Week 15 Power Rankings, Picks, and Pillow Fights: the 2008 American Conference Race to the Bottom

13 06 2008

YOU\'RE DOING IT WRONG

Quality defensive play.

The Mitsubish American Conference Presented by Mitsubishi is a disgrace brought to you by Mitsubishi. Playoff-bound Chicago, San Jose, and (gasp!) Arizona have respectable records at 10-4, 9-5, and 8-6 respectively; whereas the remaining five teams in the conference are being led by Utah at 5-10. Luckily for Chicago, San Jose, and Arizona, inter-league play is pretty damned common in the AFL so they’re not automatically boned in the postseason like an NFC team is against an AFC team (except, of course, for that glorious Super Bowl we had this past winter). A plea to Commissioner Hagrid – aside from not leaving for the stupidface Pac-10 – is to grant playoff spots based solely on record, as our beloved Tampa Bay Storm will most likely miss the playoffs with (hopefully) a winning record, yet several American Conference teams with twice as many losses as victories will be invited to parade their craptacular ineptitude on a national stage.

Grumble grumble grumble, I’m more cantankerous than Gary “You Woke Me From My Nap For THIS?” Horton and his weekly Power Rankings, and my Can’t Miss Random Pick and Pillow Fight this week are sponsored by Spite.

 

AFL Power Rankings (Week 16)

1. Philadelphia Soul (11-3) | Previous: 2 | Week 15: Beat Dallas 71-64 | Next: vs. Cleveland
The resilient Soul showed their character with a huge road win at Dallas that featured 12 lead changes and three ties. They got excellent pass protection from their offensive line versus a terrific Dallas pass rush. That helped QBs Tony Graziani and Matt D’Orazio make big play after big play, many to WR Chris Jackson, who scored six TDs. Philly Soul – Arena Bowl favorites? Chris Jackson – Eagles free-agent favorite?

2. Dallas Desperados (11-3) | Previous: 1 | Week 15: Lost to Philadelphia 71-64 | Next:vs. New York
The Desperados ran into a gritty Philadelphia team that matched them punch for punch in a surprising home loss. Their defense had trouble creating big plays versus an excellent Soul offensive line and while QB Clint Dolezel and the Dallas offense was good, it just wasn’t explosive enough. If Dallas doesn’t get some mojo going in its favor, I think they could be headed for an early exit from the playoffs, which seems to be the standard MO for Jerry Jones-owned teams.

3. Chicago Rush (10-4) | Previous: 3 | Week 15: Lost to Cleveland 65-44 | Next: at Georgia
Chicago’s normally smothering defense couldn’t stop Cleveland QB Raymond Philyaw, especially in the first half. Chicago’s offense also seemed to lack explosiveness and just didn’t seem to play with a sense of urgency. Can’t say I’m surprised – the same thing happened for the first arenaball game I watched, last season’s opener where Kansas City looked damn good and Chicago looked… well, like a stereotypical Chicago team.

4. San Jose SaberCats (9-5) | Previous: 4 | Week 15: Bye | Next: vs. Tampa Bay
The SaberCats had the week off and are now poised for a big finish to the regular season in an effort to gain momentum heading into the playoffs. They usually plays their best football late in the season and this year is no exception. San Jose will be a tough out in the postseason. The SaberCats has wons sixes of their last sevens game.

5. Georgia Force (9-5) | Previous: 5 | Week 15: Beat Columbus 65-44 | Next: vs. Chicago
The Force recorded their sixth consecutive win with big win over Columbus. Their defense played well, applying consistent pressure and notching big plays plus the offense played nearly error-free football with a diverse passing game. Could the Force and Soul meet in the playoffs? [checks cheat sheet] Oooh, tasty!

6. Cleveland Gladiators (8-6) | Previous: 10 | Week 15: Beat Chicago 65-44 | Next: at Philadelphia
QB Raymond Philyaw continues to play great football. He’s thrown 173 straight completions without an interception and had only five incompletions in the win over Chicago. The Gladiators won this game with a great first half (38 points) and held on to stay in the middle of the playoff race. I’ll try to pretend I don’t care as the Rush have long since clinched the division.

7. New York Dragons (8-6) | Previous: 7 | Week 15: Beat New Orleans 58-51 | Next: at Dallas
In almost a must-win situation, the Dragons delivered with a good defensive effort — especially in the second half — and a solid game by QB Aaron Garcia, who did a great job of spreading the ball around versus a good VooDoo defense. If a situation is almost a ‘must-win’, what does that make it? ‘Good-idea-to-win”? “Never-hurts-to-win”? Let’s see what you got in the comments.

8. New Orleans VooDoo (8-6) | Previous: 6 | Week 15: Lost to New York 58-51 | Next: at Orlando
The VooDoo defense played well enough to win versus a good Aaron Garcia-led New York offense — with five tackles for loss and three sacks — but the offense was only 5 for 15 on third- and fourth-down conversions. They just couldn’t make enough big plays in the second half. Danny Wimprine, stop using those FEMA debit cards on bottles of NyQuil!

9. Arizona Rattlers (8-6) | Previous: 8 | Week 15: Beat Kansas City 73-34 | Next: vs. Colorado
The surging Rattlers are suddenly a hot team with a road rout over Kansas City. They did it thanks to a 49-point first half, solid play from QB Matt Sauk and a defense that produced two sacks, five tackles for loss, and recovered three fumbles. Matt Sauk stepping to the plate? I wonder if frustrated Brigade fans opted for an uber-obvious “Sauk sucks” chant when all hope was lost.

10. Orlando Predators (8-7) | Previous Rank: 9 | Week 15: Lost to T.B. 71-61 | Next: vs. New Orleans
QB Shane Stafford *8 TDs) played as well as he could in the loss to rival Tampa Bay, but the Predators defense could not stop the Storm offense. They couldn’t get any pressure on the QB, big plays from the secondary and 13 penalties didn’t help matters either.

11. Tampa Bay Storm (7-7) | Previous: 12 | Week 15: Beat Orlando 71-61 | Next: at San Jose
In a game that didn’t feature a lot of defense, the Storm recorded a much-needed win — and season sweep — over rival Orlando. QB Brett Dietz spread the ball around to seven different receivers, including Hank Edwards, who had four TDs. DIETZ. DIETZ. DIETZ. DIETZ. Wins over LA and San Jose won’t have much bearing within the division, but here’s hoping the Storm finish strong.

12. Utah Blaze (5-10) | Previous: 13 | Week 15: Beat Los Angeles 65-56 | Next: Bye
The Blaze defense played well late and created some critical turnovers to lead the Blaze to their fifth win in their last six games. Once again, the offense, led by QB Joe Germaine, played a solid game. Still trying to rationalize the fact that Utah could pick up a wildcard berth. RIDICULOUS!

13. Grand Rapids Rampage (4-10) | Previous: 16 | Week 15: Beat Colorado 84-65 | Next: at Columbus
QB James MacPherson played the game of his life with 10 TD passes and three of his receivers recorded over 100 yards in receptions. They scored 37 points in the second quarter and played a clean defensive game. It was good to see the return of this creative offense. FACT: James MacPherson threw 10 TDs in one game. FACT: Josh McCown started 10 games for the Dolphins last season, and threw a total of 10 TDs. FACT: The Grand Rapids Rampage are better than the Miami Dolphins.

14. Los Angeles Avengers (4-10) | Previous: 14 | Week 15: Lost to Utah 65-56 | Next: vs. Kansas City
The Avengers played hard but couldn’t put enough together offensively late in the game to keep pace with the Blaze. They didn’t have an answer on defense for QB Joe Germaine and a very good Utah offense. LOS ANGELES STILL HAS A CHANCE FOR THE PLAYOFFS. Just like murderous PR campaigns, this doesn’t make any sense.

15. Colorado Crush (4-10) | Previous: 11 | Week 15: Lost to Grand Rapids 84-65 | Next: at Arizona
The Crush seem to be fading fast and were embarrassed by a so-so Rampage team. Their defense applied decent pressure, but their secondary could not make enough big plays versus hot Grand Rapids QB James MacPherson. Offensively, Colorado’s numbers were respectable but there just is not a lot of explosiveness in any phase for this team. So-so team? SO-SO TEAMS DON’T THROW FOR 10 EFFING TDS A GAME GARY!

16. Columbus Destroyers (3-11) | Previous: 15 | Week 15: Lost to Georgia 63-34 | Next: vs. G. Rapids
The Destroyers were overmatched in all phases in a lopsided loss to Georgia and were virtually shut down in the second half. Constant pass rush pressure from the Force defense and the inability to convert on third and fourth downs led to a disappointing night for Columbus. Does anyone have any stats on the number of fans still attending? This just hurts.

17. Kansas City Brigade (3-11) | Previous: 17 | Week 15: Lost to Arizona 73-34 | Next: at L.A.
The Brigade played a sloppy and uninspired game at home and Arizona made them pay for it. The offensive line gave up two sacks and five tackles for loss and new QB Quincy Center never had time to get into a flow, which led to interceptions and three lost fumbles. This game was over at halftime. Yeah, Quincy Center had a hard time taking snaps from the Carter.

CAN’T MISS RANDOM PICK: What happens when you tempt the Gods that are Jon Bon Jovi and Ron Jaworski? They bite you in the ass and send your overall record to 11-3 as Philadelphia embarrasses Dallas, sweeping the series for the season. This week, though, we’re sticking to our gut instincts which is New Orleans will show they’re playoff ready by sticking it to the Last Second Wonders of Orlandoin Orlando. Other Gruden shall not be pleased.

WEEKEND PILLOW FIGHT: Damn you, American Conference! One of your teams is in a city that’s threatened with flood waters. Another is in a city already flooded with assholes. Your Weekend Pillow Fight is Kansas City at Los Angeles.

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