IFL Playoff Preview: Opening Round

The Indoor Football League playoffs are upon us, so giving previews will be the AFT pick’em winner for the IFL: Brice Burge. Brice went a whopping 60-10 (85.7%) throughout the 17-week season.

Game 1: #5 Nebraska Danger (7-7) at #4 Green Bay Blizzard (9-5)

HEAD TO HEAD: Green Bay 2-1: W 53-53 (Mar. 1 in Green Bay), W 60-50 (Apr. 13 in Green Bay), L 40-47 (Apr. 20 in Nebraska)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Green Bay: QB Leonorris Footman, RB Anthony Philyaw, DB Bakari Triggs, DL Silverberry Mouhon, WR/KR BJ Hill Nebraska: QB Tommy Armstrong, RB Davonte Sapp-Lynch, DB/WR/KR Gregory Dent Jr., DL Chris Martin, LB Luke Stice

BIGGEST MATCHUP: Quarterbacks Footman & Armstrong vs Opposing Linebackers These two gunslingers are not afraid to churn out the yards on the ground. Armstrong (51.4 ypg) and Footman (50.6 ypg) are not only the top two rushing quarterbacks in the league, but sit second and third behind Sugar Skulls running back Mike Jones for yards per game in the IFL. Seeing how the defenses will have to reset to accommodate such an offensive option will be key for both teams.

ANALYSIS: The best-of-three series went 3-0 for the home team this season and all three had late-game heroics. For Nebraska, most of their contests were decided in the final minute of the game. Unfortunately, all but two went their way when the game went down to the latest moments. Green Bay has finished the season strong with three straight wins, but against two of the league’s three weakest teams.

PREDICTION: This will be the first home playoff game for the Blizzard in seven years. Their defense is playing the strongest they’ve been in that seven-year stretch. Taking the home team to win this one with a turnover forced around the 1:15 mark making the difference. Blizzard 49-40

#6 Tucson Sugar Skulls (7-7) at #3 Sioux Falls Storm (11-3)

HEAD TO HEAD: Did not play in regular season

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sioux Falls: QB Lorenzo Brown Jr, DL Claude Davis, DL Malcolm Goines, WR Damian Ford, RB Nolan Saraceni Tucson: QB Matt Behrendt, RB Mike Jones, WR Rico Brown, DB Micah Eugene Jr, DL Michael Kluge

BIGGEST MATCHUP: Sugar Skull Rico Brown vs the Storm Red Zone secondary Brown has been the favorite target of either Tucson quarterback this season, with 16 of 39 receptions this year ending in scores for the receiver. The difficult aspect for the Sioux Falls defensive backs will be knowing when to release from him to stop the league’s best running back and quarterbacks who are willing to pound it in from seven yards out? It will give any bend-don’t-break defense fits.

ANALYSIS: It’s the first-ever matchup between the IFL staple franchise of Sioux Falls and the expansion Sugar Skulls, but it won’t be a true matchup based on injuries for Tucson. Tucson’s biggest defensive strength in DE Keith Jones Jr was put on IR after an injury in their win against Quad City last week. Their leading tackler in linebacker Zach Allen is also listed as day-to-day. The road team will need big games from recently activated Kluge and 26th playoff roster spot TraVaughn Paschal on the defensive line to make up for these two losses.

PREDICTION: With the de facto playoff game between the eventual sixth and seventh seeds last week, Tucson can say they fought hard to be where they are. But they didn’t defeat a single playoff team this regular season. Sioux Falls wins this one at home. Storm 54-42

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