Updated: April 6, 2007 8:04:11 AM PDT

ESPN'S GAME OF THE WEEK
Tony Graziani has had a great season.

Editor's note: This week's game of the week is the Monday matchup (ESPN2, ESPN360, 7:30 p.m. ET) between the Philadelphia Soul and the Georgia Force. Merril Hoge takes a look at this powerhouse matchup.

In Arena Football you have to have a mindset to attack vertically to be successful. No other team in the league is as good as Philadelphia in terms of getting the ball downfield consistently. They don't even attempt to dink and dunk it. This team is utterly confident in its ability to put defenses on their heels with the offensive weapons at their disposal. In addition they are just as good defensively and have the ability to slow down opposing teams' big downfield weapons. That combination is the main reason why they are one of the best teams in the league.

Georgia is going to have to find a way to get the ball downfield and the best way for them to do that is to try and soften up Philadelphia underneath and then hit them over the top. It's imperative for this team to put points on the board because I don't think there is a team in the league that can stop this Soul offense. They will have to play tit-for-tat and hope to get a couple stops to get the lead and force the Soul to press.


A quick look towards the playoffs
http://espn.go.com/photo/2007/0227/afl_g_dolezel_350.jpg
Clint Dolezel and Dallas are a lock for the playoffs.

This season is building to a great finale and an extremely competitive playoffs. The push to make the playoffs should be fantastic as I think only Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago and Georgia stand out as the class of the league. That leaves a lot of jockeying for those remaining positions and we're going to see a dogfight from teams like New Orleans, Utah, Colorado and Los Angeles for playoff spots.

It's going to come down to how well their defenses play though because offensively each one of these teams has the ability to put up 60 points. But they don't have the ability to consistently shut down the opposing team. Obviously no team in this league is going to shut the other team out. But it's important to put the opposing team behind the eight ball where they feel that scoring is going to be difficult. The teams that are able to do that are the ones that will playoff bound.

-- Merril Hoge


MORE COVERAGE

WEEK 6 ROUNDUP
From Gary Horton's chat to previewing all the big games, we have Week 6 in the AFL covered.
Mark Schlereth's Top 5 games of Week 6
Georgia vs. Philadelphia
Monday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The Soul could be the best team in the league. The offense is playing great football, but they have a tough matchup here with Georgia coming to town coming off a tough loss to Columbus last week. This is a Georgia team that will be trying to atone for last week's loss.

Colorado vs. San Jose
Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Colorado is coming off a great win last week over Nashville that really showed the moxie of this team. Now is the time for this squad to show some level of consistency which has been its biggest problem this season. This week they travel to San Jose to face a team that proved last week they can make it happen on both sides of the ball in a 69-49 win over Tampa Bay.

Arizona vs. Los Angeles
Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles simply must put last week's loss behind it and focus on Arizona. Arizona proved it can put points on the board, so this won't be a walk in the park for LA.

Chicago vs. Nashville
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Nashville has to find a way to stop Chicago WR Bobby Sippio. If the Kats can't force Chicago to go to its other receivers then we might see Sippio put up similar number to what he did last week against LA. (14 catches, 224 yards and five touchdowns).

Kansas City vs. Las Vegas
Sunday, 6 p.m. ET
This has the potential to be a real barnburner. I expect it to come down to the final seconds. Both teams have good offenses and Las Vegas just needs to get some consistency.

Gary Horton's April 4 chat wrap
Mike: Gary who has a better shot at making some noise come playoff time: Chicago or New Orleans?
Gary Horton: Oh I think there is no question that it is Chicago and you are starting to see them become more of a complete team. They have a great WR in Sippio and he is a great red zone target and they have a D that can dominate the game and control the pace when they are focused. They also have a great pass rush and the most underrated secondary in the AFL, and I believe that it is their D that will probably put them on a run and make them tough to beat in the playoffs.

Eddie: Another huge game for Germaine with seven TDs, I know he's your guy Gary, is this the best player in the league right now?
Gary Horton: Well he is one of the most fascinating players in the league because we have not seen him on the AFL level. But when I watch him I see a guy who rarely makes a mistake, he spreads the ball, and he really understands match-ups. I think what makes him so interesting is the fact that even though he is not a really young guy, his best years in this league are ahead of him. His natural physical skills are better than most guys in this league. I think we are looking at a guy who could be the face of this league if he does not go back to the NFL.

Ian (NY): Gary, so many last second finishes this past week, what an awesome league! I had no idea how close these games could be regardless of record. why is are the games this close?
Gary Horton: My observation is that almost everyone of these teams has a quality QB who can make plays if he has time. And what I am seeing is that the new sub rules, that don't require the linemen to play both ways, has really improved the offenses. We are seeing QBs across the boards with more time, which allows them to pick defenses apart. I also don't see a lot of shut down D-backs in this league. And there seems to be a trend of bigger and more physical WRs that are very tough match-ups for the secondaries in this league. But I agree with you, it is hard to predict these games because there is just not much to separate a lot of these teams.

Hooves, Des Plaines: If you were picking an ArenaBowl champ right now, who would you take?
Gary Horton: Right now I would probably take Dallas, because they are the most dominating team on both sides of the ball and they have playmakers at every position. They have two great WR and big time QB and they can run the ball when they need to. And they really know how to dictate the pace of the game and make adjustments. In my opinion this is not a team that will lose a game in the final minutes, as many teams do. Right now I see a team that is on a mission, and they are very aware of not getting upset again in the playoffs, like they were last year by Orlando.

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

VIDEO
Out of Bounds: Arena Football

 

Search Arrow