Final will have Soul

Jul 22, 2008 6:58 PM

The Indoor War by Kevin Stott |


ArenaBowl XXII this Sunday (ABC, 3EDT/12PDT) features two teams many thought could be in New Orleans for this AFL championship game.

National Conference champs Philadelphia (15-3, 10-8 ATS) and American Conference winner San Jose (13-5, 10-7-1) both had high expectations coming into the season.

The Soul have been made small favorites (-3½, 119½) in the game and have had a great year with former Chicago Rush QB Matt D’Orazio (72.4% completions, 72 TDs/4 INTs) filling in more than admirably for Tony Graziani.

The defending champ SaberCats, trying to become the first back-to-back ArenaBowl winner in 12 years, have the AFL’s second-best offense with veteran QB Mark Grieb (4,613 passing yards, AFL-high 100 TD passes) clicking as usual.

SJ is 2-1 lifetime versus Philadelphia with the Soul’s lone win coming at the Cats’ HP Pavilion in Week 7 (58-57) in a 20-point comeback win in the second half.

In this big game, I lean with the Soul for three main reasons. First, they have never won the Foster Trophy and owner Jon Bon Jovi would just love to accomplish that feat for this impressive franchise and administer a little "Bad Medicine" to SJ.

Secondly, the SaberCats went just 2-4 against the National Conference this season. Third is the Soul’s dynamic WR combo of Chris Jackson (1,719 receiving yards, 49 TDs, both second in AFL) and Larry Brackins (107 receptions). Philly’s Jackson always gets it done when it matters most and will be the focus of SJ’s defense.

The SaberCats receivers are no slouch though as Rodney Wright (134 receptions), Cleannord Saintil (120) and vet James Roe (102) all were in the triple digits in catches and provide Grieb a plethora of talent to throw to.

It should be an exciting close game but the Soul should prevent the SaberCats from winning their third title in the last five years and fourth in the last seven on Sunday in the Big Easy by sheer intent in a game sure to light up the scoreboard. SOUL.