all to the Kansas City Titans, Minnesota Vixen, Mile High Blaze, and Madison Blaze (twice), and all of those teams are fairly highly ranked.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that Massey doesn’t think the Machine are a great team by any stretch, rating them #53 out of 65 teams in the league. The problem here is that Massey rates the other three teams in this region even lower: the Houston Power (#55), Austin Outlaws (#56), and Acadiana Zydeco (#63) have all had their struggles this year. The Zydeco, the reigning WFA3 champs, are winless this season and have been outscored in their last four contests, 202-0.
The Houston Power are currently 2-5, with their only two wins against Acadiana. And they weren’t notable performances, exactly…while the Power won both games in shutout fashion, 24-0 and 36-0, those are actually the two lowest point totals the Zydeco have surrendered this season.
The Austin Outlaws, in my view, actually have a better overall resume than Houston, despite being ranked just below them in the Massey Ratings. Austin is 3-3 with two victories over Acadiana, but they also have a 21-20 victory over Houston to their credit. The biggest flaw for Austin, and what’s killing them in Massey, is the fact that they only narrowly defeated the Zydeco, 46-42; after scoring 42 points against Austin, the Zydeco haven’t scored a single point in five games since.
So that’s where we are. Massey has to decide who to put up against Arkansas in a regional championship game, and right now, it’s taking the Minnesota Machine. It may seem like an odd choice, but Arkansas has played and beaten Houston (42-8), Austin (26-0), and Acadiana (39-12) all this year by convincing scores. I’m not sure the Minnesota Machine wouldn’t have as good a shot at upsetting the Arkansas Wildcats as anyone else.
(Ironically, this very situation has come up before…and involving this very same team! The Minnesota Machine qualified for the WFA playoffs in 2014 with a 2-7 record, with both of their wins coming by forfeit over the Iowa Steamrollers. I remember the loud complaints three years ago about how foolish Massey was for putting a Machine team that hadn’t won a non-forfeit game in the playoffs, and how this was a horrible indictment of Massey, the WFA, women’s football, and the world in general. That chatter died out quickly, however, when the Machine notched their only non-forfeit win of 2014 in the opening round of the WFA playoffs, easily defeating the Tulsa Threat, 35-13.)
The last piece of this year’s puzzle, however, is that the Houston Power host the Austin Outlaws on June 3. A convincing win by either team would probably be enough to vault them over the Machine and into the playoffs. But another one-point game between the two and it’s entirely possible the Machine will get a shot at their first non-forfeit win in a playoff game, and Houston and Austin would have no one to blame but themselves. They get to make one last audition for a playoff spot, and it will be compelling to see how it turns out.
Finally, in the Pacific Region, it’s a dogfight for the region’s two playoff spots, with three teams firmly in the mix. The Inland Empire Ravens are narrowly in control of the region’s top playoff spot at the moment, thanks mostly to a tough schedule that includes the San Diego Surge and Central Cal War Angels of WFA1. The Ravens – formerly known as the West Coast Lightning – host the Sin City Trojans on June 3, which will be the biggest determining factor in whether or not they can hold onto their playoff position.
The Southern Oregon Lady Renegades, the reigning WFA3 Pacific Region champs, are presently holding strong to the second seed in the playoffs. The Lady Renegades have been battling through a tough schedule that included two close losses to the Seattle Majestics, but they had not earned a win until last weekend when a decisive victory over the Tacoma Trauma, 33-13, put them right back into the playoff mix. The Lady Renegades’ last regular season contest at the Everett Reign could give them a chance to lock down a spot in the regional championship game.
The Rocky Mountain Thunderkatz survived last season’s playoff debacle in the IWFL and have made a nice transition to the WFA, holding a strong 4-3 record. The Thunderkatz had a tight grasp of the top seed in this region until last weekend, when they suffered a surprising 14-8 setback to the Utah Blitz. That loss could cost them a playoff spot, but a win over La Muerte De Las Cruces in their season finale and a misstep by either Inland Empire or Southern Oregon would open the door for the Thunderkatz to walk right back into the conversation.
The Independent Women’s Football League – IWFL Playoff Preview
The IWFL’s struggles have been well-chronicled, as have my numerous objections to how poorly the league is run. Yet many fans may not be aware of just how sad a shape the IWFL is in this season. After all, go to the IWFL’s member directory and you’ll see a listing of teams that makes it seem like they have about two dozen league members or so…a little thin, but not too bad.
As with most things in the IWFL, it’s all a mirage. First off, the Montreal Blitz, Madison Blaze, New York Sharks, and Washington Prodigy aren’t “inactive teams”…they are very, very active this season, just in leagues other than the IWFL. Second, the IWFL indicates “2017 expansion”, and then simply lists, “Rhode Island”. Like, the whole state, apparently. Never mind the fact that any Rhode Island expansion team would not be ready to play in 2017…so it’s really a planned addition in the fall of 2017 for play in 2018, I’m guessing, which isn’t misleading at all.
Anyway, there are 18 teams listed as active members for the IWFL’s 2017 season. At least that’s accurate, right? Wrong. As it turns out, the Albuquerque Avengers, Tampa Bay Reign, and Rogue Valley Elements aren’t playing in 2017…they are nowhere to be found on the IWFL’s 2017 schedule. All of which means the IWFL is playing with 15 member teams in 2017.
Let that sink in for a minute. The IWFL has 15 teams in 2017. I’ll say it again…the IWFL has 15 teams in 2017. That’s the smallest number the IWFL has had since its inaugural four-team “exhibition” season in 2001.
A pretty sad commentary for a league still billing itself as “the standard bearer for quality in the sport of women’s tackle football”, isn’t it?
The good news – other than the fact that there aren’t very many women’s football teams still buying what Kezia’s selling – is that it makes covering the IWFL a snap. You can break the 15 active teams in the IWFL down into three groups:
Austin Yellow Jackets
San Antonio Regulators*
South Texas Lady Crushers*
North County Stars
Basically, there is a solid core of six teams on the West Coast and another solid five-team nucleus around Texas. Then there are four teams that are part of the IWFL even though they are completely marooned geographically…these are the teams clinging to the IWFL by their fingernails, like Wile E. Coyote hanging onto a cliff in a Looney Tunes cartoon.
IWFL Playoff Preview
So how are these 15 teams going to stack up in the IWFL playoffs, you ask? Well, let’s start by noting that only ten of them are actually eligible for the playoffs…five teams have accepted “affiliate” status, which takes them out of the running for playoff consideration (in exchange for a lower league fee, presumably). Those teams have asterisks attached to them above.
You’ll see it’s likely a good decision for most of them. Three of those teams are in the Marooned Conference and are incurring enough travel costs in the regular season to likely rule out an expensive playoff run, anyway. And the Lady Crushers – who went winless and scoreless in the WFA in 2015 – have picked up right where they left off, currently winless and scoreless in the IWFL in 2017.
Here, then, are the IWFL’s two conferences with the affiliate teams omitted and overall records included:
Austin Yellow Jackets (6-0)
Houston Energy (5-1)
Tulsa Threat (2-4)
Carolina Queens (1-3)
Utah Falconz (5-0)
North County Stars (4-1)
Sacramento Sirens (4-2)
Phoenix Phantomz (2-4)
Carson Bobcats (2-4)
Nevada Storm (0-6)
The IWFL, being the IWFL, decided to separate Carson, North County, and Phoenix into one Western Conference division and Nevada, Sacramento, and Utah into another…because a six-team conference definitely needs two separate divisions. They also have the East split into two divisions, with the three Texahoma teams in one division and the Carolina Queens all alone in the other. (Woo hoo! Division champs!)
How any of this relates to the playoffs is a complete mystery, since the IWFL – in keeping with league policy – hasn’t publicized how they’re planning to handle their playoffs yet. That wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that the IWFL has badly, epically mishandled their playoffs the last three years in a row, which doesn’t give you a lot of faith in the wait-and-see approach. But don’t worry…check back soon for updated info!
In fairness to the IWFL, creating a playoff structure for a ten-team league should be so simple that it might not be possible for even Kezia Disney to screw it up. But she’s been known to surprise in that regard.
My guess – and it’s a completely uninformed one, given the secrecy that pervades the IWFL and its inconsistent application of any and all rules – is that the IWFL will go with a four or six-team bracket for their playoffs. I can’t imagine they’ll go with eight, given that there are only ten teams eligible…but it’s the IWFL we’re talking about, so who knows. A four-team playoff would absolutely be sufficient, but if I had to guess, I’d wager that the IWFL goes with a six-team playoff; I’m thinking the league will want a playoff round before the conference championship games so they don’t tip the public off to just how few teams they have left.
Anyway, let’s get to the teams…and despite the poor league management in the IWFL, there are a few very good ones in here. In the East, the undefeated Austin Yellow Jackets are clearly in control of the #1 seed, having beaten all three playoff competitors in the IWFL Eastern Conference. The Houston Energy are in second place, with their only loss a 24-6 home setback to the Yellow Jackets. That should probably be your Eastern Conference championship game, but I wouldn’t put it past the IWFL to try to squeeze the Carolina Queens in there somehow if their travel budget will allow it under the whole “division champion” caveat.
Out west, the Utah Falconz are steamrolling everyone as expected and will not have to leave Utah for the upcoming IWFL playoffs, as they are hosting the league’s championship weekend. The race for the #2 seed in the West is much more interesting…based on last year’s results, one might have expected the Carson Bobcats to be in line for that seed, but they have taken a bit of a step back this season.
Stepping up to the plate are the Sacramento Sirens, who are currently in line for the #2 slot in the West. Technically the North County Stars have a better record, with only one loss to Sacramento’s two. But that’s due to the fact that the Sirens have lost twice to the undefeated Falconz, while the Stars have not faced them yet and only play them once this year. (Yet another shining example of straight records being misleading.)
More importantly, the Sirens handed North County their only loss of the year, 48-6, on April 22. North County and Sacramento play each other again on June 10, but barring a huge reversal, the Sirens are in line for the #2 spot, which would leave North County at #3.
(Of course, if North County were to win out and even the season series with Sacramento at one win each, the Stars would get the #2 seed over the Sirens on the basis of a better straight record…all because Sacramento was forced to play the indomitable Utah Falconz twice while North County had the advantage of only playing them once. Sacramento and North County would split the season series, but because Sacramento played Utah twice and North Country played Utah only once, North County would get the higher seed with two overall losses to Sacramento’s three. Seriously people…if you can’t see why using straight records for playoff positioning in the unbalanced world of women’s football is a bad idea, I’m running out of ways to show you.)
Again, we don’t know how the IWFL will sort out their playoffs…but assuming they take six teams, it looks like Utah, Sacramento, and North County have the inside track in the West, while Austin and Houston (and perhaps Carolina) will make the grade in the East.
What about the Founders Bowl? The Affiliate Bowl? The other “ancillary activities” for what the IWFL continues to bill as “the biggest weekend in women’s football”? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see, dear reader. You’ll just have to wait and see.
The United States Women’s Football League – USWFL Playoff Preview
The USWFL is a league that caters to teams with smaller rosters, and it usually gets a later start than the two larger leagues. As such, even by Memorial Day, it can be hard to sort out what’s what in the USWFL. This year is no different.
The USWFL initially talked of having 14 teams for the 2017 season. Two of those proposed teams – the Indiana Prime and Texarkana Lions – didn’t make it to launch this year, leaving a dozen teams competing in the USWFL.
But of those 12 teams still technically in the USWFL, three of them – the Arkansas Xtra, Baltimore Burn, and Erie Illusion – haven’t played a game and frankly, don’t appear likely to do so this season. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.
All of which leaves us with nine teams that have actually participated in the USWFL so far in 2017. The USWFL has broken these nine teams into three divisions, but frankly, their divisions don’t make much sense now that six of their 15 teams aren’t likely to play this year. So, as a public service, I’m going to help the USWFL out and list their teams geographically in a way that makes more sense.
Here, then, are the USWFL’s nine confirmed teams and their overall records, split into two sensible conferences:
Washington Prodigy (4-0)
Detroit Pride (1-1)
West Virginia Wildfire (1-3)
Southern Indiana Storm (0-3)
Houston Wildcats (1-0)
Fayetteville Fierce (2-1)
Tri-Cities Thunder (2-1)
Tennessee Diamondbacks (1-1)
New Orleans Krewe (0-1)
USWFL Playoff Preview
How are the USWFL’s playoffs going to work? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Here’s what we know…the USWFL championship weekend is set to be held in West Virginia (presumably hosted by the Wildfire). The two best teams in the USWFL – by far – are the Houston Wildcats and the Washington Prodigy. Every other team in the USWFL would be fortunate to have 20-25 players on the roster, while the Wildcats and Prodigy both have around 40 or more. They are far and away the two strongest and most stable franchises in an otherwise developmental league.
But how the USWFL playoffs will be structured is anyone’s guess. The Houston Wildcats are particularly problematic…with Arkansas and Texarkana not viable, the Wildcats basically have no one to play in the regular season except the New Orleans Krewe. The Houston Wildcats, who set the IWFL on fire in their first season (in more ways than one), are just sitting out in Texas, idling away.
This is another wait and see situation. The league may just cut to the chase and have the Prodigy and Wildcats go straight to West Virginia, since the playoffs will be a mere formality for those two squads. From the start of the year, the smart money was on the Washington Prodigy facing the Houston Wildcats for the 2017 USWFL crown, and nothing has happened so far this season to convince me otherwise.
The Women’s Xtreme Football League – WXFL Playoff Preview
Putting the X in Xtreme for the third year in a row, the WXFL started the 2017 season with four teams – the Oklahoma City Lady Force, Enid Lady Enforcers, Kansas City Lady Cougars, and the Kansas City Storm. Oklahoma City is the two-time reigning champion of the league and the team that pretty much runs the show in the WXFL. So it’s worth noting that the Lady Force recently put out a Facebook update that read:
THE KANSAS CITY STORM Team, ARE OUT OF THE LEAGUE DUE TO FORFEITS AND NOT ENOUGH PLAYERS!
Yes, they capitalized the entire post except the word “team,” which also received a gratuitous comma. Anyway, this may be the end of the road for the Kansas City Storm, who have burned through more leagues than maybe any team in women’s football history.
In any event, the 2017 WXFL championship game has been announced for June 3, with the undefeated Oklahoma City Lady Force visiting the Enid Lady Enforcers. Will the Lady Force be able to three-peat? Having already won the regular season matchup by a 22-0 score, the answer is likely yes.
Well, that’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed this update on women’s football in 2017. Good luck to all those women’s football teams out there heading down the home stretch of the regular season…go get ’em!