Yes, that's right, the AFL as in the Arena Football League, which has 2 Conferences (2 Divisions in each conference), which totals 19 teams. So, with just five weeks left in the regular season, things are starting to get tight. One team has already clinched a playoff spot, AND a first-round bye. That lonely team would be the 9-2 Chicago Rush, who are comfortably atop the very weak Central Division, which is in the American Conference (second-place team is the 4-7 Colorado Crush).
The Eastern Division in the National Conference is, by far, the toughest of them all, and the Division probably won't be decided until week 17 rolls around. My Arena Bowl champions pick in the preseason, the Philadelphia Soul, are currently at the top of that Division with a flawless 10-2 record. But, you obviously can't count out the surging Dallas Desperados, who are currently 9-2 (though Phiily has the tiebreaker over Dallas). The Cleveland Gladiators are third (7-4), New York Dragons sit at 4th (6-5), and the helpless Columbus Destroyers, who were the AFL's runner-ups last season, are a helpless 2-9, which buries them at last place.
As expected, the Orlando Predators are sitting atop their Division (Southern Division in the National Conference). Their 8-4 record puts them a game ahead of the 7-4 New Orleans VooDoo. So, who is on the hot seat, might you say??? Well, there is a simple answer to that: The Predators, of course.
Orlando is expected, by me and probably countless others, to make a return to the playoffs, and perhaps the Arena Bowl. But, they have some blood-thirsty teams left on their remaining schedule. This list includes the 9-2 Desperados this coming Friday, and the second-place New Orleans Voodoo. Both Division Title will be in jeopardy. Heck, I think the 5-6 Arizona Rattlers have a shot at an upset.
Orlando QB Shane Stafford is having a pretty great season so far. Stafford is currently 5th in the AFL in TD passes (60), 4th in yards (3,231), and has a 115.6 QB Rating in 12 games. Plus, if you add QB talent with the best WR in the AFL, T.T. Toliver, then the end result is one hell of an offense. You may be thinking to yourself: Isn't Chris Jackson the best wideout in the League??? And, yes, many say he is. But Toliver is highly underrated, and deserves some attention. Toliver leads the AFL in receiving yards with 1,364, and has 25 TD catches (tied for 5th in the League).
So, yes this team is the team on the hotseat in the Arena League, but if this high-powered offense is clicking, they can beat ANYONE. So, I think that while they are on the hotseat, Shane Stafford will show the Nation that he has leadership skills, and his Predators will go on a 4-game winning streak to end the regular season, and roll into the playoffs.
Friday May 23rd: v.s. Dallas Desperados
Saturday May 31st: v.s. Arizona Rattlers
Saturday June 7th: @ Tampa Bay Storm
Friday June 13th: v.s. New Orleans Voodoo