Week 6 in the Arena Football League brings us an epic match-up that we may very well see again this season. In August. In New Orleans. When the San Jose SaberCats tangle with the Philadelphia Soul in Wells Fargo Center on April 14, we might be seeing a preview of ArenaBowl XXV.
In case you had April 15 circled on your calendar for this tilt, your eyes are not deceiving you as you read this article. This game has been moved up to Saturday, April 14, at 6:05 p.m. ET to accommodate the NHL playoff game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
This is a rematch of ArenaBowl XXII--won by the Soul, 59-56, in 2008--and since these are two of the best teams in the league in 2012, this could also be a match-up we'll see in ArenaBowl XXV.
The Soul (3-1) boast the league's No. 1 scoring offense, averaging an astounding 75.2 points per game after tying the second-best mark in AFL history by hanging 92 points on the Georgia Force last week. Earlier this season, they lit the Pittsburgh Power up for 84 points. These guys know how to score.
If anyone can hang with the Soul, though, it's the SaberCats (3-1), who own the league's No. 2 scoring offense, racking up 68.8 points per game. The 'Cats are fresh off a 76-53 clubbing of the Aaron Garcia-led San Antonio Talons, so they know how to handle powerful opponents with their No. 6 scoring defense.
Gosh, you think we might see some points scored in this one?
Who to Watch
Both of these rosters are so packed with superstars that an article highlighting all of them would make War and Peace look like a pamphlet. We all know to watch Dan Raudabaugh and Tiger Jones of the Soul, and we all know to enjoy Mark Grieb and Ben Nelson of the SaberCats.
Keep your good eye, though, on Soul FB Derrick Ross. This 6-foot-0, 240-pound battering ram was named first team All-Arena last season with the Dallas Vigilantes after shattering the league record for rushing yards (622) and rushing touchdowns (39) in a season. So far this season, he's assaulting his own records, already compiling 138 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, which puts him on pace to match last year's totals. He is far and away the leading rusher in the AFL this year and gives Philadelphia the No. 1 rushing offense in the league by a long shot.
San Jose has the No. 6 rushing defense, allowing just 18 yards per game on the ground, but they also haven't faced anyone like Ross yet. How successful they are at putting him on the turf quickly is likely to be an important factor in this game.
You'll also want to watch San Jose's pass rushers. The SaberCats have planted opposing quarterbacks 10 times so far this season, which is No. 2 in the league. The Soul, on the other hand, have only allowed opponents to get to Raudabaugh twice in their four games, which is also No. 2 in the league.
'Cats DL Joe Sykes has dropped the quarterback four times in three games, including nailing Garcia twice last week, causing fumbles both times. Linebacker Francis Maka is right on Sykes' heels with 3.5 sacks so far this season. Philadelphia OLs Zipp Duncan, Brennen Carvalho, and Christian Johnson are going to have their hands full.
The SaberCats hold a 3-2 advantage in this series after last season's 68-61 home victory.
Who will win this time around? Tune in to Ustream at 6:05 p.m. ET, 3:05 p.m. San Jose time to find out!
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