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 2012 NEFL Preseason Guide

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killroywi



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PostSubject: Re: 2012 NEFL Preseason Guide   Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:49 am

I think the Thunderhawks will hang with everyone they play this year and make it a shoot-out. They play in one of the best venues in this league. Menomonie will be rocking this summer!
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PostSubject: Part 8 (2/20/12) - 2012's Top Games   Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:16 am

Preseason Top Games (NEFL League Games only) - By date (on 3 occasions, there is only 1 game going on)

5/11/12 (lone game scheduled)
Menomonie @ Eau Claire - An important first test for both squads looking to start the season off strong in the NEFL's Central Division

5/12/12
Minnesota @ Fox Valley - Both teams fell in the divisional round last year, and both will be looking for an early-season statement game.

5/19/12
Fox Valley @ Chippewa Valley - A rematch of one of last year's semifinal games and Elite Bowl II.

5/26/12
River City @ Minnesota - The debut of the NEFL's largest venue, the Metrodome.

6/2/12
Green Bay @ Fox Valley - This game could be for control of the NEFL East, since the Force open with such a difficult schedule.

6/9/12
Minnesota @ St Paul - The first Trophy Game of 2012, and just like the past two years, it should end up a great one.

6/16/12
Lake Superior @ Chippewa Valley - This will be a crucial rematch of a game just two weeks earlier.

6/22/12-6/23/12 - Rivalry Weekend
St Paul @ Minnesota
Chippewa Valley vs Eau Claire
Rochester @ River City
Central Wisconsin @ Kimberly
All four of these contests are division games, and all four feature teams that have geographic rivalries or games that recently have been classics.

6/30/12
Chippewa Valley @ Menomonie - The Thunderhawks play the Predators very tough at home (they played a NC game last year that was very close).

7/7/12
Lake Superior @ Eau Claire - A rematch of the very first Elite Bowl.

7/13/12 (lone game scheduled)
Eau Claire vs Chippewa Valley - This cross-town rivalry gets two Friday nights to be the lone NEFL game.

7/14/12
Rochester @ Minnesota - A rematch of the 2009 NPFL Championship.


2012 Title/Playoff Rematches

Week 1 (5/11-12)
Title - None
Playoff:
Thunderhawks @ Crush - Met in the 2007 GPFL Playoffs (Crush won 22-8 )

Week 2 (5/19)
Title:
Force @ Predators - Met in the 2009 NEFL Championship (Predators won 14-7)
Playoff:
Force @ Predators (twice) - Met in the 2009 NEFL Championship (Predators won 14-7) and 2011 NEFL Playoffs (Predators won 13-7)
Giants @ Pioneers - Met in the 2011 NEFL Playoffs (Pioneers won 28-6)

Week 3 (5/26)
Title - None
Playoff - None

Week 4 (6/2)
Ttile:
Giants @ Dragons - Met in the 2009 NPFL Championship (Dragons won 41-17)
Playoff:
Giants @ Dragons - Met in the 2009 NPFL Championship (Dragons won 41-17)
Gladiators @ Force - Met in the 2009 NEFL Playoffs (Force won 26-16)
Predators @ Rage (twice) - Met in the 2008 NEFL Playoffs (Rage won 20-14) and 2009 NEFL Playoffs (Predators won 35-7)

Week 5 (6/9)
Title:
Crush @ Rage - Met in the 2008 NEFL Championship (Rage won 27-14)
Playoffs:
Crush @ Rage - Met in the 2008 NEFL Championship (Rage won 27-14)
Dragons @ Pioneers (twice) - Met in the 2010 NEFL Playoffs (Pioneers won 17-12) and 2011 NEFL Playoffs (Pioneers won 24-10)
Spartans @ Gladiators - Met in the 2009 NEFL Playoffs (Gladiators won 20-19)

Week 6 (6/16)
Title - None
Playoff:
Pioneers @ Giants - Met in the 2011 NEFL Playoffs (Pioneers won 28-6)
Rage @ Predators (twice) - Met in the 2008 NEFL Playoffs (Rage won 20-14) and 2009 NEFL Playoffs (Predators won 35-7)

Week 7 (6/23)
Title - None
Playoff:
Pioneers @ Dragons (twice) - Met in the 2010 NEFL Playoffs (Pioneers won 17-12) and 2011 NEFL Playoffs (Pioneers won 24-10)
Predators @ Crush (twice) - Met in the 2007 GPFL Playoffs (Crush won 20-17) and 2011 NEFL Playoffs (Predators won 28-12)

Week 8 (6/30)
Title - None
Playoffs:
Force @ Gladiators - Met in the 2009 NEFL Playoffs (Force won 26-16)

Week 9 (7/7)
Title:
Predators @ Giants - Met in the 2003 GPFL Championship (Giants won 42-28)
Rage @ Crush - Met in the 2008 NEFL Championship (Rage won 27-14)
Playoffs:
Predators @ Giants - Met in the 2003 GPFL Championship (Giants won 42-28)
Rage @ Crush - Met in the 2008 NEFL Championship (Rage won 27-14)

Week 10 (7/14)
Title:
Giants @ Dragons - Met in the 2009 NPFL Championship (Dragons won 41-17)
Playoffs:
Giants @ Dragons - Met in the 2009 NPFL Championship (Dragons won 41-17)
Gladiators @ Spartans - Met in the 2009 NEFL Playoffs (Gladiators won 20-19)
Crush @ Predators (twice) - Met in the 2007 GPFL Playoffs (Crush won 20-17) and 2011 NEFL Playoffs (Predators won 28-12)


Every weekend except Memorial Day weekend features a playoff rematch, and there are six total title rematches.
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PostSubject: BONUS - League Scoring Quick Facts   Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:58 pm

I'm offering a bonus post today (a sneak peak at parts of the team previews coming in March/April). This is some raw data compiled on the scoring (points for and points allowed) by each team in the league.

One key point that I will be making in the preseason guide is how defense wins championships in this league. No team that has led the league in scoring has won the Elite Bowl in that season. Not only that, but last year, the top 6 scoring defenses all made the playoffs (in fact, that's exactly how it's been the last 3 years. In 2008, the top 5 scoring defenses plus 7th-best made it). Every winner of the Elite Bowl has had a top-3 scoring defense.

Team-by-team Quick Facts (points per game) not including forfeits

EAST DIVISION

Central Wisconsin Spartans
2011 Points for: 15.0 (10th)
2011 Points against: 34.3 (12th)
AT Points For: 18.9 (8th)
AT Points Against: 32.2 (15th)*
*ranking includes 3 teams no longer in NEFL
Most Points For: 34.2 (2009)
Fewest Points Against: 22.8 (2009)

Fox Valley Force
2011 Points for: 20.8 (4th)
2011 Points against: 9.7 (T-2nd)
AT Points For: 24.7 (5th)
AT Points Against: 11.5 (T-3rd)
Most Points For: 30.8 (2010)
Fewest Points Against: 9.7 (2011)

Green Bay Gladiators
2011 Points for: 20.7 (5th)
2011 Points against: 24.7 (8th)
AT Points For: 15.0 (10th)
AT Points Against: 23.2 (7th)
Most Points For: 20.7 (2011)
Fewest Points Against: 22.1 (2008)

Kimberly Storm
2011 Points for: 12.5 (11th)
2011 Points against: 30.0 (9th)
AT Points For: 13.1 (11th)
AT Points Against: 30.0 (12th)
Most Points For: 14.3 (2010)
Fewest Points Against: 28.9 (2010)


CENTRAL DIVISION

Chippewa Valley Predators
2011 Points for: 26.1 (2nd)
2011 Points against: 11.8 (4th)
AT Points For: 30.0 (1st)
AT Points Against: 11.3 (2nd)
Most Points For: 45.6 (2010)*
*All-time record for most points scored per game, one season
Fewest Points Against: 8.2 (2009)

Eau Claire Crush
2011 Points for: 15.4 (9th)
2011 Points against: 18.1 (5th)
AT Points For: 27.7 (3rd)
AT Points Against: 16.2 (6th)
Most Points For: 35.1 (2008)
Fewest Points Against: 4.3 (2008)*
*All-time record for fewest points allowed per game, one season

Lake Superior Rage
2011 Points for: 28.9 (1st)
2011 Points against: 19.3 (7th)
AT Points For: 28.4 (2nd)
AT Points Against: 15.9 (5th)
Most Points For: 30.1 (2008)
Fewest Points Against: 10.8 (2008)

Menomonie Thunderhawks
2011 Points for: 16.1 (8th)
2011 Points against: 30.7 (10th)
AT Points For: 16.1 (9th)
AT Points Against: 30.7 (14th)*
*ranking includes 3 teams no longer in NEFL
Most Points For: 16.1 (2011)
Fewest Points Against: 30.7 (2011)


WEST DIVISON

Minnesota Dragons
2011 Points for: 18.3 (7th)
2011 Points against: 9.7 (T-2nd)
AT Points For: 20.9 (7th)
AT Points Against: 11.5 (T-3rd)
Most Points For: 24.6 (2010)
Fewest Points Against: 9.7 (2011)

River City Rough Riders
2011 Points for: 7.4 (12th)
2011 Points against: 31.3 (11th)
AT Points For: 7.4 (15th)*
AT Points Against: 31.3 (14th)*
*ranking includes 3 teams no longer in NEFL
Most Points For: 7.4 (2011)
Fewest Points Against: 31.3 (2011)

Rochester Giants
2011 Points for: 23.8 (3rd)
2011 Points against: 19.1 (6th)
AT Points For: 21.0 (6th)
AT Points Against: 27.5 (9th)
Most Points For: 23.8 (2011)
Fewest Points Against: 19.1 (2011)

St Paul Pioneers
2011 Points for: 20.2 (6th)
2011 Points against: 7.2 (1st)
AT Points For: 25.0 (4th)
AT Points Against: 9.8 (1st)
Most Points For: 30.6 (2010)
Fewest Points Against: 7.2 (2011)
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PostSubject: Part 7 (2/17/12) - Team Previews VI - The Defending Champion (Pioneers)   Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:45 pm

THE DEFENDING CHAMPION

St Paul Pioneers (2011: 9-1-1, won the Elite Bowl)
Last year’s power rankings: 1st (2011 only); 1st (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 18-3-1
All-time NEFL power ranking: 1st (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 36.9% (12th)
2011 Power Rankings – 11th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 10th
All-time Power Rankings – 12th
Average of all Power Rankings – 12th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 4
2012 Opponents: Dragons (twice), Giants (twice), Rough Riders (twice), Spartans, Thunderhawks

Expected record: 6.166-1.834 (approximately 6-2)

Analysis: The Pioneers’ title defense will again feature a pair of games against their Twin Cities rival, the Minnesota Dragons, in the Trophy Game (split evenly last year 1-1-1, although the win for the Pioneers came at the most important time). A new home field this year is the reward for three straight championships (two in the NEFL), and with one of the league’s weakest schedules based on record (their non-division games come against teams with a combined 3-12 record, and their non-Dragons games are against teams that went a combined 7-24) the Pioneers are expected to be at or near the top of the league once again. St. Paul could drop a game in the regular season (more than likely in the Trophy Game) but that shouldn’t stop the P-Unit from keeping their reputation as the best team in league history.

Best case scenario: 2009, 2010, 2011. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Worst case scenario: The Dragons give them some trouble and they are upset by someone else on their schedule. Barring an improbable collapse that keeps them out of the playoffs, the team will find itself on the road in the postseason, where they’ve done just fine in the past. Nobody else in the league can claim a 6-0 postseason record in the NEFL.
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PostSubject: Part 6 (2/15/12) - Team Previews V - The Other Contenders (Dragons & Force)   Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:53 pm

THE OTHER CONTENDERS

Minnesota Dragons (2011: 6-2-1, lost in second round of the playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 2nd (2011 only); 2nd (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 12-4-1
All-time NEFL power ranking: 3rd (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 50.7% (6th)
2011 Power Rankings – 5th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 5th
All-time Power Rankings – 9th
Average of all Power Rankings – 6th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 5
2012 Opponents: Pioneers (twice), Giants (twice), Rough Riders (twice), Force, Storm

Expected record: 5.345-2.655 (approximately 5-3)

Analysis: While the Dragons made big news in securing a new home venue (one they actually had ready to go last season, but the stadium’s roof caved in), on the field they’ll have some work to do under a new head coach. Their trademark defense shouldn’t be impacted too much, but they had trouble at times moving the ball last season. Settling on an offense that can be both efficient and explosive will be a huge key for them as they look to take the jump to the top of the standings. Minnesota is definitely one of the contenders for the NEFL crown.

Best case scenario: They find success on offense, get a boost from playing in the Metrodome, and roll to a top record in the NEFL. They’ll have tough games against the Pioneers and Force in what will be low-scoring affairs, but this team has proven several times that they can beat the best teams the NEFL has to offer (and prove it again this season). Their playoff swoon doesn’t happen this year and they cement their current status as a prime contender for the NEFL championship.

Worst case scenario: The new venue (the Metrodome) yields no atmosphere (tens of thousands of empty seats) and having to play three spectacular defenses keeps the Dragons from taking over Skyrim a favorable playoff spot. After splitting the Trophy Game 1-1-1 last year, the Pioneers take control with a sweep and send the Dragons on the road in the postseason. Their playoff woes continue as they lose their first playoff game for the third year in a row.


Fox Valley Force (2011: 7-2, lost in second round of playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 4th (2011 only); 4th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 22-7
All-time NEFL power ranking: 5th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 37.7% (11th)
2011 Power Rankings – 12th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 12th
All-time Power Rankings – 11th
Average of all Power Rankings – 11th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 2
2012 Opponents: Gladiators (twice), Storm (twice), Spartans (twice), Dragons, Predators

Expected record: 6.031-1.969 (approximately 6-2)

Analysis: The Force have won a lot of games in the NEFL, and it looks to continue in 2012. Featuring one of the best defenses and running backs in the league, they’ve played in some of the most exciting games in league history. That doesn’t change this year, as they will have two big matchups (the Dragons and Predators) to test their mettle. If their offense can limit their occasional turnover problems, they can make the leap in their bigger regular season matchups and playoff games. Barring a surge by one of the teams in their division (covered earlier; the Gladiators are probably the biggest threat, but the Storm and Spartans could see big improvements this year as well), the Force should be on their way to a division title and their customary spot in the playoff field.

Best case scenario: The Force not only handle their division with ease, but use their stalwart defense to beat the ever-changing offenses of the Predators and Dragons to go undefeated. The path to the Elite Bowl again goes through the Banta Bowl, and could even end up being played in it. This team is easily one of the top contenders for an NEFL championship.

Worst case scenario: The Gladiators (or Storm, or Spartans) use their talented offense to finally best a top-notch defense in more than one game and send the Force on the road in the playoffs. The Force, after winning at an 83% clip the last 6 years, see a dip in performance this year as the other teams in the area start catching up to their success. Fox Valley still makes the playoffs, but has similarly disappointing results as last season.
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PostSubject: Re: 2012 NEFL Preseason Guide   Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:34 pm

Really enjoy your detailed breakdown on all the teams. Keep up the great work!
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PostSubject: Part 5 (2/13/12) - Team Previews IV - Central Division Logjam   Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:07 pm

CENTRAL DIVISION LOGJAM

Eau Claire Crush (2011: 4-5, lost in first round of playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 6th (2011 only); 6th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 22-14
All-time NEFL power ranking: 6th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 50.8% (5th)
2011 Power Rankings – 6th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 7th
All-time Power Rankings – 4th
Average of all Power Rankings – 5th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 2
2012 Opponents: Predators (twice), Rage (twice), Thunderhawks (twice), Spartans, Gladiators

Expected record: 4.625-3.375 (approximately 5-3)

Analysis: The Crush rebounded from a poor 2010 with a 2011 that resulted in a 4-2 record against teams not named the Chippewa Valley Predators. While topping the Predators will be a key to success in 2012, replacing some key members on both sides of the ball will be even bigger for a team that has relied heavily on a core of players to produce the bulk of its playmaking in recent years. The Crush were also very good in close games, earning hard-fought wins over the Giants and Gladiators down the stretch in 2011. Stability in the coaching staff will help the transition this year from a raw, inexperienced bunch to an experienced contender in 2012.

Best case scenario: The Crush return to pre-2010 form and earn some big wins over in-division foes, including the Predators, a team they haven’t beaten since the last presidential administration. Their offense gets a little more creative and dynamic, increasing their scoring output. Last year’s difficult schedule helped the Crush take their lumps and their rise back to elite status results in at least a wild card (if not a division championship) and a record around 6-2.

Worst case scenario: Inconsistency and inexperience combine for some head-scratching losses throughout the year. The Predators and Rage can outscore just about anyone, and the Crush simply lack the firepower to match them. Eau Claire finds itself back where it was in 2010, rebuilding for the third time in four years after getting rocked by in-division foes and ending up at the bottom of the division.


Lake Superior Rage (2011: 5-3, missed the playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 5th (2011 only); 5th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 29-9
All-time NEFL power ranking: 4th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 47.1% (8th)
2011 Power Rankings – 7th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 6th
All-time Power Rankings – 6th
Average of all Power Rankings – 7th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 5
2012 Opponents: Predators (twice), Crush (twice), Thunderhawks (twice), Giants, Rough Riders

Expected record: 5.021-2.979 (approximately 5-3)

Analysis: The Rage missed the playoffs last year despite a plus-.500 record and big wins over other playoff contenders. This year, they’ll again be in the thick of things in the playoff chase, although it may not be as difficult as last season’s impossible three-teams-for-two-spots situation. Lake Superior has a great coaching staff, a deep recruiting pool (D2’s UM-Duluth has churned out a pair of national titles in recent years) and some key additions to this year’s squad. This team will have a massive chip on its shoulder after being shut out of the postseason last year. One cause for concern is their occasionally-leaky defense, an area they’ll need to improve to not only get back to the playoffs, but to solidify their position as a contender in 2012.

Best case scenario: The Rage play with, well, rage and end up with a record at or near the top of the NEFL. Remember last year, only a few plays had to go their way last year and we’re talking about a team coming off of a deep playoff run, with big wins over the Pioneers and Dragons down the stretch. 7-1 or 8-0 in the regular season gets them a home playoff game and a bye, and positions them as a prime contender for the title.

Worst case scenario: Another year, another scrum for a division title leaves the Rage out in the cold as one of their division-mates sneaks into the postseason as the other squads watch an upstart team from another division claim the wild card spot (or spots). The Rage lose a few big games early, then get discouraged down the stretch as the numerous road trips take their toll. They miss the postseason again despite possessing one of the most talented rosters in the league.


Chippewa Valley Predators (2011: 8-2, lost in the Elite Bowl)
Last year’s power rankings: 3rd (2011 only); 3rd (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 29-8
All-time NEFL power ranking: 2nd (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 48.5% (7th)
2011 Power Rankings – 8th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 8th
All-time Power Rankings – 7th
Average of all Power Rankings – 8th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 4
2012 Opponents: Rage (twice), Crush (twice), Thunderhawks (twice), Giants, Force

Expected record: 5.181-2.819 (approximately 5-3)

Analysis: After suffering their first shutout since their GPFL days, the humbled Predators look in 2012 to return to the top of the league. One of the league’s softest schedules in 2011 led to questions about how prepared they were going into the Elite Bowl—they beat a battle-tested but outmanned Crush team in the playoffs and narrowly escaped the Banta Bowl with a second playoff win against another relatively untested team in the Force—but the Predators annually claim a spot in the postseason dance. It’s another year of integration for this team, as the seasonal roster turnover results in yet another effort to get everyone on the same page. Just like last year, they don’t have much time to do it, although they were smart to schedule more non-league games to help that transition. However slow they usually start will be negated by the fact that they play just one league game before the first weekend in June (and only one game the entire month of May). The Predators have ended up a top team for most of the last three seasons, and figure to be one of the primary contenders for the Elite Bowl championship this year.

Best case scenario: Business as usual for the Predators, whether or not they suffer the almost-inevitable in-season loss early in the year that they always seem to have. Their tougher schedule prepares them better for later in the season, and after the month of May in which they play just one game, the team is healthy for the big stretch run the rest of the summer.

Worst case scenario: Confidence is low after losing their only game in May. A tougher schedule catches up to the Predators, as does the lack of chemistry of a team that regularly turns over a good chunk of its roster (including the quarterback position). The Crush, after a tough 2011 in which they lost to the Predators three times, get their revenge at least once on their way to a playoff spot. Chippewa Valley is left searching for answers amidst a season in which they roll out an immensely talented roster and even higher expectations only to fall short and end up observing the playoffs for the first time since the GPFL.
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PostSubject: Part 4 (2/10/12) - Team Previews III - Poised for a Breakout Year   Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:19 pm

NEFL Preseason Guide
By Jimmie Kaska - @NEFLinfo on Twitter

Here’s a fan’s view of each team’s outlook this season, with numbers and notes to show how I came to the conclusions that I did. I grouped each team by where they should fit in this season based solely on past results (it’s impossible to know in February who is playing where and how that impacts a team’s win-loss record). As always, none of this is league sponsored and all of it is for entertainment purposes only.

POISED FOR A BREAKOUT YEAR

Kimberly Storm (2011: 2-6, missed the playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 9th (2011 only); 10th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 4-20
All-time NEFL power ranking: 13th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 43.0% (9th)
2011 Power Rankings – 9th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 9th
All-time Power Rankings – 8th
Average of all Power Rankings – 9th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 3
2012 Opponents: Force (twice), Gladiators (twice), Spartans (twice), Dragons, Rough Riders

Expected record: 3.355-4.645 (approximately 3-5)

Analysis: This steadily-improving franchise has potential for a big season. Anything short of three or more victories would be a disappointing year for the Storm, a team that last year was in transition from a spread offense to a more traditional pro-set offense. One of the brighter spots of the team was the slight improvement of the defense from the year prior, although they still gave up 30 points per game. Their schedule sets up very nicely, and despite having a subpar 2011, they can actually be favored in about half of their games in 2012. If they get comfortable with an offense that suits their personnel, and the defense improves from the past two seasons, we’ll have to declare a—wait for it—Storm warning for the rest of the NEFL.

Best case scenario: They sweep games against teams they finished higher than in the standings from last year (Spartans, Rough Riders) and defeat Green Bay in both games of a critical series. They also find some time to challenge either Fox Valley or Minnesota. The ceiling for this team is probably 6-2, which is more than enough for a playoff spot. You could accurately project this team to win 3-5 games this season, and that in itself is a huge step forward for a franchise that is 4-20 in the NEFL and 4-24 all-time.

Worst case scenario: They fail to take advantage of their schedule and drop games to the Gladiators and/or Spartans. They get beat again by River City. The Force and Dragons take care of business. While they manage a win or two, this season will be a gigantic missed opportunity for the Storm to take the next step.


Green Bay Gladiators (2011: 2-5, missed the playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 8th (2011 only); 7th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 14-20
All-time NEFL power ranking: 7th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 39.4% (10th)
2011 Power Rankings – 10th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 11th
All-time Power Rankings – 10th
Average of all Power Rankings – 10th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 3
2012 Opponents: Force (twice), Storm (twice), Spartans (twice), Crush, Thunderhawks

Expected record: 4.552-3.448 (approximately 5-3)

Analysis: Like the Storm, the Gladiators possess a decent schedule (they don’t have to leave Wisconsin in the regular season). A year after losing a pair of key games by heartbreaking margins, Green Bay is looking to jump back into playoff contention. If they beat just the teams they finished higher than last season—and Green Bay was only 2-5—they would go 5-3 and be a lock for a playoff spot.
Despite mounting injuries, their offense improved by around 5 points per game last season. Traditionally their strength has been solid offensive and defensive lines, but last year their skill positions on offense took a big leap forward.

Best case scenario: Green Bay wins the games it’s supposed to, and finally knocks off Fox Valley en route to a spectacular record (possibly as high as 7-1) and a division championship (very much in play considering that the Force have a hard non-division schedule). The Gladiators stay healthy and win a playoff game or two, finally moving themselves from perennial playoff contender to championship contender.

Worst case scenario: Injuries mount and Green Bay is surpassed by the surging Storm, as Kimberly has the season the Gladiators were supposed to have. Even the Spartans get in on the act, and while Green Bay picks up a couple of wins, it’s hardly any consolation as they watch the playoffs this year.
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PostSubject: Part 3 (2/8/12) - Team Previews II - Victims of the Schedule Maker (Giants & Thunderhawks)   Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:30 pm

NEFL Preseason Guide
By Jimmie Kaska - @NEFLinfo on Twitter

Here’s a fan’s view of each team’s outlook this season, with numbers and notes to show how I came to the conclusions that I did. I grouped each team by where they should fit in this season based solely on past results (it’s impossible to know in February who is playing where and how that impacts a team’s win-loss record). As always, none of this is league sponsored and all of it is for entertainment purposes only.

VICTIMS OF THE SCHEDULE MAKER

Menomonie Thunderhawks (2011: 2-5, missed playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 10th (2011 only); 9th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 2-5
All-time NEFL power ranking: 11th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 63.2% (2nd)
2011 Power Rankings – 1st
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 2nd
All-time Power Rankings – 1st
Average of all Power Rankings – 1st
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 5
2012 Opponents: Predators (twice), Crush (twice), Rage (twice), Pioneers, Gladiators

Expected record: 2.159-5.841 (approximately 2-6)

Analysis: One of the more inconsistent teams in the league last season, Menomonie is certainly talented enough to contend with the top teams in the NEFL. This season offers both a grueling slate of games (three games against the two teams in last year’s Elite Bowl, one of only two teams in the league that can claim that (the other being the Giants)) and an opportunity to develop some close-to-home rivalries with the Crush and Predators. The Thunderhawks are not a team that has much trouble scoring normally, but in league games last year, they failed to top 27 points on any occasion. Where they really struggled was on defense, where they featured a number of solid players but couldn’t find a way to put it together (they gave up 30.7 points per game last season). Now, they have arguably the hardest schedule in the league this season, and they’ll need to play their best week in and week out to succeed in 2012.

Best case scenario: Menomonie finds a way to contain the high-octane offenses of the Predators and Rage, out-slugs the other teams on their schedule, and ends up somewhere between 4-4 and 6-2—this is one of the most dangerous teams in the league in terms of potential. Their defense cuts its points allowed in half, putting them in the middle of the pack in the NEFL. Meanwhile, their offense continues to improve. Don & Nona Williams Stadium rocks for a handful of weekends this summer as the Thunderhawks roll into the playoffs.

Worst case scenario: Their defense fails to plug the holes in the boat and sinks Menomonie to similarly dismal results as last season. Their new rivalries end up one-sided, and an uptick in scoring (even adding 5-8 points per game, up from 16.1 last year) doesn’t help as they lose several shootouts this season. The Thunderhawks wonder what happened to the momentum they brought into the league with a league championship in 2010 (NPFL) and several non-conference successes to boast in the last few years.


Rochester Giants (2011: 3-6, lost in first round of playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 8th (2011 only); 7th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 5-12
All-time NEFL power ranking: 9th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 65.3% (1st)
2011 Power Rankings – 2nd
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 1st
All-time Power Rankings – 2nd
Average of all Power Rankings – 2nd
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 5
2012 Opponents: Pioneers (twice), Dragons (twice), Rough Riders (twice), Predators, Rage

Expected record: 3.003-4.997 (approximately 3-5)

Analysis: One of the greatest teams in recent memory in the area (they owned the later years of the GPFL), it’s astounding to see how often they are overlooked in terms of the discussion of great teams historically within the league. While the last two years haven’t been great record-wise, they can build on a playoff berth from last year and continue the youth movement into a bigger 2012. This squad traditionally has stability in its roster, and a ton of veteran experience. However, in the last couple of years, there’s been an influx of new talent as the Giants work to get younger and more athletic. Even though they outscored opponents by over 4 points per game last season, they only won a third of their games. That could be the case again in 2012.

Best case scenario: Rochester re-kindles its past history, ignites an already-decent offense (23.8 points per game last year) and dispatches a number of solid teams on its way to a playoff spot. Their defense, cutting down on points allowed by nearly 18 points per game (!) from 2010 to 2011, continues its great improvement. They don’t have to head very far from home all year (all of their division opponents are nearby and they travel to the Rage), unlike last year in which they had to make a cross-Wisconsin trip twice. That silver lining in an otherwise tough slate of games puts them in contention somewhere near the middle of the pack after a couple of hard-fought victories, picking up a wild card playoff spot and validation for their appearance last season in the NEFL playoffs.

Worst case scenario: The overwhelming difficulty of their schedule does the Giants in, with a gauntlet of games against teams that combined to win roughly two-thirds of their contests in 2011. They don’t go winless, but it will feel like it if they only win a couple of games.
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PostSubject: Part 2 (2/6/12) - Team Previews I - Work To Do (Spartans & Rough Riders)   Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:31 pm

NEFL Preseason Guide
By Jimmie Kaska - @NEFLinfo on Twitter

Here’s a fan’s view of each team’s outlook this season, with numbers and notes to show how I came to the conclusions that I did. I grouped each team by where they should fit in this season based solely on past results (it’s impossible to know in February who is playing where and how that impacts a team’s win-loss record). As always, none of this is league sponsored and all of it is for entertainment purposes only.

WORK TO DO

Central Wisconsin Spartans (2011: 1-7, missed playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 12th (2011 only); 12th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 8-25
All-time NEFL power ranking: 12th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 52.2% (4th)
2011 Power Rankings – 4th
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 4th
All-time Power Rankings – 5th
Average of all Power Rankings – 4th
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 4
2012 Opponents: Force (twice), Gladiators (twice), Storm (twice), Crush, Pioneers

Expected record: 0.870-7.130 (approximately 1-7)

Analysis: The Central Wisconsin Spartans have been an offensive force for years (they score over 30 points roughly 25% of the time, meaning you can count on about two games this season in which they’ll be replacing light bulbs on the scoreboard). This year, they’ll certainly have their chances to score against the Storm (giving up more than 30 points per game in over 41% of their league games all-time) and the Gladiators (around 26%) in two games against each team. Those four games represent the best chance for the Spartans to get victories and improve upon two years’ worth of disappointment. The downside to the schedule is a slate of games against the Force (twice), the Pioneers and the Crush. Of those, Eau Claire is the easiest opponent, and Eau Claire has had some trouble in the last couple of years putting up the points.

Best case scenario: The Spartans win a handful of shootouts, get on a roll and pull off an upset in one of their 3 games against the Force or Pioneers to get into the playoffs. Their offense is capable historically, and they have featured a strong group of lineman and linebackers in the past on defense. 5-3 or 4-4 is the projected ceiling for this team (based on past results), although it wasn’t that long ago that they tore through the NEFL en route to a playoff berth and a pile of offensive numbers.

Worst case scenario: Another year of frustrating losses in close games combined with a tough schedule has the Spartans finishing near the bottom of the league for the third year in a row. Improved Green Bay and Kimberly teams could take advantage of a down year by the Spartans to springboard themselves into playoff contention. Early season moral victories don’t translate into actual victories until it’s too late. Basically, the last two years combined happening again in 2012.


River City Rough Riders (2011: 1-6, missed playoffs)
Last year’s power rankings: 11th (2011 only); 11th (last 10 games)

All-time NEFL record: 1-6
All-time NEFL power ranking: 14th (out of 15)

2012 Strength of Schedule:
Win percentage – 60.8% (3rd)
2011 Power Rankings – 3rd
Last 10 Games Power Rankings – 3rd
All-time Power Rankings – 3rd
Average of all Power Rankings – 3rd
2011 Playoff Teams on schedule: 6
2012 Opponents: Pioneers (twice), Dragons (twice), Giants (twice), Rage, Storm

Expected record: 1.692-6.308 (approximately 2-6)

Analysis: When the Rough Riders joined the league last year, it was following an up-and-down run in past leagues. On the field last year, it became apparent that they lacked playmaking ability on offense, although the defense and special teams were up to the task. The Rough Riders should have no trouble attracting talent from their metro area (there aren’t a lot of teams nearby), which you can see this offseason with some of the linemen they’ve been able to recruit. They’ll need to score more than 20 points in any game in order to improve upon their win total from last season. They have one of the hardest schedules in the entire league—six playoff teams and one more that had a winning record last season. All of this means that even if the Rough Riders improve—and judging by their tryout turnouts, they should—it might not be reflected in the standings.

Best case scenario: The Rough Riders will be the underdog in virtually every single game this year, and play with a huge chip on their collective shoulders. While they don’t add a dynamic talent (or at least one you can glean from what you would know in early February) to their offense, their defense and special teams (combined with a ball-control offense) earn them a few hard-fought victories. A brutal schedule results in just a .500 record and playoff contention (sweeping the Giants, beating the Storm, and surprising the Rage, Pioneers or Dragons along the way), but that in itself is a major achievement.

Worst case scenario: Seven of their games come against squads that had pretty good 2011 seasons, resulting in demoralizing blowout losses throughout the year. Their offense can’t cobble together more than a touchdown or two in any single game this season, further illustrating the need for some scoring punch. They finish the end of the year at the bottom of the standings again, possibly winless, despite improvements in key areas on their team.
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PostSubject: Re: 2012 NEFL Preseason Guide   Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:57 pm

As usual. OUTSTANDING
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PostSubject: 2012 NEFL Preseason Guide   Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:46 pm

I'll be breaking this up into smaller parts, since it's pretty wordy (7,000 words or so). I'll just add each new post in this thread instead of making up new ones. (I figured this new forum needed some more stuff in it?)

The 2012 NEFL Preseason Guide

Part 1 (2/3/12) - Projected League Standings, 2012
Part 2 (2/6/12) - Team Previews I - Work To Do
Part 3 (2/8/12) - Team Previews II - Victims of the Schedule Maker
Part 4 (2/10/12) - Team Previews III - Poised for a Breakout Year

Part 5 (2/13/12) - Team Previews IV - Central Division Logjam
Part 6 (2/15/12) - Team Previews V - The Other Contenders

Part 7 (2/17/12) - Team Previews VI - The Defending Champion
BONUS (2/17/12) - League Scoring Quick Facts

Part 8 (2/20/12) - 2012's Top Games
Part 9 (2/23/12) - The NEFL on Offense and Defense All-Time (Team)

Part 10 (2/27/12) - The Ultimate NEFL Fan Travel Schedule

March - Team Training Camp Reports (will appear in new thread)

April - Team-by-Team Previews & History (will appear in new thread)

May 7-11 - Week 1 Power Rankings/Coaches Poll/Week 1 Preview (will appear in new thread)

Follow @NEFLinfo on Twitter for daily facts on league history and notifications on when the 2012 Season Preview sections get posted

* * * * *
Part 1 (2/3/12) - Projected League Standings, 2012

NEFL Preseason Guide
By Jimmie Kaska - @NEFLinfo on Twitter

Here’s a fan’s view of each team’s outlook this season, with numbers and notes to show how I came to the conclusions that I did. I grouped each team by where they should fit in this season based solely on past results (it’s impossible to know in February who is playing where and how that impacts a team’s win-loss record). As always, none of this is league sponsored and all of it is for entertainment purposes only.

PROJECTED LEAGUE STANDINGS

--Based on power rankings vs strength of opponent/schedule (decided opponent-by-opponent)

EAST
^Fox Valley Force 6-2
*Green Bay Gladiators 5-3
Kimberly Storm 3-5
Central Wisconsin Spartans 1-7

CENTRAL
^Chippewa Valley Predators 5-3
*Lake Superior Rage 5-3
Eau Claire Crush 5-3
Menomonie Thunderhawks 2-6

WEST
^St. Paul Pioneers 6-2
*Minnesota Dragons 5-3
Rochester Giants 3-5
River City Rough Riders 2-6

(NOTE: I didn’t apply tiebreakers, just went 1 through 6 in the numbers churned out by the formula listed above)

--Based on win percentage in 2011 (including postseason)

EAST
^Fox Valley Force 7-1
*Green Bay Gladiators 4-3-1
Kimberly Storm 3-5
Central Wisconsin Spartans 0-8

CENTRAL
^Chippewa Valley Predators 8-0
*Lake Superior Rage 6-2
Eau Claire Crush 4-4
Menomonie Thunderhawks 0-7-1

WEST
^St Paul Pioneers 8-0
*Minnesota Dragons 5-3
Rochester Giants 2-6
River City Rough Riders 0-8

Playoffs: (6) Gladiators at (3) Force, (5) Dragons at (4) Rage, (1) Predators (2) Pioneers

(Note: I don't have the official tiebreakers, but the Predators would play the harder schedule in this scenario)


Last edited by jimmiekaska on Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:34 pm; edited 5 times in total
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