Tag Archives: Washington Valor

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

Advertisements

2019 AFL Playoff Scenarios, Version 2.0

Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Photo by D. Taylor

by: David Taylor

After week 10, there are as many questions as there are answers for the 2019 Arena Football League Playoffs. Teams faltered. One team punched its ticket to the postseason, and a dark horse is rising in Atlantic City. According to the official AFL tiebreaker procedures, here is an updated look at the AFL playoff picture: 

Albany Empire: (8-2) 

Playoffs: Clinched. After being upset in Philadelphia over the weekend, Albany still is in control of its own destiny. The Empire is only one win away from clinching the number one seed in the playoffs. Albany has a bye week this weekend, giving head coach Rob Keefe an extra week to prepare for the 1-9 Columbus Destroyers. 

Upcoming Games:
7/14 @ Columbus Destroyers
7/20 vs. Philadelphia Soul

Philadelphia Soul (6-4)

Playoffs: Clinched. The Soul rose to the challenge over the weekend, defeating Albany convincingly at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia suddenly has an outside shot at the number one seed in the playoffs. The Soul needs to win out and need for Albany to lose to Columbus to clinch the number one seed. 

Upcoming Games:
7/6 @ Atlantic City
7/20 @ Albany

Baltimore Brigade (6-4) 

Playoffs: Baltimore is so very close to the playoffs. An Atlantic City loss this weekend will put the Brigade in. However, Baltimore loses the tiebreaker to Atlantic in head-to-head, and loses the strength of schedule tiebreaker to Washington, so if the Brigade, Valor, and Blackjacks all end up with 6-6 records, Baltimore will be the odd team out.  With games against both Washington and Atlantic City coming up, Baltimore could end up as high as the two seed, or could find themselves out of the playoffs.

Upcoming Games: 
7/13 vs. Washington
7/21@ Atlantic City

Washington Valor (5-5)

Playoffs: Washington still needs just one win to get into the postseason. The loss to Atlantic City was an eye-opening one, as Arvell Nelson was picked off multiple times. The loss also gives Atlantic City the head to head advantage based on total points scored, but Washington holds the strength of schedule tiebreaker at the moment. Valor oponents are a combined 57-43, while Atlantic City opponents are 51-48. Adding in the records of opponents over the next two weeks, however, makes things very interesting. Washington and Atlantic City’s opponents (including the record of teams in the next two unplayed games) is identical, 64-56. 

Upcoming Games: 
7/13 @Baltimore
7/20 vs. Columbus

Atlantic City (4-6)

Playoffs: The Blackjacks put up huge numbers over the weekend, defeating Washington 70-41. Atlantic City can get into the playoffs in a few ways: One, win out. Finishing 6-6 and having Baltimore also finish 6-6 will get AC into the playoffs, due to Atlantic City owning the head to head tiebreaker advantage.  Two, Finish 5-7 and have Washington also finish 5-7, which will depend on how some other games go, but Atlantic City could get in based on an identical win loss record of opposing teams in the strength of schedule category. This would put the tiebreaker down to point differential in head to head games, which would give Atlantic City an edge over Washington. Three, win out, and have Washington finish 5-7. Atlantic City plays Philadelphia in the only scheduled game over the weekend, meaning all eyes will be on the Blackjacks this weekend. 

Upcoming Games:
7/6 vs. Philadelphia
7/21 vs. Baltimore

Columbus (1-9)

Columbus is eliminated, but can still affect the playoffs in a significant manner. However, the Destroyers put up only 12 points last weekend, which won’t beat anyone. Columbus has a bye week this weekend. The season finale vs. Washington is the game with the highest stakes. 

Upcoming Games:
7/14 vs. Albany
7/20 @ Washington

With only two games to go for each team, so much is still up for grabs. That is just one of the things that makes the AFL so special. Each game is must-watch television for Arena fans, so make sure to tune in on ESPN 3!

AFL Week 10 Preview and Picks!

By: David Taylor

Week 10 is here and things are heating up! The playoff teams could be set after this weekend, making making each game a must-win for one or both of the teams involved. Here is what is happening this week:

Albany comes into this contest on the heels of their highest scoring output this season. The Empire edged out Atlantic City 63-61. The Soul are also coming off of a big win, making this matchup even more interesting. If Philadelphia wins, the Soul clinch a playoff spot. If Albany wins, the Empire clinch the top seed in the playoffs. Much is at stake. In the previous matchup, Albany defeated Philadelphia at home, 57-48. In that matchup, WR Lonnie Outlaw recorded three touchdown receptions. Look for the Soul to target him again this weekend. 

Player to Watch: WR BJ Bunn, Philadelphia Soul. Bunn has stepped in nicely for the injured Aaron Wascha. Bunn’s reception totals have increased in each of the past three weeks, and he topped 100 yards receiving in the win against Columbus. 

Prediction: Albany wins in a shootout, 63-56. 

Well hello to Mr. Warren Smith, Jr.! Smith stepped in for an injured Randy Hippeard last week and lit up the Empire defense. Smith went 24-34 with 329 yards and 7 touchdowns. If he can match that output this weekend, Atlantic City will defeat Washington. Speaking of Washington, the Valor need just one more win to clinch a playoff spot. With the log jam in the middle for spots 2-4, Washington can ill afford to lose to Atlantic City. Playoff seeding is also on the line, and the Valor are eager to sew up that second place spot. It will be a close game, especially since a loss will effectively end the playoff chances for Atlantic City. Expect a high energy game with so much on the line. 

Player to Watch: QB Warren Smith, Jr. Atlantic City Blackjacks. Smith is the key to victory for Atlantic City. His incredible numbers last week make Atlantic City extremely unpredictable and dangerous for the rest of the season.  After leading Atlantic City to its highest point total of the season last weekend, against the best team in the league no less, it would be criminal to not let Smith start again this week.

Prediction: Atlantic City turns the tables on Washington. Blackjacks 56, Valor 55. 

Columbus has been eliminated from the playoffs, so the Destroyers get to play the role of spoiler for the rest of the season. Columbus plays Baltimore and Washington in two of the last three weeks. Wins over both of them would almost certainly impact the playoffs. A win for Baltimore sets up a nice playoff run for the Brigade. If Baltimore wins out, the Brigade will likely be the 2 seed in the playoffs. Needless to say, Baltimore is not looking past Columbus this weekend. 

Player to Watch: WR Brandon Collins, Baltimore Brigade. Everyone is well aware of the touchdown streak for Joe Hills, but Collins is the leading receiver for the Brigade. Collins leads the team in yards per catch and in total yards. He trails Hills only in touchdowns. 

Prediction: Columbus destroys the playoff party for Baltimore. Destroyers 44, Brigade 38. 

Here are the staff picks for this week: 

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
7/6 @ Atlantic City
7/20 @ Albany

Atlantic City Blackjacks (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 Destroyers (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.

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: