Arena Football League Preview: Playoffs Week 2

by BBM Staff

Week 1 of the Arena Football League playoffs  didn't disappoint fans as it was one of the most exciting weekends of football all season. The Albany Empire escaped with a 57-56 overtime victory in Washington while the Baltimore Brigade dominated the Philadelphia Soul 57-45. Week two is shaping up to be even better with the two winners via aggregate scoring advancing to Arena Bowl XXXI. 

Will the Albany Empire head to the Arena Bowl in their first season? (photo credit: Mike Pelletier)

Philadelphia Soul @ Baltimore Brigade, July 20, 2018, 7pm, Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore, MD

Baltimore jumped out to a huge 27-7 halftime lead last week against Philadelphia but couldn't keep the momentum going and allowed the Soul to get back in the game.  The Soul, who boast one of the best (if not, the best) wide receiver corps in the AFL, gained some major ground towards aggregate scoring late in the game after being down.  The final score last week was 57-45 which means this week, not only do the Soul need to win in order to advance to the Arena Bowl, but they must win by at least 13 points.  And it’s not going to be easy with last year’s MVP Randy Hippeard slinging it for Baltimore. The biggest challenge for the Soul is for their secondary not have a repeat of last week’s first half in which they allowed three passing touchdowns. They must enter the game acting as if the score is 12-0 Baltimore and play from there. Defensive Back, James Romain, of the Soul, who also just recently won AFL Defensive Back of the Year, will have his hands full along with his teammates. 

Deciding Factors: The key for the Brigade is to apply pressure early on in the game offensively to get in the heads of the Soul players. On the other side of the ball, the Soul need to play shutdown defense and smart offense. Any early turnovers could very well swing the momentum for the rest of the game.

Washington Valor @ Albany Empire, July 21, 2018, 7:30pm, Times Union Center, Albany, NY

The Albany Empire will host the Washington Valor this weekend in the second game of their two game series. Last week,  the Empire escaped with a one point overtime victory giving themselves a chance to advance to the Arena Bowl in front of their home crowd.  Going into this week’s game, the Valor will have to win by at least two points (based on aggregate scoring) in order to advance to the Arena Bowl. If Albany wins then they'll advance to the Arena Bowl in their first year of existence. 

Deciding Factors: It comes down to which secondary shows up and plays better. Last week neither secondary was impressive. The Valor couldn't contain Malachi Jones (11 receptions, 167 yards, and 4 touchdowns), while the Empire couldn't stop Reggie Gray (14 receptions, 103 yards, and 4 touchdowns). 

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