What a week for the Arena Football League. The two worst teams were on byes, which meant three mostly competitive games, and the first overtime game of the season as the Arizona Rattlers pull off the win in Jacksonville. We can only hope next week will live up to the same level of excitement!
- Arizona Rattlers (4-0) (Last Week 1, Change –)
Arizona traveled to Jacksonville in what turned into being the best game of the year to date. This was the first game Arizona gave up more than 28 points in what was a game of zero defense on both sides. Davila did what was needed in overtime while Grady struggled which lead to a 4-0 start for Arizona. Don’t get me wrong, Davila wasn’t without a few hiccups himself, he threw two interceptions on Saturday, his first two of the season after going through the first three games flawless. Rod Windsor had another ridiculous game racking up 15 catches and three more touchdowns. What makes this team scary going forward is they finally get Maurice Purify involved (five touchdowns), eight touchdowns between two players is very efficient football. Arizona gets a glorified bye week in Week 5 as Portland comes to town coming off their bye week. Look for Arizona to stay undefeated after five weeks.
- Orlando Predators (4-0) (Last Week 2, Change –)
Orlando wins again as they stave off a late comeback by the KISS on Saturday. That puts the Predators tied (in record) with the Arizona Rattlers, but this team isn’t on the same level. Bad clock management at the end of the 1st half was just one of the many mistakes Orlando made to prevent a complete blowout. Los Angeles seemed to want to give the game to Orlando with four turnovers, but the Preds couldn’t take full advantage. Even after going up 22 points in the third quarter, the offense laid an egg in the fourth and allowed LA a chance with an onside kick within the final minute. If Orlando plans to hang with Arizona, they need to work on that next gear. The gear that allows a team to step on the throat of the opponent and not even give them a second of life. After blowing out Tampa Bay on opening night, Orlando has won their last three games by a combined 13 points against teams with a combined 3-8 record. They travel to Cleveland this week and if they want to return home with a win, they are going to need to clamp down on the Gladiators and not allow them any life in the 4th quarter.
- Philadelphia Soul (3-1) (Last Week 4, Change +1)
Cleveland came to town ready to avenge their week one embarrassment and played pretty well, but when it mattered most, Philadelphia and mainly Darius Reynolds ended any thoughts of revenge. Philadelphia has really seemed to pick up their play after getting dismantled by Jacksonville on Monday night in week 2. Dan Raudabaugh is starting to put up the kind of numbers that earned him league MVP in 2015 which is scary for the rest of the league. The big plays are what seem to hurt the Philly defense as they allowed a couple chunk plays late in the game Saturday, but if they can shore that up, Philadelphia is going to be a nightmare matchup for defenses. They head out to LA in the first installment of the “Rock vs Jocks” games this year. It’s always a struggle going Coast to Coast, but if Raudabaugh continues to play like he has the last two weeks, they should be in good shape next Monday night.
- Jacksonville Sharks (1-3) (Last Week 5, Change +1)
I know right away I’m going to get some heat for putting a one win team above a team that not only has a better record, but actually beat this Jacksonville team this year. I don’t think it’s a secret, but in order to win in football, you need a QB and right now Grady is on a different level than Stanley. That is why Jacksonville gets the nod here. Yes, LA beat the Sharks week 1, but after watching Nathan Stanley give the game away vs Orlando, Week 1 seems like a lifetime ago. Plus, Jacksonville pushed the Rattlers to the edge on Saturday night. No one else has been able to stay in the game past halftime against Arizona this year and if not for a missed XP at the end, Jacksonville might have shocked the world. This team is talented, but for whatever reason they have started slow like they did last year. A play here or there and Jacksonville could actually be 3-1 instead of 1-3. I almost feel bad for Tampa Bay as I have a feeling Grady and company will take out their two week frustrations on a weak Storm team on Sunday.
- Los Angeles KISS (2-2) (Last Week 3, Change -2)
Saturday’s game against Orlando showed me two things about the LA KISS, 1. They have QB problems, and 2. They are resilient. In the past, when LA got down by a couple scores, forget it, turn out the lights, the party is over. But Saturday showed me that this team under new Head Coach Omarr Smith is a not a team to be taken lightly even if you have a lead. Being down 22 points on the road against an undefeated team heading into the 4th quarter, you had to think to yourself “oh man, this game is over”, but instead LA climbed all the way back to pull within three points pending an onside kick. That is something to keep an eye out for as this season progresses whether it’s two months from now or next week. The other thing isn’t as cheery (not yet at least). Nathan Stanley is struggling right now and it’s not even a question. Since beating Jacksonville where he had a pretty decent game throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions, Stanley has declined rapidly. In the past three games, Stanley has thrown 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions (including a fumble). He has thrown the most interceptions in the league and is second worst out of the six quarterbacks to play every game in passer efficiency. I believe Stanley will get better, this is his first chance to be the unquestioned starter, but for the KISS to hit the next level, they need better Quarterback play NOW. They cannot afford Stanley to continue to turn the ball over at this pace, which means he needs to stop throwing into triple coverage, stop throwing late across the middle, and diagnose plays faster. He will need to watch the film from Saturday, learn from it, and move on. Monday night is going to come fast and if he plays like he did against Orlando, Philadelphia is going to pour it on.
- Cleveland Gladiators (1-3) (Last Week 6, Change –)
Can Cleveland catch a break this year? First they lose QB Chris Dieker, then QB Dennis Havrilla gets injured when they are hanging tough with Philadelphia. If it is indeed a hyperextension for Havrilla, he should be back this week when the Predators come to town on Friday. Regardless, Cleveland is playing just well enough to stay in games, but not well enough to get over the hump. That is in large part because of the quarterback situation. It’s hard to stay on a roll when the quarterback goes down, a starting defensive back takes a cheap shot and gets ejected, and when you are already short on players. They went into this game without Joe Powell and Dominick Goodman which lead to their best WR in Collin Taylor having to play defense. I give the Gladiators a ton of credit for their level of effort and I think it will pay off down the road if they can get their QB situation stabilized. Friday is going to be a tough game, but Orlando has shown on numerous occasions this year, they will let a team hang around in the 2nd half, Cleveland will just need to take advantage of that and not let Orlando build a huge lead.
- Portland Steel (0-3) (Last Week 7, Change –)
Portland was on a bye, so nothing has changed from the last set of power rankings. Portland travels to Arizona this week to face the Rattlers on CBS Sports Net.
- Tampa Bay Storm (0-3) (Last Week 8, Change –)
Same with Tampa Bay, they were also on a bye this week, so no change. Tampa Bay invites cross state rival Jacksonville this week for a Week 5 matchup on ESPN3.
Biggest Jump – Philly and Jacksonville – +1
Biggest Fall – Los Angeles – -1
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