Week 14 Power Rankings, Picks, and Pillow Fights

6 06 2008

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Shockingly, the sun hasn’t set on LA’s 4-9 season yet.

The playoffs are starting to shape up: Chicago already clinched a week-one bye; Dallas, Philly, San Jose, and (you’re reading this right) Arizona have all clinched playoff berths. That means pretty much everyone else still has a shot, which is kind of a slap in the face to the National Conference’s 8-win teams (Georgia, New Orleans, and Orlando) and 7-win teams (Cleveland and New York) (Tampa Bay hovers at 6 wins… for now?) since the remaining American Conference teams that have yet to clinch a spot in the playoffs, but are still eligible, are at 3, maybe 4 wins on the season (looking at you, LA, Utah, Colorado, Grand Rapids, and Kansas City).

Wow, Run-On-Sentences much?

Anyhow, there’s quite a bit at stake this week for all the teams on the bubble, as one of my camp directors used to say, “go big or go home”. After the jump, we have this week’s Power Rankings from ESPN’s Grampa “Find An Intern to Write This Damn Thing For Me” Gary Horton; arena football betting advice fit for an emperor with no clothes, and a sneak peek at this weeks’ certifiable Pillow Fight.

AFL Power Rankings (Week 15)

1. Dallas Desperados (10-2) | Previous: 1 | Week 14: Beat Cleveland 68-52 | Next: at Philadelphia
The Dallas offense finally came alive led by QB Clint Dolezel and Ironman Will Pettis. The defense also played well, making two key stops in the fourth quarter to set up a huge showdown versus Philadelphia that will go a long way in determining the top seed of the National Conference. Jerry Jones is not impressed. Bring Jerry Jones an Arena Bowl trophy and he’ll give the team a pizza party.

2. Philadelphia Soul (10-3) | Previous: 2 | Week 14: Bye | Next: at Dallas
The Soul had a much-needed week off, but they are still thin because of injuries. Now, after losing three of their last four, the Soul try to get a win in Dallas — not an easy job. Surprisingly, that single win didn’t come over Kansas City.

3. Chicago Rush (10-3) | Previous: 3 | Week 14: Beat Kansas City 52-47 | Next: at Cleveland
In a much-tougher game than anticipated, the Rush still put together a decent offensive effort against K.C. with a versatile passing game. Still, they seemed to lack a lot of explosiveness and their usually dominating defense struggled to make big plays and create turnovers against a so-so Kansas City offense. Rush, you’re killing me. “We can’t have anyone freak-out out there, OK? We’ve gotta keep our composure! We’ve come too far. There’s too much to lose! We gotta just keep our composure!”

4. San Jose SaberCats (9-5) | Previous: 4 | Week 14: Beat L.A. 66-56 | Next: Bye
Despite facing a surprisingly tough L.A. pass rush, QB Mark Grieb kept the SaberCats offense sharp. Defensively, San Jose made key stops and big plays when needed as it continues to march to the playoffs. The SaberCats have won four in a row. Repeat doesn’t seem so out of the question now.

5. Georgia Force (8-5) | Previous: 6 | Week 14: Beat Tampa Bay 56-55 | Next: at Columbus
It took a 28-point fourth quarter, but the Force rallied from behind to beat the Storm as time expired to extend their winning streak to five games. They got excellent offensive performances from QB Chris Greisen, WR Carl Morris and FB Matt Huebner to stay in the playoff hunt. Five in a row? Way to be scrappy when it counts, Greisen.

6. New Orleans VooDoo (8-5) | Previous: 8 | Week 14: Beat Columbus 83-61 | Next: at New York
The VooDoo defense remains the most opportunistic in the league with an amazing plus-19 in turnover ratio and they created three more turnovers in a win over Columbus. On offense, QB Danny Wimprine was hot and almost mistake free. My pre-season sleeper pick is poised for at least a wild-card spot. Sweet vindication!

7. New York Dragons (7-6) | Previous: 9 | Week 14: Beat Colorado 73-65 | Next: vs. New Orleans
The Dragons got off to an excellent start versus Colorado and then made some crucial defensive stops in the fourth quarter to secure a big win. New York also used a power run game in the red zone to preserve the tough, road win. Is the Power Run to the AFL in 2008 what the Spread Option was to college football in 1999-2000? I guess we approve.

8. Arizona Rattlers (7-6) | Previous: 11 | Week 14: Beat Orlando 60-53 | Next: at Kansas City
Arizona clinched an improbable playoff berth in a surprising road win at Orlando. The Rattlers got an excellent defensive effort, creating four turnovers in the first half, and new starting QB Matt Sauk played well and spread the ball around nicely.  “Arizona Get Your Season Ticket Money Back Watch Status: Hilary Clinton”.

9. Orlando Predators (8-6) | Previous: 5 | Week 14: Lost to Arizona 60-53 | Next: at Tampa Bay
The Predators were sleeping most of the game versus Arizona, but woke up in the fourth quarter with a pair of TDs and two-point conversions and a defensive stop, but still came up short in a very disappointing and lethargic home loss. Introducing Sealy as a new sponsor apparently was ill-advised.

10. Cleveland Gladiators (7-6) | Previous Rank: 7 | Week 14: Lost to Dallas 68-52 | Next: vs. Chicago
The Gladiators’ defense could not stop the suddenly hot Dallas offense, but Cleveland matched the Desperados touchdown for touchdown for three quarters before being stopped twice in the fourth quarter. Dr. Dolezel, PhD, takes offense to the beginning of this sentence.

11. Colorado Crush (4-9) | Previous: 12 | Week 14: Lost to New York 73-65 | Next: at Grand Rapids
The Crush started slow and really battled to get back into the game, but their defense could not stop New York QB Aaron Garcia, who led the Dragons to scores on almost every possession. Aaron Garcia – Ultimate Wingman.

12. Tampa Bay (6-7) | Previous: 10 | Week 14: Lost to Georgia 56-55 | Next: vs. Orlando
The Storm defense could not contain the Force offense in the fourth quarter and suffered a last-second, heartbreaking loss that hurt their playoff hopes. Tampa Bay could not contain Georgia’s pass or run game and it spoiled a good effort by QB Brett Dietz. Sadly, our beloved QB is once-again thwarted by the football truism that individual performance does not a win guarantee.

13. Utah Blaze (4-10) | Previous: 13 | Week 14: Beat Grand Rapids 63-56 | Next: vs. Los Angeles
The Blaze played a great first half and built up an impressive 42-12 halftime lead, but faded in the second half and were lucky to get out of Grand Rapids with a win. The Utah passing game performed well and the Blaze defense continues to make key defensive stops. Start wrapping your brain around this one – the Blaze are going to the playoffs.

14. Los Angeles Avengers (4-9) | Previous: 17 | Week 14: Lost to San Jose 66-56 | Next: at Utah
The Avengers played hard, but came up short against the superior SaberCats. Still, amazingly enough, they are still in the playoff race. They finally stayed with one QB, Sonny Cumbie, but the Avengers only converted 2 of 8 chances on third- and fourth-downs and their pass protection continues to be a real weakness. Good news they just spent a lot of money on a hot college QB prospect when their line is to blame for a 4-9 record. Luckily for them, pass protection will not be an issue next week as they’re playing against Utah (although Dwayne Missouri is a devourer of souls).

15. Columbus Destroyers (3-10) | Previous: 15 | Week 14: Lost to N.O. 83-61 | Next: vs. Georgia
Destroyers QB Matt Nagy had a career game versus a good New Orleans defense with 339 yards and seven TD passes in a flawless performance. Unfortunately for Nagy, the Destroyers defense couldn’t stop a New Orleans offense that had been in a scoring slump over the last month. Matt Nagy, we think you and one Mr. Dietz should get together for a beer.

16. Grand Rapids Rampage (3-10) | Previous: 14 | Week 14: Lost to Utah 63-56 | Next: vs. Colorado
The Rampage defense was non-existent in the first half and trailed Utah by 28 points before coming to life and making a few stops in the second half. Still, the Blaze came up a little short in a disappointing home loss as they continue to struggle to put a complete game together. Apparently the early season strategy  of “score more than 80 points” wasn’t included in this weeks’ game plan.

17. Kansas City Brigade (3-10) | Previous: 16 | Week 14: Lost to Chicago 52-47 | Next: vs. Arizona
The Brigade played hard at Chicago, but their lack of explosiveness and playmakers on either side of the ball continues to be a weakness. Plus, they just can’t seem to make a defensive stop when they really need one. Still, you have to admire their fight. Unless you had money on them, we agree with this.

 

CAN’T MISS RANDOM PICK: Last week’s gimme-pick of Chicago over Kansas Cityalmost backfired in a most spectacular way, but dumb luck/Russ Michna prevailed and the CMRP is now at a Dallas-worthy 11-2. Which, ironically is where we’re going with the pick this week. Philly is too beat up, even after a bye, and don’t for a second think that Jerry Jones will let a shellacking like the last little rumble go unanswered. Dallas is coming out with Clint Dolezel’s guns a’blazin’, nary a woman will be left without child when the testosterone dust settles.

 

WEEKEND PILLOW FIGHT: Once again, this is more a pillow fight on paper, but the winner takes a step closer to clinching a playoff spot with a total of five wins on the season. Better yet, ESPN is broadcasting it on Monday!

Your Weekend Pillow Fight is the Utah Blaze and the Los Angeles Avengers.

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