Now with all teams having played at least one game of meaningful action in the 2017 season, we bring to you our updated team rankings. The speculate wildly after a small sample size on who we think the best teams in the nation are.
The Buttonhookers did the business in week one of the season, showing that they could translate their success in tournament formats to wins in a league setting. QB Vince Machi navigated a tough opening set of games in the SEC Central, as the Buttonhookers swept aside the Victoria Park Panthers and London Rebels. Impressively, they accomplished this while sustaining a number of injuries on the day, and being down star WR Carl Szabo.
The ‘Hookers will likely see a lot of time at the top of our rankings, unless something wild happens.
The Rebels suffered a solitary loss at week one at the hands of the Buttonhookers, but their effort was admirable nonetheless. They lost by a mere two points and had the final possession of the game to attempt to pull of the victory. They’re still a roster loaded with talent, as Calvin Tarlton and Kenny Bello showed no signs of rust in a 75-0 win against the Hackney Cougars.
Like the ‘Hookers, they probably won’t be usurped from the two top unless a new challenger in the SEC comes forward.
The performances of the Glasgow outfit have ranged from the sublime (100-0 win in their opening game with minimal effort) to the ridiculous (last gasp interception required to hold on to victory against the Outlaws). The latter performance has us a little worried about the Hornets title credentials, but they’ve had a knack for turning up the heat on the HNC when needed. They’ve only really been challenged by the Outlaws so far, and we’d barely give them a passing grade. We can’t justify moving them ahead of the Rebels based on their performances so far.
The July 1st game day at home against the Broncos and Oilcats will tell us a lot about where the Hornets are compared to last year.
The Broncos shellacking of the Oilcats in the first half of their week two fixture put everyone on notice, as they raced to a 28-7 lead at one point in the game against the third place team from last season. The Broncos have been steadily putting up monster scores on the rest of the HNC. They did however start to crumble against the Oilcats late in their victory, as the Aberdeen side were actually within touching distance of capping off a fine comeback to win the game. The Hornets, Broncos and Oilcats are very difficult to separate as they’re all stacked with talent.
The Broncos leapfrog a number of other teams after their efforts so far!
The Giants move up after their 3-0 start in the MEC South. We put a lot of stock into their victory against the Vipers, who looked to be riding a wave of momentum before being brought back down to earth by their cross city rivals. A one point victory over the Honey Badgers has us a little concerned, as the Badgers had capitulated against the Vipers earlier in the day. However, the Giants did look to be down a number of key contributors, and relied heavily on Josh Allen and Dean Whittingslow to get them over the line.
How the Giants fare against the MEC Central will say a lot about them, as the free scoring Central squads will hope to put a dent in the vaunted Giants defence.
Tristan Varney and co. are back. The Lions laughed off any suggestion that they weren’t taking the league seriously with three commanding victories over their division rivals in the SWC North. Their two losses suffered at NuOla Spring Break at the hands of the Coventry Cougars Mixed seem a thing of the past as they put fifty burger on the Coventry squad. An interesting development however has been the strength of the SWC in general.
A number of teams have stepped forward as real threats to the Lions, but for now, they climb our rankings above the other SWC squads.
The Oilcats had a good outing in week one, taking care of business in a professional manner. However their loss to the Broncos sees them slide down our rankings for now. A loss to such a talented side is nothing to be ashamed of, especially given their stirring rally in the second half. It’s their first half performance that raised eyebrows. Looking lethargic, the Oilcats struggled to get going against a Broncos, despite this obviously being a marquee match-up. Perhaps the inevitability of a playoff berth meant some complacency crept into the Aberdeen ranks, but the Oilcats still possess an immensely talented squad, and GB Lion Gary Elliot has arguably been the standout player in the HNC.
The issue for the Oilcats has always been getting their best five players available and on the field at once, but when they do, they can go toe-to-toe with any team
Our first new entry sees the Stampede slot in at number 8! The Stampede performed a similar trick last year, starting strong and fading away by the end of the season. This year could be very different, as the Stampede are proving to be one of the form teams in the league so far. After a bizarre one point loss in their first game of the season, the Stampede have managed to notch up wins against the Cardiff Hurricanes and Northants Titans Blue, defeating the latter in fairly comfortable fashion. Behind Jay Jay Spencer, the Stampede could push strongly in the post-season this year.
The Hurricanes, aside from the aforementioned loss to the Hereford Stampede, have been excellent so far. Their victories have come about with minimal fuss, aside from from a two point win over the Plymouth Buccaneers. The Hurricanes will have their sights set on their rematch with the Stampede in order to set the record straight, but they’ll also need to chase down the Lions to top the heap in the SWC. Meanwhile, the Northans Titans Blue are also breathing down their necks.
The SWC is going to be less straightforward than ever for the Hurricanes, but they’re still a strong squad who can do damage in the playoffs.
The Northants Titans Blue round off our rankings this week, as they sit pretty at 5-1 with some big wins and a number of high scores posted. Their one loss came at the hands of the Stampede, who appeared to be one step ahead of the Titans at every turn. They have a season defining match up coming up on May 13th however as they look to lock horns with the Birmingham Lions.
On the Outside
A few teams were just outside our top 10 and caused major debate among the FFW team. Here’s the other teams discussed;
Manchester Titans – The Titans were the surprise package from the MEC Central, as they went undefeated in the first round of games. They’ve found a bona fide star in David McInally and could go far. Their defence gave up a lot of points however…
Victoria Park Panthers – It’s a cruel world for the Panthers, as our former number 5 team have dropped out the rankings entirely. This is purely due to the fact that they face an uphill struggle to even make the playoffs in such a tough division. They’ve been grouped with the Buttonhookers and Rebels for crying out loud, so unless they could pull off something incredible in week one, they were always looking like an unlikely Britbowl winner. They did not topple either of the division rivals, so they suffer a tumble this week.
Newcastle Blackhawks, West Essex Showboats and Chichester Sharks – All three teams are probably wondering where their love is this week. All three were in the conversation, as each of them took apart their division opponents in swift fashion. However, with stronger foes on the horizon, we held off on their parade until they’ve proven themselves more. The SEC in particular looks like a minefield for playoff teams, while the Blackhawks will be tested strongly when inter-division play rolls around.
Do you agree with our list? Let us know!