The AFL Playoffs: Dogs Have Their Day
by Max Powers - 07/01/2008
The Wild Card Weekend of the Arena Football Playoffs was completed last week and the underdogs dominated, covering all four games and winning three of them straight-up. The AFL playoffs follow the NFL prototype with six teams in each conference making the playoffs and the top two seeds in each earning a bye. That being said, a major difference is that there are only 17 teams in the AFL compared to 32 teams in the NFL and thus some undeserving teams made it to the playoffs. This includes Arizona hosting a playoff game after a stellar 8-8 season and three, yes three 6-10 teams making it into the big dance as well.
The National Conference proved far superior, as all six teams that made the playoffs had at least a .500 record. The No. 1 seed in the conference was Philadelphia, a team owned by Jon Bon Jovi. They went 13-3 and were the most consistent team from start to finish this season. Dallas finished a close second but since they are in the same division they had to settle for the third seed and were bounced out last weekend in a surprising upset by New York, a team they had beaten six-straight times.
I think only three squads have a chance to win the ArenaBowl, at the end of July in New Orleans. Those three teams would be Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Jose. San Jose won it all last year after making a late charge and they are on pace to do it again in 2008, but they will have to travel to Chicago should the chalk prevail during the divisional round. The Rush won it all in 2006 and appeared to make a big splash in the offseason, signing quarterback Sherdrick Bonner away from Arizona. Bonner is an AFL lifer but he under performed and was quickly shown the bench in favor of Russ Michna, who threw 57 touchdowns and four interceptions. Matt D'Orazio left Chicago to be a back-up QB for Philadelphia, but has played most of the season with the injury to Tony Graziani.
Here is a small sampling of what lies ahead this week:
Saturday, July 5
Colorado at San Jose (3 p.m. ESPN) - If Colorado can make a game of this I would be shocked. They lost by 17 points at San Jose this season and I don't see this one being any different. However, this one will have a big line and back doors happen all the time in the AFL, see Orlando/Cleveland last week.
Saturday, July 5
New York at Philadelphia (7 p.m. ESPN) - The Dragons are on a roll coming off a huge victory in Dallas, in what most experts believe was the only true upset of the opening weekend. They will have their hands full against the Soul, a team that they have already lost to twice this season. What is worse is that both games were blowouts, by 29 and 21 points, respectively. This game will feature another big number but one must be careful when laying that kind of wood against divisional opponents, since these teams are very familiar with one another and it is always hard to beat a team three times in one season.
Sunday, July 6
Grand Rapids at Chicago (3 p.m. ESPN) - The Rampage enter this game on a roll having won three straight but they all came against bad competition and it wouldn't surprise me if their luck runs out on Sunday. That being said, they can light up the scoreboard and that is the best way for success in the AFL. The Rush have been a very consistent team and were only blown out one time in their five losses this season. They have a strong defense and do not beat themselves.
Monday, July 7
Cleveland at Georgia (8:00 p.m. ESPN 2) - This is the game that has no luster but it will likely be the most competitive game of the weekend. Georgia didn't deserve a No. 2 seed, but nonetheless was the third best team in the league and now will face Cleveland, a team that has made a remarkable turnaround since moving from here from Las Vegas. This game will likely feature the lowest number available and if Bernie Kosar and his losing playoff ways do not jinx them, expect the Gladiators to march onto the finals.
I don't see any chance that three of the four visitors emerge victorious in the divisional round of the playoffs, but there is usually one upset in the AFL. This year appears to be a three-horse race and I hope that the chalk does prevail, setting up an ArenaBowl everyone would want to see. Doc's Sports is your AFL King in 2008 and you can now receive every playoff selection that we make for only $59. We are up big money and want you aboard for the winning ride.