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2019 AFL Playoff Scenarios

Photo by David Taylor

by David Taylor

Week 10 is coming soon! This weekend could potentially set the playoffs for this season. Only one postseason ticket has been punched, so there are three more up for grabs. Here are some playoff scenarios to sift through. 

Albany Empire: (8-1) 

Playoffs: Clinched. Albany is now playing for the #1 seed in the playoffs. A win this weekend will lock that up for the Empire. One thing to watch for with Albany is whether or not the Empire will rest some of its players down the stretch, which could impact playoff seeding. 

Upcoming Games:

6/28 @ Philadelphia Soul

7/14 @Columbus Destroyers

7/20 vs. Philadelphia Soul

Washington Valor (5-4)

Playoffs: Washington needs just one win to clinch a playoff spot. The defending AFL champs are in a prime position to clinch the #2 spot with two more wins. Washington holds the tiebreaker advantage over Philadelphia and can take the tiebreaker over Baltimore next weekend. Defeating Atlantic City this weekend would all but eliminate the Blackjacks from the postseason. 

Upcoming Games:

6/29 vs. Atlantic City

7/13 @Baltimore

7/20 vs. Columbus

Baltimore Brigade (5-4) 

Playoffs: Baltimore gets in with a win and an Atlantic City loss. Atlantic City owns the tiebreaker in the head to head category, so if the two teams finish with identical records, Baltimore would likely miss the postseason. Baltimore does own the tiebreaker against Philadelphia, based on points scored in head to head matchups, so that could become a seeding issue in the weeks to come. 

Upcoming Games: 

6/28 vs. Columbus

7/13 vs. Washington

7/21@ Atlantic City

Philadelphia Soul (5-4)

Playoffs: Philadelphia has the most difficult schedule of all the teams on the playoff bubble. The Soul play Albany twice (home and away) and also travel to Atlantic City. Philadelphia clinches a postseason spot with a win this weekend. A win over Albany this weekend would also give the Soul confidence heading into the postseason, since the Empire have only lost one game all season. 

Upcoming Games:

6/28 vs. Albany Empire

7/6 @ Atlantic City

7/20 @ Albany

Atlantic City (3-6)

Atlantic City is the team in the most danger right now. The Blackjacks need to win out to get a playoff spot ideally. There is a small chance they can sneak in at 5-7, but that will require a lot of other chips to fall Atlantic City’s way. If Atlantic City finishes 6-6, it will likely mean that either Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington will be 5-7, which would vault the Blackjacks to the postseason in their inaugural season. Two of the last three games are in Atlantic City, and all three of the Blackjacks’ wins have been home wins. 

Upcoming Games:

6/29 @ Washington

7/6 vs. Philadelphia

7/21 vs. Baltimore

Columbus (1-8)

Columbus has been eliminated from the playoffs. The Destroyers can still play spoiler though, and they are a team that is much better than their record indicates. Wins over Washington and Baltimore in the coming weeks would undoubtedly affect the playoffs.

Upcoming Games:

6/28 @ Baltimore

7/14 vs. Albany

7/20 @ Washington

This weekend promises some of the most dramatic moments of the season so far! Tune in to Espn3 or the WatchEspn app to catch all of the Arena Football League action.

Battle of the Beltway

by Bee Jay Glosson

Here we are, two-thirds of the season in the books and the battle for second place in the league gives us two familiar teams battling it out. The Brigade and Valor are owned by the same group and might as well be brothers in the grand scheme of things. They certainly act like it when they play each other with lots of back and forth banter and some of the most aggressive play from both. Some say they are rivals because of proximity as Baltimore is only an hours ride from D.C., others because they have played each other more than any other teams in the league. The players see themselves as rivals just as much as anyone and it shows on the field.

When you play your brother in anything you never want to lose, ever, so when you do lose, you know there will always be sour grapes in the bunch about it. This game would be no different except this time the game winning touchdown would come in a very different type of way. As I said earlier, these two teams know each other very well, so there are no niceties and well wishes, there are just hard hits and trash talking immediately.

Starting the game off the Brigade would defer and give the Valor the ball first, and in return the Valor would show them what that would cost them. Arvell Nelson would help drive his team down the field and then find “Big Play” Reggie Gray for a TD halfway through the first quarter. The Brigade would not go quietly into the night however, as Joe Hills would break his own record and extend his 100 game streak with a touchdown to 101 to bring them even at the end of the quarter.

Back and forth they would go til the end as the the proverbial brothers would move to beat the other. With 2 TD’s on the ground by Nelson for the Valor and another TD for Hills and a kickoff return by Joe Powell for the Brigade we would see this game go into the half tied at 21.

Pulling even at the half would not be as simple as scoring a touchdown though as the Valor had the last possession of the half and would make it a memorable one. With just over a minute left the Valor would score, or would they? A defensive penalty on the scoring play would allow the Valor to take their own points off the board in exchange for a new set of downs. Take points off the board? No way, never, nope, not gonna do it, but they did. With the crazy move though, the Valor would take the clock to 0 and score before the half to tie the game not allowing the Brigade a chance to hurt them again.

The second half would be the same as the first really, back and forth and then a crazy play to end it. With another 2 touchdowns on the ground for Nelson and the Valor, combined with 2 touchdown passes by Shane Boyd and the Brigade, we would find ourselves tied at 35 with less than 5 minutes to go in the game. Tie you say? No brotherly affair can be tied at the end and this one would not be any different.

With under 30 seconds left to go in the game, the Valor would go for a potential game winning field goal. Valor fans at this point are holding their breath and crossing fingers, toes and anything else they can find to make this kick go through the uprights. With kicking woes all year long, it was not a position anyone wanted to be in. Then it happened, the greatest missed kick of all time.

Pat Clarke III after the game would say, “We set up too close to the line, that’s on me, but we practice for things like this.” The kick was up, and wide left, but in all things arena, the ball would bounce off the bar, land in between 4 Brigade players, bouncing off one’s back and then into the hands of Josh Reese who would take it into the endzone for a Valor touchdown with less than 15 seconds to go left on the clock.

The Valor score on one of the most improbable plays to go up 42 to 35, but again arena knows no safeguards as 1 second on the clock is enough to win a game. The Brigade would get a final shot at it, literally as a defensive penalty would give them one untimed play, with no time on the clock to try and tie. That effort would fall short however and the Valor would hold on to win.

The Valor find themselves at 5-4, tied for second place in the league, heading into the final 3 games of the season. Atlantic City is in town this week with QB Warren Smith Jr and former OC Shane Stafford, who were both on the Valor staff last year during their championship run. Every game matters from here on and with Atlantic City on the outside of the playoff race looking in, expect a knock down, drag out game at home next week. As always, be loud, be proud and go Valor.

AFL Week 9 Preview and Picks

Week 8 gave the AFL its first playoff team! The Albany Empire clinched a playoff spot in a huge come from behind win against the Valor. This week will shuffle the playoff deck a bit more. Here is a look:

Philadelphia needs this win badly to stay in the playoff debate. Columbus needs to win out and will need some help to have a shot at the fourth spot. The Destroyers dropped a close one to Baltimore last week, while the Soul looked dominant against Atlantic City. Philadelphia defeated Columbus earlier in the season in the two teams’ only matchup. Destroyer QB Grant Russell was picked off twice in that game, but has since not thrown an INT.

Player to Watch: WR Lonnie Outlaw, Philadelphia Soul. Outlaw let the team in receptions in the last meeting with Columbus. His size is a matchup nightmare in the Red Zone. Look for Outlaw to have another big game this Saturday.

Prediction: Soul 47, Columbus 38

Baltimore finally broke the win/loss pattern this past week, putting together a two game win streak for the first time all year. The Brigade will be facing a Valor team that squandered a 27 point lead to lost to Albany by 1. Baltimore currently holds the head to head advantage over Washington, making this game the most significant game of the weekend, playoffs-wise.

Player to Watch: WR Joe Hills, Baltimore Brigade. Hills has caught a TD pass in 100 consecutive AFL games. He is third in the league in touchdowns scored with 15. If Baltimore is going to win, look for Hills to have a big night.

Prediction: Valor 55, Brigade 49

Atlantic City enters this matchup on a bad note, losing 54-29 to Philadelphia last week. Albany defeated its arch rival Washington last weekend to clinch a playoff spot. Atlantic City needs this game much more than Albany does, but with QB Randy Hippeard all banged up, the task appears to be too tall this week for AC. The deck is stacked against the Blackjacks.

Player to Watch: WR Malachi Jones, Albany Empire. Jones dominated the Blackjacks last time the two teams played in Atlantic City. Jones caught 12 passes for 106 yards and three touchdowns.

Prediction: Empire 56, Blackjacks 41

Here are the rest of the staff picks this week: