Tag Archives: Columbus Destroyers

AFL Week 13 Preview and Picks

By: David Taylor

It is the final weekend of the regular season! This will be the last weekend all six AFL teams take the field. It has been an exciting regular season, and this final weekend will keep that excitement high, as the final playoff seedings will be determined. The AFL released all the possible scenarios for the playoffs. Here is a link to that.  Now, here is a look at what is happening in this week’s games:

For Philadelphia, the stakes for this game are simple: Win and secure the two seed. Lose, and end up as the potentially the three seed. Philly would obviously prefer the two, and is red hot right now.  Albany finds itself with a chance to do some fine tuning for the playoff run, which could result in some players not playing the entire game. That is a bit of a nightmare from a fantasy standpoint, as many of the Empire players are huge contributors to many DraftKings lineups out there.

Player to Watch: WR Darius Prince, Philadelphia Soul. Prince has caught at least six passes in each of the last four games, scoring seven touchdowns. Philadelphia is 4-0 in those games. The Soul is playing its best football at just the right time, and Prince is a huge part of that. 

Prediction: Philly rolls into the playoffs on a five game winning streak. Soul 54, Empire 48

Washington has a chance to also be the number 2 seed in the playoffs, and they are facing a 1-10 Columbus team that lost its quarterback for the season. Grant Russell was injured early in the Albany game last weekend. Bad news for one team is usually good news for the other, and that is the case here for Washington. The Valor played very well last weekend against rival Baltimore, and will likely win this matchup against Columbus with relative ease, unless the backup QB is some kind of a ringer.

Player to Watch: WR Josh Reese, Washington Valor. Reese hauled in two touchdown passes and topped 100 yards last weekend. Quarterback Arvell Nelson spread the ball around a lot, but Reese was Nelson’s big play target. Expect another big game this weekend. 

Prediction: Valor 43, Destroyers 31

Injuries and suspensions have tainted the anticipation level of this matchup. Atlantic City will likely be starting third string quarterback EJ Nemeth this week. Add that to WR Joe Hills being suspended, and there is definitely some star power missing. This also makes this matchup difficult to predict. Still, a win for Baltimore puts them in the running for the three seed. 

Player to Watch: WR Brandon Collins, Baltimore Brigade. Collins became the first player in Brigade history to top 2,000 career receiving yards in last weekend’s matchup against Washington. With Hills suspended, look for Collins to receive the lion’s share of passes this weekend. 

Prediction: Brigade 42, Blackjacks 35

Here are the staff picks for this week: 

Deep Routes: Albany’s Bomb Squad

By Anthony Reinhard

“Deep Routes” is a weekly series that will look in-depth at AFL stats and present weekly updates to my AFL model.

Model Refresh

We’re now in the final week of the regular season and much of the playoff picture has been revealed. All four spots have been clinched and the final week will only settle seeding.

Playoff Matchups

Albany locked up the top seed last week with a win and will host their playoff game on July 27th. The following weekend they will play at the fourth seed (Baltimore or Washington).

The second seed will go to either the Soul or Valor depending on this weekend’s results. A loss by the Soul and a win by Washington would give the Valor the two seed and an option as to which weekend they would travel to Philadelphia. A win for Philly OR a loss by Washington would keep Philly as the two seed.

Though the Valor could grab the second seed, they could also fall to the fourth seed. A Washington loss and a Baltimore win would drop Washington to fourth place, which would land them in Albany in Week 14. If Washington wins OR Baltimore loses this week in AC, Baltimore will be the one to take on the Empire.

Albany’s Deep Threats

My post last week touched on how often Albany has been able to complete deep passes to Malachi Jones. That trend continued in Columbus on Sunday when Jones hauled in three more deep touchdowns early in the game as the Empire routed Columbus 49-18. With 11:23 left on the clock in the second quarter, Albany had run nine plays and Tommy Grady had connected on four of seven passes for 152 yards and four touchdowns. Grady’s four early touchdowns of 33, 40, 32, and 37 were joined by a 45 yard strike to Sims in late in the third quarter.

In digging through box scores on ArenaFan (available starting in 2000), I found only nine other games where a team connected on five or more passing TDs of 30+ yards. At just 18 minutes and 37 seconds into the game, Albany was the fastest to put four 30+ yard touchdowns on the board. The Orlando Predators actually completed the feat twice on back-to-back weeks during the 2014 season.

Throughout the year, the duo of Malachi Jones and Quentin Sims have had no trouble burning opposing defenses for deep touchdowns. With one week remaining, Jones & Sims have caught 28 touchdowns of 20 yards or more, already the best on record when accounting for length of season.

The Race to Host ArenaBowl XXXII

Albany maintains the best odds of hosting the Arena Bowl. There is a 40% chance that Albany will host Philly in what would be a rematch of their matchup this week. Baltimore still has a chance to host in the event that they nab the third seed and fourth seeded Washington upsets Albany, identical to last season.

Odds of hosting ArenaBowl XXXII:

Albany – 69.2%
Philly – 17.6%
DC – 12.0%
Baltimore – 1.2%

BattleStations Episode 21: And One To Go

We have our weekly chat with Coach Matt Sauk and discuss the upcoming announcement about Arena Football Expansion


Unfortinately, Episode 20 was missed last week. See below to catch up on it all

Episode 20: It’s Like Rain On Your Wedding Day

We have our weekly conversation with Columbus Destroyers Head Coach Matt Sauk and I rant about the season, bad 90’s songs and Hot Dog Wally.

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

Week 12 Preview and Picks

Week 12 is here and there are two matchups to preview. Albany travels to Columbus to take on the Destroyers, looking for the number one seed. Washington travels to Baltimore to try and clinch the final playoff spot. There’s still plenty to play for this weekend. 

Albany is coming off of a rare loss in this matchup against Columbus. The Empire have had an extra week to prepare for the Destroyers, and are focused on one goal: The number one seed. Albany is as explosive as ever offensively but suffered many injuries to the secondary in the loss to Philadelphia two weeks ago. The severity of those injuries may have some impact on this game.

Columbus was embarrassed the last time they took the field. Quarterback Grant Russell was intercepted four times and sacked twice. Overall, the Destroyers turned the ball over six times.  Columbus also surrendered two defensive touchdowns and one special teams touchdown in the loss to Baltimore. It was a rock-bottom moment. 

Player to Watch: Wide Receiver Malachi Jones, Albany Empire. Setting the AFL ablaze this season, Jones leads the league in receptions, yards, and yards per game. He is second in the league in receiving touchdowns, trailing teammate Quentin Sims by three scores (24 to 21). Jones is also fantasy gold, according to Draft Kings. 

Prediction: Empire, and it’s not even close. Albany 52, Columbus 26.

Seeding and a playoff spot are on the line in this matchup. Washington needs one win to clinch the final spot, and a win over Baltimore benefits the Valor’s seeding hopes. The teams have played twice so far this season, with each team winning once. The teams are only one game apart in the standings, so a tie is a likely outcome. The winner of this matchup will hold the tiebreaker advantage. 

Washington lost a close game last weekend to Atlantic City, opening up a playoffs version of Pandora’s box. Valor quarterback Arvell Nelson has struggled lately, throwing three interceptions in the loss to Atlantic City. Nelson is a bit of a statistical mystery this year. He leads the league in completions and pass attempts, but is last in completion percentage. Nelson is second in touchdown passes but is also second in interceptions. For the Valor to make the playoffs and repeat as champions, Nelson must find some consistency. 

Baltimore is breathing a collective sigh of relief after Atlantic City was defeated by Philadelphia last week. The Blackjack loss propelled the Brigade into the playoffs. Baltimore can still climb as high as the number 2 seed in the playoffs, so don’t expect the Brigade to take any games off heading into postseason play.  Having the higher seeding in the first round could be critical for the Brigade to advance to the Arena Bowl. 

Player to Watch: Defensive Back Josh Victorian, Baltimore. Victorian intercepted two passes in the matchup vs. Columbus two weeks ago. Victorian returned one of those two for a touchdown. With Valor QB Arvell Nelson struggling over the last few weeks, Victorian could have a big day in the secondary. Baltimore is second in the league with 13 interceptions. As mentioned earlier, Nelson is second in the league in interceptions thrown. 

Prediction: Baltimore wins a wild one, 56-52. 

Here are the staff picks for this week:

Stat Pack Attack: Dealer Dominate in Atlantic City

By Richard Martin

If you’ve been watching Arena Football for awhile, you understand that there have been plenty of high scoring games in the league’s history. Last week, I talked about the highest scoring game in AFL history, the bounty for video still holds strong by the way, and the Albany Empire and Atlantic City Blackjacks combined for 124 points.

This week, the Blackjacks continued their strong offensive output, dropping 70 points in the nation’s capital in a strong 70-21 win over the Washington Valor.

The last time an Arena Football team scored at least 60 points in back to back weeks was in 2017, when the Philadelphia Soul defeated the Cleveland Gladiators 69-67 on May 6 and then beat the Baltimore Brigade 61-56 on May 13.

The main reason for the fireworks in Atlantic City can be attributed to a Quarterback change. Randy Hippeard, a star AFL QB, had not quite performed up to his potential this season, with 1602 yards, 29 touchdowns and five interceptions so far. While this sounds, and still is, very impressive, Hippeard tossed 61 touchdowns last season in Baltimore.

Insert Warren Smith. Smith was on the Washington Valor’s roster for the past two seasons after playing for the Spokane Shock in 2015. He was mostly used as a backup, but still had a combined 15 touchdowns and 677 yards in two seasons.

After a rough week eight relief effort against Philadelphia, going 16-for-31 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and a pick, Smith has impressed the past two weeks going a combined 46-for-62, with 538 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception.

Warren Smith has brought some excitement into the AC, but more importantly, he’s gotten the Blackjacks back into playoff contention. With just two games left, the Blackjacks could shock the league and make a deep run in their first season.

Soul Train Comin’ Through

The Philadelphia Soul have been a stalwart in the Arena Football League for the past 10 seasons. With their 54-43 win over the first place Empire, the Soul clinched the playoffs for the eighth straight season, and now have an outside shot at first place.

Washington needs just one win to clinch a playoff bid, while Atlantic City and Baltimore are battling for the last spot. You can read more in David Taylor’s Playoff Scenarios.

Standings (As of June 29, 2019)

Team                                     Record   
Albany Empire                        8-2                 
Philadelphia Soul                  6-4
Baltimore Brigade                   6-4
Washington Valor                    5-5
————————————————-
Atlantic City BlackJacks          4-6
Z – Columbus Destroyers        1-9

Clinched Playoff Berth
Z = Eliminated from Playoff Contention

Week 10 Results:
Baltimore 50 Columbus 12
Philadelphia 54 Albany 43
Atlantic City 70 Washington 41

Can’t Sink This Battleship

It’s been a rough season for the Columbus Destroyers, especially for their offense.

The Destroyers rank last in the AFL in touchdowns, points, and have scored just 32 points per game, currently 15th worst all time in Arena Football League history.

Quarterback play has struggled as well, with Columbus ranking last in passing yards , passing touchdowns and have thrown the most picks, 16, and have been sacked the most, 25 times.

This week was another tough week for the Destroyers offense, as they would trail 21-12 at halftime in Baltimore. The offense wouldn’t score again, falling to the Brigade 50-12.

The funny thing is, Columbus finished with more yards of offense than Baltimore, with 200 compared to just 145 for the Brigade. However, the swarming Baltimore defense forced six turnovers, returning a fumble and an interception for a touchdown, and a safety. The Brigade also had four sacks and on special teams, Joe Powell returned a kickoff 57 yards to the house.

The 12 points scored by Columbus is the 8th least amount of points scored by an away team in AFL history.

The Brigade defense now leads the AFL in forced and recovered fumbles, sacks and tackles for loss. They also rank second in interceptions. The Brigade still have some work to get into the playoffs, but this defense could help them make a run to the ArenaBowl.

League Lookback: The Lone Shutout in AFL History

Teams have done worse on offense than the Destroyers did this week.

The Denver Dynamite beat the Detroit Drive 15-14 in 1989. The Sacramento Attack lost 51-3 to the Charlotte Rage in 1992. Recently, in 2014, the New Orleans VooDoo lost 54-13 to the Jacksonville Sharks.

But only one team has been shut out in the entire history of the Arena Football League.

On June 13, 1992, the San Antonio Force fell to the Orlando Predators 50-0 in Orlando, Florida. In an 2012 article by Richard Oliver on mysanantonio.com, David Caldwell, the first ever draft pick in San Antonio history, said that the Force had a “full-contact, two-hour practice a day before the game…got dressed, got on the plane and our legs were dead.

The team apparently left for Orlando at 4 am local time the day of the game, were stuck in Atlanta for a layover, and made it to the arena in time for a pregame meal. By the way, this was also an expansion team against a Predators squad that would go 9-1 and make the ArenaBowl.

The Predators would take a 33-0 lead at halftime and never look back.

The closest a team has been to being shut out in the modern area of Arena Football was in 2007 when the New York Dragons scored a touchdown with 11:38 left in the game to avoid a shut out in a 60-7 loss to the Dallas Desperados in Week One.

We’ll probably never see another shut out in AFL history, but it is interesting to look back at the lone shut out and how the game has changed.

Game of the Week: Philadelphia at Atlantic City

The Arena Football League must be going out of town for Independence Day, as there is just one game this week.

Philadelphia is set as they clinched their playoff spot with a huge win over Albany. Atlantic City has found themselves back in the playoff race with just two games left.

Dan Raudabaugh has gotten back in his groove, and Warren Smith has become an interesting story late in the season.

With the two cities just 61 miles away from each other, playoff spots on the line, and two phenomenal quarterbacks, the fireworks show could continue Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.

BattleStations Episode 19: Whatcha’ Doin’ This Weekend

A rambling episode this week that discusses the Destroyers, and the future expansion of the Arena Football League.

The articles discussed can be found at https://aflfanzone.com/.

If you have a chemical addiction and need help please call 1-800-729-6686

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

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