by Walter L. Johnson II
July 27, 2005 - arenafootball2 (af2)
Just one week remains in the 2005 arenafootball2 regular season, and all 12 playoff berths have been clinched. Now, the only thing that's left to be decided is which teams will be seeded where. Let's read on to find out how things turned out in Week 17.
AMERICAN CONFERENCE RACE: The Florida Firecats made the trip up north to Green Bay, Wis. to face the Blizzard last Saturday. By the end of the night, Florida held off a scrappy Green Bay squad to pull out a 48-47 win on the road. With the win, the Firecats not only improved to 13-2 on the season, but also assured themselves of the top seed in the American Conference playoffs.
That's because the Manchester Wolves saw yet another opportunity to clinch the East Division title slip away on the road, as they fell to the Louisville Fire 78-61 in front of 7,261 fans at Freedom Hall. Now the Fire (10-5) can clinch the East Division crown this Saturday, if it can defeat Quad City, and Manchester loses at home to the Albany (N.Y.) Conquest Friday night. As for the Wolves, who currently stand at 11-4 after losing three of their last four games, they can clinch the division title by beating the Conquest.
Elsewhere in the American Conference, the race for the bottom three seeds continued to evolve, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers (8-7) held off Albany on the road 54-47, while the Macon Knights won their third straight game after crushing the South Georgia Wildcats 72-47. Still, Green Bay (8-7) holds tiebreakers over both Macon and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton through last weekend's games, which would enable the Blizzard to host a first-round playoff game. But first, Green Bay must snap a three game losing streak this weekend at South Georgia.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE RACE: It wasn't until Week 16 that the first playoff berths in the National Conference had been clinched, with the Memphis Xplorers and Tulsa Talons capturing the Midwest Division title and playoff berth, respectively. Now, all six playoff berths in that conference have been locked up, thanks to some key wins.
Tulsa clinched the West Division crown after beating the Amarillo Dusters 42-34, while the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz routed the Rio Grande Valley Dorados 71-40. Despite their third straight loss, though, the Dusters still managed to clinch their first-ever playoff berth as an af2 franchise, thanks to the Central Valley Coyotes 69-57 loss to Memphis at home.
Meanwhile, the Quad City Steamwheelers continued their late season momentum, as they knocked off the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings 53-51 on a pass off the nets with no time left. Finally, the Xplorers can clinch the top seed in the National Conference playoffs with a win over Bossier-Shreveport Saturday night.
DRIVE TO THE PLAYOFFS: As mentioned above, all 12 playoff berths have been clinched; with the only thing left to be determined is the seeding. This is how the pairings would look if the regular season ended this weekend.
1. FLORIDA (13-2)#
2. MANCHESTER (11-4)
4. Green Bay*
1. MEMPHIS (12-3)#
2. TULSA (11-4)#
3. Quad City (9-6)*
4. Oklahoma City (9-6)*
5. Rio Grande Valley (9-6)*
6. Amarillo (8-7)
KEY: Current division leaders in ALL CAPS
#--Clinched division title
*--Holds current tiebreaker
PROJECTED PLAYOFF PAIRINGS:
AMERICAN CONFERENCE: Florida, Manchester receives first-round byes, Wilkes/Barre-Scranton at Louisville, Macon at Green Bay.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE: Memphis, Tulsa receives first-round byes, Amarillo at Quad City, Rio Grande Valley at Oklahoma City.
A LOOK AHEAD: Although all of the playoff berths have been clinched, so much still rides on the week of the final regular season, as the remaining seeds have yet to be decided. Here are several games that will complete the playoff picture in Week 18.
Macon (8-7) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (8-7): The winner of this contest could host a first-round playoff game should Green Bay lose at South Georgia.
Quad City (9-6) at Louisville (10-5): As mentioned above, the Fire can clinch the East Division title with a win plus a Manchester loss to Albany. As for the Steamwheelers, a victory would all but assure them of hosting an opening round playoff game themselves.
Tulsa (11-4) at Oklahoma City (9-6): The Talons can clinch the top seed and home field advantage throughout the National Conference playoffs with a win and a Memphis loss to Bossier-Shreveport. As for the Yard Dawgz, they must win, and get help if they hope a host a playoff game.
Last Week: 7-3
Season-To-Date 93-55 (.628)
Manchester over Albany (Friday)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over Macon
Louisville over Quad City
Green Bay over South Georgia
Amarillo over Arkansas
Florida over Birmingham
Memphis over Bossier-Shreveport
Rio Grande Valley over Bakersfield
Tulsa over Oklahoma City
San Diego over Central Valley
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