In 2022, the Bay Area Panthers started their season with a win but failed to win another game. During the off-season, the Panthers aggressively revamped their team to turn their franchise into a championship contender quickly. The Northern Arizona Wranglers established in 2022 that an IFL team can be a 1-win team and then win the IFL National Championship the following season.
The Panthers targeted the Wrangler’s roster in the off-season to replicate their accomplishment. In the pre-season, the IFL coaches predicted that the Bay Area Panthers to be the #2 team in the IFL. To open the season, the Panthers face an established top IFL team when they host the Arizona Rattlers. Bay Area must come ready to play if they plan to prove they are potential championship contenders.
Let’s examine the IFL games in Week 2 of the 2023 season. First, watch all IFL games via live stream at https://goifl.com.
Visiting Team: Tulsa Oilers (0-0)
Home Team: Frisco Fighters (1-0)
Game Location: Comerica Center, Frisco, Texas
Date and Time: Friday, March 24th at 8:05 pm EST
The Frisco Fighters and Tulsa Oilers are geographically the two closest teams in the Eastern Conference. The expectation is that the Fighters and Oilers will establish themselves as rivals, but this week it may feel like something other than a rivalry. The expansion Oilers face a red-hot Fighters team that dominated all aspects against the Blizzard. While the Oilers may eventually compete intensely with Frisco in the future, this is different than the week.
Prediction: Frisco Fighters 70 Tulsa Oilers 30
Visiting Team: Duke City Gladiators (0-0)
Home Team: Northern Arizona Wranglers (0-0)
Game Location: Findlay Toyota Center, Prescott Valley, Arizona
Date and Time: Saturday, March 25th at 8:05 pm EST
The Duke City Gladiators and Northern Arizona Wranglers are both in transition. The Gladiators and the Wranglers both had explosive offenses in 2022. In 2023, both teams seek to reclaim their offensive prowess despite numerous roster changes, including at the quarterback position. The outcome of this game will depend on which team can gel first on offense.
Prediction: Duke City Gladiators 42 Northern Arizona Wranglers 32
Visiting Team: Iowa Barnstormers (0-0)
Home Team: Vegas Knight Hawks (0-0)
Game Location: The Dollar Loan Center, Henderson, Nevada
Date and Time: Saturday, March 25th at 10:05 pm EST
The Barnstormers and Knight Hawks come into the season with established quarterbacks, and in the IFL, if you have a playmaker at quarterback, you have a chance to win. Iowa quarterback Darius-James Peterson led the Barnstormers to a playoff appearance in 2022, throwing for more than 2000 yards and running for more than 800 yards. Quarterback Dequan Neal comes to Vegas after successfully leading the Tucson Sugar Skulls to the playoffs in 2022. This game will come down to defensive stops and extra points.
Prediction: Vegas Knight Hawks 52 Iowa Barnstormers 50
Visiting Team: Quad City Steamwheelers (0-1)
Home Team: San Diego Strike Force (0-0)
Game Location: Pechanga Arena, San Diego, California
Date and Time: Sunday, March 26th at 6:05 pm EST
In Week 1, the Steamwheeler’s offense was explosive, and quarterback EJ Hilliard lived up to his #2 ranking on the pre-season quarterback power rankings. However, despite the efforts of Hilliard, Quad City came up short at home against the Arizona Rattlers due to a turnover, a safety, and missed extra points. The San Diego Strike Force comes into the season after struggling for three wins during the 2022 season. However, the expectations for Quad City are to be a championship contender, and the Strike Force is trying to progress.
Prediction: Quad City Steamwheelers 60 San Diego Strike Force 32
Visiting Team: Green Bay Blizzard (0-1)
Home Team: Massachusetts Pirates (0-0)
Game Location: Phoenix Field at the DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts
Date and Time: Sunday, March 26th at 1:05 pm EST
In week 1, the Green Bay Blizzard had a disastrous start to their season and gave up 76 points in a home loss to the Frisco Fighters. In week 2, the Blizzard hope to bounce back, but they have to do so on the road against one of the established Eastern Conference powers. The last game of 2022 ended with the Pirates getting upset by Quad City on their home field in the playoffs. Unless the Blizzard has found an instant way to turn their offense and defense around, this will be a dominant start to the season by the Pirates.
Prediction: Massachusetts Pirates 52 Green Bay Blizzard 33
Visiting Team: Arizona Rattlers (1-0)
Home Team: Bay Area Panthers (0-0)
Game Location: SAP Center, San Jose, California
Date and Time: Sunday, March 26th at 8:05 pm EST
In the pre-season rankings, the expectations are that the Rattlers and Panthers will be the top two teams in the IFL. These expectations are after Bay Area only secured one win in the 2022 season. This year’s Panthers team is much more similar to the Wranglers than last year’s Panthers. Many of these Panthers were part of the upset win over the Rattlers in the Western Conference final. The Rattlers started well last week with a high-quality road win at Quad City. This game will be a measuring stick for the Panthers to see how close they are to try to go from worst to first in the IFL.
Prediction: Arizona Rattlers 45 Bay Area Panthers 42
Prediction Record This Season: 2-0
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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