Written By: Christian Bacigaluppi
Any league where there are more teams than there are games, especially when division opponents play each other more than once, you’re going to get unbalanced schedules. Some teams will get more opponents considered, “easy wins”. While other teams look like they must beat the best of the best to get into the playoffs, just to play the best of the best again once they make the playoffs. Here we will look at this season’s strength of schedules, based on last year’s records.
First, some details need to be covered on how the list was determined. We added up the records of each team on a schedule, including counting divisional games as individual matchups. We are including last year’s playoff team’s records. If a team plays a conference champ, I.E., the Red Dragons or Explorers, that should affect your strength of schedule. Now the biggest asterisk of the list; Last year the Snowhawks went the first half of their season without out several key players. So needless to say, those games are not a good example of the team we will see in season 6 of the RFL. So we took the 2nd half of their schedule, which had the same number of auto win bye weeks as the 1st half, & doubled it. So, in the 2nd half of the season, the Snowhawks went 5-3. So we put their record as 10-6 as the record we will use for teams who play them in season 6. Now, this did not affect the teams records that played the Snowhawks in the 1st half of season 5, because those teams that beat the depleted Snowhawks, still had to strap up & earn a win.
Mission Impossible – Chicago Tigers
Tigers: 151-54 73.7%
The Chicago Tigers easily have the toughest path ahead of them, in the NRC, with their opponents having a combined record of 151-54 and a 73.7 win%. It’s bad enough this team was the 2nd worst team in the NRC. Now coming off that season, they have a murder’s row of opponents waiting for them, including the Thunderbirds and Explorers twice, as well as four playoff teams in the Crusaders, Lancers, Steamers and Wizards (Marshalls), I.E, they have 8 total games versus all the NRC playoff teams. The other four opponents are the Barons twice, a team that some think could have made the playoffs if they didn’t change QBs. Then they have last year’s 11-5 Desperados who missed the playoffs via tiebreakers and the 9-7 Diablos, who many think are a lot better than their season 5 record shows.
Teams With Hard Times Ahead
Diablos: 140-64 68.6%
Wizards: 134-69 66%
Barons: 135-72 65.2%
Desperados 133-71 65.1%
An Uphill Battle
Thunderbirds: 129-74 63.5%
Lancers: 124-74 62.6%
Explorers: 124-75 62.3%
Now some of you may have noticed, the 8 teams with the toughest schedules are NRC North and NRC South teams. Welp, that’s what happens when the 2 strongest divisions in the NRC are scheduled to play each team in the other division. Other than the Chicago Tigers, there’s not a team in either division you can look at and think, “that’ll be an easy win”. What’s really crazy, it’s very possible that these 2 strong divisions, get no Wild Cards into the playoffs since they’ll be beating each other’s brains out all season. The description of the Tiger’s schedule really shows how strong each of these teams are. Though, most would doubt that neither the Explorers nor Thunderbirds won’t make the playoffs.
A Lil Rocky NRC Road
Monarchs: 117-80 59.4%
Gunners: 118-81 59.3%
Elks: 117-82 58.8%
Condors: 114-83 57.9%
These teams don’t have the easiest road ahead, but who would say they have a hard schedule. Much like the 2 strongest NRC divisions playing each other this season, the 2 weakest are facing each other’s full division.
NRC Easy Street
Snowhawks: 112-85 56.9%
Shamrocks: 111-86 56.3%
Crusaders: 106-88 54.6%
These teams should make the playoffs, considering 2 of them just missed out on the playoffs, & 1 got in, and they have the 2nd to 4th easiest schedule in the NRC. In addition, there will be the 3rd Wild Card spot now. There’s definitely spots waiting for them, if they can take advantage of their schedule situation. Though, some would point out that a 10-6 record on it’s own, which the Crusaders had, & Snowhawks have based on what their full squad did in the 2nd half of last season x2, wouldn’t have been enough for a Wild Card spot, & Crusaders got in like a certain Washington Football Team did in it’s respective league, by winning it’s weak division. Even with that said, those 2 NRC West team’s schedules look to be a good bit easier in season 6.
Don’t Blow It
Steamers: 101-93 52.1%
The Steamers, a team that got the 3rd seed last season in the NRC, has easily the easiest schedule, based off last season, than anyone else, with a combined opponent record of 101-93, & 52.1 win%. With this situation, not only should the Steamers be a lock to make the playoffs, they are a good candidate for that #1 seed.
Are You Getting The #1 Pick Again?
Pioneers: 142-61 70%
The Pioneers, much like the Chicago Tigers, were the worst team in the whole RFL last season. Seeing their opponents this season have a combined 142-61 and 70 Win%, it’s looking like the Pioneers could have that #1 pick at their disposal again.
Hard Time Getting Into The Playoffs
Bulldogs: 136-67 67%
Sentinels: 135-67 68.8%
Aviators: 132-69 65.7%
These teams with their toughness of schedule, in consideration to their finish last season, are probably a bad bet on getting into the playoffs. Obviously, the Aviators are looking like a lil less worse off version of the Chicago Tigers, & SLC Pioneers, probably aren’t seriously thinking about the playoffs anyway. On the other hand, the Bulldogs have been working to get back to the playoffs, but only came close last season, & Sentinels who barely got in, are going to have a hard time just having as good a record as last season. Maybe the extra Wild Card spot will help.
A Climb Ahead
River Hogs: 128-74 63.4%
Bison 125-73 63.1%
These 2 teams have an obvious separation between the Hard Times Trio, as well to the teams to be mentioned that are looking at easier schedules. These are teams that don’t have the hardest schedules, but still have an uphill climb. A climb the Bison probably wouldn’t make anyway, but the River Hogs, with a 1 game improvement from last season, might have been able to slide into a playoff spot. But the level of difficulty ahead of them, may not allow the improvement & entry, even with the extra Wild Card slot.
Traffic Jam On A Slightly Bumpy Road
Huskies: 125-77 61.9%
Armadillos: 122-76 61.6%
Red Dragons: 121-77 61.1%
Black Knights: 122-78
Celtic Tigers: 120-78 60.6%
The win% of these teams’ opponents’ combined records, are less than 1% apart. Except for the Celtic Tigers, but let’s face it, The Celtic Tigers & Red Dragons aren’t expected to miss the playoffs. Being in the B tier of S.O.S. shouldn’t change that. The Cougars & Huskies both having schedules on the easier side, may make for another exciting finish between the 2 for a playoff spot or seeding. The 9-7 Club of the Armadillos & Black Knights could take advantage of being on the slightly easier side of things & be a threat to get into the playoffs.
ARC Easy Street
Dreadnoughts: 117-84 58.2%
Voyagers: 116-86 57.4%
Miners: 110-88 55.6%
These teams have some of the easiest schedules in the ARC. What’s even better for them is, the more help each team would need from last year to this, they’re getting it with an easier & easier schedule. Dreadnoughts made it into the playoffs, & have the 4th easiest schedule. The Voyagers were tiebreakers away from getting into the post-season & have the 3rd easiest. Then the Miners, another member of the 9-7 Club, will probably need a 2 win improvement, maybe 1, to get in, & has the 2nd easiest schedule. Unless these teams took a big step back as a team, they should all make the playoffs.
Easiest ARC Schedule = ARC #1 Seed?
Bulls: 109-90 54.8%
The Brooklyn Bulls, 109-90, 54.8% opponents record, has the easiest path of any ARC team. They finished last year in a 3 way tie, record wise, for the 2nd seed, but missed having a bye due to tie-breakers. Can the Bulls take advantage of their weak schedule, improve their seeding, & possibly even get the #1 seed?
Of course, as stated earlier, this is all based on last year. Some teams last year just had a rough go of it & are expected to be better this year, such as the Gunners. Some teams played better than they are last year, let's not call anyone out on that. New coaches & players, or loss of, should make teams better or worse as well. So a list of season 5 teams that look like they have a smooth road in season 6, could really be looking at a season 6 mirage of unexpected potholes that will ruin someone’s season.