Yes, you can smell it in the air. Arena football time! My Rattlers open vs. Arch-Rival Utah Blaze and I predict a narrow victory for Arizona. No doubt Danny White and Joe Jermaine have some tricks up their sleeve, but we have... uh... NEW UNIFORMS!
Anyway, here's my take on the relative strength of this year's teams. For a more enjoyable preview, check out the Its Still Football blog.
1. Dallas Desperados -An amazing regular season record over the last two years, but choke in the playoffs. I hate 'em, but I don't see why they can't make a run. 2. Philadelphia Soul- Acquisition of Jackson makes the talented Soul the team to beat. 3. San Jose Sabercats- Defending champs could easily repeat, but QB Grieb isn't getting any younger and they lost WR Ben Nelson to Denver. 4. Georgia Force -Outstanding offensive team will miss Chris Jackson, but still have other weapons and outstanding QB Chris Griesen (former AZ Cardinal). 5. Chicago Rush -The Rush are back with a new QB/WR combination, after losing stud WR Bobby Sippio to the NFL. Bonner to Harrell looks good on paper, but as much as I love Bonner, he is certainly not the QB he once was. 6. Tampa Bay Storm -QB Brett Dietz proved he could get the job done as he took the Storm on a roll to the playoffs. Tampa is the team to beat in the South. 7. Columbus Destroyers Outstanding at QB with Matt Nagy, but the Destroyers need more offensive firepower if they plan to catch lightning in a bottle again during the playoffs. 8. Kansas City Brigade -KC finally has a QB in Raymond Philyaw and they are slowly building a solid team. They have a good shot at the playoffs. 9. Arizona Rattlers- New Owners, new coach, new QB and almost all new players. The Rattlers have promised full refunds if they don't make the playoffs. With Burley back, they have a shot so long as they get decent play from their new QB. 10. Los Angeles Avengers --Very solid, well-run team that will make a playoff run, but doesn't have enough firepower to win it all. 11. Colorado Crush --The former champs lost their best receiver but locked up QB Dutton to a long term (for AFL) contract. I think we'll be seeing lots of camera shots of an unhappy owner (John Elway) this year. 12. Cleveland Gladiators --Led by GM Bernie Kosar, the Gladiators have completely retooled the team for their new home city (formerly Las Vegas and New Jersey). They could be good out of the gate. 13. Orlando Predators- QB Shane Stafford is solid, but Orlando has completely rebuilt the predators and it may take a year for them to fully adjust. 14. Utah Blaze- Best offense in the league has lost their best WR. But they still have little defense and will struggle to make it to .500 this year. 15. New Orleans Voodoo. I love Steve Bellisari --as he has worked his way up from the bottom of the indoor football leagues. But New Orleans doesn't have enough speed or skill unless they are able to bring in new WR (former Rattler) Chris Horn. In that case they will be much improved. 16. New York Dragons. If QB Garcia stays healthy, the Dragons could challenge for the playoffs. If not, they're the worst team in the league. 17. Grand Rapids Rampage -The Rampage have brought in new leadership and new players but it won't be enough.