AFL Power Rankings through Week 8
For the third time this season, I've got a new team sitting atop my Power Rankings. Even though the Soul struggled more down the stretch with the Predators than they probably should have, they were dominant for large stretches last week, and they've earned their right to be called the best team in the league for the time being.
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1: Philadelphia Soul (7-1) (LW: 2) - Any time you can beat Arizona and Orlando in back-to-back weeks, you've accomplished something truly special. The Soul still have that one blemish against the Sharks on their resume, and they still have the big problem of not having another legitimate home game scheduled at the Wells Fargo Center this year, but 7-1 is still 7-1, especially with those victories. The task ahead is tricky, though. Road games against Cleveland and Jacksonville ahead are both deceptively difficult, and it wouldn't be surprising if the Soul were knocked from their perch atop this league at some point in the next couple weeks.
2: Orlando Predators (7-1) (LW: 1) - The Predators were always living dangerously this season. They were pushed to the brink by Jacksonville, Portland and Tampa Bay, and though they pulled all three games out in the end, it was only a matter of time until a close game wasn't going to go their way. Credit to Orlando for sure for fighting back in Philly on Saturday night. The team could've tucked its tail between its legs after falling behind 55-27 in the third, but three straight touchdowns in the fourth left the Soul scrapping to hold on to their victory.
3: Arizona Rattlers (6-2) (LW: 3) - It's not all that often you see the Rattlers with a bagel on the board in any given quarter. Their offense should be ridiculously hard to stop with Nick Davila throwing the ball to Rod Windsor and Maurice Purify. Mo P was out of the lineup last week though, and it showed. The KISS turned their attention to Windsor and took him out of the game entirely, as his streak of 36 games without a touchdown catch came to an abrupt halt. The Latin Laser only went 20-of-35 for 265 yards with five scores, and he was picked off once as well. The real concern, though? Pete Thomas came off the bench and threw for 214 yards and three TDs for the KISS after Nathan Stanley went out injured. The bad news is that there's clearly trouble in Rattler Land. The good news is that it's still on May, and the playoffs are a couple months away.
4: Los Angeles KISS (3-4) (LW: 4) - It's definitely worth wondering if the KISS could've actually pulled off the upset in the desert had Nathan Stanley not gotten injured. The sight of him being carted off the field in a stretcher was a scary one, and we hope he's ready to get back on the field soon. Meanwhile, the KISS have quietly started to put together some really good defensive efforts. They've only allowed more than 47 points twice this year, once to Arizona and once to Philadelphia, and there's no shame in that. Clevan Thomas picked off his 80th career pass last week, and he remains a stalwart of that unit. Adding Mike Lewis from Orlando via trade this week should only help that defense out, too.
5: Jacksonville Sharks (3-4) (LW: 5) - The Sharks needed to make no mistakes against Portland last week, and no mistakes they made. Tommy Grady and the offense were sharp for Jacksonville, as the team scored on all 10 of its possessions (what else is new against the Portland defense, though?), and the defense picked up six stops, four of which were interceptions. That's the type of performance we've expected to see out of the Sharks all year long. Now, if they could go and prove their worth again in Orlando, we could get onboard with them as a top-half team once again.
6: Cleveland Gladiators (4-4) (LW: 6) - The Gladiators sure like doing things the hard way. They probably should've put both Portland and Tampa Bay down in successive weeks with ease. Instead, they needed overtime to get the job done in both. We're not overly excited over needing overtime to dispose of the two worst teams in the AFL, but the fact that the Glads are back to .500 in a season which looked like it could've gone south in a hurry is still notable. A tip of the cap to Steve Thonn, who tied Hall of Fame coach Perry Moss with 86 career wins, the eighth most in AFL history.
7: Tampa Bay Storm (0-7) (LW: 8) - I'll say this much. At least the Storm are showing a pulse now that they've got Jason Boltus back under center. Quarterback play is so massive in this league, and Boltus accounted for more touchdowns last week (9) than any other Storm quarterback had for the entire season to date (Adam Kennedy: 5, Jonathan Bane: 8). The Storm will win a game at some point. That point just probably isn't coming on Sunday against Arizona.
8: Portland Steel (0-7) (LW: 7) - The difference between Tampa Bay and Portland is that the Steel don't look significantly better offensively with Shane Austin than they did with Danny Southwick or Darron Thomas under center. Austin has four picks in consecutive games, and this team is going to end up threatening records for futility on both sides of the ball this year. The Steel still have just nine stops for the season. Their quarterbacks have now thrown 19 INTs, 13 of which have come in the last three weeks.
ArenaFan Fan Power Poll
1. Philadelphia Soul (93.8 Power Points)
2. Orlando Predators (91.5 Power Points)
3. Arizona Rattlers (84.6 Power Points)
4. LA KISS (61.5 Power Points)
5. Jacksonville Sharks (60.8 Power Points)
6. Cleveland Gladiators (57.7 Power Points)
7. Portland Steel (37.7 Power Points)
8. Tampa Bay Storm (37.3 Power Points)