The Portland Thunder, fresh off a win against the Los Angeles KISS, head to Orlando in search of their first road win of the season on Saturday, May 23.
The Thunder are 3-0 against the worst two scoring defenses in the league, and 0-4 against the rest of their schedule…which happens to have contained the top four defenses in the league. The Predators are the third-worst scoring defense in the league, if you’re looking for signs that point to a Thunder win.
Quarterback Darron Thomas is also coming off a league Offensive Player of the Week performance, and also earned league MVP honors for his performance in a Week 8 win against the KISS. He’s going up against Orlando’s Bernard Morris, who provides a template for what Thomas might look like in the future – a passing and running weapon that’s very difficult to contain and opponents never feel comfortable against.
Portland’s second-ranked rush defense, giving up just 13.3 yards/game, will definitely be put to the test by Morris and the Predators, who average a league-leading 46.9 yards/game. The Predators are also tops in the league with 17 rushing touchdowns while the Thunder have allowed just five rushing touchdowns, fewest in the league.
The Predators have a slight edge, both offensively and defensively, but the Thunder special teams have played a huge role in their wins this season – Duane Brooks has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in consecutive games. The new kicker, Kevin Goessling, has been perfect so far in his career (14/14), something unimaginable to Portland fans that have seen a series of kickers hit 70-75 percent of their attempts.
The Thunder have also done a pretty good job of getting net recoveries this season, with Osagie Odiase earning two free possessions for the team. They’ll count on some of that special teams excellence in their attempt to get past the Predators and move to .500 on the season.
Prediction: Thunder 56, Predators 55.
ORLANDO TOP PERFORMERS:
- Rushing: Bernard Morris – 30 attempts, 173 yards, 9 TD
- Passing: Bernard Morris – 48/89, 524 yards, 11 TD, 3 INT (2 starts)
- Receiving: Kendal Thompkins – 59 receptions, 765 yards, 12 TD
- Brandon Thompkins – 49 receptions, 588 yards, 9 TD
- Sacks: Meshak Williams – 14.5 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 3 forced fumbles
- Tackles: Nick Taylor – 32.0 tackles, 1 INT, 9 PBU, 1 FF, 1 fumble recovery
PORTLAND TOP PERFORMERS:
- Rushing: John Martinez – 13 attempts, 31 yards, 5 TD
- Passing: Darron Thomas – 24/38, 267 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT (1 start)
- Receiving: V’Keon Lacey – 47 receptions, 501 yards, 11 TD
- Jared Perry – 17 receptions, 237 yards, 5 TD
- Sacks: Marquis Jackson – 8 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 7 PBU
- Tackles: Osagie Odiase – 34.0 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 9 PBU, 2 FR