All 12 Arena Football League teams have made it through the midpoint of their season, so it’s an ideal time to hand out mid-term grades.
I took the offensive and defensive success rates, added them up, then let the SaberCats set the curve, giving them an overall 100 percent grade. Everyone else gets their grades adjusted based on that 100-point scale.
The National Conference’s average grade was a 73.6; the American Conference tops that with an average grade of 75.3. However, the National Conference has a huge disparity, with both the two top teams and four of the five bottom teams. The American Conference is the AFL’s middle class, with four of their six teams earning Cs halfway through the year.
|San Jose SaberCats||A+||100|
They have the best offense and defense in the league, they’re 10-0, and they still have potential to do more. When they look sloppy and bad, they win by 20. What happens when they play well?
Yup, the Sabercats are wrecking the league so badly that no one else scores in the A range. Arizona’s offense has had some hiccups while working through missing their receivers early in the season and then their quarterback problems with Davila’s injury and Coleman’s leaving the team. The Defense has been really good; San Jose’s defense has just been ridiculous. If this team gets healthy, they are definitely still a threat to the SaberCats.
The American Conference’s first entry, the Soul have the conference lead locked down like the SaberCats have the league under their control right now. It’s just that the top two teams are so good that they can do it even when they lose their starting quarterback. Can Philly? Or will they count on Raudabaugh continuing to avoid injury?
Here by virtue of their win over Cleveland, the Predators are a team moving up the charts. They’ve had a really good offense all year; is their defense coming around? If the defense plays consistently in the second half of the season, this team has some ability to solidify this spot or even move ahead of the Soul.
Another team coming on strong recently. Despite a horrific offensive performance against the Los Angeles KISS last week, the Sharks look like they may want to live up to their preseason billing after all.
Their offense and defense have both been worse in recent weeks. The Gladiators are the highest-rated team that can’t make a push and get the bounces to end up with an ArenaBowl title, which basically means everyone else is just getting graded because they’re part of the league.
|Tampa Bay Storm||C||73.9|
The Storm are who I thought they were before the season, apparently. They had a couple good showings early, but the team just doesn’t have an offense. The defense is better than I thought they’d be, but a good defense isn’t good enough to get you wins in this league.
|Las Vegas Outlaws||D+||68.1|
They got some lucky bounces early and have taken advantage of their two games against the KISS. That’s all they really have going for them at this point. They’re a contender for a playoff spot because eight out of 12 teams get in (I’d say it’s because they’re in the National Conference, but they’re No. 8 in the league).
This team would be my pick to take the third seed in the National Conference. They have more winnable games (None of the bottom four teams are beating San Jose or Arizona again unless they, too, get two or more missed FG returns for touchdowns or equally ridiculous circumstances). It’s impossible to tell from raw numbers where this team has been over the last month; they’ve done well in wins over Los Angeles and Las Vegas and they’ve bombed against San Jose and Arizona. Being mediocre over the second half of the season would make them the No. 3 seed in the conference.
Is Alex Carder the answer? This team doesn’t seem to have the upside or sense that improvement is on the horizon that they had at this point last year. If Carder can step in and become one of the league’s better quarterbacks, it would go a long way for rekindling some interest that got snuffed out when Darron Thomas went down with a knee injury in Orlando.
|New Orleans VooDoo||D-||62.5|
They’ve been more interesting than in recent years, but like everyone else in the D range, you don’t have success in this league without consistency at quarterback. Unfortunately for all these teams, there are few quarterbacks that can perform in this league, and four of them are in San Jose and Orlando…teams with starters with extensive injury histories. No way are Nathan Stanley or Bernard Morris getting traded.
|Los Angeles KISS||F||54.1|
I agree with Antron Dillon; this team isn’t as bad as its 0-9 record would indicate. They’ve had a couple of winnable games that they’ve just had a couple of bad breaks. But 2-7 or 3-6 being “what you could be with some breaks” means you’re just not a very good team. This week, the defense really stepped up and got several crucial stops against Jacksonville. Of course, their offense regressed from what they’d done over the past couple games and refused to win the game.