The Lakeland Thunderbolts moved to the AIFA after spending two years in the sinking NIFL. The NIFL Thunderbolts had made the postseason in both of their seasons and intended to bring their winning ways to their new league. After an opening week loss at Mississippi, the Thunderbolts went on a tear, winning eleven of their final twelve games, many by significant margins and going unbeaten at home. The team earned homefield advantage for the playoffs and easily defeated Carolina and then dropped 84 points on the Mudcats. The Thunderbolts survived a late rally by the Reading Express to win the first ever neutral site American Bowl game, 54-49.