The good news is that the top four teams make it to the playoffs in the American Conference, so we just need to finish with a better record than either Tampa Bay or Orlando. Better root against Jacksonville as well, just to get used to hating all Florida teams for the next couple of weeks. With just two weeks left in the season, each game is crucial in determining the Soul's playoff fate.
Unfortunately, Philadelphia will face two very tough opponents to finish the season off; the 12-4 San Jose Sabercats in week 19 and the13-3 division rival Pittsburgh Power in week 20. If the Soul can defeat both teams, then they will have earned their playoff spot. Orlando's last two games are against the 3-13 New Orleans Voodoo and 14-2 Arizona Rattlers, and Tampa Bay will square off against the 9-7 Spokane Shock and the 15-1 Cleveland Gladiators. All three playoff hopefuls have a tough matchup week 20 and Orlando, who is currently ahead of Tampa in the standings, has the schedule advantage. Tampa will be the team the Soul can surpass with the most ease, since not only are both teams 8-8 currently, but Tampa has to go against the AFL's best team in the final week of the season.
Philadelphia's passing game has been slightly above average, with Raudabaugh ranked 4th in yards (3986 yards) and 6th in TDs (81) and Tiger Jones ranked 5th in receiving yards (1466) and 6th in TDs (31). The heart and...Soul...of this team is none other than fullback Derrick Ross, who leads the league in rushing yards (417 yards) and rushing TDs (32). In fact, the next closest rusher has 330 yards and the next closest scorer has 15 TDs (Mykel Benson of the San Antonio Talons). Getting Ross and Jones their touches early and often will be the key for the Soul these last two games.
Obviously the playoffs are not a guarantee, but the Soul have a legit shot at making it still, as their biggest competition has the same record and an equally difficult schedule. If the Soul are to make the playoffs in hope of reaching their third consecutive Arena Bowl, the have to go through San Jose and Pittsburgh to get there.
By: Dan Goggin
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