Updated: March 29, 2007 1:51:43 PM PDT

ESPN'S GAME OF THE WEEK
Can Los Angeles stop Bobby Sippio?

Editor's note: This week's game of the week is the Sunday matchup (ESPN2, 1:30 p.m. ET) between the Los Angeles Avengers and the Chicago Rush. Mark Schlereth takes a look at this powerhouse matchup.

We have another good one this week as the Avengers travel to Chicago to face Bobby Sippio and the Rush. The Avengers' QB Sonny Cumbie has been the picture of perfection as he has yet to throw an interception this season. That's due in large part to the amount of protection the Avengers line has been able to afford Cumbie. He's been able to step into the majority of his throws and take his time scanning the field. The Rush have to find a way to stop him from getting that time to make plays downfield. They've been fantastic this season at getting pressure consistently on opposing quarterbacks and that must continue.

On the flip side the Avengers have to stop Sippio. He's the most dangerous receiver in the league right now because of his great hands, sure route-running and sheer ability to make plays. Sippio and quarterback Matt D'Orazio are two of the best at their respective position and I fully expect that to continue this week.


Hoge's Top QB-WR combos
http://espn.go.com/photo/2007/0227/afl_g_dolezel_350.jpg
Clint Dolezel and Marcus Nash are two of the best in the league.

The beauty of this game is the offense and it's driven by great strategy and the excellent execution of that strategy by the receiver and quarterback. Let's take a look at the best five quarterback-wide receiver combos in the league.

Matt D'Orazio-Bobby Sippio, Chicago: D'Orazio and Sippio have been exceptional this season combining for 414 yards and 16 touchdowns already this season. Sippio has elevated himself and become the best receiver in the game.

Clint Dolezel-Marcus Nash, Dallas: Is there nothing that Dolezel can do wrong? He's a prime candidate for MVP and that has a lot to do with the presence of Nash on his team.

Jeff Smoker-Cornelius Bonner, Nashville: We're seeing why Smoker is beloved by Michigan State fans. The former Spartan has been great this season and has hooked up with Bonner for 483 yards.

Tony Graziani-Charles Pauley: It shouldn't be a surprise that Graziani is on this list, but the addition of Pauley is a surprise. He's come out nowhere to lead his team with 411 receiving yards and has become the primary downfield threat

Chris Greisen-Chris Jackson, Georgia: Griesen may be having the best season of any quarterback in the league with 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He and Jackson have hooked for 11 of those touchdowns and there is no doubt that they will hook up for many more.

-- Merril Hoge


MORE COVERAGE

WEEK 2 ROUNDUP
From Gary Horton chatting about the league to a preview of the Week 5 games, we have Week 5 in the AFL covered.
Mark Schlereth's Top 5 games of Week 5
Los Angeles vs. Chicago
Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

This is the marquee matchup of the week. Both teams are ranked in Scouts' Top 10 and both are coming off solid wins. Los Angeles will have to find a way to stop Chicago WR Bobby Sippio. He's been phenomenal this season and will put this secondary to the test.

Orlando vs. New Orleans
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

These are two squads that could contend deep into the playoffs if they are able to get their offenses to start performing consistently. This game will hinge on Orlando's ability to protect QB Shane Stafford.

Nashville vs. Colorado
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET

The Crush are coming off an extremely disappointing loss to Philadelphia. Not disappointing because of who they lost to, but because of how badly the Crush played. QB John Dutton threw three interceptions and didn't look comfortable on the field. This week the Crush have to get it together against a dangerous Nashville squad.

Austin vs. Dallas
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET

This is a must-see simply because it's another opportunity to see QB Clint Dolezel. It's been a pleasure watching him play thus far this season. But fans should also pay attention to the Desperados defense. They are consistently getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks week in and week out.

Philadelphia vs. New York
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

This is another game where the matchup doesn't matter as much as watching the quarterback does. QB Tony Graziani's grasp of this game is matched right now only by Dolezel. The game has completely slowed down for him& or as much as Arena Football can slow down for someone.

Gary Horton's March 28 chat wrap
Don (Nashville): Okay I know all the talk is probably going to center around the three undefeated teams, but Gary which non-undefeated team in the best in the league?
Gary Horton: That is a great question. Two teams that have disappointed me a bit are Colorado and Chicago and I don't think either are playing up to their abilities, but both can turn it around. And remember Chicago was not great last year until they went on that huge run that got them the title. I like Utah as a bit of a darkhorse because of their great O, and I think that even though Arizona is off to a slow 1-3 start they also have a very explosive offense and could really stir things up. And LA is an underrated team; they have two great road wins at Orlando and New Orleans.

Mike: Did you see the guy jump out of the stands to break up a pass this week in the Orlando-Dallas game? Does the league worry that we may see more of that due to the proximity of the fans?
Gary Horton: I think there is a fine line between this league being so fan friendly that they want people to have a good time, but also fans not getting too close to the action, or falling out of the stands like last night. I could see that becoming a bit of a problem if nothing is done. Because as we all know a lot of people love being on camera, and if there are no penalties involved we could see more of it. But I don't think this league wants to become too strict and limit the fans enjoyment.

Dave (Chicago, IL): With the first quarter of the season complete, who would you say is the best QB - Receiver combination right now?
Gary Horton: I would say you would have to look long and hard at Dolezel and Nash in Dallas, but I also like Germaine and Burley at Utah. You got to love Dutton and Harrell. And the list just goes on and on. There are some great duos in this league.

Chad (Austin, TX): Gary, You're great at breaking down teams, what will the Austin Wranglers have to do to take the next step? Last year they were close, now they have a new coach.
Gary Horton: Austin is one of the teams that I expected more from, and maybe I overrated them. I really liked their new hires as coaches, and I thought this would be a very innovative O that would score a lot of points. Right now not only is their offense struggling, making mistakes and playing sloppy, but they also don't have a defense that can make a lot of big plays and that combo is really slowing this team down. They have a young QB, Adrian McPherson, who is up and down right now, and he does not always do a great job of reading defenses. But I am hopeful that this offense will eventually grow into the unit that I expected, and as far as their defense they are going to have to add better players. But I still have high hopes for this team. there is something about them that I really like. But playing Dallas this week probably is not what they need to break their losing streak.

Joe (DC): Hey Gary, when do you think the AFL will field a team in Washington? We all know Dan Snyder has the rights to it, but I'm dying for them to get a team.
Gary Horton: I've heard through the grape vine that there is solid interest in putting a team in the DC area. And I would expect Snyder is the kind of guy who would love having an arena team. Especially since his NFL team is struggling. I think it is a great market and I would love to see a team in the DC area and Boston. I think those would be great markets.

For Gary Horton's full chat transcript, click here.

VIDEO
Out of Bounds: Arena Football

 

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