Category Archives: AFL

Deep Routes: A Weekly Dive Into the Statistics of the AFL

by Anthony Reinhard

Hi everyone! This will be my first weekly post where I’ll share some forecasts from my AFL Elo model and occasionally make a deep dive into some AFL data that I’ve collected.

Model Refresh

Albany was surprisingly upset last week on the road, but retains the top spot in my rankings. Philadelphia jumps to #2 after clinching a playoff spot. The Soul will try to keep their momentum flowing in the only game this week. They are a 4.5pt favorite over Atlantic City.

As far as the playoffs go, Baltimore is the only team that can clinch a playoff berth this week with an AC loss. A loss by the Blackjacks wouldn’t eliminate them, but my model has their odds dropping to around 1 in 400.

A Tale of Two Expansion Offenses

The Destroyers suffered a painful 38 point loss last Friday at Baltimore. This was the largest margin of victory since ArenaBowl XXX champ Philadelphia ran up a 70-21 win, also in Baltimore, during the 2017 season. Columbus scored twice in the second quarter, but was shutout in the second half. This was the first time a team has been held scoreless in a half this season and the 105th time in league history. The last instance came in Week 11 last year when the Valor failed to put up any second half points against the Soul.

It sadly gets worse for Columbus as they posted the 6th worst offensive performance since box scores became available in 2000. The Destroyers scored just 12 points on their 13 offensive possessions.

On the other side of the coin, Atlantic City had an offensive explosion in their win over Washington. They became the 15th team to post a 7.0 or better after scoring 63 offensive points on 9 drives behind new QB Warren Smith. In Week 3 of this year, Albany hung 50 offensive points on the Soul on only 7 possessions, the only team to exceed 7.0. Albany put their name on the list again two weeks ago.

Smith v. Hippeard

Warren Smith has now logged two successful starts as Blackjacks QB. Original starter Randy Hippeard has officially been “questionable” to play in both games since going down in Week 8 against Philadelphia. It seems to be an open question as to whether he will return and resume his duties as starter, but I thought it would be a good idea to compare where the players shake out by the numbers, both this year and last.

Hippeard played better last year and his larger sample size tends to give me more confidence he can deliver above-average production in the long-term. Smith’s solid play as of late should allow him to hold onto the job for the time being though.

Turnaround for the Blackjack Defense

Last week I tweeted that the Blackjacks would be in serious jeopardy if their defense did not pick up the slack after allowing a touchdown on 23 straight drives. My concerns were initially justified, as Washington scored on their first four drives on Saturday night. AC finally recorded a stop when they picked off an end-of-half Hail Mary from Arvell Nelson.

In the second half, a re-energized defense stopped the Valor on four of six drives to preserve a blowout 70-41 win. After the win, a certain Blackjack DB let me know that my doubt was misplaced.

Is the Commish Right?

That tweet from Northington wasn’t the only heat I caught on twitter last week. After expressing my disappointment to the AFL Tonight podcast team for not addressing a Columbus rumor during an interview with Commissioner Boe, I drew a reply a reply from the man himself. I was pleased with his answer, but I had another burning question from his interview.

Link to podcast —> http://www.arenafan.com/podcasts/randall_boe_interview.mp3

The podcast crew astutely inquired as to whether or not Commissioner Boe was concerned with the drop in scoring this season (about 1:20 to 4:05). The commish replied that the league’s focus moving forward was to shorten the real-time length of the game while still providing a high-octane product. Boe went on to assert that while points are down, points per minute of game time are up. I knew that possessions per game were down significantly so I thought I’d look into it.

My findings show that points per minute are actually down modestly this season. As Boe mentioned, he’s seen a substantial drop in game length. I personally am skeptical that making games shorter will drive engagement. I’m not sure that a two hour event is all that much more attractive than a three hour event in general.

Attendance has dropped again for the fourth straight year. The four non-expansion teams however have posted steady attendance numbers as a whole, so attendance is likely not a major concern moving toward next year.

The Race to Host ArenaBowl XXXII

Albany has not only been the best team since the start of the year, they’ve had huge lead in attendance and have clinched home field should they advance to the ArenaBowl. The next two spots have been locked in as well (to PHI and WAS, respectively), while AC has an 88% chance to host Baltimore in the unlikely event that the two meet in the ArenaBowl.

Odds of hosting ArenaBowl XXXIII:
Albany – 71.2%
Philly – 18.7%
DC – 9.8%
AC – 1 in 500
Baltimore – 1 in 3500

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Stat Pack Attack: Episode One – Revenge of the Kick

by Richard Martin

What’s up everybody? Welcome to a new weekly AFL blog that I like to call Stat Pack Attack. 

If you’re wondering why I waited until after week three to start looking at stats, I wanted to get a more accurate look at the league after players had some competition and a few weeks to get use to their new coaches and players.

Every week, we’ll take a look at the passing, receiving and defensive stat leaders in the AFL, along with the strangest stat or most shocking stat of the week. 

This week, the scoring was up and the special teams play lead to some interesting stats. So without further ado, let’s dive in.

Week Three Results:

Baltimore 42 Columbus 35
Albany 57 Philadelphia 42
Washington 41 Atlantic City 34

Passing Leaders

The Quarterback is arguably the most important position in the Arena Football League. So far this year, two QBs have stood above the crowd.

Tommy Grady has been in the league for years, winning two AFL MVPs and setting the league records for touchdowns, passing yards and completions in one season. This week, Grady was on fire, going 14-of-17 for 256 yards with seven touchdowns in Alabny’s 57-48 win over Philadelphia. Grady leads the league with 16 TDs and has passed for 732 yards. 

Shane Boyd meanwhile has been phenomenal as well, going 24-of-44 with 287 yards and five touchdowns in the Baltimore Brigade’s 48-30 win over Columbus. Boyd this year has accounted for 15 touchdowns and just 1 interception. 

The quarterback that has impressed me most however may be Arvell Nelson of Washington. While he’s thrown for just 12 touchdowns and has three interceptions, the Valor signal caller has thrown for 819 yards this season. He can thank one of the best receivers in the league for that.

Receiving Leaders

Lamark Brown and Darius Prince have been impressive this year, each with six touchdowns this season.

But Dezmon Epps has surprised everyone in his first year in the league. Week one, Epps went for nine receptions for 201 yards and four touchdowns. Week two, he accounted for five receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. This week, Atlantic City focused on Epps, holding the former Idaho Vandals star to just three receptions for 29 yards. Epps should be able to rebound, but he’ll need a big week to help the Valor take down Philadelphia.

Defensive Leaders

James Romain has been the talk on defense this season. In week one, Romain had not one but two pick sixes in the Soul’s win over Atlantic City. 

Joe Powell leads the league in interceptions with three, including one this week against Columbus. 

In the tackling department, Monte Lewis of Atlantic City leads the league with three sacks, all three coming in week two against Columbus.

Stat of the Week

This week, there were two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the Arena Football League, a 55 yard return by Fabian Guerra from Columbus and a seven yard onside kick return for a touchdown by Albany’s Arkeith Brown. 

While having two kickoff returns for touchdowns in one week is rare in any football league, it’s especially rare for the AFL, who had two total kickoff return touchdowns all last season. 

This Weeks Games

May 18, 2019
Philadelphia Soul (2-1) @ Washington Valor (1-2) — 3:30 PM
Baltimore Brigade (2-1) @ Atlantic City BlackJacks (1-2) — 7:00 PM
Albany Empire (3-0) @ Columbus Destroyers (0-3) — 7:00 PM

All photos courtesy of official team Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Philadelphia Soul vs. Atlantic City Blackjacks – Week 1 Preview

Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media


By David Taylor

Three-time ArenaBowl champions, the Philadelphia Soul take the field on Saturday for the Arena Football League season opener. The Soul will be taking on the Atlantic City Blackjacks, a newly formed expansion team that is looking to make its mark on the AFL. The Soul will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 2018 season, in which they finished 7-5 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh returns for the Soul. The nine year AFL veteran threw 36 touchdown passes last season, despite missing five games. Joining Raudabaugh is WR Darius Prince, the 2017 ArenaBowl MVP. Look for those two to light up the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon.

Atlantic City will be led by quarterback Randy Hippeard, whose previous game experience includes an MVP level stint with the Tampa Bay Storm. Wide Receiver Kendrick Ings will be teaming up with Hippeard for the third straight season.

Look for big numbers to be put up on both sides. The Soul are getting to start the season at home for the first time in eight seasons, so expect a frenzied crowd. The Blackjacks are a new franchise, so some chemistry issues among teammates may arise due to the raucous home crowd.

Prediction: The Soul are among the AFL elite, so anticipate them to cruise in this one.

Soul 63, Blackjacks 42

BattleStations Episode 10: The Return

Week One is finally here. We have audio from Columbus Destroyers QB Grant Russell, DB Varmah Sonnie, and kicker Craig Peterson. We preview the upcoming game against the Albany Empire with ArenaFan’s Ryan McCarthy and hear from Ron Jaworski via @mattrappasports about the Arena Football League’s future.

BattleStations: a Columbus Destroyers podcast in conjunction with AFL Fan Zone. 
Follow Frank Walker on Twitter at @BStationPod and at https://battlestations.pinecast.co

Episode 7: Coffee and a Blast From the Past

An interview with Mr. Coffee Jones, notes from my meeting at Destroyers business HQ, and some wisdom from the beginning of the league courtesy of the Good Seats Still Available podcast.

BattleStations: a Columbus Destroyers podcast in conjunction with AFL Fan Zone. 
Follow Frank Walker on Twitter at @BStationPod and at https://battlestations.pinecast.co

Pros and Cons of bringing back the Georgia Force

by Richard Martin

It’s an exciting time for the Arena Football League. The League has expanded to Baltimore, Washington D.C., Atlantic City and Columbus over the past few years, and fans are anticipating  the return of more former franchises and more expansion teams in the next few years.

One team that I believe should return is the Georgia Force. The Force were a very successful franchise, winning the AFL’s Southern Division three times, appearing in ArenaBowl XIX and finished with an all-time record of 90-69.

Great players also stepped onto the turf at the Philips Arena and Gwinett Center, such as Matt Nagy, Maurice Purify, Tiger Jones, Carlos Martinez and Troy Bergeron.

The Force were an exciting team, and could be exciting if they ever make a return. However there are some expensive reasons for why the team shouldn’t return. Let’s look at a couple pros and cons of bringing back the Georgia Force.

Pro: Football in the South is successful

Football is king in the south. With the national success of the SEC and teams such as Clemson, UCF, Kennesaw State, and other colleges in the South, and the huge fan bases of teams like the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, the South is a hotbed for football.

Fans in the South will support football year round. Looking at the new AAF, the Atlanta Legends have been solid in attendance, averaging 10,000 fans a game in their first season at Turner Field.

There’s also a lot of talent located in the Atlanta area. A large school like Georgia Tech and smaller schools such as Kennesaw State, Clark Atlanta and Morehouse produce great talent, while several high school stars could come back home and chase their professional aspirations.

The Force were very popular in their heyday, averaging over 12,500 fans at their peak at Philips Arena. And while the crowd sizes diminished in their two year return at the Gwinnett Center, the crowds were energetic and fun. Probably because of the next pro…

Pro: Arena Football is affordable fun or all

Atlanta is expensive. Being one of the biggest cities in the South, the sports are aplenty, but can be expensive. A Braves baseball ticket for a weekend game can run up to $40 for a nosebleed seat, a ticket for the Hawks can be pricey, and with the success of the Falcons and the United, forget about easy tickets to the Benz.

Looking around the rest of the league, good season tickets can go for roughly $45-$60 for the whole season. Single game tickets for Arena Football games are usually fairly priced where you can get good seats and concessions without breaking the bank.

Plus, with the fast paced action of the AFL, younger fans can stay focused on the play on the field and enjoy the game.

Pro: The Infinite Energy Center is outside of Atlanta

If the Force returned, they probably wouldn’t play in the newly renovated State Farm Arena, but rather the Infinite Energy Center, formerly the Gwinett Center, just a few miles outside of Atlanta.

The arena is smaller and is away from Atlanta, meaning people coming down I-85 South wouldn’t have to deal with too much traffic.

The arena is successful at drawing crowds. UFC has hosted a couple of Fight Nights in the arena, and the Georgia Swarm lacrosse team of the NLL averages some of the largest crowds in the league.

The arena’s location is helpful, but it can also be a hindrance.

Con: The Infinite Energy Center is outside of Atlanta

While the traffic on I-85 South towards Atlanta isn’t too bad, the traffic on I-85 North from Atlanta can be a nightmare. This would add a lot of travel time if a game were on a Thursday or Friday night. Even on the weekends, this stretch of road is nightmarish.

Also, unlike SunTrust Park which has multiple restaurants and bars in the area, or like Mercedes Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena which is in downtown Atlanta, Infinite Energy Center is kind of in a business section of town, away from everything without having to get on the interstate. It’s kind of a nit-pick, but it could be a reason fans wouldn’t show up.

Con: No local rivals and expensive travel

In the two runs in the AFL, the Force always had classic Southern Division rivalries with teams such as the Orlando Predators, Jacksonville Sharks and Tampa Bay Hurricanes.

In the Arena Football League now, there are no teams south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The closest team to Atlanta now is the Columbus Destroyers, which are 567 miles away. This would make it hard for die-hard fans to travel to games or to build rivalries with close teams.

This would also be expensive on the team, as flying to such far away destinations multiple times a season could be a strain on the pocketbook on whoever is in charge of travel expenses for the Force.

The league could maybe ask teams such as the aforementioned Sharks and Predators to return to the AFL, and could look to bring back teams such as the Tampa Bay Hurricanes or even the New Orleans VooDoo. But as for now, this could be a reason for the team not coming back for a while.

The Verdict

As of right now, the Georgia Force shouldn’t return. While the affordability and local stars will help out with attendance and fan support, the lack of a central Atlanta location and the travel expenses could be enough to hurt the team. Maybe in a few years if the AFL adds more teams in the southern United States, I could see it working. But as for now, us Southern folk will need to either buy plane tickets or plan road trips to go see high quality Arena Football.

Episode 6: O’ Captain My Captain – Destroyers Tryout Update

Interview with all time AFL legend Donovan Morgan, a discussion about the Destroyers open tryouts with Topher Kopchak, and meet the newest Destroyer from the open tryouts, Tre’ Saunders.

BattleStations: a Columbus Destroyers podcast in conjunction with AFL Fan Zone. 
Follow Frank Walker on Twitter at @BStationPod and at https://battlestations.pinecast.co