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After pulling off perhaps the biggest upset of the season last week, the New Orleans Voodoo will attempt to start the season with a 2-0 mark as they take on the defending American Conference Champion Cleveland Gladiators on Saturday night. This game has now taken on a whole new feel. After the Voodoo shocked the Jacksonville Sharks last Saturday, New Orleans is in position to do something it has rarely done in franchise history: take the division lead. It wont be easy though against a team that was 17-1 last year and made it to the Arena Bowl. But if last week taught us anything, expect the unexpected.
The Voodoo are coming off an amazing 51-50 upset win over the Jacksonville Sharks in which they jumped out to a 20-0 lead and were able to fend off a Sharks rally. In that game Adam Kennedy was 19-25 for 222 yards and 4 touchdown passes – the last of which won New Orleans the game. They were also able to find some consistent play on defense, stopping the Sharks late in the game to win it.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Gladiators are coming off a 60-44 win over the Tampa Bay Storm in Tampa Bay last weekend. As it was aforementioned, the Gladiators were the talk of the AFL last season going an AFL record best 17-1 before losing the Arena Bowl by 40.
To win this game, New Orleans is going to need to bring the same focus and intensity that they brought against the Sharks. They will also need to contain quarterback Shane Austin – who shredded Tampa Bay’s defense a week ago. The Voodoo can not let him have a field day if they plan to win this game.
Also something very important to keep in mind, If the Voodoo have a lead late in the game – they must finish the game. Cleveland won 6 games last season based on late game comebacks. Having blown that 20-0 lead a week ago before winning, New Orleans knows they must play with a different chip on their shoulder against the American Conference champs.
This is the 7th meeting all time between the two teams. New Orleans leads the series 4-2, but the Gladiators took both games last year. Cleveland enters as a 6 point favorite.
Kickoff is at 8 ET on ESPN3.com