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All of the marbles will be on the line at ArenaBowl XXIII on Friday night, as the Spokane Shock and Tampa Bay Storm duke it out for the right to be called the 2010 champions of the Arena Football League.
Tampa Bay Storm (+3.5) @ Spokane Shock
Friday, August 20th
8:00 ET, Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA
Tampa Bay Notes: The Storm might have been the third seed in the American Conference playoffs, but no one ever doubted the fact that they were the best team on that side of the draw during the entire postseason. Tampa Bay is stacked with a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and many think that it is the better team in this game in spite of the records of each. The Storm have already won five ArenaBowl championships and will be playing in their eighth ArenaBowl in franchise history on Friday. The slogan "1=6" has been adapted from the Tampa Bay Rays' "9=8" season in which they went to the World Series. One more good game equals the sixth championship for the franchise. Quarterback Brett Dietz has thrown for 14 TDs during this postseason, though his two picks have to be cause for concern. He played some shaky ball down the stretch against the Orlando Predators in the American Conference Championship Game, as the Storm blew a three score lead and gave Orlando a chance to kick what would've been the game winning field goal had it been good. Keep a close eye on the defensive front for the Storm. They are a talented unit that is overlooked due to their lack of accumulated stats. Still, no one gets off the ball and into the face of opposing quarterbacks faster than DT Tim McGill. On offense, WR Tyrone Timmons leads the way, as he leads the squad with six TD grabs in the playoffs. However, both DeAndrew Rubin and Hank Edwards have had 200+ yard receiving games on the season, and all three can go off for huge games if need be.
Spokane Notes: The Shock might not have ArenaBowl experience, but they certainly do have ArenaCup experience! The rookies of the AFL were powerhouses in the af2 over the last four years, playing in three of the four championship games for the league. They won two of the three that they played in, including last season when they posted a tremendous 74-27 victory on the neutral field of Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The only ArenaCup that the city of Spokane has hosted was in 2008, when the Shock were beaten by a single point by the Tennessee Valley Vipers for the af2 title. Spokane is favored to become the first team to ever win both the ArenaCup and the ArenaBowl thanks to its potent offense. The unit, which came up just 12 points short of 1,000 for the season, is led by QB Kyle Rowley and WR Huey Whittaker. Whittaker had 144 catches, 1,653 yards, and 37 TDs in the regular season and has added six more scores in the playoffs. Rowley had historically struggled in postseasons of past in his af2 days with the Arkansas Twisters, but he has proven himself to be incredibly efficient in the playoffs, throwing 14 TD passes without throwing a pick in Spokane's run to the ArenaBowl.
The Final Word: We'd love to back the hosts in this game, but there is something about history that is just ringing in our ears in this one. Tampa Bay HC Tim Marcum doesn't like losing, and he absolutely despises it in the playoffs and in the ArenaBowl. QB Brett Dietz has the ability to be an absolute superstar in this league for a number of years to come, and we think that he is going to claim his first title on Friday. Expect the Tampa Bay defense to do just enough in what should be a shootout to bring the Storm their AFL best sixth championship.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 69 – Spokane 63