By Jonathan Von Tobel
Baltimore @ Albany (-2.5, 90.5)
7 p.m. ET Saturday
This could be a potential Arena Bowl preview we have on our hands this weekend. On one side, we have Baltimore, arguably the most potent attack in the league. On the other, we have the best defensive unit the AFL has to offer. When it comes to a top offense against a top defense, I’ll go defense almost every time. Albany’s defensive line is the best unit the league and will pressure Baltimore quarterback Randy Hippeard all night long, an issue that has plagued the Brigade this season. Add on that the Empire offense has really come into its own over the last four weeks, and this should be a great spot for the Empire.
However, when you have an explosive offense and dynamic special teams like Baltimore, you’re always alive. The Brigade dropped 96 points in its last two contests combined, and if the offensive line can hold up the defensive backfield of Albany will be in for quite the challenge. A unit to keep an eye on will be the Brigade defense. Two weeks ago, Baltimore was in a back-and-forth affair against Washington that ended up as a one-point victory for the Brigade. The same quarterback that sliced and diced Baltimore was benched this past weekend, which doesn’t make the Brigade’s performance that day look very good.
As the season has progressed I have come around more and more on the Albany Empire, so I will be going that route this weekend. Tommy Grady and Co. have come together to form a reliable offense that pairs well with a defense that constantly gives its team a chance. The Empire forces signal-callers into mistakes and limits opponents on third and fourth downs. I don’t have a lot of faith in the Brigade defense’s ability to slow down Joe Hills and the rest of the wide receiver on the Empire’s roster. I expect Albany to win and cover in a somewhat explosive contest. Not that explosive though, since I am playing under the total of 90.5 for this one.
PICK: Albany, Under