The Arizona Rattlers finished the 2016 regular season with the top seed, meaning that as long as they keep winning, ArenaBowl XXIX will come through the desert.
The Rattlers are coming off of their final bye week, but it felt like a victory. They went into it the second seed, but thanks to a win by the Philadelphia Soul over the Orlando Predators, they came out of the bye week with the top spot. Holding the highest ranking guarantees that the Rattlers will not have to travel again this season, and as long as they continue to win, they will be able to host the ArenaBowl at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on Friday, August 26th.
First up is one of the hottest teams in the league, the Portland Steel. The Steel have won two of the last three games, and have had the last four games all come down to the final seconds.
Monday night, the Steel faced the LA KISS, and after trailing by five with seven seconds left, quarterback Shane Austin threw a touchdown pass to former Rattlers wide receiver Jared Perry to take for the win. Portland was led by defensive back Sergio Gilliam. The six-year veteran, broke up two passes and collected two interceptions, the first of which was a one-handed grab in the second, which was the AFL Highlight of the Week. His overall efforts earned him the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week.
Saturday will be the fourth time these two have met this season. The Rattlers have won all three previous matchups by an average of 47 points. Portland has made significant gains however since their week 11 meeting, and the game should prove to be much closer.
A win on Saturday will not only put the Rattlers in their sixth straight National Conference title game, it will also give General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Guy sole possession of fourth all-time in postseason wins with 13 (currently has 12).
The game will be at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona this Saturday, August 6th, at 7:00 p.m. PDT. If you can’t make it to the Snake Pit, the matchup will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
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