Why Success Rate is Important
First of all, shout out to the Los Angeles KISS! I knew you could do it!*
With that loss and the poor performance during the game from the Thunder (except Duane Brooks), the chasm between the top six offensive teams and the bottom six offensive teams widened a bit. You’ll also note that a couple of weeks’ worth of strong performances have elevated LA’s defense almost to not-last-place! And if the KISS offense can put up touchdowns on three consecutive drives, they’ll move out of last place on the offensive side of the board, too.
Of course, they’re playing San Jose this week, so it’s back into the abyss for them.
Jacksonville pulled off a huge win against the Predators this week, earning it a share of first place in the division two months after a horrific start made it the laughingstock of the league for a month. Now the Sharks are back and showing they’re the fourth contender in what is basically a four-team league with a couple of wild-cards in Orlando and Cleveland.
Elsewhere, things went according to plan. The “baby seals,” as ArenaFan message board star VooDooNut calls them, got clubbed by the hunters for another week. The bottom six teams are now 4-34 against the top six teams, with two of those wins coming by one point. Another required two missed field goals returned for touchdowns.
I’m adding offensive/defensive rank (yards) and offensive/defensive scoring ranks to the charts as well this week, to show how yards are basically worthless as a measure of a team’s effectiveness in the AFL and to help illustrate where some of the discrepancies are with scoring. For example, if you look at Portland’s scoring defense rank, they’re a mediocre eighth. When you look at defensive success rate, though, you’re seeing that the reason they’re ranked highly is because they play slow, not because they get stops. Similarly, Portland’s offense takes a big hit in the scoring rankings despite being the Thunder unit that is somewhat effective. The only other big discrepancy, ranking-wise, is Spokane’s defense, which isn’t as bad as the scoring rankings would have you believe. They’ve just faced a lot of drives.
Other minor notes:
San Jose joined Philadelphia, Orlando, and Las Vegas with a perfect offensive game, having scored on all their drives. The KISS were the other team to have achieved a season high performance, offensively. No one had their worst offensive week in Week 11.
Spokane, obviously, had their worst defensive game of the season. Cleveland had their best.
I’m working on a weighted system so perhaps teams will move around a bit more on the charts, but it’ll be a couple weeks before I determine whether they’re reflecting team performance properly (and to make sure I have the right numbers in all the cells).
Week 12 picks
I go against Orlando, I lose. I pick Orlando, I lose. I’m now 1-2 in games where teams split advantages on different sides of the ball. The KISS also scored the win to officially start their season, which gave me another loss. So much for “I can’t responsibly pick them.” That puts me at 13-3 on picks. That record seems okay until you realize this is the AFL and more than half the games are gimmes.
Sharks at Storm: The Sharks are one of the hottest teams in the league and have already earned their way into the No. 4 ranking, behind only teams that didn’t waste a month figuring out how to play together. The Storm are bad. And their offensive and defensive ratings have both gotten worse every week for the past four weeks. Sharks win easily.
Gladiators at VooDoo: Well, the VooDoo held the Gladiators to six fewer points in the second matchup between the two this season (from 70 to 64), so if they can continue the trend, they’ll lose by a mere 16 points this time. Looking at the offensive drive success chart, if a team from the upper half faces a team from the bottom half, it’s a near-lock the upper-half team will win. So I’ll take the Gladiators.
Rattlers at Thunder: Nick Davila is back and the Thunder just lost to the previously winless KISS. How do you think this one’s going to go? Rattlers win big.
Outlaws at Shock: Hey, a game between fairly evenly-matched squads! The Shock handled the Outlaws in Vegas (although a late Outlaws rally made it look fairly close), so why wouldn’t they be able to do it at home? Spokane wins the first potentially interesting game.
Soul at Predators: The Predators could have taken a big leap up the boards with a good win over Jacksonville; now they have another tough test against the Soul just to try to keep pace with the Sharks. Unfortunately for them, Philadelphia has a better offense and a better defense. Oh, and their offense is as good as it’s been in the last month, and their defense is the best it’s been all year. Philadelphia takes the other potentially interesting game.
KISS at SaberCats: Congrats on your first win, Los Angeles. Now don’t get any ideas about turning it into a streak. They got rewarded for beating the equivalent of Glass Joe (we’ll pretend they aren’t Glass Joe themselves) by going directly to Mike Tyson.
*Editors: Please delete the last paragraph of last week’s article.
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.