Washington at Baltimore (-11.5, 95.5)
Who needs the regular season? A dismal year that saw the Washington Valor lose 10 games, and post a minus-160 point differential, has culminated in an ArenaBowl berth! If bettors are searching for reasons behind this miraculous run, they should look no further than under center in our nation’s capital at Arvell Nelson. In the last two weeks, Nelson has been stupendous completing 64 percent of his passes, scoring 15 touchdowns and accounting for 541 yards from scrimmage. Thanks to his offensive surge, the Valor, which averaged just 40 points per game during the regular season, averaged 51 points in the two postseason games against Albany.
The Baltimore Brigade looked equally impressive in its series sweep of the two-time defending champion Philadelphia Soul. The Brigade won -- and covered -- both contests. The Brigade never was threatened by Philadelphia in the series, winning each game by 12 points. The offense has been its usual effective self, but the Baltimore defense has really answered the call. In the series with the Soul, the Brigade picked off Dan Raudabaugh three times over two games, and recovered a fumble. Each of those turnovers resulted in a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Will the defense be able to keep it up against the red-hot Nelson?
Last week, I lifted my ban on betting the Valor, and it worked out as the team won outright as a double-digit ‘dog. With the form that Nelson and the Washington offense are in, what sane bettor can think they will lose by double-digits this weekend?
Baltimore is coming off of an impressive series with Philadelphia, but it is still a unit that can bend to effective quarterbacks, which we saw in the final week of the regular season against this Valor team. I’ll take the points with Washington. As for the total, neither of these defenses will remind viewers of the Steel Curtain or ‘85 Bears. Expect a high-scoring affair.
Who wins? Well, after Randy Hippeard’s impressive debut as a member of the Brigade, I mused that Baltimore had the horses to make it to the top of the Arena League, so I will stick with my guns. Hippeard and his teammates will take Arena Bowl XXXI on Saturday.
: Washington, Over