We’re in that time of year when the NFL is quieting down before training camp but there still is football being played right now–in the Arena Football League. It might be the 50-yard indoor war, but it has enough of the good, bad and ugly for a 32-team league despite only having 14 squads. Let’s take a look at it for a nibble to try and satisfy our hunger for football. Keep in mind they have a 20-week season (18 games with two byes).
The good: The Arizona Rattlers are off to the best start in league history at 13-0. They wrapped up their division for the fourth straight year and nearly won the conference championship in the regular season…with five games left. Quarterback Nick Davila has filled up stat sheets at an amazing pace for the Rattlers. To put it in perspective, he has thrown for 3,343 yards with 96 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions in 13 games. He has 116 incomplete passes this season. None of those numbers are typos, folks.
Arizona is seeking a fourth consecutive Arena Bowl berth and a third title in a row this season.
The Pittsburgh Power fired their coach two games into the season and now stand at 10-3 proving a coaching change can get a team going. They’re a little behind the 11-1 Cleveland Gladiators for the top spot in the American Conference.
The bad: The National Conference’s fourth playoff team is going to be an AWFUL one. Two teams are locked in to the playoffs with Arizona and San Jose (9-4) leading their divisions. Spokane is next at 6-7 and they just got their star quarterback off of injured reserve. He broke his collarbone on an Aaron Rodgers-type hit and missed six weeks.
That leaves three teams for one playoff spot in the conference. Your “contenders” are the Los Angeles KISS at 3-9, the Portland Thunder at 3-10 and the San Antonio Talons at 1-12. The KISS has a 43-year-old starting quarterback, seriously. Portland and Los Angeles are both expansion teams and San Antonio has been beyond dreadful. Yet one of them will be a playoff team. It very well could be the first team to five wins that makes it. You have the potential to get a first-round playoff game between an 18-0 Arizona team and a 5-13 scrub team that sneaks into the playoffs.
The ugly: A seemingly-annual part of the AFL season is finding out which franchises are in trouble and could be in danger of relocating or folding. Last year, the Utah Blaze and the Chicago Rush closed up shop. This year, San Antonio has been in trouble and Orlando almost was taken over by the league. Orlando is important since they have made the playoffs 20 of the last 22 seasons and has been one of the few franchises to stay in the same place on a long-term basis.
The Iowa Barnstormers have proved that 1+2 doesn’t necessarily equal success. They have the top two wide receivers in the league, in terms of yardage. Marco Thomas leads with 112 receptions for 1472 yards and 33 touchdowns. Darius Reynolds is second with 85 receptions for 1263 yards and 23 touchdowns. They have a combined 14 100-yard games this season.
Iowa is last in its division at 6-7 and gave up 86 points to Cleveland a couple weeks ago.
The New Orleans VooDoo was held to 14 points in a loss to Pittsburgh in April but it’s not the worst performance of the season. The KISS was limited to 12 points and only lost by 19 to Iowa.
Fullback Derrick Ross of Philadelphia scored six rushing touchdowns in a game…and his team still lost.
Two teams have held open tryouts…during the season.
Two players (DJ Stephens of San Antonio and Reynolds of Iowa) have each recorded more than 200 receiving yards in a game this season…both lost.
There’s plenty more action left in their season so there’s time for even more good, bad, and ugly to show up.