In December of 2019, the National Arena League released their 2020 schedule. The upcoming fourth season of the NAL will feature seven teams with the Carolina Cobras, Columbus Lions, Jacksonville Sharks, Jersey Flight, Massachusetts Pirates, Orlando Predators, and West Virginia Roughriders.
The 2020 NAL schedule will feature a 16 week regular season schedule. Each team will play a total of 13 games with three bye weeks. At the end of the 16 week season, the four teams with the best records make the playoffs.
During the playoffs, which run July 25th - August 8th, 2020 the #4 seed will play the #1 seed and the #3 seed will go up against the #2 seed. The winning teams will play in the National Arena Bowl August 8th, 2020.
Today the NAL tweeted a photo with the team YouTube channels as well as the NAL's channel. The tweet is below.
Are you ready for the season to start? Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channels to watch the latest videos, interviews and games! pic.twitter.com/Uj1JJhKzjk
Two of the three spreads are within a point of the Draft Kings and my AFL Metric sims. The Columbus Destroyers return home after an 11 year break, so that game is difficult to predict. One part of the metrics is the fan spread from Arena Fan. To see this, just go to arenafan.com and click "Pregame" under the game you want more detail on. Currently, the fans have Columbus winning by 1. For home field advantage I also gave the Destroyers 4 points compared to the standard 3. This is also the only game this week in which the opponents have already seen each other this season (W1 ALB W 35-19). The Destroyers have a new starter at QB since then in Grant Russell, who grew up a half hour from Columbus, so that's hard to factor in as well.
FB Mykel Benson and WR Malachi Jones are both back from "suspension" and I'm not positive if Draft Kings or the fans know what that wording usually means in "arena speak." It could affect the changing of the spread. Most of the time it just allows players to look for a shot at moving up to the CFL or NFL. Jones had a workout with the Tennessee Titans. He is fully expected to play.
Another interesting note, in the Vegas Power Rankings (statfox.com) the Valor and Soul are tied when you factor in Washington's HFA. Neither team is in the top 2 for metric offense or defense, making the metric projected O/U of 90.5 hard to trust either way. Just 22% of games have seen 100 total points reached this season.
I've been a little busy this week, but still wanted to post something, so using a few databases and a system i've worked on for years, here are my "metric sims" Arena Football style.
BAL -9 80.7% to win PHI -2 53.5% to win WAS -6 70.7% to win
Using just Vegas Power Rankings alone, Baltimore is an eight point favorite, but no team has changed more than Columbus, plus they have the top metric defense. Washington gets an extra point in my mind because of their banner for last seasons title going up, plus they are playing solid ball. Vegas likes the 0-2 Valor and so do my sims.
Old habits die hard, especially when you're bringing back a team from the grave.
Usually those old pitfalls would be why the team went extinct to begin with, but for the Orlando Predators, some things the team absolutely has to bring back for the history and the fans. For example, calling their field "the jungle".
Problem is another franchise in the National Arena League already calls their home field that.
The Columbus Lions, a stable and consistent organization that has climbed up the ranks of indoor football to one of the more prolific leagues in the country, calls their arena "the jungle" too. The perfect place for a pride of lions, Columbus is the smallest market in the league. That hasn't stopped them from making last year's NAL championship game.
In a dilemma that would make Guns N Roses fans feel right at home, the opportunity to raise the stakes was taken by ownership, resulting in the Jungle War rivalry.
"We were in a Lions staff meeting going back and forth about the two jungles," said Joshua Blair, owner of the Lions. "Then we came up with the idea of having a trophy that determined bragging rights for the jungle."
For the Predators, they had to take the chance to defend their namesake.
"We were all for it," said Purvis Adamson, Director of Multimedia and Assistant General Manager. "Everyone in arena football, they know the Orlando Predators have the jungle."
In the first meeting between the two teams, it was the Predators that came out on top in a 42-40 victory in Orlando. It was the closest game in the NAL this season and the first game back since the original Predators folded.
"It was a historical moment. First year back, first year in the NAL and just to play the Columbus Lions made it more historical," Adamson said.
To celebrate the victory, the Predators brought home the Schwarzenegger Knife, a wooden recreation of the large knife used by his character in the movie Predator. It was presented to the team by NAL Commissioner Chris Siegfried after the game.
The idea to use the knife design as the rivalry trophy came from the Lions' front office staff. Social media coordinator Hayley Dukes suggested the design while manager Jared Goertzen hand carved the trophy.
The rivalry trophy is the only one currently in the NAL, but it does have people on both sides wanting to keep it in their own jungle.
"Now we get a chance to play them in our home, the real jungle," said Lions defensive back Shattle Fenteng. "I'm excited about this matchup. The fans are going to see an exciting game and our defense is going to bring it."
For Orlando though, they have no long term plans of giving up the knife.
"I don't think were going to lose it," Adamson said. "We look forward to keeping it, if we lose it one game no big deal, because we’ll get it back and at the end of the season keep it."
The Predators and Lions will face off Saturday, May 4 at 7 p.m. in Columbus. The game will be broadcasted on the NAL YouTube page.
Well, now we have some stats to use! No major surprises in Week 1 as far as how the games went, but we do have new names to study up on.
PHI (-1.5) @ BAL 7 ET ESPN 3, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Philly Plus
The Brigade had an extra day of rest and home field along with a strong performance from their team going into this week. Defensive Back Joe Powell made things look easy, and when you see defense controlling the arena game look out! I get that Joe Hills ($8,800) was probable last week, but there are 5 guys more expensive than him going into this week! Steal! With the style BAL plays you gotta figure FB Rory Nixon ($4,600) can always repeat last week's 14.5 FP's, but in AFL teams almost never run. Shane Boyd ($9,600) still does not wow me so I'm not stacking with Hills yet. I will say the money was right last week with Dan Raudabaugh ($9,000) having only 151 yards in the air and 2 touchdowns. Things got worse with Darius Reynolds being placed on IR. Darius Prince ($7,600) should have real solid numbers and Aaron Wascha, ($3,000), who appears to be a go this week, definitely seems to have great value. Adrian Ferns ($8,200) has been added on DK for the Soul, and with "Money" on IR it's tempting to roll with the running game.
COL @ AC (-4.5) 3:30 ET ESPN 3, NBC Sports Philly Plus, CW Columbus
This match-up of expansion teams is hard to pick. We now know Columbus has switched to local product Grant Russell ($7,400). He looked great, like really great on his first throw, but looked really hesitant and had trouble getting the snap. No "Kaptin" Morgan ($2,600) at the last second really hurt the team and he's pretty iffy for this week. WR Anthony Amos ($5,200) has good value even though he should lose some touches, even if Morgan is out, with a new signing at WR and better health at the position.
Randy Hippeard ($9,200) leads a new, but talented Blackjacks team to AC for their first home game in team history. The league has done a solid job building this team up, so it should be a fun environment in one of the most old school sports buildings there is. LaMark Brown ($8,000) and Quentin Sims ($5,400) are the men to watch here. Both had at least 50 yards and a TD with at least 5 catches as well. This is a semi must-win for Columbus given how rough their first game went and the pressure for the youngins to step up, so look for lots of passing to someone.
WAS @ ALB (-9.5) 7:30 ET ESPN 3, My 4 Albany, NBC Sports Washington
Arvell Nelson ($10,200) saw his price jump after an outstanding game, but in the air, not the ground. The guy not known for his arm threw for 391 yards and 8 touchdowns, mostly to Dezmon Epps ($9,800), literally in his first AFL action. Epps is not worth his price, but WR Josh Reese ($6,200) being so much lower suggests Vegas does not like him, and they were right about Raudabaugh last week. With this game featuring the 4th (Valor) and 5th (Empire) metric defenses (Massey Ratings), expect quick scores all around giving everyone extra time to pad their stats.
Tommy Grady's ($8,600) price just shows that the system is overreacting to the game flow of Week 1. The Empire has two guys that could handle their own in the NFL in Grady and Malachi Jones ($6,600). The best all-around offense facing a defense slow out of the gate makes for a great stack play. Mykel Benson ($4,600) has decent value as well.
Extra Advice: Kickers have no value in this format and consider using a "Dead Spot" on your roster playing a guy that probably won't play, so he's cheap and you can use the money elsewhere. And if he does play, its extra points!
The Wichita Force suffered a slaughter from the Salina Liberty a week ago Saturday. A game where Wichita would only score three points in the second half. Consequently, Wichita would go on to to lose that game with a score of 50-22. Plagued with defensive and offensive setbacks all season Wichita has lost four and won two games. Saturday Wichita played against the Enid Flying Aces, but this time they played at home. The game started slow with each team answering scores. First with Enid setting their pace, scoring the first TD. Wichita answered with a jet reverse that tied the game. Just when it looked like Wichita would hold Enid on third down, they managed to drop in a touchdown pass. Wichita answered with a drive that concluded with a five yard pass to Tomlinson. Even with that score, the first quarter ended with Wichita down seven with a score of 21-14. In the second quarter Wichita’s defense stepped up to hold Enid to just three points. Consequently by the end of the of the second quarter Wichita held a 31-24 lead. The defense of Wichita has been under question all season. Many fans question why the team did not try to sign Mckendrick Harper instead of allowing the Liberty to sign him. This quarter the defense started to prove they can compete, that they can hold teams without giving up the long ball. In fact the defense would end the half with an interception. Moreover allowing the team one touchdown advantage on Enid going into the locker room for the first half. The second half went on to hold surprises from Wichita. The first score of the second half Lindsay had a 33 yard scamper for pay dirt. The next possession, Hubener threw a nice touch pass right over the shoulder where Gill would make a spectacular catch jumping in the air and catching the pass while tumbling over the boundary for the touchdown. Ending the third quarter with a score of 37-27. Tomlinson caught a two yard toss from Hubener at the start of the fourth quarter after Wichita’s defense holding Enid to no score. Wichita once again held Enid to no first downs. Wichita immediately fumbled away the possession and Enid turned it into six points. Wichita put the game out of reach when they answered that score and left 45 seconds on the clock. Wichita immediately intercepted Enid and put the game away with a pick six. Wichita out played Enid, but Enid is an expansion team and has not won one game this season and holds a winless record. The true test in Wichita will be Saturday when they travel to Sioux City to take on the Bandits. The game will be very important for both teams because the Bandits are after their second win and Wichita looks to improve their record to three wins and four losses.
Last night, the Texas Revolution battled the Beef in Omaha, Nebraska. Both these teams are at the top of their respective conferences. The Revolution are sitting at a comfortable position in the South Conference. The Omaha Beef are sitting at 2-1 with the Salina Liberty breathing down their necks.
Throughout the night, the Texas Revolution had major problems. First, the Revs were without a kicker so after each touchdown they would go for a 2-point conversion and instead of kicking a field goal, they would go for it on fourth down. Texas would go for it on fourth down five times and on two of those occasions the Revolution turned it over on downs and the Revolution also threw 2 interceptions in the game. However, they did have four touchdowns in the game.
Revolution quarterback Robert Kent completed 61 percent 245 yards, 4 TD's, 2 INT. Dominique Carson is the leading rusher for the Revolution. He had 3 rush attempts for 7 yards. Finally, leading in the receiving category, Dominique Carson . He caught the ball from Robert Kent 8 times for 100 yards and also caught one for a touchdown.
As for the Omaha Beef, they virtually had a flawless game They only had one turn over on downs and only completed one field goal. The rest of the drives resulted in . a touchdown. Derrick Bernard, the Beef quarterback completed 58 percent of his passes for 98 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He did end the game with no interceptions. Bernard also became your leading rusher. He carried the ball 93 times on 8 rushing attempts. Finally, Antonio Bray is the leading receiver for the Omaha Beef. Bray caught the ball 5 teams for 52 yards and even scored a touchdown in the game.
Both these teams will face each other on Monday, May 13 at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Make sure to come out to the game if you're in Texas or make sure to watch the game on Pluto TV. You can watch the game on your smart tv, computer, or cell phone.
And just like that, the Massachusetts Pirates are back on their A-game. With the aid of last minute pickups: Lashard Durr, Jokobi Smith and Ishmael Zamora, Coach Payton and his previously shipwrecked buccaneers topped the expansion Orlando Predators. The highlight of Saturday's match-up was the Pirate defense who left the Florida team scoreless after the first half. Predator offensive line couldn't hold back the onslaught of pressure and quarterback Kyle Israel spent the game either on his back or on the run.
In an exclusive AFT interview, I asked Mass Pirates head coach Anthony Payton what he did differently to prepare for tonight's win. “You have to understand,” he said. “Carolina is the best team in the league...I have 18 new guys, coming from the outdoor game, they needed to adjust.” Payton went on to say the return of snapper Thomas Claiborne made a big difference in the pass protection.
I asked Coach Payton about Devonn Brown not playing tonight, “He’s banged up” he offered. “They ran him at the CFL tryout and he came back all banged up!” When asked whether Brown would dress for next week’s match-up against the sharks he said, “I don’t know...we’ll see how he does at practice."
Coach Payton took his share of digital hits this week after two painful losses to the Cobras. But in extraordinary fashion, he kept himself and his players focused to not only finish with a win, but outscore the Predators four to one. The Jacksonville Sharks visit Worcester for week 4 match-up on Saturday, May 4 kickoff at 8:20pm.
PER AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE (AAL): On Saturday morning AAL CEO, Tony Zefiretto announced, "It is with a heavy heart to share; late last night, AA President, Jack Bowman passed away." For most of the last seven months, Jack was confined to a hospital bed as he battled to recover from a variety of illnesses. He fought to the very end. Elected into the Minor League Football Hall of Fame in 2002, Jack is an "Icon" within the arena/indoor football industry. He will always be remembered for his commitment to the sport and as a friend to the tens of thousands of people he touched. All future American Arena League Championships will be played for the Jack Bowman Trophy.