Week 5 is in the books and the main takeaway is, now more than ever the line between the haves and the have-not’s is who has a QB. The teams at the top who win consistently and routinely score touchdowns quickly are the teams that are winning ball games.
- Arizona Rattlers (5-0) (Last Week 1, Change –)
Arizona once again showed everyone why they are the class of the league. With little to no resistance from a winless team on their fill-in QB, Arizona was able to put up 68 points and end their 4 week stretch of margin of victory being less and less. Somehow Portland put up 21 points, but outside of Jacksonville, no one has put up over 28 points against Coach Guy’s club. Arizona will get test number two this week as they head to Florida for the second time in three weeks to face the undefeated Orlando Predators. Without question, that will be AFL FanZone’s Game of the Week spotlight for Week 6.
- Orlando Predators (5-0) (Last Week 2, Change –)
Orlando has struggled in recent weeks with getting a lead late and giving their opponent some life. That looked to be the case heading into the fourth quarter as Cleveland actually held a 56-55 lead at the end of the third. Finally, the Predators were able to put their foot down and not let Cleveland believe they had a chance. They went on a 21 point roll to finish off the Gladiators and remain undefeated heading into their Week 6 match-up against the Rattlers. Although Orlando is undefeated, this was the first time you came out of the game in a few weeks saying “Orlando has a decent shot at taking Arizona out”. Before this, I have to be honest, I was wondering if Orlando would have the ability to beat a team as dominating as Arizona because they can’t expect Arizona to implode like Portland, Jacksonville, and LA did the prior three weeks. I think this could be another great game like the Arizona vs Jacksonville game was a couple weeks ago.
- Philadelphia Soul (4-1) (Last Week 3, Change –)
In Week 5, we touted the first Rock vs Jocks game as being the “Game of the Week”. Boy were we wrong. Philadelphia went into LA and pushed the KISS around from the very beginning. They started slow being forced into a 4th and 10 from their own 1 yard line, but you can only stop Raudabaugh and company so many times. From then on it was an offensive barrage that the KISS haven’t seen since Week 2. The most telling point of this game happened in the 3rd quarter when the KISS took almost eight minutes and never got inside the 10 yard line. Philadelphia forced a turnover on downs and it took only two plays to score a touchdown. Again, the line between the good teams and bad teams is a Quarterback. Dan Raudabaugh is a stud, while Nathan Stanley continues to struggle. Look for Philadelphia to continue their offensive fireworks this week as they take on the Tampa Bay Storm on Monday Night.
- Jacksonville Sharks (2-3) (Last Week 4, Change –)
Wow… Jacksonville did everything they could to give the game to Tampa Bay. This was a classic case of almost letting a team beat you twice. After pushing Arizona to the brink in Week 4, Jacksonville struggled mightly on offense mustering only 33 points against what is the worst team in the league. You have to give Storm coach Lawrence Samuels some credit for keeping his team playing hard, but there was really no point in this game that you thought the Storm was going to win, yet they had the ball at the very end down only six points. Costly turnovers, bad penalties, and overall poor discipline is what kept this game close and the Sharks need to head back to the drawing board as they head to Cleveland this week to face a lesser than Gladiators team that plays about as hard as any team in the league.
- Cleveland Gladiators (1-4) (Last Week 6, Change +1)
Cleveland moves into 5th place this week for two reasons, 1. Teamwork, and 2. LA is struggling to win. No, I’m not giving out participation trophies, but I do give Cleveland some points for their effort. The Gladiators are on their third quarterback this season and held a lead going into the 4th Quarter against an unbeaten Preds squad. As I’ve said before, this is not a standings list. This is a list in order of how teams are playing right now. I think Cleveland and LA are equal for the most part, but if they played this weekend, I think the Gladiators win. Cleveland lost to the KISS in Week 3, but that was with Havrilla at QB. I think Coach Thonn has found a gem in Avrell Nelson. If he starts this week, I think the Gladiators have a chance to take out the Sharks at home Saturday.
- Los Angeles KISS (2-3) (Last Week 5, Change -1)
The KISS find themselves in a familiar spot, they aren’t competing until the other team takes their foot off the gas. They did a better job at targeting Captain Morgan this week, but the game still ended in blowout fashion. Philly was able to do whatever they wanted on offense, even scoring their first three touchdowns with same play call. The defense regressed this week after a strong performance in Orlando last week. And to make matters worse, it looks as though DB Rayshaun Kizer might be lost for the season with an ugly knee injury. With all of that being said, the broken record needs to play once again. QB Nathan Stanley is just not a very good player right now. He got pretty good protection for most of the night and still he continues to airmail ball after ball. Morgan bailed him out in the 4th quarter with two great catches, passes that should have been either incomplete or intercepted. Stanley was a pathetic 18/41 with two more interceptions (and very easily could’ve had a couple more if not for Philly DB’s dropping the pasS). I could keep going, but I’m sure you all are as sick of hearing about this as I am writing about it. The good news is, the KISS get an extra home game this week as the Portland Steel needed to move the game to Anaheim so the Trailblazers could use the Moda Center.
- Tampa Bay Storm (0-4) (Last Week 8, Change +1)
The bottom of this list continues its shake up as Tampa Bay earns a bump up after almost taking down Jacksonville on Sunday. Let’s not kid ourselves though, if Tampa had won, it would’ve been because Jacksonville couldn’t overcome their own mistakes. On the flip side, let’s not take anything away from the fact that the Storm continue to fight even when the offense is setting futility records. In any other year, Tampa Bay would be buried in the power rankings, but the fact that they were a play away vs Cleveland and Jacksonville means they earn a move up to number seven this week. They are still historically bad on offense, but when they get Boltus back, they may be able to pester some contenders late in the season. They have a tough match-up coming up this week against Philly, so although they had a bright spot last week, expect it to be darkened pretty quickly.
- Portland Steel (0-4) (Last Week 7, Change -1)
Portland drops down to last place for the one simple reason, they aren’t even competing anymore. Did they fight hard against Orlando in Week 2? Sure they did, but the other three weeks the Steel have lost by a combined 137 points, which averages out to over a 45 point per game margin of deficit. At least Tampa has kept it’s fire going and pushing teams into the fourth quarter. I understand that they are run by the league, but the whole team (including the coaching staff) are being evaluated for their performance. They have a chance to turn the season around Monday night in LA, but if newly signed QB Darron Thomas comes in and it’s the same result against a team that has only put up 50 points once this season, then we may just see an Arena Football version of the 2008 Detroit Lions…
Biggest Jump – Cleveland and Los Angeles – +1
Biggest Fall – Los Angeles and Portland – -1
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