The Exchange: Top 5 remain the same, Iowa sinks
I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day and took the time to remember those who have given their lives so that we might not have to.
Before I get into the drive statistics, here are some non-advanced stats of interest:
Both Chicago (542) and Iowa (464) have surrendered exactly as many points as they’ve scored.
San Antonio has zero wins against the National Conference, having earned all four of their wins in inter-conference action. New Orleans is also 0-5 against the National Conference, while Pittsburgh is 0-3. No one is winless against the American Conference.
The four teams in the Western Division have more wins this season (27) than the seven teams in the American Conference (26).
Please start letting the competent teams in the playoffs, league management. If current trends hold, the Blaze are going to finish the season with potentially the fifth-best record in the league and will not make the playoffs, while a team that may not win a third of its games gets a chance at a title.
The top five remain in the same place for now, with Arizona pushing its lead on everyone else to new heights. There’s a shakeup toward the middle as Iowa seemed to get lost out in the desert, performing even worse than the Rattlers’ typical opponent does…and Rattlers’ opponents typically don’t do well against them at all.
In fact, Utah’s performance over the past several weeks has improved so much that they’re the third-best team in the league from scrimmage until we adjust for points given away to defenses by offenses.
In another interesting anomaly this week, the entire Midwest Division has a TOT+ below zero, meaning that their offenses and defenses are subpar as far as getting stops on defense and not getting stopped on offense…but because their defenses occasionally score points and their offenses don’t directly give up points, they all have positive TurnOVA ratings. And they’re the only three teams for which this is the case.
Week 10 top/bottom rankings:
Week 10 Top OFF+: Spokane
Bottom OFF+: Iowa
Week 10 Top DEF+: Arizona
Bottom DEF+: New Orleans
Week 10 Top TOT+: Arizona
Bottom TOT+: New Orleans
Arizona ended San Jose’s three-week roll as the top TOT+ team in the league for the week by crushing the Barnstormers. But Arizona’s dominance throughout the season worked in the Barnstormers’ favor in keeping them out of the cellar, as New Orleans also got eviscerated by a wholly mediocre Chicago squad.
Here’s how dominant Arizona has been: The difference between them and No. 2 Spokane is greater than the difference between Spokane and No. 10 Iowa.
Chicago at Orlando: Orlando’s settling into a “we’re better than we were but we’re still not a contender” identity. Chicago’s cool with being on the road, since that makes their homelessness less awkward. I still think the Predators make the playoffs, though.
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville: The Battle of Bernard Morris! While I wouldn’t trust Jacksonville against a good team, they’re playing the Power, so they have a pretty good shot at this, especially at home. Sharks.
Arizona at Philadelphia: Nice try, Philly, but you’re not more than a mediocre team. Get back to .500 where you belong. Still not dumb enough to pick anyone against the Rattlers.
Cleveland at New Orleans: Just as I was thinking that Cleveland and Pittsburgh’s game last week was a horrible matchup that should receive the “Don’t show this anywhere” treatment the Rush are getting, this week comes along...whoops, I’m not supposed to mention how much games suck. Let’s try this again: “Can the Gladiators hold on to their playoff hopes against the VooDoo? Or will the VooDoo double their win total and put themselves within striking distance of a playoff seed of their own?” Ugh. I said I was going to pick against New Orleans until I’m given reason I should do otherwise, so I’ll stick with that. I’ll take Cleveland.
Tampa Bay at Iowa: Both of these teams might like a mulligan after last week’s performances. Only one gets to rebound with a win. This is a sneaky-good matchup, as Iowa’s home TOT+ is .350 and Tampa Bay’s road TOT+ is .372. I’m going to go for the National Conference clean sweep this week and take Iowa as my upset of the week.
San Jose at Spokane: Oh look, the marquee matchup for the week is another Western Division matchup. They’re actually going to put this one on CBS Sports Network, too, meaning that viewers will see a game between two of the better teams in the league in one of the best environments in the league. It’s a legitimate showcase game! I feel like Paul Stephens probably doesn’t get five interceptions in this game, but I’m still going to take the Shock, since the numbers say it’s justifiable and I’m a homer.
Utah at San Antonio: This matchup features two of the top three defenses in the league (Arizona is the other). The Blaze offense, however, is much better than what the Talons are running out there and calling an offense. Throw in San Antonio’s 1-4 home record and I feel pretty good about the Blaze getting back up to .500.
Last week: 5-2. Overall: 12-9
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.