The fifth week of the 2016 Arena Football League (AFL) season is in the books, and there are only two undefeated teams left standing. By week six, there will only be one, when the Arizona Rattlers (5-0) travel to Florida to take on the Orlando Predators (5-0) at the Amway Center on Saturday, May 7th at 4:30 p.m. PDT. The game will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
The Rattlers are unquestionably entering the most difficult stretch of their schedule. They will play back to back games on the road, facing the two top teams in the east, Orlando and the Philadelphia Soul (4-1). This season, the team with the best record will earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs including ArenaBowl XXIX, and all three teams will be vying for that top spot. While there are a lot of games left, the next two weeks can put the Rattlers in a very strong position, if they win. Up first is the also undefeated Orlando Predators, who trail only the Rattlers in scoring offense and in turnover margin.
Arizona is coming off another dominating performance at home against the Portland Steel (0-4) defeating them by a score of 68-21. Quarterback Nick Davila had a near perfect performance, completing 14 of 18 passes for 246 yards and seven touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns went to wide receiver Rod Windsor, which included a 48 yard touchdown scamper that earned the Cutters Catch of the Week. Windsor also was effective on the ground, gaining 31 yards and a touchdown.
The Rattlers defense once again turned in a commanding performance. Defensive back Arkeith Brown led the secondary with six pass breakups and 10.5 tackles. Up front, the Rattlers earned six sacks, two by defensive end Dimetrio Tyson, who also had a forced fumble and earned the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week.
The Predators also defeated their opponent this past weekend, knocking off the Cleveland Gladiators (1-4) 76-56. The Predators only led by one as the fourth quarter started, but two straight turnovers by the Gladiators led to a 21-point final stanza for Orlando and a one game lead in the east.
Orlando is led by quarterback Randy Hippeard, who is tied with Nick Davila for the league lead in total offensive touchdowns (33), and trails only Philadelphia quarterback Tommy Grady for total offensive yards (1,386). The Predators also boast the second highest pass interceptions as a team with nine on the year.
This is the first of two games the two teams will face this season, but the winner of this game holds a big advantage, and will control their own destiny for the chance to host the ArenaBowl.