The Philadelphia Soul, who won a number of awards for the 2016 season like head coach Clint Dolezel sharing the Coach of the Year award and defensive back Tracy Belton winning Defensive Player of the Year, know that they have a 0-2 record against Arizona in the Arena Bowl and are playing in a tough arena in Glendale, AZ. However, Philadelphia can still pull off an upset on prime time television and bring a trophy back to the city of Philadelphia if they look to use these keys that helped them to a 13-3 season.
#1 – Raudabaugh has to protect the football/O-line Needs To Keep Him Off The Ground – The former 2015 AFL MVP QB Dan Raudabaugh showed no signs of rust this season by throwing for 101 touchdowns with a 60% completion percentage. However, in the playoffs despite his tremendous 14 touchdown performance through two games, he has struggled to protect the ball especially opening up the American Conference finals game against the Jacksonville Sharks by throwing a pick six from scrimmage. The veteran quarterback from Miami would then bounce back and even lead the Soul on a game winning drive due to some credit to his blockers up front lead by Keith Newell and Wayne Tribue. Philadelphia’s offensive line is ranked first in the league with only allowing five sacks this season so keeping their quarterback comfortable in the pocket is something that they have done all year long and will need to keep it going against Arizona.
Just spoke with @soulfootball QB Dan Raudabaugh “I expect our guys to come out ready to fight for 60 minutes. We’re prepared for a battle”
— Anthony Carter (@acarterAFL) August 26, 2016
#2 Defense Needs To Show No Mercy – The Rattlers arguably have one of the best offensive attacks in QB Nick Davila who was named the 2016 AFL MVP for his league leading 110 touchdown passes with a 70% completion percentage. Soul All-Arena and defensive lineman of the year, Jake Metz and his unit will have their work cut out for them in getting hits on Davila with OL Jordan Mudge protecting him. Meaning, second year defensive coordinator Derek Stingley will need to have his secondary ready for a 1,600 receiving yard threat in Arizona’s veteran receiver Rod Windsor. Leading that secondary is DB Tracy Belton who will be coming into this game with nine interceptions, 90 tackles and 20 pass breakups that gave him a no brainer All-Arena honor.
#3 Look For Darius “Money” Reynolds – Darius Reynolds who is fresh off of a Arena Bowl title last season with the San Jose SaberCats, joined the Soul this offseason and without doubt has been dominant and Raudabaugh’s go-to target throughout this season. Reynolds this season has over 1,400 receiving yards off of 112 receptions and 38 touchdowns and hauled in a SC top-10 one handed touchdown catch with six seconds left against Jacksonville to send Philly to the championship. Darius will likely be matched up with Rattlers DB Arkeith Brown so if Reynolds is not the answer, Raudabaugh also has WR Shaun Kauleinamoku and Ryan McDaniel so it should be a positive field day for the Soul’s receiving corp.
It will definitely be the game to watch out for and potentially a shootout that may go to overtime. The Soul will be on the quest for their second Arena Bowl win since 2008 while Arizona will be hungry for their sixth championship in franchise history. QB Dan Raudabaugh said he is ready to go and the team’s locker room is motivated and pumped up for a battle.
“We’re excited for this great opportunity to accomplish our goals we set long ago before training camp,” Raudabaugh said. “Rattlers have a great organization and it’s going to be a battle.”
“We’re prepared and cant wait to kick it off.”
Prediction: Soul 65-62