Next week’s action will wrap up the 2010 Arena Football League regular season. The playoffs will follow. Heading into Saturday full board of seven games, only one postseason spot and two division titles remain up for grabs. Even still, the action for bettors should be compelling, as there is a ton of great StatFox Trend and System info to take advantage of, and a few of the lines at Bookmaker.com look beatable. Let’s analyze the Saturday card.
(303) ALABAMA at (304) TAMPA BAY 7:30 PM
Line: Tampa Bay by 13
After last week’s loss at Jacksonville, Tampa Bay needs to win and get some help to win the Southern Division. The Sharks own the tiebreakers thanks to the season sweep. The Storm is being given plenty of credit by oddsmakers here, laying nearly two touchdowns to an Alabama team that is in desperation mode, needing a win to avoid being eliminated from the playoff picture. The Vipers are struggling, losers of their last three outright, and last five games against the spread. Overall they are just 4-10 ATS. On the road they have been awful, going 2-5 SU & 1-6 ATS, outscored by nearly 8 PPG. Tampa meanwhile, is 5-1 SU & 4-2 ATS with a point differential of 10 PPG. Despite playing the easiest schedule in the AFL, the Storm still enjoys a -8.5 Outplay Factor Edge before home field advantage is applied. Odds
Obviously that 8.5 points still comes far shy of the actual line, as does the average score margin in this trend on Alabama:
ALABAMA is 2-8 ATS (-6.8 Units) vs. good offensive teams – scoring 52 or more points/game this season. The average score was ALABAMA 49.6, OPPONENT 54.2 – (Rating = 0*)
Unless Alabama has completely thrown in the towel, it might be difficult for the Storm to cover the big number.
(305) OKLAHOMA CITY at (306) ORLANDO 7:30 PM
Line: Orlando by 3
The Oklahoma City-Orlando game on Saturday is the most playoff impactful contest, as between those two and Alabama, the final playoff team from the American Conference will be pulled. Both the Yard Dawgz and the Predators share the same playoff scenarios, a loss eliminates them, a win and Alabama loss clinches the spot. With Alabama playing as a 13.5-point dog in Tampa, clearly the stakes for this game are raised. It’s essentially become a win and you’re in showdown. Scores
Orlando has been made the customary 3-point home favorite, as oddsmakers seem to be gauging these teams as equals prior to applying the home field edge. That could be a mistake, as Oklahoma City has proven to be a far lesser team on the road in 2010, going 1-6 SU & 3-4 ATS. Orlando also owns an Outplay Factor Rating edge of 0.5 to -0.3, having taken on a 1.7 PPG tougher schedule.
Both teams face tough opponents next week so they’ll need to get it done here and look for Tampa Bay’s help.
(307) JACKSONVILLE at (308) BOSSIER-SHREVEPORT 8:05 PM
Line: Jacksonville by 14.5
Bossier-Shreveport has lost its last five games both SU & ATS but can salvage some semblance of the season by upsetting Jacksonville, a team that still has plenty to play for over the next two weeks. The Sharks (10-4) moved up three spots to #2 in this week’s AFL Coaches Poll after defeating previously top seeded Tampa Bay Storm 49-47 to take the lead in the Southern Division. They can clinch the #1 seed in the American Conference playoffs with a win here and Tampa Bay loss, or a win both this week and next. For the record, next weeks game is at home against the #1 team in the poll, Spokane. However, the Shock will have nothing but pride on the line in that game as they have already clinched the National Conference’s top seed.
Jacksonville quarterback Aaron Garcia was knocked out of the game with a head injury in the Sharks second series and backup quarterback Bernard Morris entered the game to led the Sharks to the victory against Tampa. There was no word yet as to Garcia’s status for Saturday, but either way, Sharks’ fans should feel comfortable knowing Morris might be at the controls. Morris was voted AFL’s Playmaker of the Week after his performance.
Bettors might be leery of laying the 14.5-point lumber here with the Sharks however. Besides the Garcia injury, and allowing a touchdown more of scoring per game on the road, Jacksonville came out flat in its last outing as a large road favorite, nipping the lowly Utah Blaze by just 11-points two weeks ago while being outgained 316-315. Bossier also owns a 4-2 ATS mark at home with near upsets of Tampa Bay and Tulsa to its credit.
(309) MILWAUKEE at (310) IOWA 8:05 PM
Line: Milwaukee by 6.5
Milwaukee still has its sights set on the Midwest Division title but will need to win possibly both of its remaining games to do so. That doesn’t seem like such a tall task when you consider that both of its next two opponents will be watching the playoffs from home. However, the challenge for the Iron will be to figure out how to improve their play on the road. Something has just seemed to go haywire for this team after leaving Milwaukee. In fact, since the season opening win at Spokane (looking better each passing week), the Iron have gone to win just one of five road games, that coming two weeks ago at Utah.
The Barnstormers have nothing more to play for at this point other than building momentum for next season. They’ll square off with Milwaukee and Arizona over the next two weeks, hoping to prove to themselves that they can compete consistently with playoff foes. Las Vegas Odds
The last time these teams met, in Milwaukee in April, the Iron rolled to a 65-48 win behind 407 yards of offense, part of their league leading 348.8 yards per game average. That fact leads to what is one of the better StatFox Systems on this week’s board. It says to…
Play On – Favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (MILWAUKEE) – with an excellent offense – averaging 320 or more total yards/game. (46-21 since 1996.) (68.7%, +22.9 units. Rating = 2*)
(311) ARIZONA at (312) TULSA 8:00 PM
Line: Tulsa by 4
Tulsa clinched a playoff berth and the Southwest Division title last week, becoming the second team to do so, along with Spokane. Interestingly, both Tulsa and Spokane also won their respective divisions last year when they were members of the af2. Arizona has clinched a playoff spot in the American Conference but will be a wildcard team in the #3 or #4 spot, thus being on the road for the first week of the postseason.
Oddsmakers have installed Tulsa as a 4-point home favorite by virtue of the incredible success at home this season. The Talons are 6-1 SU & ATS while scoring a whopping 64.9 PPG. In their last three games, they have turned it on, beating Cleveland, Bossier, and Alabama by an average of 66.7-45.7. The one thing to be concerned with before you throw it all in on Tulsa this week however, is that they have benefitted greatly from turnovers over the six weeks, forcing 20 of them during that span. That kind of luck tends to turn quickly.
Arizona has been one of the league’s most reliable road teams, boasting a 4-3 SU & 6-1 ATS record. The Rattlers are also one of the hottest teams in the AFL heading into the final weeks, having gone 7-2 SU & ATS in their L9 games.
All of the strength ratings I show for this game indicate these teams are nearly dead even. This game comes down to whether or not the bettor views Arizona’s road success or Tulsa’s home dominance more prominently.
(313) UTAH at (314) DALLAS 8:30 PM
Line: Dallas by 12
This game could easily be dubbed the Arena Football League’s toilet bowl, and rather than spend a whole lot of time researching it, I’ll just let you know that Dallas has not been favored since losing to Bossier-Shreveport at home in June, 70-69 as 8-point chalk. In fact, over the last two weeks, the Vigilantes have been underdogs of 13- and 16-points.
Utah has been horrendous in almost every aspect of the game and comes in having lost its L10 games. However, the Blaze haven’t won a turnover battle since April 23rd and are -22 in differential during that 11-game span.
Both teams are bad, Dallas is 2-12, Utah is 1-13. Is one capable of laying lumber to the other and getting it done???