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A new Arenawithout Vegas

Feb 26, 2008 2:33 AM

The AFL kicks off its’ 22nd season this weekend with the teams with the six best records in 2007 all locking horns.

Gone from the 17-team league are the Nashville Kats and Austin Wranglers who ceased operations while the Gladiators moved from Las Vegas to Cleveland.

Friday, Feb. 29

VooDoo at Avengers: NO’s (5-11, 7-9 ATS ’07) voodoo didn’t work away from the Big Easy last season (1-7) where they returned after a one-year hiatus after Hurricane Katrina. The VooDoo’s offense should be much improved with QB Bellisari and new WR Lewis (42 TDs w/Austin LY) but the lean is toward the homeboy Avengers (10-8, 9-9 ATS) and QB Cumbie who hold their own at home (6-3), have a great defensive line with Stewart and free-agent addition Jones, and are the pick here in the league’s lid-lifter on Leap Day in Lalaland. AVENGERS.

Monday, March 3

Dragons at Gladiators: They may have fled Sin City for the shores of Lake Erie, added Bernie Kosar as president and totally refurbished their roster, but the Gladiators (2-14, 4-12 ATS), outscored by 18 ppg last season, are a go-against until they prove otherwise. The Dragons (5-11, 7-9) did breathe a little fire on the road (3-5) behind QB Garcia but are still among the league’s longshots for the ArenaBowl title at 40-1 (Caesars Palace) along with their opponent here, Cleveland (50-1) and Grand Rapids (60-1). DRAGONS.