Playoff "Race" a Joke
TAMPA BAY – If you want to know why the Arena Football League playoffs are going to be a joke this season, there's no need to do more than look at the standings in the American Conference. The Jacksonville Sharks are 4-0. The rest of the conference combined is 4-13. The Tampa Bay Storm and the New Orleans VooDoo were the most recent teams to embarrass themselves on Friday night. Tampa Bay was beaten by the shorthanded San Antonio Talons 52-36, while the VooDoo were beaten 76-30 in the most embarrassing game of the season to date.
The Tampa Bay loss probably doesn't lump it into the "Oh my goodness, these teams are so damn awful" group quite yet. Of course, this writer is really questioning just how motivated this team was to play in a game against the 0-2 Talons, who were playing with a quarterback in Nick Hill that had only showed up in the Lone Star State 48 hours before this one kicked off. The fact that the Storm lost both QB Adrian McPherson (apparent shoulder injury) and QB Shane Boyd (apparent lower body injury) in the same game really doesn't sit well. However, as long as the injury to McPherson isn't serious, I'm still not ready to write off the Storm quite yet.
The rest of the American Conference, though? Yuck! The Orlando Predators, Cleveland Gladiators, Pittsburgh Power, and the VooDoo have one win between them, and that only win came when the Preds played in New Orleans in Week 1.
This is a travesty. It's a real travesty. The fact of the matter is that at least one of these detestable teams is going to be in the playoffs is a joke. There is no doubt in my mind that these two four teams are going to combine for fewer wins than the Arizona Rattlers are going to have, yet at least one will be playing in the postseason. Meanwhile, some Central Division team is going to get into the playoffs, while one of the four teams in the Western Division will get left home in spite of the fact that all of them might end up winning at least 10 games on the campaign.
The fact that eight out of 14 teams is going to get into the playoffs is a comedy. The fact that four of those eight teams have to come out of the American Conference is even dumber. A team that legitimately could win just five or six games this season could be three wins away from the ArenaBowl.
As I discussed earlier in the day when I debated with Jeff Sims about the idea of the Arizona Rattlers going 18-0 in the regular season, here in this country, we like dominating teams and underdog teams. The reason we like the NCAA Tournament is because a team like Florida Gulf Coast can beat a team like Georgetown. The reason we like the NFL playoffs is because dominating teams play against each other. The reason we like the MLB playoffs is because only the best of the best get into the second season, even if it means that some great teams get left out.
Here in the AFL though, we have none of that. Sure, we have the best of the best in our postseason, but we don't just have the best of the best. We also have the best of the worst. No one wants to see the 6-12 Orlando Predators in the playoffs, and we sure as heck don't want to see the 7-11 Iowa Barnstormers hosting a playoff game when the 11-7 Utah Blaze get left at home.
Of course, the possibility is there that all of this is going to play itself out in the coming weeks. After all, there have been just three and a half weeks of football played in a 19-week season. Things really don't look good, though, and if this is the way that the rest of the 2013 season plays out, the Arena Football League is going to once again look like a tremendous joke.
The only problem with this joke? The fourth place team in the Western Division certainly won't be laughing.