After a couple weeks hiatus the Philly.com Arena Football power rankings are back. A lot has happened since we last left you. Some teams have taken major steps forward and some teams, namely the Philadelphia Soul, have taken a step or two back.
Without further or do, here's the latest installment of the AFL power rankings:
1. Jacksonville Sharks (6-0)
If I were a betting man, my money would not have been on the Sharks to be the league's last remaining unbeaten. But as the old cliché goes, "That's why they play the games." The Sharks don't have a bunch of quality wins to their credit, but their first came last week over the Soul, 55-53. Another real test will come this week when they host the defending Arena Bowl champion Arizona Rattlers this weekend. The Sharks were dealt a bit of a blow this week, however, when receiver Jeff Hughley accepted an invitation to the rookie mini-camp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Sharks will have to place him on the other league exempt list for the time being.
2. Spokane Shock (5-1)
The Shock finally lost their first game last week to the rapidly improving Tampa Bay Storm on CBS Sports Network, 70-62. The score does not indicate how Spokane was being dominated by Tampa Bay in the first half and fought their way back in the second to make the game compelling toward the end. Quarterback Erik Meyer threw two interceptions in the loss, but they were remarkably his first two of the season. Put that up against 47 touchdowns through six games and you have a big reason why the Shock are the second-best team in the league at the moment.
3. Arizona Rattlers (5-1)
Not far behind the Shock are the Rattlers. The Rattlers absolutely destroyed the their last two opponents 80-43 and 82-42. That's a combined 162-85. They seem to be getting back to their old form, which is scary considering their doing this without their best receiver Maurice Purify, who has not played the last four games.
4. Tampa Bay Storm (4-2)
As mentioned earlier, the Storm seem to be getting better week after week. Quarterback Adrian McPherson has spearheaded the Storm's resurgence with 45 total touchdowns (28 passing, 17 rushing) so far on the season. He also leads the league with 233 yards rushing. The Storm were also dealt a bit of a blow this week as McPherson's top target Joe Hills accepted an invitation to the rookie mini-camp of the Carolina Panthers. Hills currently leads the AFL in receiving yards with 769 and has caught 19 of McPherson's 28 touchdown tosses. The Storm will have little time to find a suitable replacement for Hills as they host the New Orleans VooDoo on CBS Sports Network this week.
5. Chicago Rush (4-2)
Despite ownership and arena availability issues during the offseason, the Rush have had a very good start to the 2013 season at 4-2. The Rush have not wowed anyone by any means, but they've done what was necessary to get to this point. During Chicago's four-game winning streak, it has not beaten anyone with a winning record. The four teams hold a combined record of 7-14. The Rush have a real test coming Saturday when they host the Philadelphia Soul.
6. San Jose SaberCats (3-2)
What is happening in San Jose? Before the season, the SaberCats were one of the teams to look out for in the National Conference. Seven weeks into the season, they're only one game above .500 and have traded legendary quarterback Aaron Garcia to the Predators for an offensive lineman. The SaberCats have placed the reins of the offense into the hands of AFL veteran Russ Michna for seemingly the rest of the season. San Jose is coming off much-needed (albeit ugly) win over New Orleans last week. They will play a Cleveland team this week who on paper is probably the worst team in the AFL, but still somehow managed to beat the Soul a couple of weeks ago.
7. Philadelphia Soul (2-3)
Another great question to ask is what happened to the Soul? The Soul seem to be a little out of sorts on both offense and defense heading into the sixth game of the season. Turnovers and simply a lack of a rhythm has been the reason this team has lost its last two games. Because the Eastern Division and the American Conference as a whole is not all that good, the Soul are still in position to make the playoffs. It is a long season, however, so the Soul can still get back to looking the dominant team of a year ago. But they are going to have to get back on track sooner rather than later.
8. Utah Blaze (2-3)
The Blaze haven't seemed to quite get their feet under them yet this season either, but a win last week over the Gladiators may get their confidence going again. What also needs to get going again quarterback Tommy Grady. Throwing league-high 13 interceptions is not apart of that. But his performance last week may be the start of him returning to form again. He completed 30-of-42 passes for 300 yards and seven touchdowns with only one interception. Combine that with the fact that receiver Aaron Lesue playing the last three games and Utah could be on its way back to prominence in the AFL.
9. San Antonio Talons (2-3)
The Talons haven't done much to show that they're a viable contender in the National Conference this season. They have a quality win over Tampa Bay, but also have a blowout loss to Arizona on its resume. The offense has been inept to say the least this season as it has yet to score more than 50 points only once. They face another lackluster team in Iowa this week.
10. Iowa Barnstormers (2-4)
Iowa started the year 2-0 and looked like the early favorite to win the Central Division. That seems like a distant memory now as four consecutive losses later, the Barnstormers are simply looking to do something right. The Barnstormers scored fewer than 50 points in three of those four consecutive losses and rank ninth in scoring offense at 49 points per game.
11. Cleveland Gladiators (1-4)
Outside of their one victory over the Soul, the Gladiators have been dreadful on offense this season. They have yet to score more than 50 points against a team not named the Soul (What does that say about the Soul defense?) and average a mere 48 points per game, good enough for 10th in the league. Add that to the fact they have the league's worst scoring defense at 63 points per game and there is everything you need to know as to why Cleveland is currently playing bad football.
12. New Orleans VooDoo (1-4)
The VooDoo seem to have gotten progressively worse as the season has gone on. When you have an offensive line that routinely gives up pressure, it comes as no surprise. As is the theme with most of these bad teams, the VooDoo can't score. In their last four games (all losses), the VooDoo have scored 34, 30, 43 and 38 — atrocious numbers for an AFL team. When a team has already played three quarterbacks in five games, it is never good indication of where the season is going.
13. Pittsburgh Power (1-4)
The only reason why the Power are not at the very bottom of these rankings is because they somehow managed to scrounge together a win (Thanks, New Orleans). Other than that, there is almost nothing positive to say about the Power. Absolutely nothing. They haven't scored 50 points all season, they were held to a pitiful 14 points during a loss to Chicago, they are dead last in points per game, they have handed the play calling duties to a coach who just joined a week or so ago, and so on and so forth. Between both Shane Austin and Jordan Jefferson, the Power have only mustered 17 touchdowns passes. On a positive note, the Power has the best pass defense, giving up only 188 yards per game, but that doesn't mean much when the offense has scored at most 46 points this season.
14. Orlando Predators (0-5)
The Predators are doing everything they can to make sure that they deliver on their fan guarantee. They have recently released starting quarterback Kyle Rowley and traded for AFL legend Aaron Garcia. Garcia hasn't been all that stellar to begin this season either. Otherwise, the Sabercats would have traded him away, but kudos to the Predators for trying to salvage the season. Garcia is tied with Utah's Grady for the league lead in interceptions. A major reason why Orlando has yet to win a game is because of their -8 turnover margin, which is tied for last in the AFL with New Orleans. All hope isn't lost. There are still 13 games left the Predators are only one game out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the American Conference despite their horrid start.