2019 NAL Championship: Who’s the Alpha Predator in the NAL?

Coach Marcelo Metzelar’s piece:

The NAL Championship is this Saturday at 7pm at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The 14-1 Jacksonville Sharks will “challenge” the defending league champion, the Carolina Cobras (10-5). One team will be a repeat champion as both teams each own one league championship. The Sharks won the first ever National Arena Championship in 2017. The third installment of the NAL Championship will also be the first time the Columbus Lions will not be participating; they played the role of the runner-up in each of the first two seasons. So, will it be Shark week or Cobra repeat?

Matchup: Sharks Offense vs Cobras Defense

The Sharks lead the lead in scoring offense with 57.5 points per game. The Cobras leads the league in scoring defense with 31.1 points a game with the help of two shutouts against the Orlando Predators and a controversial 2-0 forfeit loss to the NY Streets. Had it not been for the forfeit, they would have possibly recorded three shutouts because they led the NY Streets 46-0 at the half before the Cobras found their locker room ransacked. Take away those three games are they are allowing 39.4 points per game, which may not seem like much, but 8.3 points easily can make a win a two score game. Meanwhile, Jacksonville has averaged 45 points per game in their two matches against the Cobras, both wins for the Sharks. The Sharks also lose Cody Saul and Kamrim Solomon. Combined the players amount to 40 yards of offense and about 3.5 points; offensively, that’s not a big loss for the Sharks. Advantage: Jacksonville

 

Matchup: Cobras Offense vs Sharks Defense

This is where the lose of Cody Saul will hurt Jacksonville. They lose their leading tackler and second leading interception maker. Saul accounted for one-sixth of the Sharks tackles. The Cobras offense averages about 39 plays per game, missing six tackles means a potential 36 points for the Cobras. However, Seth Ellis leads the Sharks with 13 interceptions. He will have to come up with a few more big plays if the Sharks want to continue playing at a high level. The Cobras are the second ranked offense in offense and in scoring. However, Cobras’ QB Charlie McCullum is tied for second in the league in interceptions thrown. For a defense that thrives on turnovers, this will play into the Sharks biting defense. Advantage: Jacksonville

 

Matchup: Special Teams

The Sharks have converted on 87% of their touchdowns, while the Cobras only 77%. Coaches will say, “Special teams are one-third of the game.” This means Jacksonville has a three percent edge in the totality of the game. Both teams were on the bottom in field goal percentage. The Cobras had a whopping 17 field goal attempts. That many field goal attempts is usually an indicator of an offense that’s struggling. Though, the Sharks were only one-for-six in field goals, they had only one-third of the attempts the Cobras had, meaning their offense needn’t the help of the kicking game. Advantage: Jacksonville

Matchup: Intangibles

Jacksonville has the luxury of playing at home. They swept the regular season series by a combined score of 90-53. They are riding a 14 game win streak. However, they have not seen the Cobras since June 15 in Greensboro. That’s 63 days prior to kickoff! It’s one of the hardest thing to do in sports to defeat a team three times in a season. However, even harder than that is to win back-to-back championships. Both teams have a winning tradition. They didn’t get there by being average. They both have confidence, and talent. Statistics don’t win games, but they tell a story. This story tells the Cobras: Just when you though it was safe enough to go back to the NAL Championship! Advantage: Jacksonville

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