AFL Power Rankings through Week 16
Remember last week when I said that a 17-point loss was a good as a win for the Predators? They sure celebrated like that when Mark Lewis' field goal went through the uprights with just 0:05 left to play last Monday night. Kevin Guy didn't really like it all that much, but Orlando did what it had to do to set itself up for its Week 18 showdown with Philly for the conference title. It'll go down as a loss for the Predators, but let's face the facts here. That loss was as good as a win.
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1: Arizona Rattlers (12-3) (LW: 1) - Arizona proved its point on Monday night. Even if the ArenaBowl is to be held in Orlando, the Rattlers are going to be the favorites and the overwhelming ones at that. And they absolutely should be. They've got an outside shot of breaking the record for the most points per game scored in league history, and Nick Davila is going to end up finishing with the second most touchdown passes in a 16-game season as well. This team is awfully scary, and the fact that the league made the change to its playoff format last week means both Philly and Orlando are going to be avoided until the ArenaBowl. The Rattlers are surely headed to the title game now.
2: Philadelphia Soul (12-3) (LW: 2) - The Soul had one of these mind-boggling games on Saturday in Tampa. They weren't sharp offensively, and they weren't figuring out how to slow down Adam Kennedy, of all people. However, Philly did get out of the Sunshine State with a win, and that's all it could ask for. That is to say, that's all the team could ask for until Week 18 when it returns to Florida for the showdown of the season with Orlando.
3: Orlando Predators (12-3) (LW: 3) - The Predators deserved to celebrate their 17-point loss in Arizona, but the fact of the matter is that they weren't anywhere near good enough to beat the Rattlers, and that's a big problem going forward. The Preds have now laid two eggs in three tries against Arizona and Philadelphia, and now that they have to go through both teams to win the ArenaBowl, it's seeming more and more unlikely that this will end up being the year of the third championship in franchise history.
4: Cleveland Gladiators (7-8) (LW: 4) - We just love the way the Gladiators fight every time they're on the field. They were dead against LA in the fourth quarter. They went over 20 minutes of game time without scoring a single point, and they were behind by three scores, but they continued to fight, recovering a pair of onside kicks and coming up a missed two-point conversion away from tying the game with a minute to go. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it was beaten though, and now it faces the prospects of having to win three road games if it wants to capture the ArenaBowl unless miracles happen. This week's game in Phoenix is a good litmus test for where the club truly is heading into the postseason.
5: Los Angeles KISS (7-7) (LW: 6) - The KISS have had a history of trying to more or less muck games up a bit to slow things down, but Nathan Stanley has been on point since he's returned from injury, leading his team to TDs on 15 out of 17 drives. That type of percentage would be good enough to beat any team in the league, including Arizona, a team it very well could face off with in the second round of the playoffs. The KISS are very likely to wrap up a home playoff game this week – that is to say if they can find a home to host it in since the Honda Center reportedly is all booked up for the weekend in the playoffs.
6: Jacksonville Sharks (5-9) (LW: 5) - I had plenty to say about the Sharks canning Les Moss this week. I don't blame them at all for doing so, but I still think they've got an organizational problem that isn't being worked out over the course of the next few weeks. That said, new coach Bob Landsee has one job and one job only. Beat Orlando/Philly in a couple weeks. These next two weeks are merely a feeling out process for the rest of the team with their new boss, and it'll be interesting to see how the club responds to the change at head coach after such a disappointing loss in Portland.
7: Portland Steel (2-12) (LW: 7) - The minnows of the AFL rose up last weekend and had a big day on Saturday. Portland had the bigger of the two days, coming up with a big win at home against Jacksonville. Is that enough to make us think the Steel have a real shot in a couple weeks against Arizona in the opening round of the playoffs? Not so much. But after scoring on every possession last week against Jacksonville, Portland does have a real shot to extend its winning streak to two games this week against Tampa Bay.
8: Tampa Bay Storm (1-13) (LW: 8) - Who would've thought the first coach in the state of Florida to lose his job wouldn't be Lawrence Samuels? Samuels, of course, is almost surely on his way out in three weeks, and it wouldn't be surprising if Moss replaced him. The Storm did play with some heart against the Soul, but they still do some really dumb things on the field and don't do enough of the little things right to make a difference at this level. With Jason Boltus dealing with a back injury, the Storm really have no choice but to give the ball back to Adam Kennedy for the end of the regular season, but if he plays like he did against Philly, the hosts will have a shot against Portland this week.
ArenaFan Fan Power Poll
1. Arizona Rattlers (95.0 Power Points)
2. Orlando Predators (88.8 Power Points)
3. Philadelphia Soul (86.2 Power Points)
4. Cleveland Gladiators (70.0 Power Points)
T-5. Los Angeles KISS (55.0 Power Points)
T-5. Jacksonville Sharks (55.0 Power Points)
T-7. Portland Steel (37.5 Power Points)
T-7. Tampa Bay Storm (37.5 Power Points)
Note: The ArenaFan Power Rankings will return with a year-end edition after Week 18's games are complete. While the eight teams are left jockeying for position in the playoffs, Adam is relaxing on a cruise ship in Alaska.