AFL Power Rankings through Week 10
Apparently, someone forgot to tell us all that Week 9 was opposite week. After a week in which everything seemed to go against the grain, Week 10 featured restored order across the Arena Football League, as the world returned to its axis, and the teams which we've thought to be the best in the league all year long have gone back to playing like it.
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1: Philadelphia Soul (8-2) (LW: 1) - This is a no-doubter at this point. The Soul have now avenged their worst loss of the season to Jacksonville, and they did so in authoritative 56-42 fashion on the road in the Shark Tank. Dan Raudabaugh is going to get a lot of accolades here, but let's not forget about this defense, one which has now logged stops on at least 50 percent of its drives in four different games this season. For our money, the road to the ArenaBowl goes through Philly… or at least the 100 miles or so of surrounding area.
2: Arizona Rattlers (7-3) (LW: 4) - The toughest call this week is where to put Orlando and Arizona. Sure, the Rattlers were beaten up in Orlando a few weeks ago, but that game they played in Cleveland in Week 10 was impressive. They scored on 11 of their 12 possessions, their best offensive efficiency of the season, and they did the job with a few stops on the other side of the ball. The Rattlers aren't as impressive right now as perhaps they should've been, but they don't have to leave the Pacific Time Zone for the rest of the year, and they should eventually start to get healthy. That's a scary combination for the rest of the league. Let's not forget that over the course of the first three games of the season, Arizona was averaging nine stops per game. It's easy to dominate games when you're doing that.
3: Orlando Predators (8-2) (LW: 3) - The seething anger stemming from Orlando fan is already eating up space in my inbox as I type. Sure, the Preds are 8-2, and they've got that allure the 2014 Gladiators had when they just found ways to win seemingly every week. But no one watching this team can seriously think Orlando has a real chance against Philadelphia or Arizona on the road at this point with the way things have been going. We'll have to see how long Randy Hippeard is out for, and if he is, we'll have to see whether Bernard Morris can continue to run this offense efficiently. B-Mo wasn't great on Sunday, and his sample set wasn't large anyway. Orlando only ran a total of six drives in the entire game. Color me unimpressed with a 43-41 win over a Pete Thomas-led LA team.
4: Jacksonville Sharks (4-5) (LW: 2) - Was it just me, or did the Sharks just not look right last week? They only scored 42 points, and it almost felt like Tommy Grady was trying to ration his targets instead of taking the open man. If egos get in the way, the Sharks are going to fall apart and lose in Tampa this week. If we're just talking about pure talent though, this might be the best team in the AFL in spite of its losing record.
5: Cleveland Gladiators (5-5) (LW: 5) - Now is when the season really starts to get tough for the Gladiators. Thanks to the Republican National Convention, they'll be on the road for the rest of the year starting on Saturday night in Orlando. I've got all the confidence in the world in this defense. It's the offense that really concerns me. I have to think Arvell Nelson was passed over as Cleveland's starting quarterback at the start of this season for a reason, and he really hasn't seen a lot of the toughest defenses in the league, particularly on the road. He'll have to stay poised through this, or the Glads are going to fall flat in a hurry. Still, if the Gladiators end up in that 4/5 game as seems like will be the case, an unsuspecting No. 1 seed could have a hell of a game on its hands when Cleveland comes to town in the semifinals.
6: Los Angeles KISS (4-5) (LW: 6) - What have we learned? Never, ever, ever, ever, ever line up to kick a field goal at the end of either half if you're not 100 percent certain your kicker is going to put the ball over the net. Seriously. Zero good was coming from Omarr Smith trotting Joey Cejudo onto the field for a 50-yard field goal attempt to win the game. I've got to imagine he had less than a 5% chance to make that kick, and considering the fact that Brandon Thompkins already had two kick returns for touchdowns in that game (and one in the earlier meeting of these teams in April), there had to be a better chance of Orlando scoring on the play than LA. Alas, it never came to that because the snap airmailed over the head of Danny Southwick and onto the back wall for a safety to end the game. Crazier things have happened in this league. Just not much crazier.
7: Portland Steel (1-8) (LW: 8) - Go back and look at it. You heard it here first that Portland was going to whoop up on Tampa on Friday night, and that's exactly what happened. No Portland AFL team had ever led a game by more than 33 points at any point. Ever. That includes the Steel, the Thunder and the dearly departed Forest Dragons. It was the most inspired game of the season by far for Ron James' side, and unlike Tampa, a team which never seems like it'll get its act together, I can believe the Steel going on a bit of a run here and looking like a reasonably competitive team come playoff time.
8: Tampa Bay Storm (1-8) (LW: 7) - Remember last year when the only thing standing between San Jose and an undefeated season was a shocking loss to LA? We might be looking back at that Arizona/Tampa Bay game from Week 9 and think something similar. How else can you explain the Storm going out to Portland to face a team which only had a total of 14 stops all season long on defense and being held without a TD eight times, six of which came on turnovers? How else can you explain losing to an 0-8 team by 33 points? Losing the game? Sure. It was Portland's first home game in eons, and the Storm were coming off of a short week and an emotional one at that. But to get embarrassed that badly? It's the new low of lows for a franchise which has successfully found a way to dive below Ground Zero time and time again.
ArenaFan Fan Power Poll
1. Philadelphia Soul (97.7 Power Points)
2. Orlando Predators (89.2 Power Points)
3. Arizona Rattlers (81.5 Power Points)
4. Cleveland Gladiators (66.2 Power Points)
5. Jacksonville Sharks (63.1 Power Points)
6. Los Angeles KISS (51.2 Power Points)
7. Tampa Bay Storm (39.2 Power Points)
8. Portland Steel (36.9 Power Points)