Weighing Recent Events…
Last week was upset week, as Orlando beat Philadelphia, Tampa Bay beat Jacksonville, and oh yeah, Los Angeles somehow toppled San Jose.
Because none of this data is opponent-adjusted, however (and the fact that San Jose was far outperforming every other team), the performance wasn’t enough to knock the SaberCats off their offensive and defensive perches. The KISS, however, did move into not-last defensively when the Thunder gave up touchdowns on every possession to the Rattlers, then solidified it by making several stops against San Jose.
Anyone who’s been watching over the past few weeks has seen that Los Angeles, despite these numbers, can no longer really be considered the worst team in the league. They nearly beat Jacksonville before starting on this two-game win streak, as well. I attempted to do a simple weighted system to try to more accurately represent team strength moving forward, and I think it’s doing a better job than the simple success rates are of telling how the KISS have come along since their Week 9 bye.
Weighted Rates (Sorted by Overall)
LA has actually moved up into ninth and, given that they started in the weighted rankings four weeks ago at 0.67, Vegas and Tampa Bay are in their sights. They’re still not going to be a consistent threat to the league’s top teams in all likelihood, but they’re emerging as a potential party-spoiler in the National Conference. It’s also pretty sad that they’re this close to becoming the third-best team in the conference after an 0-9 start.
Unfortunately for them, they’ll celebrate their win over the No. 1 team in the league by playing the No. 3 and No. 2 teams, respectively, heading into the league’s July 4 Weekend Bye.
When you’re picking the favorites and an upset week happens, you’re gonna have a bad time. And that happened to me last week, as I went 2-4, including an 0-2 record in those “one team is better at offense, the other is better at defense” matchups (pushing my record in picking THOSE games to 1-4 on the season). I’m now a mere 15-7 since I started picking, so please don’t bet significant amounts of money on anything I say actually happening.
Teams ranked higher in both offense and defense are still 46-9 on the season so far, so it’s not
Enjoy your week off, Jacksonville and New Orleans. You’ll have another one in two weeks.
Tampa Bay at Cleveland: Our closest matchup of the week and only split game. Tampa Bay surprised me by hanging 56 on Jacksonville in the first half of last week’s game. They scored a more reasonable (for them) seven points in the second half, though, which cools any thought of an upset pick in my mind. I do, however, want to know why the Sharks have so much trouble with the Storm. I’ll take the Gladiators, 52-39.
Orlando at Arizona: San Jose’s loss to Los Angeles makes Rattlers fans very excited. A month or so ago, it seemed like the Rattlers were just going to have to try to get by without Nick Davila and were basically stuck in the second seed, as even a win in their second game against the SaberCats wouldn’t get them home-field advantage for their inevitable National Conference Championship matchup. Now, however, Davila has returned, the offense looks lethal, and Los Angeles opened up an opportunity for them to snatch home-field advantage away from the ‘Cats. I doubt they’re going to allow this to slip through their fingers. Orlando, meanwhile, came up with a big win over Philadelphia, but now they’re going cross-country and playing a better team. And, after gaining an advantage in the division race over Orlando, it only seems fitting for this season that they would immediately lose it. Arizona wins, 70-58.
Philadelphia at Los Angeles: A week ago, this would get dismissed with a “Philadelphia by 30.” Now that LA’s defense has gone from little more than a speed bump to a brick wall, there’s a little bit of intrigue here. Philadelphia is also making the cross-country journey, and LA is kicking off a four-game homestand. I’m still going to take Philadelphia because LA can’t do it again, can they? Philadelphia, 59-45.
San Jose at Las Vegas: Adding injury to insult, the SaberCats may have lost quarterback Erik Meyer in overtime of the loss to the KISS. Fortunately for them, they have a great backup in Nathan Stanley and the loss will likely force them to tighten up on their often lackadaisical play over the past several weeks. Las Vegas came off a huge win against Spokane to put them a game up on everyone else in the race for the third playoff spot, but someone from the next game probably joins them this week. SaberCats, 65-42.
Spokane at Portland: Both teams are coming off of losses that hurt for different reasons. The Shock lost to the Outlaws, a team they needed to beat for playoff positioning and confidence purposes. The Thunder were beaten in every facet of the game by the Rattlers (with some referee assistance). This one’s another close matchup that could go either way. The good thing for Spokane is that there won’t be any mascots getting in the way of their receivers in this game. Let’s pretend that will be the difference. Spokane wins, 46-43.
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.