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AFL Exchange: In Which The Good Teams Take A Week Off

Brian Beaudry
Tuesday June 25, 2013

What a week it was! We had a one-point game, a two-point game, and a three-point game. Arizona, the league leader in pretty much everything, got its butt handed to itself in San Jose by a SaberCats squad searching for that three seed in the National Conference. 

In fact, the Rattlers had their first negative TOT+ week of the season against the SaberCats, performing 1.7 points per possession worse than the average San Jose opponent. San Jose, meanwhile, outperformed the average Arizona opponent by more than 3.4 points per possession, setting the standard as the new best one-week performance of the season (breaking the record set a month ago by Spokane when they beat…San Jose!).
In the rankings, the No. 3 team dropped for a third consecutive week, though this time it was due to the superlative performance of the No. 4 team rather than a loss by the Soul. For the most part, the ratings didn’t change, as teams that were supposed to win, won…unless they were Arizona.

This week sees new highs and lows since I started tracking the numbers for several teams.

The best they’ve ever been: New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Spokane.

The worst they’ve ever been: Arizona, Jacksonville, Utah.

The middle exploded this week, as the 3-9 teams tried to separate themselves from one another. With Spokane winning by 39 and Arizona losing by 30, the gap at the top of the standings has largely disappeared as well.

I think this graph also does a good job of showing that the league’s efforts to put Philadelphia at No. 2 for some reason (to prop up the American Conference and especially eastern teams?) are extremely misguided. Philadelphia has managed to work its way up to fourth from tenth in just five weeks, but they can’t be ranked above Spokane or San Jose by any definition of power (if you take the whole season into account, Spokane is far better. If you take recent performance, San Jose just came off the best win of the year).
Week 14 Top OFF+: San Jose
Bottom OFF+: Jacksonville
Week 14 Top DEF+: San Jose
Bottom DEF+: Arizona
Week 14 Top TOT+: San Jose (season-high)
Bottom TOT+: Arizona
New Orleans at Pittsburgh: These two teams are about as close as close can be – the .027 separating them per EXCH+ works out to about a third of a point per game difference against an average team. New Orleans is far worse on the road than they are at home. Pittsburgh is far worse at home than they are on the road. I resent having to choose one of these teams, but I’ll go with New Orleans. After all, they’ve moved up for four consecutive weeks – why not make it a fifth in the place known for Bourbon Street?

Philadelphia at Cleveland
: The last time these two teams played, Cleveland had its best outing of the season and Philadelphia was horrific. Much like they righted the ship against Pittsburgh in the rematch, I expect the Soul to fix themselves and beat a Cleveland team that has gotten much worse since that first matchup (at which point they were simply not good).

Orlando at Jacksonville
: I feel like CBS Sports isn’t going to heavily market the fact that both QBs in this one failed so much with the teams they started the season with that they were released and picked up by their current ones. Will Rowley get “revenge” against a team that justifiably dropped him earlier in the season? As my Magic 8-ball might say, “Signs point to no.” Jacksonville has dropped their EXCH+ nearly a full point since I started these rankings – the Predators are in a good position to flush the fish and pull to within striking distance of the weakening Storm for the No. 3 seed in the American Conference.

San Antonio at Iowa
: Iowa struggles against Cleveland, defeats San Jose, then gets killed by Philly. They’re the new “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” team now that the Soul seem to have figured out that they’re better than the bad teams and are willing to play accordingly. San Antonio’s much better on the road than at home. Iowa’s much better at home than on the road! Dammit, schedulers, help me out here! I’m going to pick Iowa because they’re higher ranked and I assume it’s for a reason.

San Jose at Utah
: Utah’s season is over. San Jose’s isn’t. The SaberCats can feel pretty comfortable that they’re going to be paid on time. The Blaze looked like a team that was done last week and they’re facing another good team this week. Throw in the fact that even after last week’s shellacking in Spokane, they’re still a worse team at home than they are on the road, and there’s not much reason to believe the Blaze can win this game. The SaberCats become the third team in the Western Division to hit 10 wins this season…and if Jacksonville loses as predicted, then the rest of the league won’t have a 10-win team for at least two weeks. Yikes.

Last week: 5-2 Season total: 29-20

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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