In the first eight weeks of the AFL season, there was a tight race for leadership of the NC West. Now, the Rattlers have claimed complete dominance over the division with a five game lead. With their eyes set on dominating the entire league, homefield advantage may be a key to their post-season.
The only competition left in their division will be for second place and who gets to travel to Phoenix for the first round of the playoffs. The Spokane Shock, Utah Blaze, and San Jose Sabercats are within striking distance of each other for the slot.
With San Jose and Spokane remaining the Rattlers’ schedule, anything can happen, as Spokane proved in their first meeting. However, with a current record of 10-2 and a five game lead, Spokane and San Jose will have to hope for a disaster.
They are also hoping for the NFL lockout to end, which would be disastrous to Arizona anyway since they could lose receiver Rod Windsor to the Cleveland Browns and kicker Fabrizio Scaccia to the San Francisco 49ers. The two are key players as Windsor has totaled 146 points and Scaccia 69 points, according to the statistics from AFL.com.
Still looming in the deep are the Jacksonville Sharks. With a record of 10-1, they are also dominating their division, but with less of a lead as the Orland Predators stalk them from only two games behind.
Jacksonville may be the team to beat in the AFL (which the Rattlers have already done), but Nick Davila has now passed their quarterback and Future Hall-of-Famer, Aaron Garcia, as the league’s best passer.
Garcia has added to his legendary career, and so far boasts a completion percentage of 71.3 with 2,844 yards and 66 touchdowns. Nick Davila has surpassed the living legend with an identical percentage but has accumulated 3,300 passing yards and 71 touchdowns.
With six games left in the 2011 season, anything is still possible. But, the Rattlers biggest concern right now is battling for home field advantage.