Friday, September 21, 2007

Power Rankings -- Week 4

Here is how I think things stand after Week 4.

1st: Boston Blitz (3.5 – 0.5) (+0 from last week). Boston was finally nicked, but still remains to me, the best team by far in the league. They certainly still don’t have an easy road with many tough opponents coming up, especially their next week’s battle with the Baltimore Kingfishers, a team which Boston statistically has not fared very well against in the past (though their last encounter in the 2006 regular season finale was a rather important victory for the Blitz in crushing the Kingfishers playoff hopes). The simple fact may be that Boston’s only real worry, as has been expertly observed at the Boylston Blog, is having no answer to Charbonneau, and the creative ways to solve that difficulty mentioned there might what their players should be working on in the immediate future. (Win Division: 50%, Make Playoffs: 95%)

2nd: Dallas Destiny (3.0 – 1.0) (+1). Dallas fought Carolina to a tough standstill this week and is now tied atop their division with Seattle. Although the Sluggers currently lead them in game points, it seemed to me until this last week that Dallas was the second best team in the West behind the Mechanics and with the Mechanics defeat, I think Dallas is the fairest choice to be the top dog right now in the West. This is also because they seem to be throwing a wide variety of lineups at their opposition, really making effective use of the fact that they have 4 IMs on their roster and as I stated awhile ago in my preseason predictions, I feel this kind of flexibility will pay dividends in the long term. (30%, 78%)

3rd: Seattle Sluggers (3.0 – 1.0) (+1). Since their close round one defeat at the hands of the Blitz, Seattle has really been on a complete tear steamrolling their last three opponents and definitely silencing me on one of my worries about them (i. e. their inability up to this point to defeat the other best teams). They may very well be the best team in the West at this point, but just as I did with the Destiny last week, I won’t promote them there just yet, at least until they can give me just a tad more proof. (29%, 76%)

4th: San Francisco Mechanics (2.0 – 2.0) (-2). All good things must come to an end, and I suppose given how strong the league is, the Mechanics’ winning streak ending was inevitable. Of course, that really can’t be something that they can afford to have weigh on their minds at this point as they really must focus on stepping up their play to their last season’s pace if they want to think about winning the division or even making the playoffs since Dallas, Seattle, and Carolina all seem to be making strong charges to do the same. (23%, 68%)

5th: Baltimore Kingfishers (2.5 – 1.5) (+0). Baltimore’s fairly convincing win over the Inventors this week (albeit against a weakened lineup) was a nice demonstration of why I really continue to feel they are a team which is going to make some noise. This week’s big 1 vs. 2 showdown with Boston seems likely to determine if any team is really going to make a serious challenge to challenge the Blitz for the Eastern Division Crown (and not to mention of course an important match, as all are, to the playoff hopes of the Kingfishers). (23%, 69%)

6th: Carolina Cobras (2.5 – 1.5) (+1). Carolina has now established to me that they are a very solid team all around rather than a team which mostly made their living off the bottom two boards last season. While I still am somewhat skeptical if they have the overall firepower to really win their Division or the Championship, they definitely seem like very real playoff contenders. (15%, 62%)

7th: Queens Pioneers (1.5 – 2.5) (+3). Queens broke out of the board one funk in an impressive way and just in time to give them this very important win against the Knockouts. They still have some make-up work to do from their slow early start, but if they can continue to play as they did in this last match, they certainly have it in them to beat any team in the league and to make the playoffs. (11%, 41%)

8th: Philadelphia Inventors (2.0 – 2.0) (-2). A weakened lineup likely forced Philadelphia into their second straight rough defeat. While hopefully they won’t have to play any more matches without Kudrin, the East once again is so strong that no team can afford too many slip ups, and this week’s match with the Pioneers could be huge both in the standings and for their morale. (9%, 38%)

9th: New York Knights (1.0 – 3.0) (+0). Although once again New York I’m sure really wanted to win their match this week, a draw against the best team using their probable best lineup certainly can’t be considered a bad result. Again, like Queens though, the make-up they must do to compensate for their slow start really must begin soon as the season is nearly half over. (4%, 30%)

10th: New Jersey Knockouts (1.5 – 2.5) (-2). New Jersey ran out of miracles this week with their getting outplayed on the board finally catching up to them and handing them their first defeat. The Knockouts really don’t seem to have any holes in their lineups; it just seems in every match, the opposing team is playing a little bit better than them. I’m not sure if this has to do with preparation issues or what, but the Knockouts obviously must step things up quickly in some way if they want to be in the post-season. (3%, 27%)

11th: Miami Sharks (1.0 – 3.0) (+0). The Sharks finally managed to get on the board, albeit in much closer fashion than I think they would have liked. Of course, this was only one win, and they are going to need quite a few more before they can salvage their season. Whether they can do this really depends on whether their veterans, Lugo, Martinez, and Moreno Roman can play up to the level that they generally do irl as their recent league performances are not going to get it done. (3%, 15%)

12th: Tennessee Tempo (0.5 – 3.5) (+0). I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to endure defeats of the type the Tempo have been taking every week, especially after playing well enough to draw or win most of their matches. I really don’t know why the Tempo happen to be cursed with this problem, but of course they have no chance for success until they solve it. I do see many positives in their season this year compared to last as they have really been very competitive in all of their matches; much more so than the majority of last season. While it’s likely too late to salvage their current season (given they would need a long streak of wins to turn it around, and they are just not a team with the firepower to be able to do that), hopefully they have many things they can build on for the future. (0%, 1%)

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