The other pair of conference semifinal games in the Arena Football League are scheduled for Saturday night, and in these, the #2 seeds in each conference play host to the #3’s. Because these aren’t the top seeds, the hosts for tonight’s games may be getting overlooked a bit as experts analyze their chances at winning the Arena Bowl. However, both Milwaukee and Tulsa have played very well down the stretch and have enjoyed a strong home field advantage all season long. Chicago and Tampa Bay will need to be at their best to have a shot at winning on the road. Vegas Odds
(495) TAMPA BAY at (496) TULSA – 8:00 PM
* American Conference Semifinals
Bookmaker Line: Tulsa by 1, Total: 112
Tulsa went 6-2 SU & ATS at home in 2010 in front of the BOK Center fans, and one of those wins came over Tampa Bay in the season opener, 69-58. However, very few handicappers would look to that game for anything valuable in predicting what might happen on Saturday. These teams have evolved too much since. In fact, Tampa Bay was only a shell of the team it is now at that point. The Storm was just 3-3 SU & 1-5 ATS in the first six weeks of the season and has gone 8-2 SU & 7-3 ATS since. Not to be outdone by a whole lot, the Talons closed the regular season on a 7-3 SU & 6-4 ATS run.
Perhaps the thing that Tulsa has to be most excited about as the playoffs open is the performance they enjoyed against other American Conference foes this season:
TULSA is 9-1 ATS (+7.9 Units) against conference opponents this season. The average score was TULSA 65.3, OPPONENT 53.8 – (Rating = 3*)
This will be the Talons’ first foray into the Arena League’s top level playoff party. That is in stark contrast to the rich history of the Tampa Bay franchise, who is going after its sixth AFL title.
One of the knock on the Storm this season is that it played a relatively easy schedule, the easiest in the Arena League when considering average StatFox Opponent Power Rating. As such, their own power rating hasn’t evolved quite as much as you’d expect of an 11-5 team. That is evidenced in the fact that the StatFox Power Line for this game indicates that Tulsa should be favored by 3-points. Betting Lines
(497) CHICAGO at (498) MILWAUKEE – 8:00 PM
* National Conference Semifinals
Bookmaker Line: Milwaukee by 9.5, Total: 116
The Milwaukee Iron are beaming with confidence as the playoffs open, and get their shot at a downtrodden Rush team that are limping into the postseason. These regional rivals will kickoff at 8:00 PM ET from US Cellular Arena in Milwaukee, as the Iron’s usual home, the Bradley Center, is out of commission due to some scoreboard enhancements being done.
Milwaukee is hot, having won its last four games, both SU & ATS, while scoring a whopping 67 PPG. Of course, when you consider that the Iron led the league in scoring this year at 65.2 PPG, that recent total is just slightly higher than their average. It is that offensive prowess and the presence of potential AFL MVP quarterback Chris Greisen that has many people predicting a league title for the team from Brew City. For Saturday, Milwaukee’s offensive strength leads to the top StatFox ATS system of the week:
Play On – Favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (MILWAUKEE) – with an excellent offense – averaging 320 or more total yards/game. (47-21 since 1996.) (69.1%, +23.9 units. Rating = 2*)
Where Milwaukee has gotten hot, Chicago has certainly not. The Rush would have been better off had the playoffs begun about a month ago. They are without quarterback Russ Michna, who was well on his way to setting several franchise records before succumbing to injury a few weeks ago. JJ Raternik has stepped in for Michna adequately, but the offense is nowhere near as prolific as it was prior. Chicago has lost three of its last four games SU & ATS, and though having played well, has crumbled at crunch time in those contests. Football Odds
Rush coach Mike Hohensee has to be very concerned with this StatFox Power Trend:
CHICAGO is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) in road games vs. very good offensive teams – scoring 55 or more points/game over the last 3 seasons. The average score was CHICAGO 50.3, OPPONENT 60.7 – (Rating = 2*)
These teams split the two head-to-head games this season, with the home teams winning both.