This week’s Friday night NFL Network broadcast of the Arena Football League features Chicago visiting Spokane in a battle of division leaders in the National Conference. Both teams have clinched playoff spots, with the Shock having wrapped up the West Division as well. Spokane has clinched the top seed in the conference playoffs already, and has little to play for. Thanks to Rush QB Russ Michna being placed on IR Wednesday, bettors have seen the line climb from the Shock as 7-point favorites at opener to 10-points now, according to Bookmaker.com. Odds
Chicago wraps up its season here and needs a win to maintain any chance at winning the Midwest Division over Milwaukee. The Iron have games remaining at Iowa and Cleveland, and with the way they have struggled on the road this season, Chicago has to like its chances. Still, taking care of business here first is job #1.
This will be the largest underdog pointspread that Chicago has faced all season long, and it is warranted only by the Shock’s success, not by the situation of what’s at stake for each team. Spokane has won 10 games in a row, including four at home, but is a modest 6-4 ATS during the stretch. Making matters even stranger in terms of the line, Spokane hasn’t been favored by this much over any team in two months when they were laying 13.5-points to lowly Utah.
Spokane does solid work on both sides of the football, scoring 62.6 PPG and allowing 52.1 PPG. Each of those figures represents the #2 ranking in the Arena Football League currently, behind Milwaukee and Tampa Bay, respectively. Chicago does its best work on offense through the air, as Michna was averaging 8.8 yards per pass attempt, third in the league.
J.J. Ratternik will step in for Michna and is looking to make his Rush debut. He spent the 2009 season with the Quad City Steamwheelers playing in 10 games and finishing the season with 54 touchdowns and a 105.64 rating, so it isn’t like he is inexperienced with the AFL rules. Scores
There is only one StatFox Power Trend worthy of significance heading into Friday night’s contest and it concerns Chicago’s troubles against good offensive teams:
CHICAGO is 4-13 ATS (-10.3 Units) in road games vs. very good offensive teams – scoring 55 or more points/game since 1996. The average score was CHICAGO 47.1, OPPONENT 57.1 – (Rating = 0*)The problem with that angle, at this point, there’s no definitive word on how much Spokane’s coaching staff plans to utilize the services of quarterback Kyle Rowley or any of the other starters.
The StatFox Power Line shows Spokane should be favored by 14 points, but the Outplay Factor Rating indicates only 7.5 points prior to home field advantage. Considering that Chicago is a prominent 5-2 SU & 4-2-1 ATS on the road (same SU mark as Spokane at home), it would be a stretch to figure that edge is 3-points or more. Las Vegas Odds
Don’t be surprised to see a more motivated Chicago team come up big in front of a national TV audience at 8:00 PM ET.