By Kyle Sander | firstname.lastname@example.org
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on July 20, 2016 at 08:00 AM
After Week 16’s close games and tough matchups, we have a little bit of a shake up in the AFL FanZone Power Rankings. I don’t want to spoil anything right off the bat, but let’s just say there is a team that is Steeling some Thunder in Week 17.
Let’s get right into it, below is the AFL FanZone Power Rankings after Week 16.
- Arizona Rattlers 12-3 (LW #2, Change +1)
Yes Arizona Rattler fans, you can finally breathe easy as the AFL FanZone is finally back on board with the Rattlers as the best team in the Arena Football League. After weathering the storm in the middle of the season, Arizona has returned to form to not only beat their opponents, but force them to submit by the end of the game. Sure, Orlando was celebrating because they kept the point differential under 18 to hold on to the tie breaker for the #1 seed, but as we learned today the AFL has returned to a conference playoff format. So that tie breaker will only apply to the two teams if both teams make the Arena Bowl and they need to decide which city to host the game. In the end, Arizona took care of business against Orlando on Monday Night. They have one more regular season game, which is this week against Cleveland. They still need to win to try and clinch the overall #1 seed for the rights to host Arena Bowl 29.
- Philadelphia Soul 12-3 (LW #1, Change -1)
Philadelphia went down to Tampa Bay in Week 16 and didn’t exactly set the world on fire. After knocking Storm QB Jason Boltus out of the game, the Soul defense went on to let back-up QB Adam Kennedy look like a world beater. The Soul found themselves down in the second half for the second time in three weeks against a bottom dweller. They cannot have the same lapse in concentration and focus in Week 18 when they head down to Orlando for what is essentially a conference regular season championship game. The winner of that game will hold the American Conference #1 seed and face Tampa Bay round one.
- Orlando Predators 12-3 (LW #3, Change –)
I understand the overall significance of keeping the point differential under 18, but I can’t imagine Predators HC Rob Keefe is too happy to see his team celebrate a 17 point loss. Orlando kept this game close in the first half, but Arizona’s talent level and QB Nick Davila’s pin point accuracy was too much for the Predators to handle. This was concerning for a Predator team who had lost their prior two games by a combined 11 points. Although they still hold the overall tie over Arizona, this was still a loss that could end up hurting this team in the long run. Going into the bye week with a loss can result in two different outcomes; the team could get focused and come out the following week and dominate, or they could let the loss fester in the locker room for two weeks and have a letdown game. I think Coach Keefe will have this team ready to go Week 18 in what will clearly be the game of the season (so far).
- Los Angeles KISS 7-7 (LW #5, Change +1)
KISS QB Nathan Stanley had the performance of his Arena League career in Week 16 accounting for nine touchdowns and zero turnovers. If Los Angeles wants to make noise in their first playoff appearance of their history this year, they will need THAT Nathan Stanley to show up. Stanley had a lot of critic’s going into this game against Cleveland, including us here at AFL FanZone. The numbers backup QB Pete Thomas put up were simply better than Stanley’s. Luckily for the KISS though, Stanley took the challenge and put up an amazing game. Coach Smith’s leadership was also apparent with how the KISS were able to weather the adversity in the fourth quarter when Gladiators Kicker Adrian Trevino successfully kicked two straight onside kicks to get Cleveland back in the game. In the end, the KISS pulled out the victory and barring a miracle in Arizona, they will host Cleveland Week 1 of the playoffs. They will clinch with two different scenarios; Cleveland loses against Arizona in their final regular season game, or LA wins one of their final two games. This is because LA holds the tie breaker over Cleveland.
- Cleveland Gladiators 7-8 (LW #4, Change –1)
The Gladiators will look back on Week 16 thinking “what if”. The KISS gave them every chance to win the game in the fourth quarter, but an offside call on the kickoff was the difference and the Gladiators look to be on the outside looking into a home playoff game in 2016. If the current standings hold and Cleveland heads back to Los Angeles in three weeks, I can only imagine the most spirited effort of the season from Coach Thonn’s team. They still have a chance to get the home game, as slim as it may be. This team heads to Arizona this week in its season finale and if they can knock off the conference regular season champion, then they just have to root for Jacksonville and Portland to knock off LA in Week’s 17 and 18.
- Portland Steel 2-12 (LW #7, Change +1)
I can only imagine the thought’s going through some people’s head on this pick. Yes, I believe Portland is the better team than Jacksonville right now. Not only because they just beat the Sharks, but because Portland has been trending up while Jacksonville seems to be in full spiral mode. Portland has played Philadelphia and Arizona tough while capping it off with a win against a desperate and very talented Jacksonville squad. Portland has already learned their postseason fate, they will travel to Arizona in the opening round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. Would it be crazy if Portland rested starters in the final two weeks? In a year when a defending Arena Bowl head coach gets fired before the season is over, nothing is out of the realm of possibility.
- Jacksonville Sharks 5-9 (LW #6, Change –1)
The Jacksonville Sharks have not won a game since they traveled across state and thumped a bad Tampa Bay team in Week 10. That was way back on June 11th. That is why Head Coach Les Moss was relieved of his duties on Monday. With the talent this team possesses and the hype surrounding the roster in the pre-season, it’s absolutely unacceptable to only have five wins after 14 games. Losing by two to a one win team because your former league MVP QB threw a one yard pass on a two point conversion in the final seconds surely didn’t help his cause either. Regardless of how Week 16 ended, Jacksonville will still be in the playoffs and still have a chance to make some noise as they will play either Orlando or Philadelphia, two teams they have already beat on the road this season. They can turn their season around by beating the suddenly hot LA KISS this week in front of the home crowd, but if they lose again, owner Jeff Bouchy might start firing players before the playoffs.
- Tampa Bay Storm 1-13 (LW #8, Change –)
The Tampa Bay Storm finally showed the fight that Head Coach Lawrence Samuels has been talking about for weeks against the Soul this week. After QB Jason Boltus was taken out of the game due to a upper body injury, the fate of the Storm seemed to be sealed. But fortunately for Tampa Bay, QB Adam Kennedy showed he has something to prove. He has been on the bench watching Boltus turn the ball over time and time again wondering why he wasn’t given another shot. Then came out in the second quarter to almost pull off a miracle against the former #1 ranked team in these very power rankings. Only time will tell if that was a one-time deal, or if Adam Kennedy has finally figured out the nuances of the Arena game and can be the QB the Storm have been looking for. This is Tampa’s last real chance at a victory as they host the Portland Steel this week at the Amalie Arena. It will be interesting to see if Coach Samuels will stay with the hot hand and let Kennedy start against the Steel. Then again, the injury to Boltus might play his hand either way.
Highest Climb – Arizona, Los Angeles, Portland +1
Hardest Fall – Philadelphia, Cleveland, Jacksonville -1
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