Gladiators down Soul on final play, remain No. 1 in AFL ArenaFan Power Rankings
Week 1 of AFL playoff action included Cleveland hitting a field goal as time ran out to beat Philadelphia and remain at the top of this week’s ArenaFan AFL Power Rankings, and Orlando snapping Pittsburgh’s 11-game winning streak to eliminate the hottest team in the league.
Power Rankings: Week 21 Playoff Edition
1. Cleveland Gladiators (18-1) (LW: W vs. PHL 39-37) – Cleveland hosted Philadelphia in a Week 1 playoff matchup that came down to the final play of the game. Aaron Pettrey was good on a 36-yard field-goal as time ran out to send the Gladiators to the American Conference Championship on Sunday. Adding to Philly’s frustration, the last second loss was the third of the season against the Gladiators for the Soul. Cleveland will host Orlando in the first game of the day Sunday, August 10. The Predators are coming off back-to-back home wins against Arizona (Wk 20) and Pittsburgh, and appear ready to threaten the Cleveland march to the title game.
2. Arizona Rattlers (16-3) (LW: W vs. PO 52-48) – After opening the season with a record 14 straight wins, Arizona lost three of their final four regular season games to stagger into the postseason tournament, but were home against a Portland team that had a 5-13 regular season mark so felt confident going into the opening round of the playoffs. The Thunder battled the Rattlers, and tthe game remained undecided until the final seconds. With five ticks of the clock left in the game and Arizona holding a 52-48 lead, Portland quarterback Kyle Rowley was picked off at the goal line by Marquis Floyd to lock up the win for Arizona, sending the Rattlers to their fourth consecutive National Conference Championship. Arizona will be home against San Jose in the Sunday night game.
3. San Jose SaberCats (14-5) (LW: W vs. SPO 55-28) – San Jose hosted Spokane and had the widest victory margin of the four teams that advanced to the Conference Championships, downing the Shock by 27 points, 55-28. The game had been projected to be a tight contest, but the SaberCats dominated in all areas, leading by as much as 38 before the Shock scored two touchdowns in the final four and a half minutes of play to get to 28. San Jose will travel to Arizona to meet the Rattlers in the National Conference title game.
4. Orlando Predators (12-7) (LW: W vs. PGH 56-48) – Orlando followed a Week 20 win over Arizona with first-round playoff victory over Pittsburgh, 56-48, and are playing better than any of the teams that will be playing Sunday. The win snapped the Power 11-game win streak. While the last two wins have been in front of the home fans, the Predators will have to go on the road this week to play Cleveland as the two division champions battle it out for the conference title and a trip to the ArenaBowl. This should be a back and forth contest that won’t be decided until the final seconds. While the Gladiators have had the better overall season, the Predators have caught fire at the right time. Orlando and Cleveland have not played this season but it is of note that the Preds defeated Pittsburgh, the team that gave Cleveland their only loss of the season, to get to the conference finals.
ELIMINATED IN FIRST ROUND
5. Pittsburgh Power (15-4) (LW: L @ ORL 56-48) – Pittsburgh had their streak of 11 straight wins ended and were eliminated from the playoffs by Orlando.
6. Philadelphia Soul (9-10) (LW: L @ CLV 39-37) – Philadelphia concluded an up and down season with solid effort in a two-point loss to Cleveland.
7. Spokane Shock (11-8) (LW: L @ SJ 55-28) – Spokane never challenged San Jose in a disappointing end to the Shock season. The 28-points scored equaled the fewest points scored in a game by Spokane in their five-year AFL history.
10. Portland Thunder (5-14) (LW: L @ AZ 52-48) – Despite a 5-13 record, Portland came within inches of defeating Arizona (see above) and head to the offseason with a solid foundation for next year.
DID NOT QUALIFY FOR PLAYOFFS
8. Tampa Bay Storm (8-10)
9. Jacksonville Sharks (7-11)
11. Iowa Barnstormers (6-12)
12. San Antonio Talons (3-15)
13. New Orleans VooDoo (3-15)
14. Los Angeles KISS (3-15)
Note: Despite making the playoffs as a wildcard, Portland finishes No.10 based on rankings determined by Total Wins, Division Wins, Road Wins, Home Losses, results against common opponents, and Head-to-Head results. The higher-ranked teams are 93-28 since Week 4 (the first week the rankings were released), 69-17 since Week 8 and 3-1 in the playoffs.