This year, the Minor Professional Football League has 19 members: nine in the Metro Division and five in each the Plains Division and the Capital Division. With the regular season winding down, the playoff picture is starting to take shape in the MPFL.
In fact, the majority of the playoff spots are already spoken for, but first, let’s take a look at the playoff format.
Five teams from the Metro Division and three from both the Plains Division and the Capital Division will make the regional playoffs for the right to advance to The Standing Four.
“Our buzzword over here is The Standing Four,” MPFL Commissioner J.C. Kimey told Developmental Football USA. “This year, we had to do it a little bit different, looking at the uneven schedules, with no way to have two conferences and with one division as big as the other two put together.”
The playoffs will still be regionalized. In the Plains Division and Capital Division, the No. 1 seed will have a first-round bye, then play winner of the No. 2 and No. 3 seed for the right to represent the division in The Standing Four.
In the Metro Division, the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds will play an elimination game, of which the winner will then play the No. 1 seed for a chance to make The Standing Four, while the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds battle it out for their chance to make The Standing Four. The Metro Division will then send two teams to The Standing Four.
“Percentage wise, it evens out,” Kimey said. “There’s a pretty equal chance of representation in The Standing Four from each division.”
In the Metro Division and the Plains Division, the playoff spots are all spoken for. At this point, it’s just a matter of seeding.
“The five that are in are the Texas Bullets, the DeSoto Golden Eagles, the Dallas Vikings, the North Texas Stampede and the Denton County Rhinos,” Kimey said. “They’ve already clinched. The Rhinos and the Stampede could get as high as the two seed or as low as the fifth seed. There’s a lot of things that have to happen for that. If you assume the Bullets win out, then all DeSoto has to do is win out and they’ve got the tiebreaker over the Vikings, that would put them as the two seed.
“The Rhinos got the Stampede, then the Bullets. Those guys are playing really well. They beat DeSoto at their own barn by three scores and at that point DeSoto was rolling at 6-1 and the Rhinos were 4-3.”
The Vikings host the Bullets on Saturday, while the Rhinos host the Stampede. Next week, the Golden Eagles host the Vikings. Needless to say, these last few weeks of the regular season will not be lacking in excitement as fans get the luxury of watching these pre-playoff heavyweight match-ups.
Once Saturday night’s games are in the books, the MPFL playoff picture will be a little more clear.
“Kind of by design, I did a parity-based schedule,” Kimey said. “How could a team with as much playoff experience as the Rhinos be 5-3 and a team like the Golden Eagles with no playoff experience be 6-2? The parity-based schedule was designed to give these teams a chance to get off to a good start, the NFL does it.
“Water always finds its own level. Even the expansion teams, I paired them up with each other, it gives us epic games every week. If you go through this thing and win a championship and you’re looking back on it, do you want to look back and say, ‘We won the championship, but we only played two good games all year.’ Or, do you want to look back and say, ‘That was a gauntlet?’”
In the Plains Division, the West Texas Pride is still undefeated at 7-0 (4-0 in MPFL), with the West Texas Lions sitting at 4-2 and the El Paso Seminoles sitting at 3-3. Based on their remaining schedule, it’s pretty safe the two El Paso teams will battle it out for another chance at the Pride in the playoffs.
“In the West, in the Plains, the West Texas Lions, the El Paso Seminoles and the West Texas Pride have clinched the top three spots there,” Kimey said.
The Capital Division isn’t set in stone yet, but it looks like the Austin Vipers, San Antonio Warriors and Capital City Bison will see the post-season from that Division.
“The Vipers, they’ve sown up the top spot in that division,” Kimey said.
Should the dominoes fall these next two weeks in such a way that teams find themselves in a tie, here’s how the MPFL will resolve it.
“Our tiebreaker is follows: head to head, record versus common opponents, then strength of schedule – which is a nod to the veteran teams that have the tougher schedule – then points per game allowed,” Kimey said.
Early in the year, Kimey and the MPFL received a bit of outside criticism for their parity-based scheduling, but now with these results, his phone ringing with prospective 2018 teams trying to get a seat at the table.
At a level when teams fold at the last minute and cause scheduling conflicts for the entire league – as some leagues around the country have experienced – and expansion teams typically struggle to get off the ground, the MPFL has something else to hang its hat on.
“None of the expansion teams have forfeited a game, not a single one,” Kimey said. “We’ve had no teams fold during the season, we only had one – the Curry County Chiefs – fold before the season. We had one forfeit all year and it was not by an expansion team. It speaks to the quality of the teams we have.”