AFL Exchange: They Are Who We Thought They Were!
No team changed rankings in the last week of the season – the teams that were supposed to win, won, aside from Philadelphia’s bizarre collapse in San Antonio.
For the season wrap-up I added some other stats I’d been keeping track of to the usual table. The first three columns after “Team” are the per drive stats, non-opponent adjusted. Compare EXCH to EXCH+ and you’ll see the effects of the schedule. For example, Spokane’s numbers go down and Arizona’s go up because the Rattlers played a tougher slate than the Shock did. In that vein, you’ll also notice that every American Conference team has its numbers drop when adjusting for opponent except the Predators.
The AdjOFF+ and AdjDEF+ are each side of the ball’s variant of EXCH+; taking into account the points that defenses score on offenses. Not to get back to harping on Utah, but check out the Blaze’s differential to see what the adjustment can do to a team’s rankings. A middling Blaze offense turns into something nearly as bad as Cleveland’s offense when we account for all the free points they gave to opposing defenses.
On the defensive side, note how the AdjDEF+ rankings improve the scores of the other three Western teams greatly. Defenses that can score have helped Spokane and San Jose become top teams and the main threats to an Arizona repeat.
Despite playing terribly in the first half against the Power, the Shock regained the top spot in the second half by scoring on all of their drives. Arizona would have made it a virtual tie at the top (1.577 to 1.575) had it not been for the pick-six thrown by Nick Davila in the third quarter.
If you go back and look at the week-by-week stats (view only; download to sort columns) and compare them with columns, you might notice that some of the weekly winners might not be the same – the numbers continued to adjust as teams’ performance varied throughout the year.
That’s why New Orleans’ blowout loss to a Barnstormers team that has gone from “okay” to poor has now become the standard for the worst game of the AFL season, at 4.053 points lost per exchange (given the AFL average of 10.75 possessions/game, this works out to 43.6 points worse than an average team would expect to play against Iowa).
Week 19 Top OFF+: San Jose
Bottom OFF+: Utah
Week 19 Top DEF+: San Antonio
Bottom DEF+: New Orleans
Week 19 Top TOT+: San Jose
Bottom TOT+: New Orleans
2013 Top 5 TOT+ performances:
5. Chicago, Week 18 vs. Arizona (2.983, a 63-42 win)
4. Spokane, Week 18 vs. San Antonio (3.095, a 77-30 win)
3. Philadelphia, Week 3 vs. Orlando (3.098, a 61-33 win)
2. Spokane, Week 11 vs. San Jose (3.285, a 75-45 win)
1. San Jose, Week 14 vs. Arizona (3.418, a 72-42 win)
2013 Bottom 5 TOT+ performances:
5. Orlando, Week 3 vs. Philadelphia (-2.802, a 33-61 loss)
4. Cleveland, Week 11 vs. New Orleans (-2.827, a 40-69 loss)
3. New Orleans, Week 7 vs. Tampa Bay (-3.113, a 32-63 loss)
2. Pittsburgh, Week 17 vs. San Jose (-3.200, a 20-78 loss)
1. New Orleans, Week 8 vs. Iowa (-4.053, a 16-62 loss)
To commemorate the season’s end, I’m going to assign various AFL entities a quote from my favorite movie, “Wayne’s World.” This is neither bogus nor sad – after all, if the league is touting KISS at the ArenaBowl, I can celebrate a 21-year-old movie.
“Well, as you can see, it sucks as it cuts.”
“It certainly does suck.”
Dedicated to the bottom half of the league – I’d limit it to the three teams that failed to make the playoffs in the American Conference, but that’s not giving enough credit to a Tampa Bay team that went from one of the better teams in the league with Adrian McPherson to a team that might not even be favored against Cleveland or Pittsburgh.
“Turn it off, man, turn it off! It’s sucking my will to live!”
This one’s for the fans of any of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs – the only team that didn’t make the playoffs that ever really had a chance to do anything was San Antonio, and they ended the season by calling fans who already had jerseys from the stands to play QB. Kudos to those who stuck around through those 3-15 seasons or seven-game losing streaks (oh wait, that team somehow still made the playoffs. See how bad it was in the American Conference?).
“’Daily reminder: Thursday – purchase feeble cable access show and exploit it.’ Gee, I feel sorry for whoever that is.”
How about Brett Bouchy stepping out on his performance guarantee just before the end of the season? Will Predators fans get what they were promised? Even if they don’t, Bouchy still wasn’t the worst owner in the league in 2013. That honor goes to the Rush ownership – first David Staral Jr. and then the league. Thanks to the league likely being required to have a team in Chicago in order to get on national TV of any kind, the Rush continue to exist in a state of limbo – they’ve played home games an hour away from Chicago for several weeks, played at “home” in San Jose last week, and they’ll be playing their home playoff game in Spokane on Thursday. I’m not even sure who’s exploiting who or for what – the only people being exploited for sure are the fans.
“It will be mine. Oh, yes – it will be mine.”
The Arizona Rattlers went from division champs to a potential three-seed back to division champs and No. 1 overall seed in the span of basically a quarter against the Barnstormers on Saturday, ending all the debate over tiebreakers and a huge source of embarrassment for the league. Obviously this one gets re-gifted to whichever team wins the ArenaBowl.
“Benjamin is nobody’s friend. If Benjamin were an ice cream flavor, he’d be pralines and dick.”
USER FEEDBACK TIME! Message me on Twitter (@bgbeaudry) or @ArenaFan with your opinion on who this should be awarded to.
“Okay, pop quiz. Cassandra is not interested in Benjamin because... A: Chicks think he's handsome, B: has cool car, C: has lots of cash, D: has no visible scars, E: does not live with parents.”
Arizona looks a bit mortal in recent weeks, but I wanted to use this quote all season to deal with people talking about how Arizona might not win the ArenaBowl. It’s no longer a laughable idea that the ArenaBowl might go back with someone not located in Phoenix this year.
“We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
Hey, I can make fun of the American Conference again!
“Excuse me. I’d like to get by now.”
For the Spokane Shock, who spent the whole season looking up at Arizona with the rest of the league until Week 18, when they took the lead and kept it to end the season as the league’s No. 1 team.
“Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?”
“Neither did I. I was just asking.”
Probably the best awkward moment of the season goes to the teams that ditched established QBs early in the season and replaced them with other established QBs. San Jose fans certainly didn’t find Garcia attractive in the SaberCats’ green. Chicago fans didn’t find Russ Michna attractive in it, either – they’d probably feel a lot better about their chances this week with Michna at the helm. And no one really enjoyed the Kyle Rowley-coaster this year, be they Preds or Sharks fans.
After a win on March 24 win over the Predators to open the season, the VooDoo didn’t win again until June 1. On June 2, both the Predators and the VooDoo sat at 2-8, with little hope of a playoff appearance – looking like they’d just be on the side of the street watching everyone else go by. Then the teams started winning, setting up last week’s matchup for the last playoff spot, which the Predators slapped angrily out of the VooDoo’s hands as they snatched the No. 3 seed. They’ll have a third matchup against a Philadelphia team which beat them twice in the regular season.
“Let’s do the mega-happy ending.”
For all the crap that’s happened this season, we’re still primed for a pretty good playoff year – the only really weak spot is the Storm, and they’ll be gone quickly. Arizona might be the favorite in a weak league, but in order to win another championship, they’re going to have to get through a 13-win team, (probably) a 14-win team, and (probably) a 12-win team. That’s no easy task.
Throw in an ArenaBowl in a place that actually has some interest in the sport, and there are still things to make an Arena Football fan happy this year.
Later this week: Playoff preview; playoff-focused stats.
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.