Phoenix, Ariz. – This is arguably the Arena Football League’s (AFL) biggest matchup of the year. The current top two teams meet in the desert to decide which team may be the top seed in the postseason.
With the win last Saturday over the Jacksonville Sharks (5-8), the five-time world champion Arizona Rattlers (11-3) have put themselves in position to play for the chance to host the twenty-ninth ArenaBowl. The Rattlers have clinched the number two seed and have a chance to earn the top seed in the league. They can do so starting this Monday in a game against the top team, the Orlando Predators (12-2).
In order earn the tie breaker over the Predators, Arizona will need to defeat them by more than 18 points, not to mention, they would need to defeat Cleveland (7-7) in the final game of the regular season.
If the Rattlers win out but do not beat Orlando by more than 18, they can still earn the number one seed if Philadelphia beats Orlando in the final game of the regular season.
Both Arizona and Orlando will enter the arena on Monday, riding waves of momentum, with both teams tied for the league’s longest current win streak (five wins).
The Rattlers are coming off a huge win over the talented Jacksonville Sharks. The Sharks threatened to tie the game with just nine seconds left on the clock, however, the two-point conversion attempt by Jacksonville quarterback Tommy Grady sailed out of bounds, and the Rattlers held on to win.
Arizona’s offense was led by wide receiver Rod Windsor, who managed to pull in six touchdowns on ten receptions, totaling 108 yards. His efforts earned him the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week award. Quarterback Nick Davila also a big night, tying his season high of nine touchdowns.
Orlando earned a 47-41 win on Saturday as well. After trailing the Portland Steel (1-12) late in the fourth quarter, the Predators, led by quarterback Bernard Morris would score twice, both on touchdown passes to wide receiver Brandon Thompkins which put the Steel away.
The Predators defense played a huge part in the win only allowing 41 total points. The defense was led by defensive back Paul Stevens, who earned the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week award, for his five tackles, two pass breakups, and a pick.
Both teams played each other early in the season. The Rattlers came up short, losing to the Predators in Orlando, 77-59. With hosting the ArenaBowl on the line, the Rattlers will look to even the series this weekend.
The game is on Monday, July 18th, at 6:30 p.m. PDT, and will be played at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The matchup will be streamed live online on ESPN3.com or on the WatchESPN app on a tablet, smartphone, or streaming device. The game can also be seen on Univision Deportes, Tuesday, August 19th at 10:00 a.m. PDT.
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