Memorial Day has passed and the month of June is here, which means fans of the Indoor Football League (IFL) can celebrate. There are just three short weeks that separate them from seeing perhaps one of the most intriguing IFL playoff brackets of all time.
The madness will start Saturday in Des Moines, IA when the Arizona Rattlers (10-2) visit the Iowa Barnstormers (9-2).
A look at the Indoor Football League Playoff Situation
1. Arizona Rattlers 10-2
2. Iowa Barnstormers 9-2
3. Sioux Falls Storm 9-3
4. Nebraska Danger 4-8
5. Green Bay Blizzard 2-10
6. Cedar Rapids Titans 1-10
Remaining Regular Season Schedule
FINAL: Sioux Falls Storm 60, Green Bay Blizzard 21
Saturday, June 02: Arizona Rattlers (10-2) @ Iowa Barnstormers (9-2)
Saturday, June 02: Nebraska Danger (4-8) @ Cedar Rapids Titans (1-10)
Friday, June 08: Iowa Barnstormers (9-2) @ Sioux Falls Storm (9-3)
Saturday, June 09: Cedar Rapids Titans (1-10) @ Green Bay Blizzard (2-10)
Saturday, June 16: Arizona Rattlers (10-2) @ Nebraska Danger (4-8)
Saturday, June 16: Cedar Rapids Titans (1-10) @ Iowa Barnstormers (9-2)
Saturday, June 16: Green Bay Blizzard (2-10) @ Sioux Falls Storm (9-3)
Barnstormers – Rattlers lll will be the first of the dominoes to fall
Iowa and Arizona will have their third battle of the season this Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena. The Barnstormers have won both of the two meetings earlier this season and each of the previous three meetings since the Rattlers have joined the IFL.
This game will likely decide the number one seed in the league and will at the very least give the winner control of its own destiny for the rest of the season.
Iowa would hold the tiebreaker if the teams match in number of losses, however the Barnstormers two losses to teams not named Arizona could come back to bite them in the rear.
The team lost to the Sioux Falls Storm at home in March and then was taken down by what turned out to be a dismal Nebraska squad later on the road, giving them two losses on the year.
Arizona’s two losses have only come to Iowa, essentially tying them in the standings going into this weekend’s matchup.
That means, it’s winner take all.
In the first meeting, Iowa shut down Arizona quarterback Jeff Ziemba, forcing him into throwing three interceptions. Drew Powell threw for this many and ran for that much to help Iowa to a 38-28 win.
The second meeting, which was a bit more recent, was far different. This was an offensive shootout to the end.
Besides Iowa holding Arizona to a field goal in the third quarter, neither team’s offense failed to score a touchdown. It looked like a classic Arena Football League game.
The Barnstomers scored a touchdown to take a three-point lead with 22 seconds to play, but Arizona would manage a field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Coach Dixie Wooten helped Iowa over the hump, audibling to go for two and the win in the extra frame of the game, ultimately giving Iowa a 69-68 win.
We can only hope for that much of an exciting game again this Saturday.
The Case for Sioux Falls
Barring a unique sequence that includes an upset or two, 2018 could be the first year that Sioux Falls isn’t at the top of the league going into the playoffs since 2012.
The team ran the IFL for six seasons, winning title after title, though it seems as though their dominance is over, at least in the regular season. I’m not counting them out to win the whole thing again, but their road to the championship is likely not going to go through Sioux Falls, SD.
Sioux Falls’ only hope to regain the No. 1 seed is actually going to mean cheering for the rival Barnstormers to beat Arizona this week. With the Storm being swept by the Rattlers, it’s impossible for them to tie Arizona and get the one seed.
Even if all three teams tie with 11-3 records, the Storm won’t come out with the one seed, due to a lower strength of schedule than Iowa.
Strength of Schedule
Calculated by totaling up all of a team’s oppenent’s win-loss records
1. Iowa: 90-106 (.459)
2. Sioux Falls: 82-114 (.418)
3. Arizona: 82-114 (.418)
So, Sioux Falls fans will have to hope for a monumental upset. One of the likes of a 1-10 Cedar Rapids team beating Iowa in the regular season finale.
Keep in mind, that would mean Iowa beating Arizona, Sioux Falls beating Iowa, and Cedar Rapids upsetting the Barnstormers for the first time in seven games.
The elusive, unintimidating No. 4 seed
Now that the top three spots in the playoffs are covered, it’s time to bring up the No. 4 spot.
The spot is all but Nebraska’s to earn, and take the word, “Earn,” very lightly. The Danger have lost seven straight games, gone through three different quarterbacks, and fired their head coach all in the past eight weeks.
Yet, at 4-8, Nebraska needs just one win or a Green Bay loss to clinch the spot.
The next week of games kicks off Friday night, with Sioux Falls and Green Bay going at it in Wisconsin.