This is the week I solemnly refer to as “Letdown Week”. By Week 9, most teams know whether they are in the playoffs or not, and their outlook on the game or games that lie ahead change, deliberately or unconsciously. There is a human tendency to let up when there is less at stake, when the team goal of winning a title has not been achieved. Remain mentally focused and emotionally agile. You’re goal hasn’t changed, it has only been extended into next season. If your team isn’t going to make the playoffs in 2017, your 2018 season starts TODAY.
Commentary and picks by Backseat Coach. Photograph ©.
Last week’s record: 18-5 (78%)
Record in 2017: 155-29 (84%)
Montreal Blitz @ Cleveland Fusion — In considering this game, Cleveland’s loss to the New York Sharks keeps cropping up in my mind. I cannot pick Cleveland over Montreal after that, though I’d otherwise think Cleveland had the edge, especially at home.
Keystone Assault @ Maine Mayhem — If Maine (4-1) is to keep their playoff hopes alive, they will have to beat Keystone by 40 points, so as to match the Richmond Black Widows’ 40-0 shutout of the Assault in Week 5. Since the Mayhem’s final two opponents of the season (the N.Y. Knockout and the N.E. NightMare) don’t offer much in the way of rank-boosting power, they will have to wait on the outcome of Richmond’s June 3 tilt against Hampton Roads Lady Gators to see if Richmond tumbles out of playoff position.
Keystone (3-3) also needs a big win to make a late run for the playoffs. A victory against Maine would put Keystone in a position to mount an unlikely ascension into the D3 playoffs with a strong Week 10 showing against the highly ranked Baltimore Nighthawks.
This is the top D3 matchup of the weekend. Wish I could be there.
Hampton Roads Lady Gators @ New England Nightmare — The Lady Gators (2-4) have forfeited this one. I suspect they could not get enough traveling players on a holiday weekend; It is a long way for a small-roster team. And with the playoffs out of reach, maybe the impetus wasn’t there. Whatever the reason, it is disappointing, especially since that was a winnable game for Hampton otherwise.
Pittsburgh Passion @ DC Divas — D.C. is 11-4 all-time against the Passion. Before the Passion joined the IWFL to collect two minor-league championships in 2014 and 2015, they had split regular season series with the Divas in 2012 and 2013. Had these teams met in the first half of the season, I’d have picked DC (3-3), but based on what I have seen throughout the season, I think Pittsburgh (5-1) will win this one. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this game was decided by one point. This is the top D1 matchup of the week.
Toledo Reign @ Indy Crash — Sadly, Indy has had to forfeit this game after emptying the tank against St. Louis last week. It has been a tough campaign for the Crash (the toughest in their history, they state on social media) and it is clear that this great franchise will have to redouble their efforts on recruitment following the 2017 season. I have much confidence that they will come back stronger than ever. Before then, however, the Crash have one last home game scheduled.
Carolina Phoenix @ Atlanta Phoenix — It’s the back half of the season series and Atlanta is going to throw everything behind this one. But Carolina has the edge as they try to preserve their home field advantage in the Southeast region.
Cincinnati Sizzle @ Flint City Riveters — Flint has played it pretty tough all season and now they are at home to face Cincy. I think it will be close. The Sizzle needs to stay competitive to thwart any chance that Music City or South Carolina gain ground.
Miami Fury @ Orlando Anarchy — That Orlando has risen to the point of being competitive with Miami shows that they have truly come a long way. While Miami is the toughest competition they have faced so far this season, the Anarchy will find a way to win their final regular season home game. For Miami, it is highly unlikely that even a loss will knock them from the D2 playoffs, but in case the worst happens, I want to say it has been great to have the Fury return to form following an idle season in 2016.
Kansas City Titans @ Minnesota Machine — It has been a rough year for KC in the win-loss column, but they already defeated the Machine soundly this season. It may be closer this time, but Titans bring home a victory.
Prediction: Kansas City
St. Louis Slam @ Minnesota Vixen — I expect this to be on the competitive level of Slam/Titans games of the past 3 years: several lead changes, decided very late in the game. It could really go either way. Expect situational football.
Prediction: St. Louis
Austin Outlaws @ Arlington Impact — Arlington aim to get the margin they need to maintain their position as the #3 seed in the D1 Midwest Region. Austin needs something big to get ahead of the Minnesota Machine in the D3 Midwest Region bracket.
Portland Shockwave @ S. Oregon Lady Renegades — The Lady Renegades can help themselves solidify their playoff position as the #2 seed in the D3 Pacific Region bracket with a decent performance against Portland. Their main competition for that slot is Rocky Mountain who is idle this week. The Fighting Shockwave on the other hand are fighting for a D1 Pacific Region playoff berth. Assuming they take care of business against Southern Oregon in this their final regular season game, they will have to hope the San Diego Surge stumbles today against the Sin City Trojans. This is make-or-break week for Portland.
Everett Reign @ Seattle Majestics — Seattle is essentially out of the D1 playoff picture. Since this is “letdown week” let me say there is an outside chance of an upset by Everett if the Majestics commit to getting more playing time for their less experienced players.
Utah Blitz @ Mile High Blaze — With little but pride to fight for, Utah turned in a stunning upset of the Rocky Mountain Thunderkatz last week, probably spoiling their playoff chances. Don’t expect a repeat performance this week.
Prediction: Mile High
San Diego Surge @ Sin City Trojans — Sin City is in the D2 playoffs regardless of the outcome of this game, though their seeding remains pliable. As I mentioned earlier, Portland’s playoff hopes are pinned to San Diego’s performance today. A solid win by the Surge will cement them in the D1 playoffs and put the Fighting Shockwave into the off-season.
Prediction: San Diego
Ventura Wolfpack @ Inland Empire Ravens — It has been over a month since Ventura took to the field, so I am sure they are itching to go. Only a surprising loss could force the Ravens out of the playoffs at this point.
Prediction: Inland Empire
Kern County Crusaders @ Los Angeles Warriors — This game has been forfeited by Kern County. It will have essentially no implications for the playoffs; the Crusaders are out and the Warriors will be in. But this is the second home game this season that Los Angeles has had to cancel due to forfeit. What team can survive with only two home games to create revenue? Teams cannot thrive this way.
La Muerta Las Cruces @ Santa Fe Dukes — I have visions of this developing into a juicy rivalry in the years to come. For today, expect Las Cruces to earn their second victory of the season. This is the final game of 2017 for the Dukes. Thank you for continuing to grow the game in Santa Fe. I am excited to see what you will do next season
Prediction: Las Cruces
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