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Article:The First Quarter Of The 2008 Arena Football Season

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Every team has played at least 4 games now, and here are how things look:

American Conference:

Western Division:

1st) San Jose SaberCats 3-2 (1-0 in division) .475 SoS.

This is the first time since 2004 that the 'Cats have been at the top of the division. They're sporting the 7th ranked scoring offense and defense, but QB Mark Grieb is on pace to throw 26 interceptions, 10 more than he's thrown in any of his 11 seasons. As the rest of the division is under .500, San Jose just has to play .500 ball to claim the playoff spot.

2nd) Los Angeles Avengers 2-3 (1-0 in division) .419 SoS.

After blowing up New Orleans and Arizona 124-75 in their two opening games, the Avengers have dropped their last 3 games 127-213 (42-70). QB Sonnie Crumbie is only hitting on 55% (10 points off a good league number) of his passes and has contributed 10 turnovers to the (lack) of effort). There's a chance for them to turn things around, but they're going to have to stop giving up 84 points in a game.

3rd) Arizona Rattlers 2-3 (1-2 in division) .484 SoS.

This franchise is in trouble. The ownership has promised a full refund to all season ticket holders if the team misses the playoffs again. But the team is horridly inconsistent, at times looking like the ’97 championship team, but at other times looking like a mid-level AF2 team. Backup Jeff Smoker is rated 25 th out of 27 QBs to have started this year, and that’s the basis of the problem. He’ll have to adjust to the indoor game quick if the Rattlers are to make money this year.

4 th) Utah Blaze 0-5 (0-1 in division) .500 SoS.

The Blaze have combined the #5 scoring offense with the #17 (last) scoring defense while compiling the worst record in the league so far. Danny White’s bunch can score with anyone, but they cannot stop anyone. If Danny can’t get the defense to do more than step out on the field, it’s going to be a long season for the Blaze.

Central Division:

1st) Chicago Rush 4-1 (1-0 in division) .429 SoS.

Off-season pickups of QB Shredrick Bonner (from AZ) and Damien Harrell (CO) have gelled quickly and the Rush’s record shows it. To go along with the #3 scoring offense, James Barron (3 sacks), John Moyer (3 sacks), Dennison Robinson (4 INTs, 36.5 tackles), and Jeremy Unertl (2 INTs, 29 tackles) head the #2 scoring defense. Chicago is a real threat to add another title to the one they picked up in 2006.

2nd) Grand Rapids Rampage 2-2 (1-1 in division) .415 SoS.

Coach Steven Thonn started the season with Adrian McPherson (FSU) and James MacPherson (WFU) as his QBs. He picked Adrian as the starter. The Rampage picked up where the left off last season (dropping 6 of their last 7) and came out 0-2 this season. Thonn opted for a change, installing James as the starter before last Monday’s trip to KC. James responded, going 24-27, 305 yards and 9 TDs in a 92-52 pasting of the Brigade. Yesterday, he followed that up with a 18-22, 215 yard 5 TD performance as the Rampage slapped the Avengers back to LA 84-59. If the Rampage continues this at only 85% of that pace, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.

3rd) Colorado Crush 1-3 (0-0 in division) .460 SoS.

The Crush are 1-3 because QB John Dutton is off. And as long as he stays off, the Crush will struggle.

4 th) Kansas City Brigade 0-4 (0-1 in division) .500 SoS.

The Brigade was 13-3 last year and Coach Kevin Porter is fit to be tied trying to figure out where that went. Neither John Fitzgerald or Matt Kohn is making a splash at the QB position and until one of them steps up, the Brigade is going to struggle.

National Conference:

Southern Division:

1st) New Orleans VooDoo 4-1 (2-0 in division) .468 SoS.

QB Danny Wimprine is the 7 th ranked QB in the league, limited his INTs to 2 in 5 games, and they’re sporting the both the 4 th ranked scoring offense and defense. Three of their next 4 games are against sub-.500 teams (only a road trip to 5-0 Dallas), New Orleans is positioned to be playing after the regular season ends.

2nd) Orlando Predators 3-2 (2-0 in division) .517 SoS.

Brother Of Chucky, Jay Gruden, seems to have righted the ship in Orlando. After stumbling out to an 0-2 start to the season, The Jungle has once again become an uncomfortable place for the visiting team. QB Shane Stafford is ranked 4 th, and the defense has improved (from allowing 77 in Week 1 to only 44 on Saturday). Jay has a number of rings, as a player and coach, and Orlando is still, in year 18 of the franchise, a force to be reckoned with.

3rd) Tampa Bay Storm 2-2 (1-1 in division) .547 SoS.

AFL Dean Of Coaches Tim Marcum (192-87, 7 championships) has the Storm making noise again this year. After 5 years of either 1-and-done or missing the playoffs, Coach Tim has QB Brad Dietz running his offense well. When the defense catches up from it’s #13 ranking, nobody will want the Storm in the playoffs.

4 th) Georgia Force 2-3 (0-2 in division) .524 SoS.

The Force are starting to show signs that last year’s 14-2 record wasn’t a fluke. After looking putrid dropping their first two games of the season, QB Chris Griesen (117 TDs last season) is steadily improving (up to 10 th now) and their 6 th ranked scoring defense will keep them tough all season.

Eastern Division:

1st) Philadelphia Soul 5-0 (1-0 in division) .492 SoS.

After starting 4-0 in 2007, QB Tony Graziani went out due to injury and the Soul dropped 6 straight to take them out of serious contention. This year Tony went down two games ago, and instead of folding like last year, QB Matt D’Orazio (3 rd ranked QB) has stepped in and keep the train on the track. They’re combining the #2 ranked scoring offense with the 3 rd ranked scoring defense, and are winning games by an average of almost 20ppg. They still have 2 games against 5-0 Dallas and 3-1 Cleveland in the division, so there’s still work to be done.

2nd) Dallas Desperados 5-0 (2-0 in division) .607 SoS.

QB Clint Dolezel suffered a 3 rd degree shoulder separation in the 2 nd quarter of game 1, and Dallas hasn’t missed a beat. 5 th -year back up Chris Sanders has stepped in and limited his mistakes while the Number 1 scoring defense is flirting with allowing less than 40ppg (hasn’t happened since the 2000 Orlando Predators allowed 39.6 over 17 games). The Desperados still need to get their post season act together (2-4 in 4 appearances), but they’re 34-4 over their last 38 regular season games.

3rd) Cleveland Gladiators 3-1 (2-0 in division) .597 SoS.

Cleveland rolled out in their new digs at 3-0 this year, but they got embarrassed two weekends ago in New Orleans, 24-63. And getting off right in the second quarter of the season will be a challenge, as the Gladiators have to travel to Dallas and take on the best defense in the AFL. Veteran QB Raymond Philyaw is still working back into pre-ACL injury (2005) but he’s willing to work to get there.

4 th) Columbus Destroyers 1-4 (0-2 in division) .574 SoS.

Last year’s magic has failed to appear this year, and until they get the ball to bounce their way again, the Destroyers will fight with NY for the bottom of the Conference. QB Matt Nagy is not in the Top 10 and the defense is not getting the turnovers they did last year.

5 th) New York Dragons 1-4 (0-3 in division) .583 SoS.

The Dragons lack the offensive line to keep HoF QB Aaron Garcia in the lineup. From a broken leg two seasons ago, to a knee last year, and now with bruised ribs, NY’s offense is dead last in scoring in the AFL, which is wasting the #7 scoring defense. Until they can find three linemen who’s primary move isn’t “lookout” blocking, NY will fail to improve.


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