By Kyle Sander
on June 29, 2016 at 10:45 AM
What a week in the AFL, we had a last minute blunder by Jacksonville, a 21 point Arizona lead evaporated in the 3rd quarter, and a Portland lead over Philadelphia at the half on Monday night. The game in Orlando went pretty much how everyone thought it was going to go with the Storm out of the game by halftime.
With all that being said, the power rankings stay exactly the same, but I will justify each spot below. ENJOY!
1. Philadelphia Soul 10-3 (LW #1, Change –)
Even though they struggled in the first half in Portland, Philadelphia finished the game with a three touchdown lead and only because Portland returned a kick with only 40 seconds to go on the clock. The Soul are the team to beat in the AFL right now. Until I see something drastic, I will continue to leave them at #1. Taking a quick look at the rest of the schedule for Philadelphia, they have one neutral site game against Cleveland at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, then they finish the season with two away games in Florida, first at Tampa then at Orlando. That final game of the season will more than likely determine who gets the #1 seed and who gets the #3 seed.
2. Arizona Rattlers 10-3 (LW #2, Change –)
If Arizona would’ve gone into Los Angeles and blew the doors off of the KISS, I think we may have a 1a and 1b for the Power Rankings. And while the first half had all the makings of a blowout, they allowed LA to have life in the 3rd quarter. I thought it would be Arizona and Philly in the championship and after 13 weeks, nothing has changed my mind. It will all depend on which time zone this game will be played in. But back to Week 13, Arizona did a great job of weathering the storm in the 4th quarter. After the KISS brought it to 50-49, Arizona and QB Nick Davila settled down and took care of business. The interception he threw at the end didn’t hurt the team, so I don’t hold that against him. The KISS are an improved team with a lot of veterans in the backend, Arizona is just better. The Rattlers finish their season tucked away at home as they welcome the Sharks, Predators, and Gladiators to end the regular season. I expect Arizona to win all three games by double digits.
3. Orlando Predators 11-2 (LW #3, Change –)
I’m sure most would have Orlando ahead of Arizona due to their week 6 matchup, but that was a couple months ago and that was with a healthy Orlando team and a beat up Arizona team. Without Hippeard, this team isn’t 11-2; he was in the running for league MVP with the season he was putting up before the injury. This is still a team who clinched a home game in the playoffs, but Orlando is going to need a little magic if they are going to knock off one of the two giants above. To finish off the season they head out west to Portland and Arizona before coming home to face the Soul in what will be the biggest game of the season to (what I believe) determine the 1 or 3 seed.
4. Cleveland Gladiators 7-6 (LW #4, Change –)
Oh how close the Gladiators were from losing the game in Jacksonville on Saturday. To be honest, I was waiting for Jacksonville to screw it up in the end. That is just how their season has gone, they have outscored their opponents in quarters 1-3, but have been outscored by almost 75 points in the 4th/OT. That team cannot finish a game and when Cleveland found themselves down 13 points headed into the 4th quarter, I just had a feeling the game wasn’t over. If you watched our preview of this game, you know that I said Cleveland would do just enough to win while Jacksonville would do just enough to lose. That is exactly what happened when QB Tommy Grady fumbled away the game (and possibly the #4 seed) late in the game. At 7-6, Cleveland finds themselves in the driver’s seat for the final home playoff game. The only problem is, they find themselves on the road against the two best teams in Philadelphia (Week 15) and Arizona (Week 18). If they lost those two games, they will need to beat Los Angeles to get the 4 seed while LA needs to finish 2-2 or worse.
5. Los Angeles KISS 5-7 (LW #5, Change –)
The beginning of Sunday’s game against the Rattlers started out as bad as prior matchups in the series. But after going down 14 points within the first couple minutes, LA battled back behind the hands of WR Donovan Morgan. His 7 catches for 176 yards and 3 touchdowns kept the KISS in the game heading into the fourth quarter. The same cannot be said for three players, the emergency fill-in kicker, QB Nathan Stanley, and WR DJ Stephens. The emergency kicker struggled with XP’s, QB Nathan Stanley gift wrapped a return when he tried to pitch the ball back to the kicker on a busted snap, and DJ Stephens couldn’t catch a cold. With WR Brandon Collins out, the KISS relied heavily on Stephens and he couldn’t deliver. Two of the touchdowns were his fault as one went through his hands and he wasn’t looking for the ball on the other. If this team is going to jump into the #4 spot, they are going to need Stephens to forget this game and move on. They will need him down the stretch starting with Tampa Bay on Monday night July 11th. The schedule sets up nicely for LA as they host TB and Cleveland in weeks 15 and 16, while head on the road to face an underwhelming Sharks team in Week 17 and finish with the Steel in Portland Week 18.
6. Jacksonville Sharks 5-7 (LW #6, Change –)
For the second time this year, Jacksonville allowed Cleveland to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. This team is 1-5 at Sea Best Field and with the talent they have, that is absolutely baffling. Then we find out that HC Les Moss holds out WR Tiger Jones from this game. With a loss like that, I can’t imagine the locker room being too friendly of a place heading into the bye week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jacksonville needs to head into the bye week and do a little soul searching. Most had Jacksonville fighting for the conference championship this year, but at this rate they will be heading to face one of the three monsters at the top when the playoffs start in August. Jacksonville finds themselves on the West Coast for Weeks 15 and 16 as they face Arizona and Portland. Then finish the year off with LA and Tampa Bay at home. Gaining the 4 seed is still within reach, but they will need a lot of help from Cleveland as they hold the tie breaker and have one less game.
7. Portland Steel 1-11 (LW #7, Change –)
Right off the bat I need to say give kudos to Coach James for keeping this team fighting this far into the season. It seems the “other” 1-11 team has elected to save their energy for the playoffs, but Portland continues to fight. They actually held a 3 point lead heading into the half on Monday night against the league’s best team. No, there are no moral victories in football, but there is still something to say for a team who continues to push well after being beat down into the ground. Portland is still technically alive for the #6 seed, but it would take a miracle as they still face Orlando, Jacksonville, then At Tampa, while finishing at home against LA. They just need QB Shane Austin to cut down on his turnovers as he has now thrown a league worst 16 interceptions, which puts his Interception to attempt ratio at 5.6%.
8. Tampa Bay Storm 1-11 (LW #8, Change –)
This is what happens when all teams make the playoffs regardless of record. Instead of coming out and fighting for the last couple months of the season, Tampa Bay has elected to roll over and play dead until the post season. Jason Boltus has regressed tremendously since their big (and only) win against Arizona. I see no way this team finishes higher than 8th place as they haven’t scored more than 35 points in the past 4 games and they finish on the road against LA and Jacksonville while hosting Philly and Portland. I don’t see the Storm bringing back head coach Lawrence Samuels, but he is still putting out tape for his resume. They tried bringing in ex-NFL Head Coach Tony Dungy and that didn’t work. I don’t know where else there is to go for a team who is struggling to score on a 50 yard field.
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Hardest Fall – N/A
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