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Playoff Picture Breakdown - After July 9

Andy Lopusnak
Saturday July 10, 2010


 

With playoff fever at a frenzy, I decided to bring you some early Breaking it Down tidbits in this postseason update. There were three Arena games Friday night, all with massive playoff implications and all of which Sunshine State teams won. Let's look at those three games and the playoff implications heading into the rest of Week 15.
 

WEEK 15 - FRIDAY RESULTS
ORLANDO 45, Alabama 34
Tampa Bay 56, DALLAS 34
Jacksonville 67, UTAH 56


Home team in ALL CAPS
 
FRIDAY NIGHT GAME HIGHLIGHTS
 
ORLANDO 45, ALABAMA 34
·         Orlando's defense had five sacks and three takeaways against Alabama.
·         Predators DB Rayshawn Kizer posted his league-leading tenth interception. 
·         Orlando QB Nick Hill surpassed 200 rushing yards in the season during the game. He had a season-high 42 on just three rushes. It was his fifth game with at least 20 rushing yards. However, he failed to get a rushing TD for the first time in five games.
·         The Predators cannot win the South Division because of the Storm's win on Friday night. Orlando hasn't won a Division title since 2002.
·         Alabama's Michael Johnson caught 205 of the Vipers' 267 passing yards and 18 of the team's 27 catches. His 18 is the highest in the AFL this season (FYI, the league record is 20 by Dwayne Dixon in 1987 with the Washington Commandos.
·         Vipers FB Dan Alexander recorded his first rushing score since Week 11. His four rushing yards are as many as he posted in the previous three games combined. He still leads the league in rushing attempts and touchdowns.
 
TAMPA BAY 56, DALLAS 34
·         Tampa Bay clinched its first playoff berth since 2007.
·         This marks the Storm's first ten-win regular season since 2005 and is the team's eighth double-digit win season.
·         In four of the previous nine seasons with ten or more wins, Tampa Bay advanced to the ArenaBowl (winning three times).
·         Including the team's time as the Pittsburgh Gladiators, this is the franchise's 21st playoff berth (17 times as the Storm).
·         Storm QB Brett Dietz became the third QB this year to go over the 4,000-yard mark.
·         Dietz also is now the team's single-season all-time leader in passing TDs with 90, which currently leads the league (AFL website has him at 91 which according to the Storm is wrong - his three-yard TD pass to Terrance Royal at the BattleWings in Week Seven should be a Royal rushing TD - league is aware this is incorrect but has yet to fix it).
·         It was Dietz's fifth straight 300-yard game. He has nine on the year.
·         Storm WR Hank Edwards posted his seventh straight 100-yard game (he has also caught a TD in all seven of those contests).
·         The Storm's eight-game regular season winning streak is the longest since 2003 when Tampa Bay won eight in a row in games four through eleven. That year, the Storm started 1-2 before the eight-game streak en route to winning ArenaBowl XVII. This year, the Storm started 2-3.
·         The online game report only has two touchdowns and has the final score as Tampa Bay 14-0. Did you know punts are still listed in the online box scores? I don't know what's more pathetic: the league's stats provider or its inept front-office PR staff (it's too close to tell).
 
 
JACKSONVILLE 67, UTAH 56
·         The Sharks are the first expansion team to secure a winning record (nine wins) since the New Orleans VooDoo (first incarnation) won the Southern Division with an 11-5 record.
·         Jacksonville is just the eighth expansion team to have a winning record in league history.
·         The Sharks clinched a playoff berth thanks to its win coupled with Alabama's loss (JAX holds tiebreakers over Alabama, Orlando and OKC).
·         Sharks QB Aaron Garcia posted his 1,000th combined touchdown during the win. He now has 955 passing TDs (AFL record) along with 45 rushing TDs (2nd all-time among AFL QBs).
·         Utah held its first lead in almost a month when the Blaze converted on a PAT five minutes into the game (7-6); however, the Sharks scored 48 of the next 62 points scored to put the game away.
·         The Blaze opponents have scored first in the past four games. This week, Jacksonville WR/KR Jomo Wilson returned the opening kickoff 55 yards to put the Sharks up 6-0.
·         FYI, Utah and Dallas have combined to lose 19 straight games - the two meet in the "Someone's Gotta Win Bowl" in two weeks.
·         Next week's home game against the Storm will likely decide which team will be the South Division champion and get the number-one overall playoff seed in the American Conference. Tampa Bay can wrap up everything with a win of more than four points (lost by three to the Sharks on May 7). If not, then the regular season will need to play out potentially until the final week.

CURRENT PLAYOFF STANDINGS/REMAINING SCHEDULES
After July 9 games (top four in each conference make playoffs)
 

AMERICAN CONFERENCE
TEAM
WK 15
WK 16
WK 17
WK 18
X - 1. Tampa Bay (10-3)
WON at DAL
at JAX (9-4)
BAMA (6-7)
ORL (6-7)
2. Tulsa (7-5)
B-S (3-10)
at BAMA (6-7)
AZ (8-4)
at OKC (5-7)
X - 3. Jacksonville (9-4)
WON at UTAH
TB (10-3)
at B-S (3-10)
SPO (10-2)
4. Orlando (6-7)
WON vs BAMA
at MIL (8-5)
OKC (5-7)
at TB (10-3)
5. OKC (5-7)
IOWA (6-6)
at CLE (6-7)
at ORL (6-7)
TUL (7-5)
6. Alabama (6-7)
LOST at ORL
TUL (7-5)
at TB (10-3)
UTAH (1-12)

 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE
TEAM
WK 15
WK 16
WK 17
WK 18
1. Spokane (10-2)
at CLE (6-7)
at IOWA (6-6)
CHI (9-4)
at JAX (9-4)
2. Chicago (9-4)
AZ (8-4)
DAL (1-12)
at SPO (10-2)
BYE
3. Arizona (8-4)
at CHI (9-4)
UTAH (1-12)
at TUL (7-5)
IOWA (6-6)
4. Milwaukee (8-5)
BYE
ORL (6-7)
at IOWA (6-6)
at CLE (6-7)
5. Iowa (6-6)
at OKC (5-7)
SPO (10-2)
MIL (8-5)
at AZ (8-4)
6. Cleveland (6-7)
SPO (10-2)
OKC (5-7)
BYE
MIL (8-5)

X - Clinched playoff berth
Officially Eliminated: Utah (1-12), Dallas (1-12)
 
IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY
Orlando's win over Alabama propelled the Predators into the final playoff spot if the postseason started today potentially setting up the eighth playoff War on I-4 (Preds are 4-3 and 2-2 at Tampa Bay). With Tampa Bay's win, the Storm is the first team to reach the postseason (not bad for a team that started the season 2-3). Jacksonville joined Tampa Bay a few minutes later.
 
If the playoff War on I-4 does occur, this would be the first since 2003 when the Storm beat the Preds to advance to the ArenaBowl (in Jay Gruden's last game as a player). The two have met in the ArenaBowl twice with each team hoisting the Jim Foster ArenaBowl trophy (1995 Storm, 1998 Preds - both played at Tampa Bay). In the other five times, the winner went on to play in the ArenaBowl (1992 Preds, 1993 Storm, 1999 Preds, 2000 Preds, 2003 Storm). However, this will be just the second time the two have played each other in the first round. The other was in 1999 when the top-seeded Storm became the first top-seeded team in league history to lose in the opening playoff round to the #8 seeded Preds (and to think I missed by college graduation to watch that slop fest). In that game, the Storm shutout the Preds at halftime 10-0 then was outscored 41-9 in the second half. For me that was the worst game in Storm history even more than the shellacking in ArenaBowl XII!
 
AMERICAN CONFERENCE
#4 Orlando (6-7) at #1 Tampa Bay (10-3; South Division leader)
#3 Jacksonville (9-4) at #2 Tulsa (7-5; Southwest Division leader)
 
NATIONAL CONFERENCE
#4 Milwaukee (8-5) at #1 Spokane (10-2; West Division leader)
#3 Arizona (8-4) at #2 Chicago (9-4; Midwest Division leader)
 

WEEK 15 - SATURDAY NIGHT GAMES
Spokane at Cleveland
Bossier-Shreveport at Tulsa
Arizona at Chicago
Iowa at Oklahoma City
Milwaukee has a bye this week


 
TONIGHT'S PLAYOFF SCENARIOS/IMPLICATIONS
Chicago: clinches playoff berth with a win OR an Iowa loss.
Spokane: clinches playoff berth with a win OR an Iowa loss.
Spokane: clinches playoff berth, Western Division title and first-round home game with a win AND an Arizona loss.
Tulsa: clinches playoff berth, Southwest Division title and first-round home game with a win AND an OKC loss.
OKC: moves from #5 to #4 in the American Conference playoff standings with a win (holds tiebreaker over Orlando and Alabama).
Bossier-Shreveport: eliminated with a loss.
 
NOTE: Sine the AFL is apparently too lazy to put out playoff scenarios; these aren't officially official and are changing rapidly when I get updated tiebreakers. Wish this inept league would actually do some work and help out the media & fans.


 
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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