For better or for worse, it was a rather eventful week in the Arena Football League. There were some positives, but some major negatives have trumped those positives.
Without any further ado, here's the latest installment of the AFL power rankings.
1. Arizona Rattlers (6-1) Last week: 3
The Rattlers finally reclaim the top spot in the power rankings after a dominating performance over previously unbeaten Jacksonville last week, 58-48. The score doesn't completely indicate how dominant Arizona was during the victory. The Rattlers held a 20-point advantage on multiple occasions and had the game pretty well in hand after three quarters. I said this last week, but the scariest thing about the Rattlers being 6-1 is the fact that receiver Maurice Purify has not played the last five games. They didn't need him last week as Rod Windsor finally looked like the way he did in 2010-11 with 15 catches for 159 yards and five touchdowns.
2. Jacksonville Sharks (5-1) Last week: 1
The Sharks got a bit of a reality check last week against the Rattlers. The Sharks went into that game with only one quality win so far this season and that was over the Soul who sit at 3-3. Then they played the best team in the league and looked rather unimpressive. The Sharks should be able to bounce back a bit this week as they travel to San Antonio to play the 2-4 Talons.
3. Tampa Bay Storm (5-2) Last week: 4
The Storm seem to improve week after week. It's good to see a franchise with the success and history of the Storm (the most Arena Bowl titles in league history) have not only a good team, but a team that seems to be a legit contender to represent the American Conference in the Arena Bowl. The Storm didn't necessarily earn a quality win last week as they defeated the 1-5 New Orleans VooDoo, 63-32. But they did control the game from start to finish and left no doubt as to who was the better team. The Storm have, in my eyes, the early favorite for league MVP in quarterback Adrian McPherson. McPherson accounted for eight total touchdowns against the VooDoo (four passing and four rushing).
4. Spokane Shock (5-2) Last week: 2
A couple of weeks ago, Spokane looked to be the best team in the AFL after defeating the defending champion Rattlers. But since then, the Shock have lost two in a row. First, it was a tough home loss to the Storm, 70-62. Then last week the Shock lost to Tommy Grady and the Utah Blaze. The Shock gave up seven touchdown passes to Grady and the offense only mustered 48 points. Prior to that, the offense scored no fewer than 60 points. The Shock will play the 1-5 Orlando Predators this week, but the Predators have a new look to them with legendary quarterback Aaron Garcia under center. The Predators could be a different team from the one that lost its first five games heading into Spokane this week.
5. San Jose SaberCats (4-2) Last week: 6
The SaberCats have not done anything spectacular this season one way or the other. They have defeated all of the teams they were supposed to beat: Orlando, San Antonio, New Orleans and Cleveland. And they lost to the two teams that are better than them at the moment: Arizona and Spokane. San Jose beat up on the hapless Gladiators, 56-36, last week. New quarterback Russ Michna wasn't overly impressive, but did what he had to do completing 18-of-25 passes for 197 yards and four touchdowns. Most importantly, he didn't turn the ball over and that contributed to a 20-point win for the SaberCats.
6. Utah Blaze (3-3) Last week: 8
The Blaze have gotten their feet under them it seems after starting the season 1-3. They have now won two in a row after earning a quality win over the Shock, 52-48. It comes as no surprise that the healthier Tommy Grady gets, the better the Blaze get. The Blaze won last week's game with their defense, however, as they held the Shock to their fewest points all season and forced three fumbles. The real test for the Blaze awaits them this weekend as they travel to the Arizona desert to play the Rattlers. The last time these two teams played it was all Rattlers and it wasn't even close. The Blaze were soundly defeated 77-49 and Grady threw five interceptions.
7. Philadelphia Soul (3-3) Last week: 7
Only the people in attendance at the All State Arena in Rosemont, Ill. saw this one as it was not televised or webcasted, but the Soul seemed to regain some confidence after their 72-41 win over the Rush. For the Soul, it wasn't as much about the win as it was about regaining the confidence and swagger the team had a year ago. Another very important thing was that the Soul did not commit any turnovers during the win. All things considering, the Soul should be back above .500 after this week as they host the Power.
8. Chicago Rush (4-3) Last week: 5
Speaking of the Soul's opponent from last week they drop down three spots after looking nothing like the four-win team that the Rush are. That loss has been one of a myriad of problems and issues that surround the entire Rush organization right now with the news of the team being taken over by the league once again. All of the off-the-field issues could definitely have an effect on the team on the field, as there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the organization right now. This could amount in a lot more losses for Chicago.
9. Iowa Barnstormers (3-4) Last week: 10
The Barnstormers finally snapped their four-game losing streak after a win over the San Antonio Talons, 48-36. It wasn't necessarily pretty, but the Barnstormers will take wins any way they can get them at this point. On paper, they should continue that momentum into this week as host to the New Orleans VooDoo, who have lost five games in a row.
10. San Antonio Talons (2-4) Last week: 9
The Talons are now on quarterback No. 4 this season. If that isn't an indication of how their season is going, I don't know what is. The quarterback carrousel stopped on Zach Frazer last week. He did not fare very well to say the least. He completed 19-of-40 passes for 225 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. That stat line contributed to the Talons scoring a season-low 36 points against the Barnstormers.
11. Orlando Predators (1-5) Last week: 14
Finally! The Predators finally got into the win column last week — albeit, it was a win over the sorry Pittsburgh Power, but it was a win nonetheless. It was much needed, too. Hope was about to be lost in Orlando. But now hope has been restored for the moment. The Predators are currently tied for the last playoff spot in the American Conference despite losing their first five games. That's how bad the depth is in the American Conference. Aaron Garcia looked good in his first start in a Predator uniform last week, completing 27-of-36 passes for 278 yards and six touchdowns.
12. Cleveland Gladiators (1-5) Last week: 12
The more this team loses, the more the Gladiators' win over the Soul becomes more and more puzzling. How in the world did the Soul lose to a team this bad? That will remain one of the great mysteries in life, or at least the AFL, for a couple of weeks. The Gladiators have still yet to score more than 50 points against a team not named the Soul. Their latest loss, 56-36 to the SaberCats, was their lowest scoring output of the season. The Gladiators only converted on four of their 10 third downs and quarterback Brian Zbydniewski threw only two touchdowns in the loss.
13. New Orleans VooDoo (1-5) Last week: 12
Things just keep rolling downhill for the VooDoo. They have now lost five in a row and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel. The VooDoo have played three quarterbacks this season and they have combined for 28 touchdown passes. Eight quarterbacks have thrown for more touchdowns on their own than the three New Orleans quarterbacks combined. Spokane's Erik Meyer has nearly thrown twice as many with 50.
14. Pittsburgh Power (1-5) Last week: 13
I don't think there's anything more left to say about how bad the Power have been this season. They lose by 14 to a winless team last week and the franchise has its own off-the-field issues that have come to light recently. Anything is possible, but it's pretty certain that the Power will finish with the league's record.