By Kyle Sander
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on July 13, 2016 at 08:00 AM
After the league bye, the Arena Football League saw a few close games, but nothing to separate any team from the pack. The standings are unchanged, but some teams blew their chance to move up.
Let’s get right into it, below is the AFL FanZone Power Rankings after Week 15.
- Philadelphia Soul 11-3 (LW #1, Change –)
Another week, another Philadelphia domination. This time at the hands of the Cleveland Gladiators. Although Cleveland came in with a lot of momentum and a top flight defense, Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh showed why he is the front runner for AFL MVP for a second year in a row. Raudabaugh finished the game with only one incompletion and eight touchdowns. I will repeat myself again, barring a letdown at Orlando, Philadelphia will win the American Conference and earn the 1 or 2 seed headed into the playoffs. The Soul basically have two bye weeks in a row because of their matchup with the Storm this week. Expect Philadelphia to be game planning and preparing for their Week 18 matchup in Orlando starting this week.
- Arizona Rattlers 11-3 (LW #2, Change –)
Arizona seems to get the best out of Jacksonville every time they play. For the second time this year, the Rattlers found themselves in a dog fight until the end with the Sharks. Just like in the first matchup, this game came down to Jacksonville failing to execute late. With under 10 seconds to go, Joe Hills scores a touchdown to close the gap to two points, but due to a couple missed extra points, the Sharks needed to go for two. Arizona’s defense was up for the challenge and forced an incomplete pass to essentially seal the game with a 2 point victory. Other than QB Nick Davila’s rare interception, the offense looked to be in sync which will bode well for Arizona going into the playoffs. After sealing the National Conference Championship with this win, the only goal left is to get the #1 seed as they have locked in at least the #2 seed. Arizona finishes the regular season with two more home games, this week against Orlando and Week 17 against Cleveland. If Arizona can close out both games (and beat Orlando by more than 18 points), then they will clinch the #1 seed due to their tie breaker with both Orlando and Philadelphia.
- Orlando Predators 12-2 (LW #3, Change –)
For the third straight set of Power Rankings, I feel compelled to explain why the team with the best record in the league isn’t the best team in the league. They struggled against a 1-11 Portland team and actually found themselves trailing in the second half to the Steel. They still seem to always find a way to win the game at the end, but against the better teams (without Randy Hippeard) they will not be so lucky. Their first test will be this week at Arizona on Monday night. If they can somehow find a way to beat the Rattlers for the second time this season, then there is no doubt, Orlando deserves to be in the top spot, but until that happens, they are stuck at #3.
- Cleveland Gladiators 7-7 (LW #4, Change –)
Cleveland ran into a buzzsaw this week in Allentown against the Soul. I’m not going to hold that game against them because when the opposing quarterback only throws one incompletion, that team is clicking on all cylinders. They tried everything, but nothing worked as Raudabaugh threw 8 touchdowns and Jeramie Richardson ran in another three scores. Cleveland’s season comes down to this week in Los Angeles. If they beat LA, then they can lock in the #4 seed as long as they win by more than five points. If Los Angeles wins then they find themselves in the driver’s seat as Cleveland finishes off their season in Arizona Week 17 while the KISS still have Portland and Jacksonville. Huge game Saturday night at the Honda Center, make sure you are able to watch that game.
- Los Angeles KISS 6-7 (LW #5, Change –)
Nathan Stanley returns to the starting lineup with a lukewarm performance. He was voted as the player of the game by the KISS, but that might have been more of a confidence boost for him because he barely completed 50% of his passes and only had four touchdowns against the league’s worst team. The KISS will need him to elevate his game much higher if they expect to win any of their final three games against Cleveland, at Portland, and at Jacksonville. As far as the defense, this team continues to hold teams below their yearly average. The KISS now lead the league in scoring defense at 45.6 points per game. They will need that kind of performance against Gladiators QB Arvell Nelson if the KISS are to jump Cleveland and get the final home game.
- Jacksonville Sharks 5-8 (LW #6, Change –)
What a deflating outcome for Jacksonville in Week 15. They lose star defensive back Greg Reid to an ejection and are forced to play two offensive players on defense including the backup QB. Even with that, they were a two point conversion away from going to overtime with the National Conference Champion Arizona Rattlers. But here we go again, a close loss in the final seconds for this team. This team still has an outside shot at jumping into the four seed, but they need to win their final three games and hope LA beats Cleveland (while also hoping LA loses at Portland and Cleveland loses in Arizona). So as you can see, they need a lot of help, but all Jacksonville can do is win their games against Portland, Tampa Bay, and Los Angeles which isn’t exactly murderer’s row. So to quote Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber “So you’re saying there’s a chance…” Yes, Jacksonville, there is a chance, I just wouldn’t recommend you purchase home playoff tickets just yet.
- Portland Steel 1-12 (LW #7, Change –)
I feel for Portland’s coach, players, and fans. Another week of playing a top team tough into the second half ends with another loss. Unfortunately, you don’t get any points for effort. Portland will be a tough out in the playoffs, but unless QB Shane Austin can cut down on the interceptions, I don’t see them beating Arizona, Philadelphia, or Orlando at their place. What they can do is play spoiler this week, if they can knock off the Sharks then they will eliminate Jacksonville from hosting a playoff game round one of the playoffs.
- Tampa Bay Storm 1-12 (LW #8, Change –)
Tampa Bay found themselves tied at halftime in Los Angeles on Monday night only to end the game in a massive brawl while losing by 27 points. I saw more fight in the 3 minute brawl at the end of this game then I have in a month of games from Tampa Bay. There isn’t a whole lot to say that hasn’t been said about this team. Maybe it’s time to go back to Adam Kennedy, what is Jason Boltus bringing you that Kennedy can’t? Boltus finished the game with one touchdown, which is horrendous in a league designed for scoring. The Storm host the Soul this week and depending on what suspensions come down, we may see a totally different Tampa Bay team.
Highest Climb – N/A
Hardest Fall – N/A
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