Week Three in the Arena Football League gave me a lot to think about. Here's some of what is rolling around in my head, in no particular order.
The Philadelphia Soul
As I watched the Philadelphia Soul and Pittsburgh Power engage in an entertaining game on NET10 Arena Football Friday, I couldn't shake the feeling that the Soul should be a lot better. No offense intended to the Power, but Soul are an all-star team. However, the Soul committed five turnovers, left Power receivers wide open, missed tackles, and generally looked nothing like a superteam. After watching them barely survive New Orleans and then struggle with Pittsburgh, the Soul were rapidly dropping in my mental Top Five list. But then the fourth quarter happened. Finally, the Soul seemed to click. They outscored the Power 27-6 in the final frame and set a team record for points scored. If that was Philadelphia's awakening, the rest of the AFL better watch out.
And Then There Were Two
It's pretty amazing that just three weeks into the 2012 season, we're down to only two undefeated teams remaining: the Soul (2-0) and the Chicago Rush (2-0). Too bad they don't play against each other this year unless they meet in ArenaBowl XXV. With so many former members of the Dallas Vigilantes--who used to challenge Chicago in the Central Division--playing (and coaching) for the Soul now, a Soul-Rush game would probably have a rivalry feel to it. At any rate, having only two unbeaten teams left after three weeks says a lot about how close the competition is in the Arena Football League from top to bottom.
The New Orleans VooDoo
The score made it look ugly, but the New Orleans VooDoo actually played a very good game against a tough Milwaukee team. The Mustangs returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the final :30 or so for a 23-point margin of victory that made it look like New Orleans rolled over and died. However, with less than a minute left in the game, Milwaukee had kicked a field goal to take a narrow 10-point lead. Arena football fans know full well that a 10-point advantage is anything but a comfortable lead, so VooDoo fans shouldn't give up on this team, even as their frustrations in the Graveyard continue. Be patient. This year's team is head and shoulders above last year's group, and you will witness your team emerge victorious very soon.
The Kansas City Command
The Kansas City Command have been playing some ridiculous defense in their first two games. After allowing just 202 yards of total offense to Jacksonville in their first game, they allowed 182 yards of total offense to Cleveland this week. With just a little improvement on the offensive side of the ball, Kansas City will be tough. The defense has a huge test in Week 4, though, with Nick Davila and Arizona coming to town on March 29.
The San Jose SaberCats
The San Jose SaberCats have a flair for the dramatic. After slipping past the Rattlers in overtime in Week 1 by a score of 71-70, they fell to Utah in a heart-stopper this week, 60-59. SaberCats fans may want to stock up on Tums if the team keeps this up.
The Utah Blaze
Speaking of Utah, the Utah Blaze appear to be for real. I had no doubt that as long as QB Tommy Grady stayed healthy, they'd score in bunches, but their defense left a lot to be desired last season. This year, though, they've allowed 54, 49, and 59 points in their first three games, and that was against Aaron Garcia, J.J. Raterink, and Mark Grieb. They currently sport the No. 7 scoring defense, the No. 7 pass defense, and the No. 5 total defense in the league. Quite an improvement over last year.
And Then There Were Three
While we only have two undefeated teams left, we also only have three winless teams left: the VooDoo (0-2), the Command (0-2), and the Orlando Predators (0-2). None of these three teams are hapless doormats, though, and my fearless prediction is that none will remain winless for long. I saw the Predators in person on Thursday night, and that is one good team. The Rush struggled mightily to get past them. Orlando gets a mulligan for its first loss, and while I understand the need to count it in the league standings, the "real" Preds are only 0-1 in my tiny little brain. As I said earlier, the VooDoo are right on the cusp, and the Command have a tremendous defense. Once they get their offense clicking, they'll be just fine. Fans of these three teams will have plenty to cheer about soon.
NET10 Arena Football Friday
Have you seen who's up on NET10 Arena Football Friday in Week 4? The SaberCats at the Spokane Shock. I'm drooling already.
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