A quirky Week 14 did little to help the playoff hopes of the Valor (1-9) as they spent their last bye week of the season watching I-95 rival Baltimore Brigade take down the previously undefeated Philadelphia Soul, 49-42 on Saturday, July 8.
Let’s do some quick math.
After the upset, the Brigade are now 4-6. The AFL has just five teams. Four teams make it to the postseason.
Including this Saturday, only four weeks remain in the season.
The last-place Valor now sit three games behind the Brigade (the only team they’ve beaten) in the standings. The teams will play again in Week 18 to decide the season-series winner.
So add, subtract, carry the one and your’e left with a Valor team that is one loss away from playoff elimination.
The first step in salvaging the season starts this Saturday as the team looks to avoid a season sweep by the Soul. They’ll need to tweak a couple of things this go around if they hope to stay in the playoff hunt.
Win Turnover Battle
The Soul come into this week’s matchup with one of the best defenses in the league, statistically. They stand above everyone in tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles. The Valor offensive line will have to keep multiple eyes on DL Beau Bell who leads the AFL with 10 sacks. Meanwhile, DB Dwayne Hollis tops the league with five interceptions and should have Brackett’s full attention when he drops back.
Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh has the second-highest passer rating in the league, so relying on him to make mistakes isn’t the best recipe for success. However, the Valor have managed to contain him in the previous meetings thanks to former Soul DB Tracy Belton who picked off his former QB for a touchdown in the first matchup.
Belton collected his 50th career interception two weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Storm and was named Defensive Player of the Week. He’ll have to come close to repeating that performance to keep his defense off the field against a potent Soul attack.
Valor QB Sean Brackett nearly took down the defending champs in his first-ever start, but a couple of botched field-goal snaps down the stretch foiled any hopes of an upset as they narrowly lost 48-47.
Even in the first matchup on April 22, the Valor (led by now-retired QB Erik Meyer) played extremely hard and were up 14-0 to start the game. But a lackluster second half, in which the Valor were completely shut out, proved to be the silencer in a 49-31 loss.
Brackett and the boys will have to start and finish strong if they don’t want their season to end in Philadelphia.
Saturday’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m.