Arena Football League: Week 8 Preview

by Corey Mansfield

Philadelphia Soul (3-3) @ Washington Valor (0-6),  May 31, 2018, 7pm,  Capital One Arena

The Philadelphia Soul and Washington Valor are both in the midst of losing streaks. The Soul have lost three straight while the Valor are winless on the season at 0-6.

Last week, the Soul were defeated by the Baltimore Brigade 54-35 despite the strong play of rookie quarterback Greg McGhee who had accounted for five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing).

The Valor had a promising Week 6 showing against the Baltimore Brigade, but then laid a dud against the Albany Empire last week, going down to defeat 48-21. Albany controlled every aspect of the game and the final score could have been much worse.

Can the Washington Valor cracked the win column this week? (photo credit: Corey Mansfield) 
The first meeting between these two teams earlier in the season was a shutout with the Soul prevailing 67-51. However, that matchup featured two of arguably greatest quarterbacks in Arena League history - Dan Raudabaugh and Nick Davila, both of which are done for the season.

Deciding Factor: Which ever team has the better quarterback play has the best chance to win this game. Greg McGhee played well for the Soul last week, but he turned the ball over twice and looked confused on numerous occasions. He'll need to do a better job protecting the ball.

The Valor, on the other hand, will turn to Warren Smith Jr. or newly assigned veteran Arvell Nelson to lead them to victory at quaterback. Smith Jr. became the team's starter after Nick Davila was hurt in Week 3 but was eventually replaced by Shane Austin, who was place on "recallable reassignment" this week. Nelson is a veteran of the league and 155 passing touchdowns in his AFL career. Look for him to have a huge game.

Baltimore Brigade (5-1) @ Albany Empire (4-2), June 2, 2018, 7pm, Times Union Center

This is a matchup of the two best teams in the AFL and possible preview of Arena Bowl 31. The first matchup of the season between these two teams came down to the wire with Baltimore pulling out the victory after Albany fumbled a center-quarterback exchange on a possible game-winning drive. Since that loss, Albany has rolled off four straight victories. It was also the start of five-game winning streak for the Brigade.

Last week, the Brigade defeated the Philadelphia Soul 54-35 behind a great all-around team performance. QB Randy Hippeard threw for three touchdowns to three different receivers while the Brigade adding three rushing touchdowns.

The Empire cruised to a 48-21 victory after dominating the Washington Valor. QB Tommy Grady threw for six touchdowns, including three to WR Joe Hills who extended his all-time record for consecutive games with a touchdown to 86. Another key was how the Empire defense stymied the Washington offense.

Can anyone stop Joe Hills? (photo credit: Mike Pelletier)
Deciding Factor: For both teams it comes down to the secondary and which team can do a better job covering the opposing team's receivers. The Brigade defensive backs need to be physical with Joe Hills and not allow him to get open, while the Empire need to make sure they don't get beat with the long ball like in the earlier meeting.

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