By Kyle Sander | firstname.lastname@example.org
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on April 25, 2017 at 7:00 PM
After a subpar week two in the Arena Football League, there were two great matchups Saturday night. Although the better matchup on paper came via stream on arenafootballleague.com between the Soul and the Valor, the Storm and Gladiators stole the show on national television. Both games saw big deficits and great individual performances. I expect to see more of what we saw this past week the rest of the season. No one team is playing flawless football, but all five teams are showing flashes of beating anyone.
With that being said, how will Saturday’s games affect the power rankings (if any)? Well, let’s get right down to business. Here are AFL Fan Zone’s Week 3 Power Rankings:
- Philadelphia Soul – (2-0) / LW: 1 / Week 3 – W at DC 49-31
There are times where stats can be misleading, this is one of those times. 18 points in an Arena Football League game may not sound like a lot, but when you take into account the Soul found themselves trailing 21-7 heading into the second quarter, you can see just how impressive their victory was on Saturday night. That means from the second quarter on, the defending Soul outscored the Valor 42-10. After struggling in Tampa Bay last week, the Soul took it to Erik Meyer and the boys in the nations capitol.
The season is still way too young to crown anyone a champion, but if this what we will be seeing from the Soul, you would be hard to find anyone betting against a repeat. Next week four brings Philadelphia home for the first time in 2017 against the expansion Baltimore Brigade (1-1).
2. Tampa Bay Storm – (2-1) / LW: 2 / Week 3 – W vs CLE 62-61
Much like the game in D.C., Tampa Bay found themselves down big early. Peaking at 27-7 Gladiators, Tampa Bay stormed back in front of the home crowd of just over 9,000 to a deficit of only five heading into halftime. For much of the first half, the Storm had no answer for quarterback Arvell Nelson and the Gladiators offense. Nelson didn’t throw an incomplete pass until late in the second quarter. Then, just like in any AFL game, the game flipped on a dime and the Storm scored 21 points in the final nine minutes of the second quarter.
Quarterback Randy Hippeard found superstar wide receiver Joe Hills early and often. This connection powered the Storm to a ten point lead in the fourth quarter. The Gladiators made a final push and actually took the lead, but with 28 seconds left in the game, it only took three plays for Tampa Bay to be inside the Cleveland five yard line and ultimately win number two.
The three headed monster that the Storm has put together at wide receiver is going to make Tampa Bay a tough out for everyone, including Philadelphia. All three top receivers for the Storm finished the game with at least 99 yards receiving. It is now Tampa Bay’s turn for a bye week before being back on CBS Sports Net for their clash at the Valor on Saturday May 20th.
3. Washington Valor – (1-1) / LW: 3 / Week 3 – L vs PHI 31-49
For just over a quarter Saturday night, the Valor showed shades of quarterback Erik Meyer’s former team in the San Jose Sabercats. Big plays and turnovers is what put the Valor up 21-7 heading into the sevoke quarter before the wheels came off. Erik Meyer finished the night with more turnovers than touchdowns. Whether it’s outdoor or arena football, it’s tough to win when the quarterback is turning over the ball as much as Meyer did Saturday. After missing an entire season, it’s hard to fault him for the mistakes, anyone who takes an entire year off from playing is going to be rusty.
He has shown time and time again in this league that he is a superstar at the quarterback position and with big play wide receivers like Mike Washington, T.T. Toliver, and Greg Carr, I don’t expect the Valor to repeat the goose egg they put up in the second half in week two.
The Valor head on the road for the first time this season in week three against the last place Cleveland Gladiators (0-3). Both teams are coming off losses, so expect to see an inspired matchup at the Q Saturday.
4. Baltimore Brigade – (1-1) / LW: 4 / Week 3 – Bye
Baltimore saw their first bye of the season in week three, but even with them sitting out it seems there is a clear line starting to develop in the power rankings. The Brigade are starting the least experienced quarterback in the league which normally means the team is destined for the basement, but Shane Carden has shown to be a pleasant surprise in his first couple games. If he can continue to develop and Big Play Reggie Gray continues to show why he earned that nickname, the Brigade are the best option to spoil the party for the teams above them.
The best part of the bye week is teams get two weeks to prepare for their opponent. Unfortunately for the Brigade, they travel to Philadelphia in Week four and face off against the only undefeated team left in the AFL in their home opener on a night their Arena Bowl XXIX Championship is being honored. Stranger things have happened in the AFL, I wouldn’t chalk that game up to a blowout just yet.
5. Cleveland Gladiators – (0-3 ) / LW: 5 / Week 3 – L at TB 61-62
First, I want to say thank you to the Cleveland Gladiators for taking my advice on giving the keys to the offense back to quarterback Arvell Nelson. Even in the loss, Nelson far outplayed Shane Boyd (week one) and Tanner Marsh (week two). Of course I say that tongue in cheek, but if Cleveland has any chance to turn around the season its on the arm (and feet) of Nelson. Losing on the road by one point in the Arena Football League against a team that, let’s be honest, should’ve beat Philadelphia in week two, is very impressive. Cleveland lost Saturday night because they could not find an answer for Hills, that is going to happen again this year to more than just the Gladiators.
Even at 0-3, the Gladiators can look at the tape and be confident they can right the ship. If they can get their secondary back healthy again and Nelson continues to play lights out like he did Saturday, Cleveland will be right back into the thick of things. Week four sees the Gladiators host the 1-1 Washington Valor back at the friendly confines of the Quicken Loans Arena.
- Philadelphia Soul – 18 (2)
- Tampa Bay Storm – 17 (2)
- Washington Valor – 11
- Baltimore Brigade – 10
- Cleveland Gladiators – 4
()=First Place Votes