AFL Power Rankings, Homestretch Edition

I hope everyone enjoyed their extended holiday weekend, despite it being bereft of football. The break gives us a nice reset point for the season, however, as we head into the final few weeks and jockey for playoff positioning.

Here are the Power Rankings as we get back into action:

  1. Philadelphia (1.18)
  2. Arizona (1.13)
  3. Orlando (1.09)
  4. Jacksonville (1.05)
  5. Cleveland (1.04)
  6. LA (1.00)
  7. Portland (0.75)
  8. Tampa Bay (0.74)

Jacksonville is a funny team – they have a better success rate than Cleveland. They’ve outscored their opponents. They have the top-ranked passer in the league and the leaders in passing yards, receiving yards, and rushing yards. Tommy Grady has thrown the fewest INTs of any quarterback who has played a significant length of time this season. And yet they’ve still managed just a 5-7 record, with five of those losses coming at home. They’re the Dream Team 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.

In other news, 17 of the league’s 50 games have ended as one-possession games. Here are the teams ranked by their success in one-possession games:

  1. Philadelphia (2-0)
  2. Orlando (6-2)
  3. Cleveland (4-2)
  4. Arizona (1-2)
  5. Los Angeles (1-2)
  6. Jacksonville (2-4)
  7. Tampa Bay (1-3)
  8. Portland (0-2)

You’d like to say Orlando’s lucky to win so many close games, but the flip side of the record is that the Predators are the only team in the league not to have lost a game by more than one possession. Philadelphia, although they’ve won two games, both against the other two top-tier teams, has been beaten convincingly three times.

So who wins this week?

Cleveland at Philadelphia: Technically, Philadelphia won’t host any of the three Glads/Soul matchups this season, as this game will take place in Allentown. These teams love scoring defensive touchdowns against one another. Each team has scored on three interception returns against the other in two games thus far. The problem for Philadelphia is that they got all of theirs off of Chris Dieker in the opener. They haven’t intercepted Arvell Nelson in just over a game’s worth of action. The Soul are still the best team in the league, statistically, and they’ve won all their traveling “home” games, so I’ll pick them this week.

Jacksonville at Arizona: Jacksonville has the talent to beat Arizona, and it’s actually fortunate for them that this game is being played on the road, because they suck at home. I’ll still pick them to lose, because Arizona is a better team.

Orlando at Portland: Chalk up another win for the Predators, who will need it as they play the other two contenders for the top seed in the last two games of the season.

Tampa Bay at Los Angeles: Is there a quarterback controversy in Anaheim? Starter Nathan Stanley is back and healthy, but Pete Thomas has played just as well as Stanley in his stead. The Storm would actually have a pretty good chance at a win if they weren’t, well, the Storm. KISS win.