Rankings and Predictions: The Home Stretch
The Sharks savaged Tampa Bay and moved to the grownups table this week, entering just 0.02 points behind Philadelphia in the latest weighted rankings. Arizona also saw a nice uptick, and the Shock didn’t go up much, but jumped from 12th to ninth in the rankings.
Obviously, their opponents did not fare so well. The Thunder stayed at the same level in their loss to Spokane, having played an average game for them. The KISS dropped for the first time in the rankings thanks to a horrific first half. They didn’t suck in the second half, though, which makes them a bit better than the Storm, who managed to jump from 9th into the pit of dead last by a pretty comfortable margin.
As being above 1.00 indicates that you’re beating your opponents, being below 1.00 means you’re losing. This works out pretty nicely this week, as all the teams with winning records are, in fact, above the 1.00 and everyone else is below.
About the only other thing I want to point out is the beautiful almost-symmetry of Orlando and Cleveland, dancing across mediocrity together. When Orlando goes up, Cleveland goes down. When Cleveland goes down, Orlando goes up. The two even take vacations together. They’re perfect for each other.
In other news, the “tie” between the Outlaws and the VooDoo seems appropriate as the two are also tied in weighted drive success. Sorry, everyone who still thinks the Outlaws are good because they miracled their way to a win against a depleted Rattlers team early in the season. They suck. And it’s going to be a travesty if they get a playoff spot on the strength of a game they didn’t play. But hey, let’s put the weakest team in the conference in the playoffs!
Arizona at San Jose: San Jose is better and has a history of winning the irrelevant regular-season matchups between these two teams. However, given Arizona’s love of hitting quarterbacks, sometimes even before the end of a play, will the SaberCats attempt to protect starter Erik Meyer by keeping him off the field? Their offensive line was terrible heading into the bye. I’ll guess Arizona wins and makes the last week of the season semi-intriguing, 56-41.
Jacksonville at Orlando: Holy crap, it’s consecutive games between teams that are above average! The Sharks were flirting with being on the same level as the Predators, but their destruction of the Storm put them within range of Philly. The Sharks can also take over the division lead and get themselves set up for a home playoff game by capturing the rubber game of this set against the Preds. Sorry, Orlando (then again, I get most of your games wrong): Jacksonville, 63-51.
Spokane at Cleveland: The Shock could clinch the three seed with a win and a Vegas loss, rendering Week 20 moot for them. The Gladiators can jump into the playoffs as well with a win, since they have a better conference record than Tampa (oh yeah, and Tampa is now the worst team in the league, so don’t put money on them to win anything).
Los Angeles at Tampa Bay: Hey, more playoff implications! The KISS have virtually no shot at the playoffs, as Spokane has to beat Vegas, Portland has to beat Vegas and lose to Arizona, and the KISS have to beat Tampa on a short-week cross-country trip and then beat the SaberCats. They can beat the Storm because the Storm have devolved into such a mess that it’s difficult to imagine them having won six games. San Jose? Not so easy. But that doesn’t matter this week, as Danny Southwick will get his second consecutive win in Tampa, 62-42.
Las Vegas at Portland: More conspiracy time! If Vegas wins this game, then the league doesn’t have to worry about the ridiculous tie coming back to haunt them. On the other hand, they’ll be paying for Vegas to go get destroyed by San Jose (possibly Arizona, I guess) in the playoffs, which isn’t good for anyone, unless we really think that a playoff berth makes the Outlaws worth buying. The Thunder are the better team in the rankings and they have Duane Brooks going for his tenth kickoff return for a TD this week (although only seven so far have counted), which don’t get factored into the rankings. At some point Portland’s close losses are going to turn into wins. Why not against a bad team? Thunder, 54-45.
New Orleans at Philadelphia: Maybe if Philadelphia decides to take a second week in a row off for fun (and the league doesn’t decide to award a tie for not playing)? If the potential sale of the VooDoo hinges on them finishing the season with three consecutive wins in games they play? Otherwise, it’s Philly, 67-42.