AFL Playoff Picture Heading into Week 8

The AFL has just announced that the AFL ownership, teams, and football operations have unanimously decided on the structure for the postseason leading up to ArenaBowl XXXIII. The playoffs will start on July 5 or 6, pending arena availability, span three weekends, and conclude on July 19 with ArenaBowl XXXIII. 

Format and Scheduling

There will be a five-team playoff structure, with the top five teams in winning percentage getting the bid. Any ties will be settled by head-to-head record, then head-to-head points scored, and then average points scored per game played. The first round will be played on July 5th or 6th, depending on home team arena availability. During that weekend, the 5th-seeded team will travel to play the 4th-seeded team, with the winner advancing to the semifinals.

The winner of the 4th vs. 5th quarterfinal will face the 1st-seeded playoff team, while the other semifinal game will be played between the 2nd and 3rd-seeded teams. The 1st and 2nd seeds will host those semifinal games, which will take place on July 12th or 13th, depending on home team arena availability.

The winners of the semifinal games will advance to fight for the title of ArenaBowl XXXIII Champions. ArenaBowl XXXIII will be played at a neutral site on July 19, 2024.

Who Would Make It After Week 7?

The top five teams as of now are:

  1. Albany Firebirds
  2. Billings Outlaws
  3. Salina Liberty
  4. Orlando Predators
  5. South West Kansas Storm

So, with the previously mentioned format, the Storm would travel to Orlando in the first week for the quarterfinals. Then the winner of those two would travel to Albany in the next week for a semifinal matchup. The other semifinal game would be played the same weekend in Billings between the Liberty and the Outlaws. Then, of course, the ArenaBowl would be the following weekend, July 19, between the winner of the semifinals. 

AFL Teams and Leadership Announce Playoff Format for 2024

Playoff Factors and Implications 

#1 Albany Firebirds

The Firebirds are, mathematically speaking, guaranteed a spot in the postseason. Even if they lose out in their final three games, they will still be in the playoffs. However, their final three games are against the contending Orlando Predators and Billings Outlaws, and there is still plenty to play for.

The outcome of those games will have a drastic impact on the seeding of the playoffs. The Firebirds are not going to roll over for anybody and will look to close out the season with three wins. They still have an undefeated record to defend. 

#2 Billings Outlaws

The Outlaws are the other team guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. They face Albany and Salina before the season ends. Like the Firebirds, they will also be fighting the battle for good seeding. They also play the Washington Wolfpack, but they are likely not to be a major concern for Billings. By closing out with three straight wins, Billings could vault themselves into the number one seed.

#3 Salina Liberty

The Liberty are mostly secure in their playoff positioning. The only way they are certainly booted from the playoffs is if they lose their final three games. They play the Regulators in Week 8 and, after that, have some heavy opponents.

Salina will first have to stave off a hungry West Texas team that is fighting to make the postseason. No rest for them because after that, they have to play the 2nd-ranked Billings Outlaws at home. Salina is likely to make the playoffs, but the road there could be a bumpy one.

#4 Orlando Predators

The Predators sit in 4th at the moment, but their fate is far from certain. In their final games, they play the 1st overall Albany Firebirds twice as well as the Wichita Regulators. Winning out the rest of their games would rocket them in the standings, and they could overtake the Firebirds.

However, the Predators have already lost to Albany once, and it will not be easy going against the best offense in the league. Orlando needs to at least split with Albany and beat Wichita to lock up a playoff berth.

#5 Southwest Kansas Storm

The Storm are 5th overall and will do their best to maintain their claim to the last playoff spot. It is not so much for others to take as much as it is theirs to lose. In the remaining regular season games, the Storm are set to play the Desert Hawks, the Wolfpack, and the Kats. The Wolfpack may not be much of a challenge for the Storm.

Washington is the last-ranked team in the league and, based on averages, does not score enough points to win. Other than that, they just need to pull out another win between their games against the Desert Hawks and the Kats. For the Storm to most likely lock up a spot, they need to win two games against any combination of their final opponents.

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#6 West Texas Desert Hawks

West Texas is on the fringe of the playoffs with an important matchup coming up. They will be taking on the South West Kansas Storm at home. A win for West Texas in this game puts them up on the Storm in the standings. West Texas is a team that seems like a playoff-ready squad. Their caliber of football is simply that good, but they have fallen on the losing side of almost every close play, last-minute drive, and 50/50 play.

Now, West Texas has two more games to play. After the Storm, they will play the Liberty in Salina. That will be a tough matchup, but it is a must-win. For West Texas to get in, they need to win out, and the Storm need to lose one more game.

#7 Nashville Kats

The Kats are tied with the West Texas Desert Hawks just below the playoff marker. However, the odds of them pulling out a playoff spot are stacked against them. The Kats only have one game left to play against the Southwest Kansas Storm. Regardless of the outcome of the game, the math is stacked against them. They are likely not to make the playoffs, but they surely can disrupt the standings and cause movement by taking down the Storm.

#8 & #9 Wichita Regulators and Washington Wolfpack

Two teams sit at the very bottom of the league: the Wichita Regulators and the Washington Wolfpack. These teams do not have a shot at making the playoffs and, frankly, are getting ready to build stronger for next year. Though this season will likely end for them after week 10, they can still impact the postseason. Both the Regulators and Wolfpack play playoff hopefuls in Week 8 and 9 before playing each other in Week 10. 

The Regulators have the Liberty and the Predators. The Wolfpack have the Outlaws and the Storm. Not much is expected from these two teams, considering they both sit at one win on the season. Anything can happen, though, and it is just when teams get complacent and when fans do not expect things to happen that the most improbable things happen.

There may be slight guarantees, but the postseason is far from set in stone. Many key matchups will occur over the next three weeks that could turn the league upside down. 

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