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AFL Exchange: Want to see good Arena Football? Go West, young man!

Brian Beaudry
Thursday May 23, 2013

 Not only did the West go 4-0 as a division this week, but the top three teams in the league by EXCH+ reside west of the Rockies. By TOT+, Utah cracks the Top 5 as well – all those pick-sixes keep them on the outside looking in for at least another week, though. 


Congratulations to the Arizona Rattlers, the last team in the AFL to surrender points with their offense on the field – the only other teams to not have given up any defensive points scored were the Shock and Gladiators, both of whom gave up touchdowns this weekend (in the Gladiators’ case, two TDs and a safety for good measure).

Trending up (teams have improved each of the three weeks I’ve printed stats): Orlando, San Antonio, San Jose, Utah.

Trending down: Arizona, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Spokane. Three of those teams were going to see a natural regression to the mean after hot starts. The other two…well, they’re just not good.

All points are not created equal
: This week provides an excellent example of how the simple box scores can lie. Utah and Cleveland both scored 30 points on offense (five TDs worth six points apiece). Utah scored their five touchdowns in eight drives against Iowa, who surrenders an average of 3.458 points/drive. Utah’s 3.75 points/drive gives them an OFF+ of .292 for the game (they’re that many points better than an average Iowa opponent). Cleveland, meanwhile, scored their five touchdowns in FOURTEEN drives against San Antonio. While the Talons’ D is a little bit stouter, holding opponents to 3.341 points per drive, Cleveland’s 2.142 points/drive earns them a -1.198 OFF+ for the game.

San Jose continues to be the league’s hottest team, leading the league in TOT+ for the third consecutive week and OFF+ for the second. That run has taken them from No. 9 in the league to No. 3 in two weeks! San Antonio’s defense has been equally impressive, leading the league in Weeks 8 and 9. Their move up the polls has been slowed thanks to the offense not performing similarly. The Talons now have led the league in DEF+ four out of the eight weeks they’ve played.
Week 9 Top OFF+: San Jose
Bottom OFF+: San Antonio
Week 9 Top DEF+: San Antonio
Bottom DEF+: Jacksonville
Week 9 Top TOT+: San Jose
BottomTOT+: Cleveland
Spokane at San Antonio: San Antonio is one of the hotter teams in the league, riding back-to-back defensive performances of the week as they shut down the Sharks and the Gladiators. The Shock have posted their two worst defensive weeks of the season in back-to-back games. I just can’t take San Antonio too seriously until they score more than six offensive TDs in a game, though. Shock win.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh
: If you’re looking for games to not allow anyone to broadcast, AFL, may I suggest this one? Pittsburgh posted the worst TOT+ in the league in three of the league’s first four weeks. Cleveland has posted the league’s worst TOT+ in three of the most recent four weeks. It’s tough to continue these cities’ natural rivalry in the AFL when you have the equivalent of the Browns playing the Browns. I’ll take Pittsburgh, using the “they’re not as bad as they used to be” vote of confidence.

Jacksonville at Orlando
: I hated Orlando’s complete non-effort to scrap back into their game against Philadelphia, especially after they decided to play about as well as possible against the Shock. After completing a first-down pass to Jason Geathers in the middle of the field, the Predators let the clock keep ticking away, losing 15+ seconds while saving all three timeouts for some reason. They called their first timeout with eight seconds left in the game, before throwing a TD pass to get the score within 10. Had they managed to get the two-point conversion, they’d have left themselves with perhaps 6 seconds and two timeouts to get 40 or so yards after an onside kick. Instead of doing that, take a timeout – you know you have to get the onside kick anyway. Having the the ball on your own 10, down 8 with 20-25 seconds left is a MUCH better situation than having the ball down 8 with 6 seconds left and 2 timeouts.  It ultimately didn’t matter, but to see such a lack of urgency and awareness after last week’s amazing win was bizarre. The Sharks are coming off of their two worst games of the season. The Predators have played two of their best in their last three. I really have no idea what’s up with Jacksonville’s offense, why they’re changing their personnel, or anything related to that – and since I don’t know what they’re doing, I’ll take the Predators.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay
: Well, it looks like Tampa Bay recovered nicely from another one of their inexplicable stinkbombs. Philadelphia is fairly mediocre at everything, and all things considered, Tampa Bay is simply better. Sorry, I don’t have a lot of insight on American Conference teams. I’m going with the Storm, who have outperformed the Soul in four of the past five weeks.

Chicago at New Orleans
: New Orleans nearly looked good enough to win a game last week in Spokane. The problem for them is that the game against Spokane was their best of the season…and they lost by 11. However, having Rocco and Morgan healthy at the same time means this team can finally start closing the gap between them and the rest of the league. Still betting against New Orleans until someone can give me a reason I shouldn’t.

Iowa at Arizona
: Much like I won’t bet on New Orleans until I see someone give me a good reason to, I won’t be betting against the Rattlers until I have a good reason to.

Utah at San Jose
: Here’s your game of the week (for future reference, let’s just refer to any West intra-divisional matchup as the Game of the Week). If we ranked teams by TOT+, ignoring how many points their offenses give away to defenses, both of these teams would be in the top 5. Utah’s defense has come on strong in the past four weeks, holding four consecutive teams below their average points per drive. San Jose, however, has been dominant on both sides of the ball since they acquired QB Russ Michna. It’s always better to have the team playing well on both sides of the ball, so I’ll take San Jose.

Last week:  5-2. Overall: 7-7.

Would you like to know more about why I rank teams how I do? Would you like to call me a dummy for not ranking your team high enough or for disparaging them? Would you like me to overanalyze something not even related to Arena Football? Feel free to contact me on Twitter @bgbeaudry.

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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