Let’s just call this one #TheStruggle. The Thunder enter the game coming off a four-game losing streak. The Shock have a three-game losing streak of their own. The teams struggled to score in their opening matchup, with Portland securing a four-point win, 47-43.
In that game, Bryce Peila came up with an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a touchdown helping overcome a 29-20 Shock lead at halftime.
Of course, in that game, Mike Washington led the Shock and Jamar Howard led the Thunder in receiving yards. Neither is expected to play. Former Thunder quarterback Danny Southwick is now a former Shock QB as well; he’s landed in Los Angeles and has helped them as they mount a turnaround on their season. Kyle Rowley may be backing up recent acquisition Alex Carder at quarterback for the Thunder.
With a previous matchup that went down to the wire and several differences in lineups since then, combined with mounting losses on the field, both personnel and record-wise, it’s tough to determine who has the advantage this week.
One thing’s for certain: After the recent wins by Los Angeles and Las Vegas, these two teams enter needing a win in order to feel comfortable heading into the final third of the season. Both teams trail the Outlaws by a game and both are ahead of the previously left-for-dead KISS by just a game.
And Duane Brooks will be exciting in the return game. He’s either one or two kick return touchdowns away from an AFL record for return touchdowns in a season. He’s also returned two for touchdowns in each of the past three games (unfortunately, one may count as a fumble recovery because he fumbled (and recovered) right before the line and another was called back on a phantom hold), so it’s not crazy to expect a couple on Sunday.
I said in my picks over on ArenaFan that Spokane would get even for the last game, and that the difference between this week and the last one is that Shox the Fox won’t interfere with their receivers. I won’t be that guy who picks both sides of a game, so I’m picking Spokane to win another tight game, 46-43.