It feels like we’ve been jabbering about teams’ chances in the playoffs for weeks and weeks and weeks. That’s probably because it’s an easy cover-up for us not really knowing what we’re talking about. But now, we’re almost there! I didn’t even know how many teams made the playoffs in each conference until J and I had a too-lengthy phone conversation about it last week, and realized we had no idea. (Oh, the answer? 6.)
Breaking it down, after the thing.
The easiest discussion is of the Teams Who Are Varying Degrees of Done:
The Las Vegas Gladiators (2-12) stink. Their quality win is a baffling victory over the Blaze, and their troubles can be traced to… existing. They couldn’t keep people out of the end zone, and they couldn’t get into the end zone themselves. Things looked a little better with Nick Rolovich as their thirty-seventh quarterback, but let’s face it: they’re hopeless. We had to make them ineligible for the Most Motor Skills-Challenged of the Week award, because they just fall down a lot. They fired their coach three weeks ago, but let him finish the season. Moving on.
Also in the American Conference, the Arizona Rattlers (4-11) got eliminated last week. They actually finish their season tomorrow, and finish their season with a bye. That’s pretty bizarre, but it’s like they attend the college that finishes their school year in the first or second week of May, and stealing the good summer jobs before anybody gets home. Northwestern didn’t finish their year until practically Independence Day, and so you’d go to Caribou, or something, and they’d respond “Where have you been for the last 4 months? We don’t need any help anymore,” and you’d be poor(er) all summer. What was I talking about? 7 of their 11 losses are by a touchdown or less, and Sherdrick Bonner is competent. But good teams find a way to win, and bad teams don’t make up that 7-point defecit in the last quarter. Arizona became the master of garbage time this year, but they might be decent next year, if Sherdrick Bonner isn’t crippled for life.
The Grand Rapids Rampage (4-10), only are ahead of the Rattlers based on their record versus common opponents. So… they suck slightly less than Arizona, and have to play two more games. Chad Salisbury was torn in two, leaving the door open for the return of ISF mascotphobe Adrian McPherson. For those of you unaware, when you pick up an innacurate clubhouse cancer to quarterback your team, and use as the excuse “Oh, well, at least he’s athletic, maybe that’ll keep us competitive,” you’re probably screwed. Say good night, Grand Rapids, site of Brian Gowins’ unfortunate exile.
In the National Conference, the New Orleans VooDoo and Austin Wranglers are both (4-10), and both sort of stumbled around all season. I don’t know what to tell you about these two teams other than they distinguished themselves by their nondescriptness. Though Austin, like Las Vegas and Arizona, did beat the Utah Blaze, which is more evidence for the fact that Utah occasionally randomly replaces their players with cardboard cutouts. I seriously can’t say anything about these two teams. Did something interesting happen? Was I asleep?
With that out of the way… Teams That Are Still In It.
The Philadelphia Soul (6-8), can clinch a spot by winning this weekend, which is a delightful surprise after their 6-game slide while Tony Graziani was out. With Graziani back, they’re a completely different (read: “competitive”) team. Unfortunately, they’ve been on the schneid again for the last two weeks, coming up short against the Desperados and the Buzzsaw That Is Brett Dietz. Interestingly, their opponent this week also only needs to win to make the playoffs, the Columbus Destroyers (6-8). So, one of the two remaining National Conference playoff spot will be secured as of, say, 9:00PM Eastern on Saturday. It’s in Philly, so I like Philly for that.
But the real reason I want the Soul to lock their spot up this week is because it sets up an interesting situation with the New York Dragons (5-9). If New York beats Dallas this week, then certainly, whoever wins the Columbus/New York tilt locks up the final spot in the conference. Which would be awesome if New York could pull it off. However, Aaron Garcia got crippled (ankle) at the end of the Austin game and is certainly out this week, and if he’s done-done, I don’t think having Rohan Davey Time for the rest of the season is going to get the job done.
On a side note, on the official Arena Football site, their analysis of the remaining playoff spots includes the analysis that “Philly, Columbus and Los Angeles can all pack their bags for the postseason by winning this week,” which would be great, except for the fact that Philly and Columbus are playing each other… It also talks about “everyone hold[ing] serve,” this week, so I don’t think they just were referring to one win in two weeks for Philadelphia or Columbus.
With that out of the way, let us turn to the American Conference, where Los Angeles (8-6) just needs to beat the aforementioned execrable Las Vegas Gladiators to be in. So, let’s call that race.
For the final playoff spot, then, the Nashville Kats (6-8) and Utah Blaze (7-8) are the teams in contention. Utah has a week off, and then Los Angeles. Nashville plays Kansas City and Grand Rapids. If the two teams end with the same record, Nashville is in, due to their head-to-head records. So, the grind-it-out bizarro-arena-strategy Kats are in the driver’s seat against the lunatic-dual-personality Blaze. The Blaze have hung with decent teams, but the only one they’ve actually beaten is Colorado, and (if we’re being charitable) Orlando. So, we’re likely to see the Kats make the playoffs.
We’ll hit who will do what in the playoffs next week. In short, here’s your playoff implications for the week:
Most Interesting: Columbus at Philadelphia, Saturday, 7:00 Eastern. One spot to be secured.
Second Most Interesting: New York at Dallas, Saturday, 8:30 Eastern. If Dallas says “eh, screw it,” and New York pulls the upset, the Columbus/New York tilt on the 23rd. When I’m in Vegas.
Third Most Interesting: Nashville at Kansas City, Saturday, 8:00 Eastern. Kansas City is tough to beat at home, but if Nashville wins, it puts Utah up against the wall in the final week of the season.
Not Particularly Interesting: Utah at Bye. This is still more interesting than my other playoff-implication option.
Foregone Conclusion: Las Vegas at Los Angeles. Sunday, 6:30 PM. Do the job, put away the Gladiators, and make the playoffs, LA. If they don’t, they don’t deserve to make it. Though… if they don’t, it could be an interesting Los Angeles/Utah matchup on the 23rd…