by: David Taylor
Stuck in the Middle With You is the theme song for the majority of the AFL as week 7 approaches. As five teams battle for four playoff spots, getting the fourth win of the year and an advantage in the end of year tiebreakers will be critical. Here is a look at what is coming up this week:
(3-3) Atlantic City Blackjacks vs. Columbus Destroyers (0-6)
Atlantic City has beaten two teams this season: Baltimore and Columbus. The Blackjacks have an opportunity to pick up another win against Columbus this weekend, as the Destroyers are still looking for that ever elusive first win. On defense, Columbus has been pretty good this season, holding undefeated Albany to under 40 points in week one, and Washing to under 30 in week 5. The problems for Columbus have been on offense. The Destroyers have scored 40 points only once all season and have been held to below 30 twice. For Atlantic City, the key to victory is ball security. The Blackjacks have won the turnover battle in two of three victories and lost it in three defeats.
Players to Watch: Kendrick Ings and Fabian Guerra. Both Ings and Guerra have returned at least one kick for a touchdown this season. It will be interesting to see if the return game can tip the scales one way or another.
Prediction: Blackjacks 41, Destroyers 36
(3-3) Washington Valor vs. Philadelphia Soul (3-3)
This is the key matchup of the weekend, as the head-to-head tiebreaker is up for grabs. Washington defeated Philadelphia 53-46 in a previous encounter this season. This means that Philly must pick up a win, or the Soul could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. Philly wins by winning the turnover battle. Otherwise, there will be too much Arvell Nelson for the Soul to contain. The Valor quarterback is lighting up the league this season, leading in both rushing and passing yards.
Player to Watch: Arvell Nelson, quarterback, Washington Valor. Nelson’s ability to improvise with his legs has made him a challenge to defend this season. It has also made him a fantasy football must-play.
Prediction: Valor 43, Soul 42
(3-3) Baltimore Brigade vs. Albany Empire (6-0)
On paper, this is Baltimore’s scheduled weekend to win, since the Brigade continue to alternate wins and losses this season. Unfortunately for Baltimore, games are not played on paper. This week Baltimore travels to face the undefeated Albany Empire. Albany has shown little weaknesses all season, but some sloppy play in last week’s game showed up late in the third and fourth quarter. Has complacency begun to creep in? Is this the weekend the Empire falls? Doubtful. Albany has scored over 50 points in the last four straight games. The aforementioned sloppy play occurred with a nearly 30 point lead, so there was plenty of room for error.
Player to Watch: Malachi Jones, wide receiver, Albany Empire. Enjoy watching him while he is in the league. Jones is such a big play threat that he is garnering the attention of NFL teams.
Prediction: Empire 51, Brigade 36
Here is how the games will go, according to our experts: