Monday, October 29, 2007

Power Rankings -- Week 9

So only one week remains in the regular season, but the way things stand, it’s quite certain that the last week will contain plenty of excitement as virtually the only thing truly assured is that Dallas will win their division, with all other spots still quite undecided. We’re quite fortunate that I (yes me, what a shock that I did all the work in that regard like I do for everything, rather than our esteemed commissioner) was able to schedule matches which will wind up being huge in Boston vs. Philadelphia, New York vs. New Jersey, and Miami vs. Seattle. As it’s postseason or bust time, these rankings will be based nearly entirely upon each team's chances in that regard.

1st: Dallas Destiny (7.0 – 2.0) (+0 from last week). Last week I wasn't completely certain if Dallas really deserved the top spot, but now I don't think there can any debate about this; as noted above, Dallas has clinched their spot in the Semifinals and the only things that remain for them (at least in the regular season) is what role they might play in seeing who gets draw odds in the Wildcard round and possibly the ability to choose their color in the Finals should they reach that (which they are guaranteed to have with at least a draw, but might not have with a loss). (Win Division: 100%, Make Playoffs: 100%)

2nd: Boston Blitz (6.0 – 3.0) (+0). Another result which I’m sure disappointed the Blitz this past week, but it’s not something that really changed the situation much as the Blitz have clinched their playoff spot and even if they had won this past week, would still need only a draw to clinch the East division. Though they are quite favored to take the spot, they do have to be somewhat worried as they seem to have run into a cold stretch in this last part of the regular season, obviously not the form they’ll want to be in during the postseason. (72%, 100%)

3rd: Philadelphia Inventors (6.0 – 3.0) (+0). So there will be no ghosts in the closet to keep the Inventors out of the playoffs like last year. A celebratory situation, no doubt, but they have little time for it at this stage as they must do everything to win the next week’s rematch with Boston to make their lives far easier in the postseason. I could say more, but I've devoted plenty of attention to the Inventors in my public apology so I'll move on now. (28%, 100%)

4th: San Francsico Mechanics (5.0 – 4.0) (+2). The defending champions, with another smooth win, have managed to assure they won’t repeat the unfortunate happening that fell upon their predecessors, the Kingfishers, in the year after they won the Championship. Though they won’t three-peat as division winners, they have a very good shot to get themselves draw odds in the Wildcard (which is a virtual lock with a draw) and though they’ll have to face draw odds this time rather than have them in the Semifinals (should they reach them), it does seem natural that everyone needs to be playing from behind at some point. (0%, 100%)

5th: Seattle Sluggers (4.5 – 4.5) (+0). Another fairly rough loss for Seattle and suddenly their playoff birth is treading on thin ice. They still are a lock to make it with a draw (though another loss will leave them on the outside), but barring some nice help from the Destiny, they will likely have to take on the Mechanics once again facing draw odds (the quandary which ended their last season), an unenviable assignment for any team. (0%, 69%)

6th: New Jersey Knockouts (4.5 – 4.5) (+1). The Knockouts have a leg up on their two competitors for the final playoff spot in the East, but it’s still going to be far from easy as New York seems to excel in this playing from behind situation, and a draw is not even enough to guarantee them that spot (though Baltimore will need to win by 3 – 1 or better against Queens to make it not happen). While they are obviously in the best position to get that last spot, it promises to be anything but easy, and they really must put the maximum effort into preparing for this challenge. (0%, 55%)

7th: Miami Sharks (4.0 – 5.0) (+3). Will Miami be this year’s Cinderella story? Well perhaps in one sense as despite fielding the weakest lineup (rating wise) in league history along with a myriad of internal problems (which caused them all sorts of time penalties), they managed to knock off a tough Carolina team and put themselves to be in the playoffs with a win. To get that win might be a rather hard challenge given the way Seattle has dominated them so far in the League, but Miami definitely should have some amount of momentum on their side after this last win, and hopefully no further internal problems will plague them next week when it’s all on the line. While I’m not sure (especially with the internal problems) that they’re a better team than the Knights or Kingfishers, very simply they have a much simpler task than those two teams to make the postseason (as they need no outside help) so I’m putting them higher in these rankings. (0%, 31%)

8th: New York Knights (4.0 – 5.0) (-4). Once again, how things can change in one week! The Knights went to being a team which was probably favored by most to be in the postseason to a team which must win and get a bit of outside help to make it. But as noted above, New York has a tendency to shine when it's do or die time so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see a super performance from them in the final week when they'll have to go home for the winter without one. (0%, 28%)

9th: Baltimore Kingfishers (4.0 – 5.0) (+0). The Kingfishers still have a tough road to make the playoffs as strangely despite having the better first tiebreak, they actually have fewer scenarios in which to make the playoffs than the Knights. While both teams need to win, a Baltimore win is not sufficient with any New Jersey victory or a larger New York win (and the narrowest of Baltimore wins makes a New Jersey draw undesirable as well). New York, on the other hand, with any win as long as Baltimore scores fewer game points than them are automatically in. So due to needing more "outside assistance", Baltimore has some long odds to be in the postseason. A difficult spot for sure, but obviously far better to be alive than not. (0%, 17%)

10th: Queens Pioneers (3.5 – 5.5) (+1). Unfortunately, Queens will not be the Expansion Team turned Champions in their first season. It’s too bad that Queens really couldn’t seem to find a way to play consistently as they really have such a strong lineup. Although we won’t see them in the postseason this year, this was only their first year, and I would expect to see them back and stronger next season with a year’s experience under their belts. (0%, 0%)

11th: Carolina Cobras (3.5 – 5.5) (-3). Last year’s Cinderella story will not pull off a similar act as Carolina is unfortunately out of that picture now as well. A tough past few weeks for them as it really seemed early that they were definitely a team to watch out for having two such strong lower boards and playing much better than previous seasons up top. Unfortunately, the League is just so strong that it’s easy for any good team to lose matches without too much bad fortune. Like Queens, keep a watch out for them next season though. (0%, 0%)

12th: Tennessee Tempo (2.0 – 7.0) (+0). It looks as though Tennessee’s role as a spoiler has also ended for the season, but the Tempo still have so much to build on this season as they really showed themselves to be a far more competitive team than their first season with almost no blowout losses and so many near victories. Hopefully they can only continue to get better and start really surprising the prognosticators (like me!) next year. (0%, 0%)

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