Sweden kicks off 2017 season!

The Swedish Super Series kicks off its 2017 season with Friday Night Football at Behrn Arena in Örebro. The Örebro Black Knights will take on the newly improved Stockholm Mean Machines Friday April 7 at 6:30 PM.

Our colleagues at the Swedish Football Network have given us permission to reprint their first rankings of the season in Sweden presented here by Johan Sjögren. With the STU Northside Bulls opting out of Sweden’s top league in 2017, six teams will compete for the title.

By Johan Sjögren

The Bulls exodus and the uncertainty around Tyresö has resulted in a flurry of player transfers in the Super Series. A total 18 players have left one of these teams to play for another Swedish team. The Stockholm Mean Machines have been very active and probably the team that has improved their squad the most in the offseason. It’s not just the Mean Machines who were active but also the Uppsala 86ers whose squad contains a lot of new faces.

I also think it is worth a comment that this year we will see some of Sweden’s best players back in Sweden. David Hedelin (Purdue, Dallas Cowboys now Limhamn Griffins) and Sebastian Johansson (Marshall, San Diego Chargers now Carlstad Crusaders) are back after successful college  careers. Both had a sniff at playing in the NFL, David with the Dallas Cowboys and Sebastian with the San Diego Chargers. Personally, for me it will be a pleasure to see these two gentlemen play in the Super Series. We should not forget that five time Swedish champion quarterback Anders Hermodsson (Stockholm Mean Machines) is back after a year in Italy.

Two teams have started the season with games in the new Northern European League. Carlstad defeated the Copenhagen Towers in Denmark (25-8) and Uppsala lost (27-41) away to the Helsinki Roosters.

Also this year we will again be able to follow the Super Series on Sweden’s TV4 on Fridays under the title of Friday Night Football. A total of about 60 hours of Swedish American football will be televised and you can read more about this here. It all kicks off with a game between two of the teams tipped to make the playoffs, the Örebro Black Knights and the Stockholm Mean Machines. Örebro has been a steady playoff team for many years and  this game will be a good yardstick to see how well the Stockholm team has fared in its offseason preparations.

Below is this week’s Power Ranking, and as usual you see last week’s placement in the brackets.

1. Carlstad Crusaders (-)
Last game:
Next game: Limhamn Griffins away, April 7
Coefficient: 0.9444
Record: 0-0
Streak: –

The Crusaders are the defending champions and a natural favorite to win the series this year. Pre-season has not been plain sailing since Carlstad’s US imports have already gone home, one to try to reach the NFL and the other because of homesickness. While the prospective imports may have left the club, four time championship running back Brett Koepp has returned if only for certain games. The idea is that he will play the non-league games, but it would surprise me if he did not show up again, at least for the playoff games.

It is also likely that Carlstad will soon complement the squad with additional imports. With Sweden’s top offensive lineman Niklas Johansson choosing to cancel his contract with Germany’s New Yorker Lions, head coach Tracy Gere will have an almost identical squad from last year. What should then stop the Crusaders from bringing home its eighth straight gold? There is a question about Carlstad’s roster since the farm team contract with Gothenburg Marvels was not approved, and another regarding a generational change in the offensive line. Sebastian Johansson’s return will be exciting to follow and he will certainly help the offensive line as needed. Carlstad’s long season is already underway with one game in the new NEFL and according to reports Crusaders did not take have to work hard to defeat the Copenhagen Towers.

Carlstad’s first opponent in the Super Series is the Limhamn Griffins and Carlstad is the obvious favorite.

2. Örebro Black Knights (-)
Last game:
Next game: Stockholm Mean Machines home, April 7 (TV4 Sport)
Coefficient: 0.8611
Record: 0-0
Streak: –

Aaron Fiddler enters his second year as head coach of the Black Knights, and he will again this year have Matt Hamme as his defensive coordinator.

The foundation from last year’s squad is back and is fortified with a number of acquisitions of national team caliber including Peder Jungstedt, Lamin Saho, Alexander Piensoho, Fredrik Isaksson and super talent Jonatan Gihl. In addition, explosive DE Aleksi Nyström is back after a long injury. The Black Knights have also moved up a number of juniors to the elite team, and of them RB Adam Fahlvik and OL Isac Moore stand out.

The conditions are therefore right for the Black Knights to challenge for the club’s first gold for the men’s seniors. The team’s strength will be, like last year defense  which will help the Black Knights stay in close games. On offense, I have two questions; can Corbin Lawler can take over Johnny Knox’s mantle and is the OL  sufficiently stable and deep? Orebro opens the season with a televised Friday game against the Stockholm Mean Machines.

3. Uppsala 86ers (-)
Last game:
Next game: Tyreso Royal Crowns away, April 8
Coefficient: 0.6667
Record: 0-0
Streak: –

Photo: Moses H.

Uppsala continues to invest and is probably the team with the most new players from last year’s squad. Like Carlstad, Uppsala started their season with a game in the NEFL against Finland’s Helsinki Roosters, which resulted in a loss. In that game, I think Uppsala’s offense lacked some of their timing and turned the ball over six times.

However, it takes some time to play as a team with so many new players and I expect that the 86ers are a team that can grow as the season progresses. We should not forget that the 86ers started the season miserably last year, but still managed to go all the way to the final. Jonathan Wikström has chosen to rest his body this year and the 86ers have picked up Canadian RB Victor St. Pierre to replace him  Former import running backs in the Super Series – Winchester in Tyresö and Brett Koepp for Carlstad –  have impressed and expectations of what St. Pierre can do are high. Uppsala is clearly a contender for a place in the final and the coveted gold. The first opponent in this year’s Super Series is the Tyreso Royal Crowns.

4. Stockholm Mean Machines (-)
Last game:
Next game: Orebro Black Knights away, April 7 (TV4 Sport)
Record: 0-0
Streak: –

After a few tough years the Mean Machines seem determined to get back to the top again. Stockholm has been very active in the transfer/recruiting market, both in Sweden and abroad and has brought in a good number of new players.

The biggest recruit is arguably Anders Hermodsson who is returning to the Super Series after a year in Italy. The Mean Machines will be a better team than in previous years, but how long will it take for them to get for him to get in snyc with a new team? With so many new players, we can expect the team to stutter early in the season, but the team will grow the closer we get to the playoffs. Stockholm is, as of today, a playoff candidate but can probably also challenge the clubs at the top when the playoffs finally kick off.

The first game is against Örebro and this match will be a good yardstick to see how well Stockholm’s rebuilding has gone.

5. Tyresö Royal Crowns (-)
Last game:
Next game: Uppsala 86ers home, April 8
Coefficient: 0.2778
Record: 0-0
Streak: –

Tyresö is probably the team that has lost the most players in the the offseason and this year’s squad smacks of a rebuild. Leo Billgren, however, returned as head coach and with him he has former Tyresö import Andrew Preston as his defensive coordinator, so there is plenty of experience and quality on the coaching staff. Tyresö has chosen not to bring in any US imports for this year, but has concentrated on the Swedish Finnish QB combination of Otso Flinkman and Ted Eriksson. Flinkman is young and promising with national team experience, and Ted is a product of Leo’s own business. What can we expect of Tyresö in this year’s Super Series? I think we will see a young and well coached team that can definitely surprise in individual games.

I think however that over the course of the season,  Tyresö’s chances of reaching the final are minimal. But I also believe that Tyresö can be a team to be reckoned with again as long as there is young talent in the association. The Royal Crowns play their first game on safe ground at home at Tyresövallen against the Uppsala 86ers.

6. Limhamn Griffin (-)
Last game:
Next game: Carlstad Crusaders home, April 7
Coefficient: 0.2222
Record: 0-0
Streak: –

Outside of the signing of David Hedelin things have been quiet from Limhamn. There are rumours, however, of players headed to the squad, especially from Denmark, as well as an American DL from a Division I school, but also remours that some key players have left the squad.

We still do not know, however, whether Limhamn will be using a Swedish QB or if an import is on his way. Hedelin is a big gain for Limhamn’s OL that had problems with pass-pro last year and it will be exciting to follow him during the season.

With last year’s collapse in mind and sparse published news about the team, the Griffins are ranked at the bottom of the list. However, if everything falls into place and that the team manages to keep up the pressure through an entire season, the ceiling is high. This makes me think that, in spite of their ranking here, they can be an outsider in terms of a playoff spot. The season starts Friday with a tough home game against the formidable Carlstad Crusaders.

Benchmark coefficient

When analyzing the coefficient it can be helpful to know what the benchmark is for the respective positions in the rankings, in other words when everyone on the panel agrees on a team’s spot in the rankings. Below is the benchmark for all the spots:
Spot 1: 6 * 6/36 = 1.0000
Spot 2: 5 * 6/36 = 0.8333
Spot 3: 4 * 6/36 = 0.6667
Spot 4: 3 * 6/36 = 0.5000
Spot 5: 2 * 6/36 = 0.3333
Spot 6: 1 * 6/36 = 0.1667