The AFL released their schedule on Friday!
After the Pittsburgh Power quit suddenly, prior to the original 2015 schedule release date, the league has finally moved on without the Power and allowed the rest of the league to move forward. Here’s what the schedule looks like (for full schedule with dates/times, click here):
The season kicks off on March 27 with the Tampa Bay Storm hosting the Cleveland Gladiators, followed by Matthew Sauk’s return to Portland with the Los Angeles KISS.
The game against the KISS kicks off a three-game homestand to start the season for the Thunder, who then go on a brutal three-game road trip that will amass nearly 8,000 miles in travel distance in three weeks as they’ll take on the three-time defending ArenaBowl champions, the National Conference runner-up, and a Philadelphia team that has made it to the ArenaBowl in two of the last three years.
Aside from the early part of the season, however, Portland’s schedule looks relatively nice. They have their bye weeks as evenly spaced out as possible, with a home game following each bye. They also get their East Coast trips out of the way early, with their last long journey being to Orlando in Week 9.
The Thunder, by virtue of their location, will travel more than any team in the league, however, assuming Philadelphia stays in Florida for their Jacksonville-Tampa Bay road trip, traveling 19,946 miles via air this season (though the team will probably bus to Spokane, making the trip longer).
They’ll also face the toughest road slate of anyone in the league, with opponents carrying a 2014 winning percentage of .625, the rough equivalent of an 11-win team (actually 11.25). The good news for Portland fans is that the home schedule should be a bit easier, with the fifth-easiest slate in the league.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, the 3-15 KISS probably aren’t going to be as dysfunctional as they were in 2014; they acquired a great offensive coordinator in former Portland coach Matthew Sauk. They picked up Adrian McPherson, the stud quarterback they didn’t have last year. Sauk is also the new director of player personnel – all he and his staff did in 2014 was find two All-Arena performers, a Grey Cup (CFL) champion, and a half-dozen guys who have signed NFL contracts.
It should be an interesting year for the Thunder, who are basically starting over with a new secondary and a new coaching staff. In a week or two we’ll know more about what the team may look like as we see what happens in the expansion draft and dispersal draft!
NOTE: For more schedule analysis on a league-wide basis, check out my article over at ArenaFan.com. The site and its members have a wealth of knowledge about the league and have extensive statistics dating to the creation of the league in 1987. Please give them a visit.