The Arizona Rattlers (6-3) take on conference foe the Cleveland Gladiators (5-4) in what will be a crucial National Conference battle. The winner of this game will be in first place in the conference. The Rattlers are coming off a last second 63-56 loss to the Tampa Bay Storm (1-7) in Tampa Bay. The Gladiators are coming off of a 63-49 win against the Philadelphia Soul (7-2) at home. The game between the Rattlers and Gladiators is on Friday and can be streamed on Watch ESPN with a tablet, laptop, or phone.
1st Place on the Line
The winner of Friday’s game will be in the driver’s seat in the National Conference. Cleveland started the year 1-4 and they are currently on a four game winning streak. The Rattlers started the season 5-0 and are 1-3 in their last four games. After the horn sounds, the Rattlers will either increase their lead in the National Conference or the Gladiators will be in first place in the conference.
High Scoring Game
The Arizona Rattlers are one of two teams that average at or above 60 points per game with an average of 64. Orlando is the other team, averaging right at 60 points per game. The Cleveland Gladiators defense allows 54 points per game which is second worst in the league. Cleveland’s offense averages 51 points per game so this game has the potential to be close. The Rattlers defense allows 46 points per game which is third best in the league. Look for a back and forth battle, where turnovers will be a key factor in getting this much needed conference win.
The Run Game could be Huge
The Gladiators and Rattlers are second and third when it comes to rushing yards per game averaging 22 and 21 yards respectively. Cleveland leads the league with 15 rushing touchdowns on the season and Arizona is tied for second with 13. The Rattlers also have the second best rushing defense only allowing 13 yards per game. Arizona has allowed ten rushing touchdowns this season which is fourth most in the league. Look for a physical battle in the trenches and the ability to open running lanes to be a key in helping lead their team to victory.
A Prolific Passing Offense Against a Talented Secondary
It’s no secret that the Rattlers have one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the AFL in Nick Davila, but what might not be so well known is the Gladiators secondary has the most interceptions this year. The Rattlers passing offense has been one of the most efficient this season throwing for a league best 61 touchdowns and only five interceptions which is second to only Jacksonville. The Rattlers have also thrown for over 2,500 yards which leads the league. Cleveland’s secondary has been impressive with a league high 14 interceptions on the season tied with the Soul for the best in the league. Seven of those 14 interceptions have been returned for touchdowns. Cleveland will try to force Davila into some risky throws and look to grab some interceptions. If successful, the game could be close.
Flags won’t be flying
The Rattlers and Gladiators are first and second in the league in fewest penalty yards averaging 36 and 49 respectively. Arizona has the least amount of penalties this season only having 49 through nine games. The next closest team is Jacksonville who has 61 in their nine games. Arizona and Cleveland both force their opponents to make lots of mistakes. They each rank in the top two in number of opponent penalties, with Arizona leading with 80 and Cleveland right behind them with 77. Both of these disciplined teams look to be able to force one another into mistakes that will give them an edge. Whoever can have the fewest penalties will give their team an edge in the game on Friday.