It was definitely an upside down week, the AFL FanZone Game of the Week was the most lopsided of the weekend and the Tampa Bay Storm almost pull the impossible in Orlando. It was nice to see Jason Boltus and Shane Austin back in the AFL throwing passes. Those two quarterbacks instantly gave their teams a boost and as long as they are under center the rest of the year, should insure we don’t end the season with a 0-16 team (like my 2008 Detroit Lions…).
With that being said, let’s get right into the Power Rankings. Here are where all 8 teams stand after 7 weeks.
- Orlando Predators 7-0 (LW #1, Change –)
Yes, Orlando squeaked by Tampa Bay, but guess what? Orlando is the last undefeated team which means they will get everyone’s best shot and you know Tampa Bay put a little extra into their game hoping they would be the ones to do it. Look, it was a rivalry game against a team with a legitimate quarterback for only the second time all season. I refuse to drop the Predators because they won a tight game against a bitter rival a week after taking down the kings of Arizona. That was setup perfectly as a letdown game and Orlando came out on top. For that reason (and their record) Orlando stays #1. The good thing is, we find out on Saturday night if they deserve it. The matchup against Philadelphia will go a LONG way in finding out who wins the American Conference. I don’t even have to really say it, but I will, Saturday’s Orlando at Philadelphia game will be the AFL FanZone Game of the Week.
- Philadelphia Soul 6-1 (LW #3, Change +1)
For the second week in a row, Arizona found themselves in the Eastern Time zone battling against a team hitting its stride. Philadelphia did a great job solidifying their status as a legitimate contender in the American Conference. Arizona never really got going and when they made a mistake, the Soul made sure to take advantage. That is a mark of a great team. Make the other team play flawless. Dan Raudabaugh and Darius Reynolds (Double DR?) are making their argument as the best QB-WR duo in the league, right there with Davila and Windsor. Saturday’s game at the “Soul Shack” should be a ton of fun, let’s see if Philadelphia is ready for the challenge.
- Arizona Rattlers 5-2 (LW #2, Change -1)
For the second week in a row, Arizona finds themselves sliding down a spot in our Power Rankings and as much as Coach Guy would deny it, we all know why. Injuries. I mentioned it in my preview video for the Week 7 Game of the Week, the injury to Kerry Reed will prove more costly then the team will admit. The Jack Linebacker position is atrocious now that Reed is out of the lineup. Chase Deadder is trying his best, it’s not for a lack of effort, he just isn’t built for that position and teams are taking advantage. Then the loss to Arkeith Brown meant a very young secondary was tasked in stopping one of the most potent offenses in the league. That spelled disaster last weekend and proved even the King can be broken. On the plus side, Arizona returns to the desert to face the KISS this weekend, a team in which the Rattlers have handled for the past 2.5 seasons. But they cannot afford another major injury or this team will continue to struggle.
- Los Angeles KISS 3-3 (LW #5, Change +1)
I asked last night on twitter after Cleveland’s overtime win vs Portland if there was a reason not to drop the Gladiators. I think the silence was deafening. Los Angeles did nothing to deserve a jump, but Cleveland did everything to deserve to fall. The KISS have a tough matchup at Arizona this week, but coming off of a week’s rest, they should be ready to go.
- Cleveland Gladiators 3-4 (LW #4, Change -1)
Like I mentioned above, Cleveland’s fall to #5 was due to their own lack of production against a terrible team. I mentioned in my preview video that this was going to be Cleveland’s first blow out of the season. Of course, that was before the mention of Shane Austin starting was announced, but even with that Cleveland shouldn’t have been where they were late on Monday Night. To make matters worse, they “should” have lost. If Tyrone Goard doesn’t take his helmet off at the end of the game, K Ernesto Lacayo for Portland more than likely makes the extra point. He was perfect leading up to that kick. I know some people will mention that Portland played above itself because of Shane Austin, but those people will also probably hide his stat line. Not here, that is not how we roll at AFL FanZone. Shane Austin finished the night 36 for 56 for 363 yards, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. That is not exactly lighting up the scoreboard. Plus, Portland lost so many receivers we saw defensive backs catching touchdowns. Cleveland was in a no-win situation last night because had they blown out Portland no one would’ve said anything, but because they barely lost, here we are questioning the execution. For whatever reason, this team cannot rise up and punch a team in the mouth and they better be careful this week because I think the close loss to Orlando will keep Tampa Bay fired up.
- Jacksonville Sharks 2-4 (LW #6, Change –)
Jacksonville was on a much needed bye week in Week 7 and no one around them did enough to move the Sharks position. There is no better time for Jacksonville to pull out of their slump than this week when they host Portland. Crunch time is coming for the Sharks with Orlando and Philadelphia refusing to lose.
- Tampa Bay Storm 0-6 (LW #7, Change –)
No one saw Jason Boltus’ return coming last week for the Storm, well those of us outside of Tampa Bay of course. His presence was an automatic boost for a team who had refused to hit 30 points in each of its first five games. Tampa Bay found themselves with a 27-21 lead at the half against undefeated Orlando. Now, like I mentioned in my defense for the Predators, the Storm got a team coming off a huge win against Arizona. Anyone that has been around football for more than a couple years can name multiple times a team struggled a week after a big emotional win. Boltus proved to be the spark this team needed to get over its offensive futility. He finished the game with over 250 yards passing, four touchdowns and only one interception. Tampa had a chance to knock off the Predators, but ultimately, there is a reason this team is winless. The talent level is not where it should be for such a storied franchise in this league. They could end their losing streak this week when Cleveland comes to town. They just need to bring the same intensity they showed in the War on I4 against the Predators in Week 7.
- Portland Steel 0-6 (LW #8, Change –)
Did Portland almost pull off a victory on the road, sure they did. But that was more because Cleveland couldn’t step on the gas when they had the game in their hands in the fourth quarter. Shane Austin brings instant credibility to the quarterback position for Portland, but he must play better than he did Monday if they expect to compete week in, week out. Multiple times the game on Monday night should’ve been over and Cleveland kept them in the game. Injury after injury, turnover after turnover, and somehow the Steel found themselves in overtime against a team who knocked off Jacksonville the week before. It was nice to see a much better effort this time on Monday night than last week’s pathetic performance at the KISS. Either way, Portland finds themselves stuck in the basement and a trip to Jacksonville this week means it will probably stay that way for another week.
Biggest Jump – Philadelphia and Los Angeles – +1
Biggest fall – Arizona and Cleveland – -1
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