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Breaking it Down - 2008 Week 13

Andy Lopusnak
Wednesday May 28, 2008


Two weeks ago, I said it was Bizzaro World AFL after Philadelphia lost two straight after starting 9-0 and Utah won two in a row after starting 0-9. Apparently, I was wrong. Unlucky Week 13 was by far the most bizarre for the AFL in a long, long time (or at least in two weeks). The two worst teams, record wise, (Kansas City and Utah) in the league worst conference beat the two best teams from each conference (Philadelphia and Chicago). On top of that, the National Conference’s only team with a losing record (Columbus, which represented the conference in last season’s ArenaBowl) also won on the weekend.  In addition, an eight-win team clinched a playoff berth, while two teams with ten wins could potentially not even qualify. No wonder the number 13 is so unlucky. Without further adieu, here’s the weird, the wacky and the wonderful from Week 13 in the latest edition of Breaking it Down.
 
WEEK 13 RESULTS
Kansas City 54, PHILADELPHIA 47
Dallas 67, ORLANDO 41
TAMPA BAY 58, Cleveland 48
COLUMBUS 43, New York 41
UTAH 51, Chicago 48
ARIZONA 52, Grand Rapids 48
SAN JOSE 59, Colorado 42
Georgia 40, NEW ORLEANS 29

BYE: Los Angeles
 
WEEK 13’S EIGHT GAMES FEATURED:
  • Four touchdowns scored on returns: fumble (1), interception (1), missed field goal return (1) and net recovery (1).
  • Two safeties (Dallas had back-to-back safeties in the third quarter of its win over Orlando).
  • Two players had 200 or more all-purpose yards (both from the same game).
  • Just one quarterback had 300 or more yards passing (a season low).
  • Eleven players had 100 or more yards receiving.
THREE WORST WIN AGAINST THREE OF THE BEST
Utah, Kansas City and Columbus had a combined six wins entering Week 13 and played opponents with at least six wins each. After the smoke cleared, the “weaker” teams all won in the final minute of each contest. Utah used an 18-yard Steve Videtich field goal as time expired to beat the American Conference’s top team, Chicago, 51-48. Kansas City beat the National Conference’s top team, Philadelphia, 54-47 when Soul FB/LB Clifton Smith fumbled at the goal line. Columbus, the only National Conference team with a losing record, secured a 43-41 win over New York when the team recovered a Dragons on-side kick with 35 seconds left and ran out the clock.
 
LOSING ITS SOUL
After becoming just the fourth team in league history to start 9-0, the Philadelphia Soul has dropped three of its last four contests. The last two have been by a combined eight points and were decided on the final play. Of the three previous teams to start 9-0 or better, all appeared in the ArenaBowl, but none lost more than a single game in the regular season.
 
WHERE THERE’S A WILL
Dallas WR/DB Will Pettis, who missed last week’s loss to Arizona with a sore back, fought through pain to record four touchdowns, four different ways in the Desperados’ 67-41 win at Orlando. The 2007 AFL Ironman of the Year had a rushing, receiving, passing and even an interception return for a touchdown in the win. He finished with five catches for 41 yards and a receiving TD; two rushes for three yards with a rushing TD, one-for-one passing with a three-yard score; and a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown. Additionally, he added 5.0 tackles and a pass breakup.
 
HE’S BACK!
Last season, Kansas City linebacker Chris Avery didn’t see any action on the field because of a preseason ACL injury. Thursday night the Philadelphia Soul wished it was 2007. In just the first quarter alone Avery posted three solo special teams tackles (he led the AFL in this category in 2005 with Grand Rapids), forced the game’s only turnover (which resulted in a Brigade touchdown) and had the game’s lone sack. Overall, Avery finished with 6.5 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, a sack and forced a fumble in the Brigade’s shocking 54-47 win over Philadelphia. The two-time All-Ironman Teamer was not named Defensive Player of the Game in lieu of Philadelphia’s Clifton Smith, who fumbled on the goal line as time expired that could have won or tied the game (depending on the extra point or two-point conversion attempt). Prior to the regular season, I wrote a feature about Avery and his journey back to the field. Click here to read it.
 
BLAZING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS
The Utah Blaze became the first team in league history to have three players with at least 100 receptions when J.J. McKelvey caught nine balls in the team’s 51-48 win over Chicago. Additionally, McKelvey and teammates Aaron Boone and Huey Whittaker also have over 1,000 yards receiving.
 
HOT & COLD
All 17 AFL teams are in the midst of either hot or cold streaks as the season closes out. Nine of these are hot streaks, while eight are cold. With ten of the twelve playoff spots still unclaimed, here’s a look at each of these hot/cold streaks, which might give everyone an idea who may or may not make it into the postseason.
 
HOT
 
COLD
TEAM
STREAK
 
TEAM
STREAK
Arizona
Won last 2
 
Colorado
Lost 5 of last 6
Cleveland
Won 3 of 4
 
Columbus
Lost 6 of last 7
Chicago
Won 5 of last 6
 
Grand Rapids
Lost 7 of last 8
Dallas
Won 3 of last 4
 
Los Angeles
Lost 8 of last 10
Georgia
Won last 4
 
New Orleans
Lost last 3
Kansas City
Won 3 of last 3
 
New York
Lost last 2
San Jose
Won 5 of last 6
 
Orlando
Lost 3 of last 5
Tampa Bay
Won 4 of last 5
 
Philadelphia
Lost 3 of last 4
Utah
Won 3 of last 4
 
 
 
 
PLAYOFFS? DON'T TALK ABOUT PLAYOFFS. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? PLAYOFFS?!?
Eleven of the 17 teams have a non-losing record after 13 weeks (the other four, cannot record 8-8 at all). If all eleven do end up with at least an 8-8 record, it would be the fourth straight season with eleven teams ending the season with a .500 record or better. The league record is twelve teams with .500 records or better (2001, 2003 and 2004). Assuming that Los Angeles and Colorado loss one game (and all National Conference playoff teams are at least 8-8, which is highly likely), there will be three teams with losing records making the playoffs. This would tie the league all-time high for teams with losing records making the playoffs (1994). Four of the last five teams that made the playoffs with a losing record won at least a game, including the 7-9 Chicago Rush winning the ArenaBowl in 2006 and the 7-9 Columbus Destroyers losing last season’s ArenaBowl. Overall, there have been 15 teams with losing records making the playoffs. From 1987-94, there were ten. And then none from 1995-99 and five since 2000. All 15 previous teams were just one game from having a .500 record. Likely all three teams this season will be at least two games under .500. The chances are very likely that a National Conference team (or two, or maybe even three) will have a .500 record or better and not make the playoffs. In league history, there have been just seven teams with at least a .500 record or better have not made the playoffs. Wouldn't Jim Mora be proud?
 
WEEKLY PLAYOFF UPDATE
San Jose became just the second team to clinch a playoff berth this season. Philadelphia and Dallas had a chance to do the same, but did not. Each is likely to clinch a playoff berth this weekend. Arizona can clinch a playoff berth with a win in Week 14, as can Dallas and Philadelphia. With a loss, Columbus will be the first team mathematically eliminated. The Destroyers will be the first ArenaBowl runner-up to not make the playoffs since 2005 when the Arizona Rattlers went 7-9 after appearing in the previous three ArenaBowls. Additionally, the 1991 Dallas Texans (4-6) did not make the playoffs after losing in 1990. As did the 1998 Iowa Barnstormers (5-9) and the 2002 Georgia Force (6-8), which was the Nashville Kats in 2001 when they lost to Grand Rapids in ArenaBowl XV.
 
NATIONAL CONFERENCE
 
AMERICAN CONFERENCE
SEED
TEAM
RECORD
 
SEED
TEAM
RECORD
1
Dallas
10-2
 
1
Chicago – X
9-2
2
Orlando
8-5
 
2
San Jose – Y
8-5
3
Philadelphia
10-3
 
3
Arizona
6-6
4
Cleveland
7-5
 
4
Colorado
4-8
5
Georgia
7-5
 
5
Los Angeles
4-8
6
New Orleans
7-5
 
6
Grand Rapids
3-9
X = won division and first-round bye
Y = clinched playoff berth
 
WEEK 13’S TOP STATISTICAL PREFORMANCES
 
100-YARD RECEIVERS
PLAYER, TEAM
RECEIVING YARDS
RECEPTIONS
TOUCHDOWNS
Damian Harrell, CHI
147
10
2
Jason Willis, NY
135
13
2
Rodney Wright, SJ
133
12
2
Chris Jackson, PHI
130
11
3
Chad Owens, COL
128
11
1
Chris Johnson, GR
121
4
4
C.J. Johnson, CMB
112
9
2
Otis Amey, CLE
106
8
2
James Jordan, NO
103
11
0
Todd Devoe, AZ
102
7
0
Anthony Armstrong, DAL
100
8
2
 
300-YARD PASSERS
PLAYER, TEAM
PASSING YARDS
PASS TDs
INTERCEPTIONS
John Dutton, COL
308
6
2
 
200 YARDS OR MORE ALL-PURPOSE
PLAYER, TEAM
ALL-PURPOSE
TOTAL TDs
Chad Owens, COL
286
1
Rodney Wright, SJ
253
2
 
DEFENSIVE LEADERS
PLAYER, TEAM
TACKLES
INT
SACKS
FF
FR
PBU
DEF TD
Chris Avery, KC
6.5
0
1.0
1
0
0
0
Will Pettis, DAL
5.0
1
0.0
0
0
1
1
Chris McKenzie, AZ
1.5
0
0.0
0
0
6
0
Antonio Malone, COL
5.0
1
0.0
1
1
1
0
Marquis Floyd, SJ
7.0
1
0.0
0
0
2
0
Stephen Cason, GEO
13.0
0
0.0
0
0
1
0
 
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
San Jose QB Mark Grieb tossed eight touchdowns in the SaberCats’ 59-42 win over Colorado. He finished 23-of-30 (76.7%) for 271 yards with an interception in the win. He has tossed 25 touchdowns and just three interceptions in the last three games. Grieb is likely to go over the 4,000-yard mark for the fifth straight season this weekend at Los Angeles (AFL record).
 
HONORABLE MENTION: Georgia QB Chris Greisen completed 86.7% of his passes (26-of-30) for 266 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in the Force’s 40-29 win over New Orleans. He also recorded a one-yard rushing touchdown in the win.
 
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kansas City linebacker Chris Avery posted 6.5 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, a sack and forced a fumble in the Brigade’s shocking 54-47 win over Philadelphia. Avery recorded the game’s only sack and forced the game’s only fumble, which Denario Smalls scooped up for a touchdown.
 
HONORABLE MENTION: San Jose defensive back Marquis Floyd registered 7.0 stops, two pass breakups and an interception in the SaberCats’ 59-42 win over Colorado.
 
IRONMAN OF THE WEEK
Dallas WR/DB Will Pettis scored four touchdowns in four different ways (passing, rushing, receiving and on an interception return) in the Desperados’ 67-41 win over Orlando. He finished with five catches for 41 yards and a receiving TD; two rushes for three yards with a rushing TD, one-for-one passing with a three-yard score; and a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown. Additionally, he added 5.0 tackles and a pass breakup.
 
HONORABLE MENTION: Tampa Bay WR/LB Lawrence Samuels caught nine passes for 72 yards and posted five solo tackles in the Storm’s 58-48 win over Cleveland.


 
Andy Lopusnak is an 11-year AFL front office veteran, spending time with the Tampa Bay Storm, San Diego Riptide and Grand Rapids Rampage. He works as a statistician for NFL and college sports for CBS Sports and is a freelance photographer. Lopusnak received two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of South Florida and has been a fan of ArenaBall since its inception.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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