By Jesse Reed
We’re at week 12 and the teams have only played nine games each. This week the NAL has a full slate of three games, and so I, Jesse Reed, the newest writer to Arena Football Talk (this is my first article here), will give a crack at previewing each of the week’s games. Without further ado, lets begin…
(5-4) Massachusetts Pirates @ (3-6) Columbus Lions; Saturday, June 29th @ 7:00pm EST in Columbus, GA
The first game for week 12 is a rematch of last week’s game. Where Massachusetts, still led by Sean Brackett and former NFL WR Dexter McCluster beat the Lions to continue their winning streak to four-in-a-row. This week however, the game shifts from Worcester to Columbus, the Lions now get home field advantage. Yet, Luke Collis and Mitch have both proven thus far in 2019 that neither is as good or as skilled as Mason Espinosa. It’s especially surprising for Collis, as he had years under the tutelage of Dan Raudabaugh and Clint Dolezel as the back-up in Philadelphia with the AFL’s Soul. However, it has seemed that none of that has transferred over to the NAL. Just by comparing QBs alone; I don’t see any reason that a change in scenery to the jungle would be enough to give Columbus the victory.
Prediction: Pirates 45; Lions: 24.
(8-1) Jacksonville Sharks @ (3-6) New York Streets; Saturday, June 29th @ 7:00pm EST in White Plains, NY
Does anyone remember week one? It seemed like it was ages ago, and no game felt more insane that week then when the expansion New York Streets, led by a quarterback named Nemeth (no relation to former Jets QB Joe Namath) upset the NAL’s marquee franchise and I, a former Tampa Bay Storm fan, got to revel in laughing at Sharks fans displeasure in “realizing” that Johnathan the Bane of my Existence (if you watched the Tampa Bay Storm in 2016, you know why I call him that; lets just say he struggled and leave it at that) was a bad passer. Of course, I acted too soon and week 1… was only week 1, as the Sharks have regained their 2017 dominating form since then, going 8-0 since that opening game all with Mike Fafaul (the man Mason Espinoa replaced as Tommy Grady’s back-up on the AFL’s Albany Empire) turning into a MVP candidate. On the other side, we have the New York Streets, losers in each of their last five games. The Streets however, have attempted to counter this downward spiral using the same strategy that the Orlando Predators used to upset the Carolina Cobras a few weeks ago: make one million transactions. Will it work? On the 39-yard field the New York Streets call 50? Nun-uh. Don’t be surprised if Jacksonville (or J’ville as I call them) puts up triple digits in what should be a blow out.
Prediction: Sharks: 77; Streets: 13
(6-3) Carolina Cobras @ (2-7) Orlando Predators; Sunday, June 30th @ 5:30pm EST in Orlando, FL
Last time these two teams met, the Predators pulled off arguably the greatest upset in the short history of the NAL right up there with the Monterrey Steel’s upset of the Jacksonville Sharks in 2017. However, Cobras head coach Billy Back won’t let his team get as complacent or as stale as they did the first time around. As for Orlando, they no longer have the advantage of being able to use 100 new players to confuse their opponent like they did the first time around against Carolina. Then again, the Predators have always typically been more competitive so far this year when they are playing in the Real Jungle (I may be a Tampa Bay Storm fan, but I know the difference between a real jungle, and a fake one; sorry not sorry Lions fans), so maybe Orlando can get the sweep. Yeah… 2018 NAL MVP QB Charles McCullum and ex-Tampa Bay Storm WR Julius Gregory are simply too good to let Orlando get the upset again.
Prediction: Cobras: 44; Predators: 42.
Thank you for reading; the thoughts expressed in this article don’t express the opinions of any other writers at Arena Football Talk.