Week three was a mixed bag with two close games and two blow outs. Arizona was 33 point favorites going into their home opener and won by 33, Philly made sure Portland didn’t have a similar performance this week that they had against Orlando. Overall it was a typical week in the Arena Football League which was nice to see. Here are your AFL Fan Zone Week 3 Power Rankings:
- Arizona Rattlers (3-0) (Last Week 1, Change –)
The Rattlers remain far and away the best team in the AFL. Nick Davila continues to play some of the best ball of his career while no one seems to be able to stop Rod Windsor. Windsor hauled in four touchdowns for the third week in a row. When a team like Arizona just walks through its competition seemingly untested, almost like a glorified skeleton drill, you start to wonder if there are any weaknesses or flaws on this team. On the field it’s very tough to find any, but if you look at point differential in the first three week’s you start to notice a trend. Arizona won by 52 Week 1, 41 Week 2, and now 33 in Week 3. I’m not saying Arizona is destined to lose, but I am saying that teams may have been able to find something on film to exploit to slow down the Rattlers (as microscopic as it seems on the scoreboard). We will find out this week when the Rattlers travel out East to take on the 1-2 Jacksonville Sharks and their high octane offense.
- Orlando Predators (3-0) (Last Week 3, Change +1)
If there was a team in the league that frustrates you the most, it’s the Orlando Predators. After laying an egg in Week 2 against Portland by allowing the Steel to travel cross country to the Amway Center and nearly steal a game in the 4th, Orlando turns right around and takes it to Jacksonville on Monday night at Sea Best Field. The Predators even found themselves in a little bit of adversity going down 34-21 late in the 2nd Quarter. After scoring in the final seconds of the 1st half, Orlando took that momentum into the locker room and came out firing in the second half on their way to a last second victory. At 3-0, Orlando looks to be the most able to deal with adversity and possibly the only team to challenge Arizona. Coach Keefe’s main goal in practice this week is to preach consistency and intensity. They can’t continue to play to their competition. If they can play more consistent we won’t be seeing them in these tight 2nd half ballgames. Week 4 at home against Los Angeles will be our focus as Game of the Week.
- Los Angeles KISS (2-1) (Last Week 4, Change +1)
Los Angeles found out where they were among the elite Week 2 when Arizona came to town and dominated the second half in route to a 69-28 pounding. Week 3 saw the KISS go to Cleveland for their first away game of the season. Even though they needed an interception by Fred Obi late in the 4th quarter, I thought LA proved Week 2 was an anomaly. For the second time this season, LA forced the opposing QB into mistakes in the 2nd half. After throwing an early pick six, Cleveland QB Dennis Havrilla settled into the game and was playing well up until the 4th quarter. Midway through the final quarter, Havrilla clearly fumbled on a QB scramble, but Cleveland was sent a gift by the football gods in the tune of an inadvertent whistle. Then when the game was on the line with Cleveland only down five, Havrilla stared down his receiver which gave Obi the chance for the interception to seal the game late. Los Angeles is clearly a better team than they were the last couple years, but they are going to need their best effort of the season if they want to come out of Orlando with a victory in Week 4.
- Philadelphia Soul (2-1) (Last Week 5, Change +1)
In the preseason, I had Philadelphia as my Arena Bowl 29 champions over the Arizona Rattlers. I think Arizona has proven that outside of an injury or fluke game, they will be hosting the title game this year. On the other side of that prediction, the Soul are too up and down to really predict. They go into Cleveland Wk1 and smack around the Gladiators only to return home and get embarrassed by the Jacksonville Sharks in a game that even Luke Collis took some snaps it was so ugly. Then you look at Week 3 and you have a team in Portland who took Orlando to the brink in Week 2 and the game was over by halftime. QB Dan Raudabaugh finally looked comfortable for the first time this season over the course of an entire game and this game might have been the one that will get Philly back to their winning ways. On Saturday they welcome Cleveland to town and if the Soul can show some kind of consistency, look for a repeat performance of Week 1 when Philadelphia confused QB Chris Dieker on their way to a blowout victory.
- Jacksonville sharks (1-2) (Last Week 2, Change -3)
No team has moved up and down this list as much as Jacksonville has. For the amount of talent they possess on both sides of the ball, there is no reason they should struggle late in games they way they have in their two losses. Just like in Week 1, a late first half touchdown by the other team seemed to deflate the team at halftime. Of course, there is plenty of time for the Sharks to right the ship. If you look back to last year, remember it took until Week 5 for the Sharks to find the win column. They just need to settle down, stop out thinking themselves, and work on some time management strategy. Les Moss is one heck of a coach, so don’t worry Sharks fans, Jacksonville will be there at the end when the playoffs roll around. I’d be very surprised if they knocked off Arizona this weekend, but I expect them to at least compete and give the Rattlers their toughest test to date. They have the offense to get the job done, they just don’t have the mental toughness to withstand adversity right now.
- Cleveland Gladiators (1-2) (Last Week 6, Change –)
The good news for Cleveland is they seem to have found a quarterback they can trust this season. I know it has only been two games, but Havrilla is still young and has plenty of room to develop. They have the WR core and the talent on defense to compete, the Gladiators just haven’t been able to put it all together for an entire game yet. They got Joe Phinisee back last week, but then had to face All Arena WR Donovan Morgan without rising superstar Joe Powell. Of all the teams in the lower group, Cleveland looks to be the most poised to break through. Outside of one half vs Philly, Cleveland has gone toe to toe with two top four teams. The Gladiators pack their bags and hit the road for the first time in 2016 as they head East in a rematch with the Soul in Week 4.
- Portland Steel (0-3) (Last Week 7, Change –)
If the league hopes to market Portland to the owner of the Trailblazers, then they can’t be happy with the effort they saw in Week 3. After going down to Orlando and pushing an undefeated team to the edge, they laid an absolute stinker of a game against the Soul. A game in which Coach James saw his team down 42-6 at halftime. Danny Southwick isn’t the answer for the Steel, but even a great QB like Davila would struggle behind Portland’s offensive line. Southwick was punished yet again this week which now seems to be a weekly occurrence, the main reason they see themselves at 0-3. Losing how they did in Orlando seemed to still be in the back of the heads of the players, but they need to head into the bye week this week and erase the first three weeks. They come back to action Week 5 against Arizona and if they hope to compete, they are going to need to forget this loss and move on.
- Tampa Bay Storm (0-3) (Last Week 8, Change –)
I tend to see football a lot differently than most people do. I say this because I saw an article posted this weekend that mentioned Tampa Bay looking lifeless, almost as if they didn’t want to be in Arizona. I must have been watching a different game. Did Tampa Bay get run off the field, sure, but let’s be honest here, the level of talent on both rosters isn’t even comparable. Tampa Bay’s best WR is on Injured Reserve, TT Toliver is clearly showing his age, and Philip Barnett and V’Keon Lacey are both good receivers, but neither is a number one Jason Boltus returned three days before kickoff and was thrown right into the mix because the team would rather that than throw out Jonathan Bane again. But what I saw, was a team who clearly looked out-matched that continued to fight and push Arizona to their lowest margin of victory of the season. With Boltus back at the helm, I think Tampa Bay is going to climb out of the cellar at some point in the season. Are they going to be contenders at the end of the season, not a chance, but they will get better than this. They weren’t given any favors from the schedule makers either as they welcome Jacksonville to the Amalie Arena when they return from the bye week in Week 5.
Biggest Jump – Predators, KISS, Soul – +3
Farthest Drop – Jacksonville Sharks – -3
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