By Kyle Sander
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on June 22, 2016 at 5:07 PM
Week 12 was essentially a “show me” weekend for two of the games. Could the Soul travel cross country and take out a perennial power? Could Jacksonville when a game against a good team at home following a blowout win? The answer to both of those questions was no. Now, I will explain in these rankings how I feel about their performance, but it leaves a lot of questions which in turn makes the rest of the season more exciting.
That being said, here are your Week 12 Power Rankings.
- Philadelphia Soul 9-3 (LW – 1, Change –)
I know a lot of people are going to think “Hey, Kyle, Philadelphia lost, you can’t keep them #1”. But let me explain myself. Philadelphia traveled three time zones to play one of the best (if not THE best) all around organizations in Arena Football. They hung with the Rattlers for 55 of the 60 minutes. Take out the five minute barrage of mistakes by the Soul offense and this was a different game. The score at the end was not a true representation of the talent level of this team. Philadelphia is still the best team in the league that just got snake bit (stole a bit from the sideline reporter) on Friday night. I think you will see this team return to form in an absolute drubbing of Portland on Monday night.
- Arizona Rattlers 9-3 (LW – 2, Change -)
Yeah, yeah, Orlando already beat Arizona and they are the only team to clinch a home playoff game already. With that in mind, do you think with this Rattler team and Hippeard’s injury status up in the air, that Orlando could pull off a win TODAY against Arizona? I sure don’t. Arizona is still dealing with a few issues, but this team has seemed to ride and die off of the play of DB Arkeith Brown. When he is in the lineup, the Rattlers are near impossible to beat. We said it last week and I’ll say it again; Friday night was the Arena Bowl 29 preview. We just don’t know who will host it. Arizona heads to LA to face and up and down KISS team that they have never lost too, baring a slight miracle, this team will be 10-3 headed into the league bye with their scheduled bye still remaining. There is plenty of time for this team to rest up and prepare for the post season.
- Orlando Predators 10-2 (LW – 3, Change -)
Is this team, by record, the best team in the league? Yes they are, but you can’t expect to win the Arena Bowl by skimming by each week. Then you add in QB Randy Hippeard’s knee injury and this team is a major wild card headed into the final six weeks of the season. Let’s take a quick look at the stats. Of the three teams with winning records, Orlando is in 3rd place in average margin of victory at nine points per game while Arizona leads at 18.1, followed by Philly with 12.7. Orlando only cracks the top two in ONE statistical category of note, Rush Defense. Yes, they are #1 in the only true stat that matters (wins), but that is it. They cannot continue to allow lesser teams to stick around in the fourth quarter. They get a de-facto bye week as the hapless Storm come to town, but if the last meeting is any indication, expect a close game Friday night on CBS Sports Net.
- Cleveland Gladiators 6-6 (LW – 5, Change +1)
The next three teams could honestly be thrown into a hat and picked randomly. Jacksonville has the stats, LA has the schedule, and Cleveland has the wins. But after a strong showing against former Cleveland QB Shane Austin, the Gladiators get the nod this week. Arvell Nelson had the strongest week of all quarterbacks this week. Seven touchdowns and no turnovers was his actually his best performance (stats wise) of the season finishing with a league leading 121.3 passer rating. If Cleveland can clean up its defensive effort before the fourth quarter while Nelson continues to improve I think the Q might get one more home game this year. Saturday’s matchup on ESPN2 is monumental in terms of playoff seeding. Cleveland beat Jacksonville the first time so a win on Saturday would set their tie breaking scenarios in stone over the Sharks.
- Los Angeles KISS 5-6 (LW – 6, Change +1)
I don’t look at other power rankings, but I’m sure not many people have LA over Jacksonville, but hear me out. Los Angeles under QB Pete Thomas has been a much more efficient ball club then they were under Stanley. Thomas is tied with Sharks QB Tommy Grady with the best interception to attempt ratio in the league at only 1.2%. Add in the talent this team has on the backend of the defense with Victorian, Clevan Thomas, and Fred Obi and you have yourself one of the best defensive units in the league. Not to mention two former NFL’s on the defensive line with Dontay Moch and Caesar Rayford. This team will only continue to improve as long as Thomas continues to his game management at QB. Sunday’s game at home vs Arizona should give us a better idea of how the rest of this year will go.
- Jacksonville Sharks 5-6 (LW – 4, Change -2)
The Jacksonville Sharks are a team that is on the verge of complete implosion. Before Saturday’s game I remember reading Sharks CEO Jeffrey Bouchy mentioned that Orlando’s luck is about to change. Or something to that affect. This team is loaded on both sides of the ball from Tommy Grady, to Joe Hills, to Greg Reid. I’m not sure what the problem is, but scoring 34 points at home is unacceptable with the level of talent this team has. I have moved the Sharks up and down these rankings like a roller coaster, but I think I’ve learned my lesson. For whatever reason, 2016 is not their year and I think this is the final product. I don’t expect Jacksonville to do anything to jump higher than four, the rest of the season. If they want a home playoff game they MUST win Saturday Night. If Cleveland comes to town and takes out the defending American Conference Champions then please start a go fund me page for Coach Moss’s backside because his seat will be pretty hot.
- Portland Steel 1-10 (LW – 7, Change –)
It seems like I can cut and paste this team’s outlook each week. They are showing more heart and determination than Tampa Bay, but the result is the same. Shane Austin is playing like a man possessed, but he isn’t getting the help he needs on the defensive side of the ball. This team is absolutely putrid in just about all of the significant defensive categories. Not to mention they cannot buy a takeaway. Portland is sitting in dead last in the AFL with a turnover ratio of a -16, which is almost unheard of in any level of football. If not for the Storm’s fumblitis a few weeks back they may be at a minus 20. Life will only get rougher for Coach James and company as a motivated Philadelphia Soul team is coming to town on Monday night.
- Tampa Bay Storm 1-10 (LW – 8, Change –)
In case you missed it, I was at the Storm vs KISS game on Saturday night. I tweeted during the game “How did this team beat Arizona in this building?” After a two play 40 yard drive to start the night, Tampa went the entire rest of the half without scoring on their way to a 40-6 hole at halftime. You would’ve thought the KISS fielded an All-Arena team. They couldn’t stop multiple fourth down’s, they couldn’t stop turning the ball over, and on and on. Tampa honestly looks like a team who quit after getting their first win of the season in that game against the Rattlers. If you look at Jason Boltus’ numbers since that win, he has dropped in touchdown’s thrown and passer rating each game, while also throwing more and more interceptions. After the win, Boltus was sitting at 25 total touchdowns and five turnovers in four games. In the three games since (all against teams at .500 or less) he has converted 12 touchdowns and 10 turnovers. Where Boltus goes, the Tampa Bay Storm goes, if he continues to struggle this team will continue to struggle. They head to Orlando this week to face the first place Predators. I have a hunch they will show up to play due to the rivalry, but let’s be honest, this season is over for the Storm. They won’t win a playoff game against any of the top three teams. As much as Lawrence Samuels contributed to the AFL as a player, he has been a massive disappointment as a head coach.
Biggest Jump – Los Angeles, Cleveland +1
Biggest fall – Jacksonville -2
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