Hello everyone, welcome back to the "Roland the Dice" series. Today I will be giving you guys my NFC takes going into season 5. I wanted to take another week and analyze my conference in the preseason before making my case(s). It was a little more difficult to narrow it down to 6 however, I'm positive this will be just as entertaining as the AFC. Let's see how the dice rolls!
1. Only 1 division winner from Season 4 will return to the playoffs in Season 5, as a Wildcard.
Though the RFL off-season may have seemed "Baron" of major transactions, the NFC was as busy as Wallstreet behind the scenes. The Thunderbirds made their run game(Mickens) and pass rush(Bodine)... BETTER. The Shamrocks BOLSTERED their defense(Chatman, Richwalski) and found a pot of gold(Gadsden). The Explorers UPGRADED their secondary(Dockett and Young). The Lancers IMPROVED their RB(Gary, Tripp III) and WR(Cayion) rooms. The Marshalls appointed a Coach and a new Sheriff(Agramonte) as they try to lock down the NFC South. However, the Desperados are still aiming to run away(Hall) with the division. The Crusaders now have a General to lead the winners of the "Week 1 Massacre". Ironically, the Condors snag the top CB in free agency(Garland). The Steamers may have had the best draft in RFL History, even with the Snowhawks' bird's eye view of the prospects. The Elks have continued strengthening the herd and Tylski seems to have outgrown his RFL Bambi legs. The Gunners give Houdini a couple more tricks to work with and the Tigers REVAMPED their pass catchers around Vandy. Like the ReloBowl, the Monarchs and Diablos are destined to make the #DraftBowl an international affair. The Conference is wide open, and more competitive than ever. Can the Elites remain planted in their spots or will Season 5 begin the rebuilding of the NFC power structure?
2. No Toronto Thunderbirds will win Yearly Awards. No Memphis Steamers will win Rookie Awards.
I linked these two together because my reason is the same for both; abundance. The Thunderbirds have OWNED the yearly awards, especially on defense. With a star-studded defensive line combined with Norman and Grey to dominate LB snaps, the old football saying, "enough footballs to go around" comes to mind. The same can be said for the Steamers' draft. With the number of starting caliber selections, the race for ROTY could be cancelled out by great teamwork. The wildcard is LC3. Mickens should provide rushing relief and the defensive strength of Toronto's new division could hinder LC3 from being the stat monster of previous seasons.
3. Jabre Jackson will have more INTs than TDs.
Here we go again. What is he talking about? Not that it's really mattered but, Jabre Jackson has never consistently played well against a solid secondary. Even with that, Houdini has continued to use his unorthodox playing style to create magic in Houston season after season. With not much improvement to an underachieving WR corps, the Gunners seem to be taking the same approach going into season 5, "Jabre on 3! Ready... BREAK!" With last year's playoff opponents(Dublin) picking up a solid veteran and rookie CB duo, Memphis drafting a shutdown CB to pair with a Pro Bowler and London's Dynamic Duo back for year 2, the Run "N" Gun may lead the Gunners to None "N" Done.
4. No NFC South team will be home to the leading rusher in the conference.
This take may seem shocking on paper but if you really think about it, it could make sense. Oklahoma's highly talented newbie(Gary) is likely to split carries with veteran NO3, an RFL staple. In Mexico City, split carries seems to be the 2nd biggest obstacle for rookie Madison Axel behind coaching. Te'Veon Hall is expected to be the workhorse in Austin, but until the passing game proves to be a threat, he should receive the majority of the defense's attention. The wildcard; Raysean Overstreet. Easily the #1 back in San Antonio, the play of Agramonte will dictate whether or not Overstreet is the feature or compliment of the Marshalls' offense.
5. NFC OROTY will NOT be Madison Axel.
If you recap the RFL draft, you'll notice some minute differences between the Conferences. On the AFC side, youth and offense were the two most prevalent needs. The QB Renaissance is quietly underway, and two historically great teams took the top 2 QBs available. Savoy looks to start for the Red Dragons this season, while Torres should sit behind Hobert for at least a year in OKC and learn from one of the most productive QBs in RFL History. On the NFC side, "Protecting and Stopping the QB" was the obvious focus, as only 10 offensive skill players were taken through the first 3 rounds. Only HB Madison Axel(3rd Rd, p.69) looks slated to start, as the rest are talented players stuck in depth roles. With the Diablos questionable offense and Rashard Duncan sharing carries with Axel, the OROTY trophy is wide open if injury or low production ousts one of the aging RFL veterans. My sleeper pick is WR Marcus Young of the Houston Gunners. His height and speed could work wonders for Jabre' as a viable target in scramble situations. The Gunners have been historically DESPERATE for a true #1 WR. After last year's performance, Colt Cruise becoming elite seems like a long shot, and Regis and Rutledge are both in the last years of their contracts(and primes). I didn't say Houdini wouldn't throw ANY touchdowns and there's no reason to waste Young's potential. Could Marcus Young be the ammunition that finally leads the Gunners to the ReloBowl?
6. The Mexico City Diablos are on the clock...
I don't like speaking in "Madden terms" when I do my articles. I think the RFL is bigger than that. However for this take I kind of have to. The Diablos are a top 5 overall team in the NFC. Technically, 3 teams are tied at 1, so they're a top 3 overall team. Unfortunately, they(and my Pioneers) are cursed with one of the worst playbooks in the game; Chicago. However, the Pioneers have the youth and personnel to make it "useable", the Diablos do not... AT ALL. Old and unathletic, I expect this year to be a bigger "mess in Mex" than the removal of the past coaching regime. Luckily for them, they'll have 2 1st and 4th rounders(via Brooklyn for Joe Johnson) to help rebuild their crumbling foundation. Many have the Monarchs as the favorite for the #1 pick but, I see the young talent on their roster keeping London in the RFL contention. QB Preston Schoeder is surrounded by viable options on offense(and a solid O-Line) and the defense has quality players in key positions. Can the Monarchs keep from being crowned worse team in the league?
There you have it, my final 6 RFL "hot takes" for the upcoming season. With kickoff roughly two weeks away, I'd like to wish ALL of our coaches, players and staff GOOD LUCK this year. I'm positive this will be one of the best seasons in RFL History and I'm honored to be a player and coach in this league. Special shoutout to Smitty, Bill, Mix and the the entire CU for the work they do for all of us on and behind the scenes. I can't wait to get the season officially underway. I'll be back to check in on my takes in a few weeks. Let's see who gets the last laugh! #LeagueFirst