ESPN is really committed to making sure their viewers are readily informed when they put down next month’s mortgage on an AFL parlay (I didn’t think AFL betting existed, but holy shit, I was wrong!). Because we are lazy, and we don’t know nearly enough about any of these teams to write anything remotely more in-depth, we’ll just repost their rankings verbatim. And yes, you’re reading that right: the Philadelphia Soul are ranked third, despite the fact they have yet to play a game.
J Fizzle’s CAN’T MISS RANDOM PICK OF THE WEEK: Grand Rapids Rampage over the Las Vegas Gladiators, 65-57. RATIONALE: Sure, they’re the ‘Gladiators’, but they’re from Las Vegas, which means they moonlight at Caesar’s Palace, therefore they must be sissies. And seriously, they’re playing the Rampage – they’re freaking rhinos. End of discussion.
1. Orlando (1-0)
|2. Dallas (1-0)
Last week: Beat New York 60-7
This week: vs. Tampa Bay
Dallas almost shut out undermanned New York. Great skill players on offense, a veteran QB, a smothering defense and lots of veteran confidence is a lethal combination.
|3. Philadelphia (0-0)
Last week: Bye
This week: at Nashville
Philadelphia is coming off an unusual bye in Week 1 but had a very good preseason. The Soul are physical and may have a dramatically underrated pass rush.
|4. San Jose (1-0)
Last week: Beat Los Angeles 66-58
This week: at Chicago
San Jose looks like a complete team on both sides of the ball and is getting excellent pass protection from the OL. QB Mark Grieb and WR Ben Nelson look like a dynamic duo.
|5. Austin (1-0)
Last week: Beat Las Vegas 57-36
This week: at Georgia
Austin is supposed to be explosive on offense, but defense carried the Wranglers in a win over Las Vegas (three sacks and one INT). Weird as this may sound, considering they scored 57 points, the Wranglers will get a lot better on offense.
|6. Georgia (1-0)
Last week: Beat Arizona 69-65
This week: vs. Austin
Georgia may be the most underrated team in the AFL. QB Chris Greisen had a huge game (nine TD passes) in a road win at Arizona. The offense is explosive and the defense will get better. Keep an eye on the Force.
|7. Utah (1-0)
Last week: Beat New Orleans 63-61
This week: at Arizona
QB Joe Germaine is off to a great start and the offense looks explosive, but the defense needs to come up with an occasional stop. Still, Utah looks like a sleeper team.
|8. Colorado (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Grand Rapids 44-42
This week: vs. Kansas City
Colorado played a sloppy opening game against Grand Rapids with 12 penalties and shoddy kickoff-return coverage. Either we overrated the Crush or they were not ready to play in Week 1.
|9. Chicago (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Kansas City 54-41
This week: at San Jose
Chicago was dominated by Kansas City in the trenches and had no answer for the Brigade rushing attack. They need more touches on offense and big plays on defense. Where’s the toughness?
|10. Grand Rapids (1-0)
Last week: Beat Colorado 44-42
This week: vs. Las Vegas
Grand Rapids had a huge Week 1 win at Colorado, even with a backup QB. It plays well in the red zone and knows how to protect a lead. A team to watch.
|11. Columbus (1-0)
Last week: Beat Nashville 58-56
This week: at New Orleans
Columbus played a clean game in a win at Nashville and had great field position because of great special-teams play, especially on kickoff returns. The Destroyers are not overly explosive, but they’re efficient.
|12. Kansas City (1-0)
Last week: Beat Chicago 54-41
This week: at Colorado
Shocked defending champion Rush and did it by dominating in the trenches, running the football and being more physical. Now, are they a one-week wonder or the real deal?
|13. Arizona (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Georgia 69-65
This week: vs. Utah
The Rattlers can move the ball on offense, but they couldn’t make enough key defensive steps late to hold off a good Georgia team. The pass defense must step up.
|14. Los Angeles (0-1)
Last week: Lost to San Jose 66-58
This week: at Orlando
Defense was nowhere to be seen in a loss to San Jose, but the offense did show some explosiveness. But is L.A. good enough to win a shootout every week?
|15. New Orleans (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Utah 63-61
This week: vs. Columbus
New Orleans can move the ball on offense, but it is not making big stops on defense, is committing penalties and must improve its pass defense.
|16. Tampa Bay (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Orlando 52-27
This week: at Dallas
QB Shane Stafford picked apart his former team’s defense. Tampa Bay’s lack of offensive explosiveness and its difficulty in making key defensive stops do not bode well for the Storm.
|17. Nashville (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Columbus 58-56
This week: vs. Philadelphia
Unless Nashville can fix its special teams and coverage units, opposing offenses will start with great field position. But it can move the ball and dominate on offense.
|18. Las Vegas (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Austin 57-36
This week: at Grand Rapids
Las Vegas couldn’t climb out of an early hole in a loss to more explosive Austin, but it was not that bad on defense. Still, there is a lot of work to be done.
|19. New York (0-1)
Last week: Lost to Dallas 60-7
This week: Bye
Without QB Aaron Garcia, New York is the worst team in the AFL. The Dragons were totally dominated in every phase of the game. They have a week off to try to correct the problems.
Thank you, ESPN! Time to take out a high-interest loan!