Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Is it Drafty in here? Power vs Orlando Part II

Here we go again. At the beginning of the season, the two games in the first five that I was most worried about were the two against the Predators. But now, in week six, it looks like the first real chance to pick up a second win.

I hope you liked that paragraph, because it's the only one Blogger left me with when it ate my full post. But, these things happen, and we must soldier on.

Things have been dark for the Power so far this season. Our one win is one that we can't take much more pride in winning than the Preds can take shame in losing. Both teams had an ugly night with barely any of their starters for a good chunk of the evening. Game 2 was when they both got to start showing who they were, and they both lost every game since.

During halftime last week, Keller and I were lucky enough to have the chance to discuss Arena Football with KDKA's Bob Pompeani. Following is a transcript of that conversation:

BP: Good game so far
Me: Yeah, they're looking a lot better than they have been
Keller: They get the ball [first] in the second half!
BP: Yep - they deferred and it looks like it's paying off.

This conversation tells us two things:
  1. Pomp was less than impressed with getting to talk to the Steelers N'At guys in the men's room and
  2. There hasn't been much to say about the Power so far.
The Power have started to look better as the weeks have gone on, despite continuing quarterback woes. The Preds, however, have just been looking rough. Now, they can make a case that they've been playing some pretty tough teams - but then so have we. This week could be a turning point for whoever wins. For the Power, 2-3 sounds so very much better than 1-4, and for Orlando, a win can give them some hope that they aren't the Voodoo of this year.

What can we expect in our rematch against the Orlando Predators? Well, we primarily need our defense to step up like they did last week. Colin Drafts has not been having a good run of it, and his line hasn't been protecting him well. He's already been picked 6 times this year, and he's been getting hit fairly regularly. Although it's not too fair to really look at last week (as Cleveland has arguably the best defense in the league), that game is somewhat emblematic of his season so far. He gets picked, he gets hit, he ends up on his back, and the Preds drop another one.

This isn't to say that he's totally without weapons. Although under-utilized, he still has T.T. Toliver, who is an offensive presence when he gets the chance. Nate Forse, although not used often for the score, is Drafts' favorite target in the short game, and Dwayne Eley Jr is his favorite target in the end zone. Mark Lewis can score for them on the ground, and Drafts is the team's top rusher.

None of their numbers are overly impressive, but those are the prime offensive tools for Orlando. Our defense is going to be the key to this game, so long as our offense keeps it together. Getting to Drafts early and often will keep him off of his game. If we were able to get to Raterink a few times, I'm sure that we can get to Drafts. If we can't get to him, I think that we should harass Forse as much as possible to make Drafts feel the need to bomb it to Toliver. (And, obviously, be ready for that and go for the pick 6.)

The key is that we need our offense to play like they did last week. Basically, we need to see more of this, and less of "Ah, f%$ - another INT!" On one hand, Orlando is averaging 33 points a game and we're around 45. On this, it sounds good - but the kicker is that their defense isn't half bad. The Preds might have only broken the 40 point barrier once this season, but they've kept their opponents under 50 in all but one game (the Rush scored 51.) However, they've only gotten two picks this season, and they're allowing around 17 yards a return on kickoffs. As these are two of our weak areas, it makes me feel better.

Given that Stull is out for a few more weeks, and the Power hasn't made any QB transactions since Cassidy, I think it's safe to assume that Andrico Hines will start this week. His INTs sunk us last week, so that's my primary concern going into this game. As I said before, these weren't totally his fault, so the concern is a combination of his ability and the receivers not batting it straight to defenders.

P.J. Berry should have a bit more room to run this week on returns, so we can hope for favorable field position on our drives. This isn't as great of a concern as Hines' interceptions, as his mainly happened in the end zone, but starting farther up the field won't hurt. DeWalt and Lay are both currently suspended, so we're going to have to rely on guys like LeFlore, Berry and Williams on defense. Offense, we just need Hymes, Washington, Young and Berry to do what they did last week.

This isn't a gimmie, but it's a shouldbe. We should be better than Orlando, and we should be able to win this. Either way, this week is a game changer for these two troubled teams. It's really not going to be about who wins - it's going to be about who loses and pretty much sinks their season.

No pressure.

The game airs on the CW and Saturday at 7:30. Also, there are still plenty of tickets available to see it live, so get your ass down to Consol and support the team.

Elsewhere in the league
  • Friday night, Cleveland looks to cement their lead in our division with a match-up against Tampa Bay. I favor Cleveland, but TB finds themselves in a three-way 2-2 tie in their own division with the Force and the Voodoo and are looking to redeem themselves after losing to NOLA last week.
  • The Sharks picked up former Power lineman Dayon Benson to go with our former QB for this week's game against the Utah Blaze. Both teams are second to last in their respective divisions and looking for a win. Given how much tougher the Blaze's division is, they need every win possible. I still see Morris as shaky in Jacksonville, so I'm going to give the edge to Utah in this one.
  • The NFL Game of the Week sees the Voodoo appear for the second week in a row, this time facing Aaron Garcia and the Talons. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm taking the Voodoo in this one. They're in the national game again, and hot off their stunning, curse-breaking victory over the Storm last week. As good as Garcia is, his Talons have been average so far, and the Voodoo is on fire.
  • Oh, damn you, play-off hockey! The Sabercats/Soul game was supposed to be Sunday night, but because of the Flyers (who suck) playing the Pens at home, this game got moved to Saturday at I'll-be-at-Consol-O'clock. I've been quietly giving a soft prediction on these two teams having an Arena Bowl rematch this year, and was really looking forward to this preview.
  • Chicago at Georgia. This game should be an easy pick for the Rush to continue their undefeated ways. I just, for some reason, have a really bad feeling about this game. I'm not basing this on anything, just a gut feeling.
  • Rattlers travel to Iowa Saturday night. This should be a really good match-up, and it's tough to pick a favorite the way these two teams are playing. I'm going to pick the Ratts, just because I like them and I'm angry at the Barnstormers.
  • Finally, the late game is Milwaukee at Spokane. Spokane lost their first game with their reacquired Rowley behind center, but not by a lot. If he gets back in the groove, this troubled team has a chance to turn it around...but the Mustangs are really good this year.

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