Here's the latest installment of the AFL power rankings:
1. Arizona Rattlers (7-1) Last week: 1
The Rattlers continue to roll through the AFL with another double-digit win last week, this time over the Utah Blaze, 65-48. All seven of the Rattlers' wins have been by at least a 10-point margin with the closest being the Jacksonville Sharks. The Sharks lost by 10 back on May 4, 58-48, but if someone had watched the game they would know that it wasn't really that close. Want to know Arizona's recipe for success? The Rattlers lead the league in scoring offense averaging 69.1 points per game, are fourth in the league in scoring defense allowing an average of 49 points per game and are +19 in turnover margin. That is also tops in the league. It all boils down to those three statistics for Arizona. The Rattlers have won four in a row and they should make it five in a row when they face the organizational failure that is the Chicago Rush this week.
2. San Jose SaberCats (5-2) Last week: 5
Is San Jose really the second-best team in the league? In my opinion it is not. But with other contenders for that spot losing the last couple of weeks, the SaberCats almost earn this spot by default. Not to mention, they have put together a three-game winning streak. To their credit, one of those wins was over a viable contender in the Tampa Bay Storm last week, 64-34. To date, that is San Jose's only win over a team with a winning record. But they all count the same in the standings. The SaberCats will face another team with a winning record this week when they face the Sharks on the road.
3. Jacksonville Sharks (6-2) Last week: 2
The Sharks had their worst offensive showing of the season and one of the worst losses in franchise history last week to the San Antonio Talons, 34-30. The loss was the Sharks' second in a row. The offense also failed to score 50 points for the second week in a row. Quarterback Bernard Morris had the roughest night of all the Sharks throwing two interceptions and only one touchdown.
4. Tampa Bay Storm (5-3) Last week: 3
The Storm took their worst loss of the season last week to the SaberCats, 64-34. The Storm committed three turnovers and went 0-for-8 on third down. Quarterback Adrian McPherson had his roughest outing since coming back to the AFL completing only 13 of his 29 attempts for 166 yards and two scores. Help is on the way for the Storm, however, as wide receiver Joe Hills finished up his brief stint with the Carolina Panthers and was activated from the other league exempt list. Despite not playing the last two games, Hills still leads the Storm in receiving yards and touchdowns. The Storm should get back on track as they face the Pittsburgh Power this week.
5. Spokane Shock (5-3) Last week: 4
The Shock continue to slide down the rankings after losing their third consecutive game last week. Last week's loss will is probably the most hurtful for the Shock as they gave up a 13-point lead to the Orlando Predators with less than a minute remaining in the game. The Shock scored 62 points in the first half, but were outscored 42-20 in the second. The Shock should bounce back this week, however, when they host the hapless New Orleans VooDoo.
6. Iowa Barnstormers (4-4) Last week: 9
The Barnstormers seemed to have righted the ship on the season. They started the season 2-0, but then lost four in a row. Since then they have won their last two, including a 62-16 thrashing of the VooDoo last week. The Iowa defense forced four turnovers and held the VooDoo to 1-for-7 on third down. The Iowa defense has given up 52 points in the last weeks combined, albeit against two less-than-stellar offenses in New Orleans and San Antonio. The Barnstormers should face better offense this week in the Utah Blaze.
7. Utah Blaze (3-4) Last week: 6
Speaking of the Blaze, their two-game winning streak was snapped last week at the hands of the Rattlers. Quarterback Tommy Grady threw six touchdowns during the loss, but completing 25-of-50 passes is not going to get it done, especially against a team the caliber of Arizona. If the season today, the Blaze would be out of the National Conference playoffs, which means every game from here on out is of the utmost importance, starting this week against Iowa.
8. Chicago Rush (4-4) Last week: 8
It seems like every week there's a new twist and turn in the Rush ownership saga. This week, it's still up in the air whether the All State Arena, where the Rush play their home games, will have internet access. If there's no internet access, that means there will be no way to view the game for the second home game in a row. The only way to see the game would be if you were in the building to see it. To make matters worse, the Rush will host Arizona this week and the game is sure to get ugly. Expect the Rush to slide even further after this week.
9. San Antonio Talons (3-4) Last week: 10
The Talons came away with a big, albeit very ugly, win over the Sharks last week. The Talons seem to have a good team, especially on defense. The Talons are second in the league in total defense and third in the league in scoring defense. But their quarterback situation really has prevented them from taking any real steps forward. They've already played four quarterbacks this, who have combined for only 27 touchdown passes. There are nine players in the league who have thrown more touchdown passes than the Talons have as a team. But yet they're managing to keep themselves in relatively good position considering they are in the weak Central Division.
10. Philadelphia Soul (3-4) Last week: 7
I've been reluctant to push the panic button on the Soul so far this, but after their loss to the Power last week, my finger is very close. Whatever is wrong with the Soul they have to get it fixed sooner rather than later. The Soul won't have an easy opponent this week to get back on their feet. All things considering, that easy game should have been last week against the Power. The Soul will host the surging Predators this week on CBS Sports Network in the return of former coach Doug Plank. A loss for the Soul would be devastating. A win would leave some hope of them being an Arena Bowl contender.
11. Orlando Predators (2-5) Last week: 11
The Predators look like a completely different team from the one that lost its first five games of the season. It's no coincidence that this has occurred after the acquisition of future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Aaron Garcia. Since joining the Predators, Garcia has thrown has thrown 17 touchdowns to only one interception in two games. He's completed nearly 68 percent of passes and oh, by the way, the team has gone 2-0. The outlook of Orlando's season has turned completely around with the addition of one guy and miraculous comeback over Spokane. Garcia threw a franchise-record 11 touchdowns during the win. Things are definitely looking up in Orlando.
12. Pittsburgh Power (2-5) Last week: 14
I've been very hard on the Power all season and for good reason. They have been the worst team in the league for the better part of the first half of the season, especially on the offensive end. Against the Soul last week, they seemed to play inspired football and came away with their second win of the season, 53-48. The one thing Pittsburgh has had going for it all season was its No. 1-ranked defense and it showed last week. The Power defense allowed a mere 13 points to the Soul in the second half and sealed the victory with a big goal line stand and last-second interception. The Power may not win many games for the season, but they deserve some credit after pulling out the win last week.
13. Cleveland Gladiators (2-5) Last week: 12
Another bottom feeder that won last week was the Gladiators by way of a 53-50 win over Chicago. Much like the Power, I don't expect Cleveland to win a whole lot more this season, but they earned tough victory last week and deserve some credit for it.
14. New Orleans VooDoo (1-6) Last week: 13
I must say I'm surprised by how bad the VooDoo have played so far this season. It's hard to believe that this was a playoff team a year ago and took the dominant Soul to the limit before losing. That was a long time ago, however. The VooDoo have now lost six games in a row with the latest loss being the most embarrassing, 62-16, to the Barnstormers. If it were the Rattlers, I would understand the VooDoo being dominated to that extent. But it was Iowa — a team where dominant is not an adjective that will be used to describe the team. The VooDoo haven't won in almost two months and things may get worse before they get better with a long trip to Spokane coming up this week.