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A great week and a much better one too! A 5-3 mark last week puts me at 82-43 for the season. This is the last week in the regular season and the playoffs get underway next week. Some teams already know they’re in. Some are waiting to see if they get to go to the AFL playoff party and the rest of the teams are like Charlie Brown at Halloween, getting only rocks in their bags instead of candy.
Here are this week’s picks.
Grand Rapids Rampage (5-10) at New Orleans VooDoo (8-7) - Somehow, Grand Rapids managed to come away from Columbus with a tough win, despite losing the total offense battle with the Destroyers. Grand Rapids can leave a positive image for 2009 if they can hold on to the football. The Rampage turned the ball over twice and almost gave Columbus a chance to win. Then again, almost doesn’t win football games. New Orleans is smarting from their loss to Orlando last weekend in the Land of the Mouse and will be looking to get back on track. The VooDoo hold the sixth and final spot in the playoffs but may need some help in the form of Columbus beating Cleveland. New Orleans also needs to play smarter football this week and cut down on penalties (7-80). New Orleans will get the win and then play the waiting game to find out about the proceedings in Ohio.
Columbus Destroyers (3-12) at Cleveland Gladiators (8-7) - Columbus had the week off and looks to ruin the party for Cleveland this weekend on the lake. Meanwhile, Cleveland threw everything but the kitchen sink at Philadelphia last week and almost pulled off the upset. Cleveland needs this game to pass New Orleans for the sixth and final playoff spot in the National Conference. Cleveland wins this one on the shores of Lake Erie and then waits to see if they’re in or out.
Los Angeles Avengers (5-10) at Tampa Bay Storm (7-8) - Los Angeles is another team that is looking to make a good impression for 2009. The Avengers barely got by Kansas City last week in Tinseltown and can’t afford to turn the ball over too much this week. Even though they out of the playoff picture, Tampa Bay, seeded eighth in the National Conference, can’t take them lightly. The Storm could not get on track at San Jose last week and the Saber Cats made them pay for it. Even though they had two turnovers out west, they still had a chance to win. Tampa might not make the playoffs but I see them winning this one and pulling even at 8-8.
Kansas City Brigade (3-12) at Colorado Crush (5-10) - Kansas City is a team that can break your heart. They did everything a team could do against Los Angeles last week, with the exception of one thing: they didn’t win. 3-12 does not make a happy football team. The Crush are a little better but not much. They held off a Arizona team that fought as if they were at Little Big Horn before running out of ammo. This could be either a game for the ages or a game to forget. I’m taking the Crush at home.
Utah Blaze (5-10) at Arizona Rattlers (8-7) - Utah had the week off and looks to close the season out on a positive note. Arizona took Colorado to the edge last week against Colorado, recovering two onside kicks late in the contest before going to the well one time too many. The Rattlers are fighting to move up in the seeding in the American Conference and the Blaze may be the team that could help them make that move. Arizona wins a tight one at home in the desert.
Georgia Force (10-5) at San Jose Saber Cats (10-5) - After a 3-5 start, the Force got their ducks in a row and won seven straight games, including a sweep of conference foe New Orleans. Breaking a 34-34 tie at the end of the third quarter, Georgia took care of their business to clinch the National South title but have to take better care of the football, surrendering two turnovers (one fumble and one interception). They also have to do better on third down conversions, going a lowly 2 for 7. San Jose is coming off a close win over Tampa Bay last weekend on the West Coast in which the Saber Cats and the Storm each scored 35 points in the second half. Like Georgia, they have to be better stewards with the football, coughing up two fumbles. Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions and both control their own destinies. I’m liking Georgia in this season ender, even though San Jose will try and play the role of spoiler for the Force.
Philadelphia Soul (12-3 )at New York Dragons (8-7) - Philly needed luck and a huge rabbit’s foot last week against Cleveland but managed to come back like Rocky. Now they hold the top spot in the National Conference and want to remain kings of the hill when the playoffs start next week. New York is also playoff bound, ranking ahead of New Orleans and Cleveland, perched in fifth. New York is one of those teams that can give you fits, so the Soul have to watch their backs. Philly slays the Dragons while telling them “Have a nice day!”
Dallas Desperados (12-3) at Chicago Rush (10-5) - The last Monday night game of the regular season. Dallas got itself back on track last week after their loss to Philadelphia in Dallas. Although losing the total offense battle 298-261, they did win the most important battle. Chicago will be looking to right its ship after they had Georgia on the ropes and let them off the hook. Bad move, guys. When you have a team on the ropes, finish them off. This could be one of the most entertaining games this season. Right now, Chicago is a 1 seed in the American Conference and Dallas holds the three seed behind Philly and Georgia. Home team takes this one. The Rush get it back on track and win over Dallas.
Idle - Orlando