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Return of the AFL Exchange

Brian Beaudry
Monday May 6, 2013

 After a year off due to uncertainty about whether or not the league would even begin play (and a couple of games so far away from what would be considered acceptable data), the AFL Exchange is back. For those unfamiliar with the rankings, don’t worry – I changed them again since the last time, so you’re as well-versed in them as everyone else.

First we’ll start with the basic rankings and the components:
OFF+: Opponent-adjusted points per drive for the offense. Arizona scores 1.302 more points per drive than their opponents have given up to their schedules.
DEF+: Opponent-adjusted points per drive for the defense. Arizona gives up .353 fewer points per drive than their opponents average against their schedules.
TOT+: OFF+ - DEF+; since a good number for a defense will be negative and we want those teams with good defenses to look better, we have to add the opposite of the numbers.
TurnOVA: TurnOver Value Added; this allows us to factor in defensive scores and defensive scores given up. I’m not sure of their predictive value, so I include it as something to keep in mind.
EXCH+: TOT+ plus TurnOVA – scoring differential between this team and an average team per drive. Does not include special teams points.


Orlando’s entirely competent performance against Pittsburgh this week put them clear of Pittsburgh and New Orleans for the most awful team in the league title. Spokane’s back-to-back bad performances have dropped them from No. 1 to No. 2.

Poor Rob Keefe – looking at DEF+, we can see that Utah actually edges out Arizona and Jacksonville as the best defense in the league at stopping opposing offenses, thanks mainly to this week’s complete dismantling of the Spokane (formerly No.  1) offense. But opponents average more than a TD per game against the Utah offense, thanks to Tommy Grady’s love of the INT this year.

This week’s performance by Cleveland against San Jose is your new worst performance of the year! By not being able to stop a San Jose offense that averages just 3.9 points per drive, the Gladiators’ topped the previous debacles by the Predators (Week 3 vs. Philadelphia) and Power (Week 4 vs Chicago). Both of those games, of course, featured offenses that scored TWO touchdowns in each game. Congratulations, Cleveland, on managing to be worse than that.

Cleveland’s defense knows a lot about being terrible, however. They are the only team yet to score defensively this year. They are the worst defense in terms of points surrendered per drive, whether you adjust for opponents or not.

Fortunately for them, there are three units in the AFL worse than they are...and the other three are in the same conference. This Gladiators team is actually still favored by the stats to make the playoffs.
Not that you’re likely to win against Arizona anyway, but if you have to, you don’t want to travel to the desert – the Rattlers have a TOT+ of 2.083 at home as opposed to a .610 on the road.

The best team on the road? Utah, with a 1.904 TOT+ on the road compared to a -.373 at home.

Poor Preds fans – The Predators have a TOT+ of -2.709 in the Jungle. On the road they’re a mediocre -.393. In fact, among the bottom three teams in the league, Orlando is the worst in the league at home, New Orleans is the worst in the league on the road, and Pittsburgh is overall the worst team in the league.

Check out those rankings, though – there are three American Conference teams in the top five teams of the league!

Previewing Week 8:

ampa Bay at San Jose: Tampa Bay is the better team. Tampa Bay is better on the road than they are at home. San Jose is worse at home than they are on the road. San Jose is coming off of their best game of the year (by far); Tampa Bay is coming off of their two best games of the year. San Jose is decent; Tampa Bay is actually good. I’ll take the Storm.

Chicago at Cleveland: Someone, let Cleveland know that their “let opponents score on special teams because we can’t stop them with our defense” isn’t a great way to win games. At 5.1+ points per drive surrendered and 0 points scored with their D, they’d be better served onside-kicking every possession.

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia: Unless Philadelphia rehashes their performance against Cleveland, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a shot. Averages say Philadelphia should win by 20; I doubt it will be that close.

New Orleans at Iowa: On the one hand, New Orleans is the worst team in the league. On the other hand, they’re also the worst team in the league (by even more) on the road.

Utah at Arizona: IF Tommy Grady doesn’t throw an-t other three TDs to Arizona DBs and IF Utah can repeat this week’s performance, then Utah could be the first team to come into Phoenix and take down the Rattlers since they beat them last year. And I’d really love to pick this upset…but Grady also almost threw away the game against Spokane, too.

Orlando at Spokane: Orlando is a horrible team, but at least they’re less horrible on the road. I’m sure Aaron Garcia is excited to throw another five INTs to Paul Stephens…which would be about an average performance for Orlando at QB this year.

Jacksonville at San Antonio: Jacksonville wins. If not for the surprising game against Tampa Bay, San Antonio would be contending with Orlando, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans as the dregs of the league. 

Brian Beaudry has been both an intern and a Director of Communications within the AFL and occasionally provides analysis of the league and the Portland Thunder as an Oregon resident. He maintains a blog, Wrong Way Sports, and you can reach him with research or graphic design suggestions on Twitter at @BeaudryPDX.
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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