Tag Archives: Game preview

Game Preview: Portland Thunder (3-8) vs. Spokane Shock (3-8)

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.

Game Day Breakdown: The Thunder have advantages in: Offensive turnovers, Defensive Yardage, Points Allowed. The Shock have advantages in: Offensive Yards, Points, and Success Rate; Defensive Success Rate and Turnovers Forced. Watch for Jared Perry, who went for 150 yards and 4 TDs last week.

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.

Advertisements

Game Preview: Portland Thunder (3-7) vs. Arizona Rattlers (8-2)

The Arizona Rattlers come into the Rose City this Friday pushing to stay within striking distance of the undefeated San Jose SaberCats for the top seed in the conference.

The Thunder, meanwhile, will try to hold on to their playoff position. Their 3-7 record ties them with the Spokane Shock and Las Vegas Outlaws for third in the conference, and a superior conference record (and head-to-head win) gives them an advantage over the Shock. The Shock and Outlaws play each other this week, so they’ll lose at least one spot if they lose.

Duane Brooks leads the Thunder into battle against the Arizona Rattlers this Friday. The Rattlers are better in all four offensive and defensive categories than the Thunder. Can special teams make up the difference?

Portland is looking to rebound from a loss to the previously winless KISS. Special teams continues to be a strong point for the Thunder, with Duane Brooks returning two kickoffs for touchdowns and jumping into a tie for 10th in AFL history with six return touchdowns in a season. He still has eight games to go, putting Hunkie Cooper’s record of eight kick return touchdowns in 2002 in jeopardy.

The Rattlers have given up a return for a touchdown this season, and Brooks himself managed a 34-yard return against them in the first matchup, so he has a chance to move closer to history.

To be successful, however, the Thunder need to try to prevent Brooks from having so many opportunities to return kicks – the defense needs to make some stops. After last week’s game against the KISS, the Thunder defense is dangerously close to becoming last in the league in defensive stop rate.

The bad news on that front is that Arizona quarterback Nick Davila has returned to the lineup. The Rattlers got along pretty well without him, winning everywhere but San Jose, but his return elevates them back up to elite status as an offense. Last week, he posted 275 yards on 60 percent completions and threw nine touchdown passes without turning the ball over against what had been the league’s third-best defense (they’re now fourth).

The main question most fans have is whether or not Alex Carder will get any action at the quarterback position. After intriguing fans with some deep strikes against San Jose, many (including me) thought Carder would get the nod against the KISS last week. Does the fact that the team is likely to lose this week change the thinking process? Let the younger player start since the team is unlikely to win anyway, and let him try to shock the league?

Whether it’s Carder or Rowley under center, I have to take the Rattlers in this one. They’re just too strong a team – they’re three-time defending champions for a reason. Rattlers 71, Thunder 42.

Game Preview: Portland Thunder at Los Angeles KISS

The Portland Thunder have three wins on the season, two of which they earned at the Los Angeles KISS’ expense. If Portland wants to keep pace with the Spokane Shock and Las Vegas Outlaws (who have two wins against the KISS of their own) for a playoff spot in the National Conference, they’ll need to secure a third win over the KISS.

Meanwhile, if the KISS don’t want to spend Independence Day as a winless team, they’ll need to beat the Thunder, as their next three games are against the league’s three best teams – the San Jose SaberCats, Arizona Rattlers, and Philadelphia Soul.

Wrong Way Sports' Game Day Breakdown between the Portland Thunder and Los Angeles KISS. The Thunder have scoring and turnover margin advantages; the KISS have a yardage advantage.

Quarterback Alex Carder produced some excitement late in last week’s game against the SaberCats, throwing the first two touchdown passes of his career and showing a nice touch on deep passes. Head Coach Mike Hohensee wouldn’t say for sure who would get the start against Los Angeles, but last time someone sparked the team against San Jose with a couple of late touchdowns, Darron Thomas ended up starting the next game against…the Los Angeles KISS.

The KISS are having some consistency problems. As you can see in the infographic above, they’re really not all that far away from the Thunder statistically. Their chief problem has been that when their offense plays adequately, their defense has been abysmal, and when their defense finally steps up to the plate, as it did last week against the Jacksonville Sharks, the offense throws the game away.

Last week the Sharks missed two field goals and and extra point in the second half, giving the KISS a chance to win the game with a late drive and a PAT of their own, only to end the game with a Danny Southwick interception. If they want to have a chance in this one, the defense needs to continue to perform like they did last week and Southwick will have to at least repeat his performance in the last Thunder/KISS game, where he led the offense to touchdowns on two-thirds of the team’s offensive drives.

The bad news for the KISS: The only good games the Thunder have played on defense have been against Los Angeles, Southwick, or both combined (aka their three wins). Against the KISS/Southwick, the Thunder have stopped 38 percent of drives, which would put them in the league’s top five defenses. Against everyone else, they’re stopping just 12.9 percent of drives, which would be the worst mark in the league – even below the KISS.

Even though this is my only chance to pick the KISS and be right about it over the next month, I can’t believe they can win until they show me they can. Even without knowing which quarterback will play for the Thunder, I’ll take Portland, 57-47.

Game Preview: Portland Thunder (3-4) at Orlando Predators (4-4)

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.

Wrong Way Sports' Game Day Breakdown, Thunder (3-4) vs. Predators (4-4). Orlando has an offensive advantage in everything but turnovers; Portland has a defensive advantage in everything but Drive Success Rate. Look out for Duane Brooks, who has two consecutive games with kick return touchdowns.

Continue reading Game Preview: Portland Thunder (3-4) at Orlando Predators (4-4)

Game Preview: Thunder vs. KISS

These teams epitomize the old maxim: The best kind of ability is availability. Unfortunately, they’re displaying its validity through their struggles with consistency due to injuries.

The Thunder (2-4) are coming off a bye, which fortuitously arrived after a brutal three-game stretch where they played consecutive road games against the three-time defending champions and both of the league’s currently undefeated teams. With a week of rest, they’ll look to topple the team who they beat to start the season, the Los Angeles KISS (0-7). After playing the Thunder close in Week 1, the KISS have been punching bags for the rest of the league, their smallest margin of defeat being 13 points.

Game Day Breakdown, Portland Thunder vs. LA KISS. Thunder 246.7 yards/game; KISS 265.3. Thunder 44 points/game; KISS 36.1. Thunder 12 turnovers; KISS 14. Thunder defense is surrendering 291.7 yards/game; KISS 268.9. Thunder surrendering 52.5 points/game; KISS 57.6. Thunder have forced 9 turnovers; KISS 5. Watch out for Darron Thomas, making his first start since the final game of 2014. Continue reading Game Preview: Thunder vs. KISS