After a long off-season of IFL teams shuffling the deck with changing rosters, coaching staffs, and IFL rules, teams are making final preparations to make their run to the 2024 IFL National Championship game in Las Vegas. The most essential characteristic of any championship team in the IFL is continuity. Most IFL teams are in some state of constant change, and the teams that can maintain the most stability and stay healthy are the teams that will have a chance to make the IFL playoffs and compete for a national championship.

The opening week of the 2024 IFL season features four established IFL teams. Three of those teams of those four teams have shown that they are playoff contenders on an annual basis. The fourth team is the Green Bay Blizzard, and they have been working since 2019 to get themselves back to the level that allows them to have a chance to compete for a playoff spot. In Week 1, the teams that have done the best job of maintaining stability in the off-season will have the opportunity to get a fast start to the 2024 season.

Note: All IFL games are streamed live on the IFL Network on YouTube.

Game #1

Date and Time: Saturday, March 16th at 9:05 pm EST

Home Team: Arizona Rattlers (0-0)

Away Team: Northern Arizona Wranglers (0-0)

Game Location: Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona

DraftKings Betting Line: Arizona Rattlers -5.5, O/U 96.5 points

The first game of the 2024 season features an in-state rivalry that has been a top playoff matchup during the last two IFL seasons. Both the Arizona Rattlers and the Northern Arizona Wranglers come into the 2024 season with significant roster changes. The deciding factor in this game will be which team can find chemistry early in the season.

The Arizona Rattlers come into this game with a new quarterback, Dalton Sneed, running the offense. During the 2023 season, the Rattlers were one of the best teams in the IFL when their former quarterback, Drew Powell, was healthy, but they struggled when Powell was injured. This off-season, the Rattlers added several offensive and defensive weapons along with Sneed, and the Rattlers, led by head coach Kevin Guy, tend to start fast early each season.

The Northern Arizona Wranglers tend to start slow early in the season, and this year could follow that trend. Northern Arizona has a host of new players who will need to build chemistry and find their groove with the IFL style of football. During the 2023 playoffs, the Wranglers upset the Rattlers on the road to make their second straight appearance in the semi-finals of the IFL playoffs. The Wranglers are a team that tends to start the season slowly and get better as the season goes on, but they also tend to play well at home.

Game Prediction: Arizona Rattlers 60, Northern Arizona Wranglers 52

Game #2

Date and Time: Sunday, March 17th at 4:05 pm EST

Home Team: Green Bay Blizzard (0-0)

Away Team: Massachusetts Pirates (0-0)

Game Location: Resch Center in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin

DraftKings Betting Line: Massachusetts Pirates -3.5, O/U 91.5

The Massachusetts Pirates and the Green Bay Blizzard come into 2024 as IFL franchises with a solid foundation. Traditionally, the Pirates are a team expected to compete for championships in the IFL. Still, at the end of the 2023 season, the Pirates experienced a complete collapse with four straight losses and a first-round loss in the playoffs at Sioux Falls. For the Blizzard, 2019 was the last time the Blizzard have qualified for the IFL playoffs, and since then, their roster has experienced multiple changes each off-season, including this year.

The Massachusetts Pirates return quarterback Alejandro Bennifield; Bennifield started the 2023 season for the Pirates, but Anthony Russo replaced Bennifield after an injury that benched Bennifield. In addition, the Pirates also signed former Bowie State quarterback DJ Golatt Jr., who has participated in mini-camps for Washington and Baltimore in the NFL. In addition to their quarterbacks, the Pirates have added talent to their roster to replace some of the playmakers they lost on offense and defense. Coming into the season, the Pirates need to get a hot start to move past their total collapse in 2023, but they do tend to struggle when playing on the road.

The Green Bay Blizzard is an established IFL team that still needs to reclaim its past success. During the last few seasons, the Blizzard has been unable to maintain roster stability, leading to struggles on the field. The Blizzard do tend to play well at home in front of a solid fan base, and in 2023, they came up just short of making the IFL playoffs. Several names and faces have changed on this roster, so early-season struggles are expected, but they should get better during the season as long as quarterback Max Meylor can build chemistry with his weapons on offense.

Game Prediction: Massachusetts Pirates 48, Green Bay Blizzard 43

IFL fans can find more IFL perspective and commentary by following the In The Alley channel on YouTube.

Follow me on X: @AaronSauter7

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author avatar
Aaron Sauter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.

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