Backseat Coach’s Round 1 Previews

Columbus Comets (4-4) vs New York Sharks (4-4)

7 p.m. ET, Aviator Sports Complex, Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.


Current line: Sharks (home) are 10.5-point underdogs

Massey prediction: Comets 26 – Sharks 12

Of the twenty-seven teams to reach the WFA playoffs, 5 enter with overall records of 4-4, and two of those teams will square off against each other this Saturday in Brooklyn. Despite having identical overall records, this game features two teams moving in opposite directions.

The Comets’ wins have come against perennially tough competition, including a victory over the West Michigan Mayhem, one of the other 4-4 playoff teams. Their losses have come against strong favorites and championship contenders DC and Pittsburgh.

While the Sharks won the games they were expected to win, their victories came against significantly weaker competition. Two narrow wins came against a team in its inaugural season. Two more wins came in interleague matchups; WFA teams were 8-0 in interleague games played this season. Still, with All-Americans QB Karen Mulligan and WR Lauren Pringle making a formidable tandem, the Sharks possess the pedigree to make this a lively game.

Backseat Coach picks: Columbus Comets


Cincinnati Sizzle (4-4) vs Pittsburgh Passion (6-2)

7 p.m. ET, Hempfield Stadium, Greensburg, Penn.


Current line: Passion (home) are 30.5-point favorites

Massey prediction: Sizzle 0 – Passion 61

Despite attaining a vastly important milestone — earning its first playoff berth in team history — the Sizzle are overshadowed in their home state of Ohio with the aforementioned Columbus Comets positioned for a playoff victory and the Cleveland Fusion going undefeated on the season. The Sizzle could have gone 5-3 were it not for a devastating 4th-quarter collapse against the Derby City Dynamite in Week 7. But even if they had won, it wouldn’t increase their profile (0 wins against playoff contenders) or their chances versus the Pittsburgh Passion.

The Pittsburgh Passion have been perennial playoff contenders, and this year is no different. Lead by 6 first-team All-Americans including star quarterback Lisa Horton and Women’s Team USA defensive back Sharon Vasquez, the Passion are heavy favorites in this game.

Backseat Coach picks: Pittsburgh Passion


West Michigan Mayhem (4-4) vs Cleveland Fusion (8-0)

7 p.m. ET, Case Western Reserve Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio


Current line: Fusion (home) are 3.5-point favorites

Massey prediction: Mayhem 16 – Fusion 28

The success of the Cleveland Fusion has been one of the biggest stories of the season in women’s tackle football. Not only are the Fusion undefeated in regular season play; they also had a very impressive streak of defensive shutouts that ultimately ended in their 7th game. By the end of the regular season, their defensive unit gave up only 18 points total. If there is one knock against the Fusion, it is that their competitors have been fairly soft; only two games against a playoff team, and both were against a middling wildcard team.

The West Michigan Mayhem have also had a successful season, albeit under the radar. Though their overall record does not indicate much movement from recent years, the Mayhem were vastly more competitive within their division this season, improving to 3-3 from 0-4 in 2011. They finished as division runner-up and undoubtedly gained valuable experience in losses against their division foe, the 2012 National Conference Champion Chicago Force. But with an unexpected Week 7 loss against the Detroit Dark Angels (1-4 at the time), the Mayhem’s consistency is in question. If the Mayhem bring their A-game, the final score will reflect a very hard-fought match.

Backseat Coach picks: Cleveland Fusion


Tampa Bay Inferno (6-2) vs Atlanta Phoenix (8-0)

7 p.m. ET, North Springs High School Stadium, Sandy Springs, Fla.


Current line: Phoenix (home) are 23-point favorites

Massey prediction: Inferno 19 – Phoenix 35

After posting a single-loss season in 2012, an unbalanced playoff scheme that year excluded the Tampa Bay Inferno from postseason play. An expanded bracket and a solid 6-2 record this year translates into the first-ever playoff berth for the franchise. The Inferno posted impressive victories over the Tallahassee Jewels, a 2012 division champ, the Savannah Sabers, a playoff team this year, and the Jacksonville Dixie Blues who, until a Week 2 loss to the Miami Fury, were undefeated in the regular season since joining the WFA in 2009.

Likewise, the Atlanta Phoenix posted only a single loss in 2012 (but also went 1-1 in the playoffs). And this season, they have soundly defeated the Jewels, Sabers, and Dixie Blues. Unlike the Inferno however, Atlanta is undefeated. Inferno supporters will be quick to point out that Atlanta did not have to face a division foe like the Miami Fury (8-0) twice. And that in their only head-to-head meeting, Tampa Bay posted a one-point victory over the Atlanta Phoenix in the 2012 regular season.

The Inferno are thinking upset, but the odds are longer than they may realize. Under the leadership of by QB Lanesha Hargraves who has a 100+ rating, and RB Launa Sims who rushed for over 1,000 yards and a whopping 21 TDs, Atlanta’s offense will simply smother the Inferno.

Backseat Coach picks: Atlanta Phoenix


Utah Jynx (6-2) vs Seattle Majestics (8-0)

9 p.m. ET, French Field, Kent, Wash.


Current line: Majestics (home) are 18.5-point favorites

Massey prediction: Jynx 32 – Majestics 43

This is the Majestics’ first season in the WFA, but they were a perennial contender in the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) for several years. No matter the league, they have established themselves as the Pacific Northwest’s dominant women’s football team. In Week 1 they stunned the Jynx, dispatching them in Utah by a score of 47-18. They further demonstrated their dominance by defeating another former IWFL powerhouse, the Sacramento Sirens, 42-21 in Week 6.

Despite the Week 1 setback, the Jynx won their division by sporting a potent offense that ranks amongst the WFA’s elite teams. Both QB Crystal Grady and RB Mixsa Kafi will surpass 1,000 yards in passing and rushing respectively. But the Jynx still have only one win against a .500-or-better team, whereas the Majestics have collected 5 such wins, 4 against playoff teams. And the Jynx’s defense runs in the middle of the pack, which won’t be enough to keep Seattle QB Rachel Gore’s air attack grounded.

Backseat Coach picks: Seattle Majestics


Portland Shockwave (5-3) vs Central Cal War Angels (8-0)

10 p.m. ET, Groppetti Community Stadium, Visalia, Calif.

Datastream: none known

Current line: War Angels (home) are 32.5-point favorites

Massey prediction: Shockwave 0 – War Angels 41

The Central Cal War Angels have caught everyone’s attention this season, not so much for their undefeated record, but more for their sheer dominance on the field regardless of opponent. No WFA team has scored more than 8 points against the Angels’ defense, while their offense is averaging 41 points per game with a flashy passing game and a bruising running back Destanie Yarbrough. They have faced the Sirens twice, the Pacific Warriors twice, and the Las Vegas Showgirlz one time; all have reached the playoffs this year, yet the Angels defeated each convincing fashion during the regular season.

The Portland Shockwave are not dominant or flashy, but they possess noticeable strengths and grit. They do not have a quarterback with a high rating, or a 1,000-yard rusher or receiver. They don’t even have a single player with double-digit touchdowns. In fact, the Shockwave were all but eliminated from the playoffs until the waning minutes of the last week of the regular season, when their crosstown rival, the Portland Fighting Fillies, lost their grip on the final wildcard berth by falling in overtime to the Everett Reign, a promising new team that finished 3-5 in this their inaugural season. Drawing the War Angels in Round 1 may not be so lucky, but if there is a team who has chance on its side, it may be the Shockwave.

Backseat Coach picks: Central Cal War Angels


Backseat Coach’s other predictions:

  • Miami Fury over Savannah Sabers
  • St. Louis Slam over Acadiana Zydeco
  • Austin Outlaws over Little Rock Wildcats
  • Sacramento Sirens over Pacific Warriors
  • San Diego Surge over the Las Vegas Showgirlz

The Boston Militia, DC Divas, Chicago Force, Kansas City Titans, and Dallas Diamonds have been awarded first-round byes.

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