vs. Red Dogs
by Brian Distelberg,
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Red Dogs by 3
| Who Has The Edge? | Register Your
For the first time
in a long time, the Cobras will enter a game with a shorter losing streak
than their opponent. And with a win, Carolina can actually move out
of last place in the AFL.
The New Jersey
Red Dogs are in the midst of a chaotic season that started with a trade
for six-time Ironman of the Year Barry Wagner, who departed soon afterward
for San Jose, declared a free agent under the league's new collective bargaining
agreement. From there, it's just gone down hill for the Red Dogs,
who went 9-5 in 1997, their first season, and won a playoff game in 1998,
leaving them still the only expansion team from the past five seasons to
win in the postseason.
lost five of their first six games this year, and has lost four in a row
after racking up back-to-back victories. Head coach Frank Mattiace
was fired two weeks ago; under new leader Kevin Guy, the Red Dogs have
let a lead over New England slip away twice in consecutive games.
Plagued by in-fighting among players and dwindling crowds, there is no
guarantee that the Garden State will have an AFL franchise next season,
especially after the example of the Portland Forest Dragons showed how
a struggling team could remake itself in a new location.
New Jersey sits just one slot out of the playoffs, the Cobras probably
have an emotional advantage after getting their first home win ever and
nearly defeating the playoff-bound Arizona Rattlers. With a win and
some help, in the form of L.A. and Houston losses, the Cobras could move
to 14th place. Unfortunately for the Cobras, Avenger and ThunderBear
losses mean Buffalo and Grand Rapids wins, further distancing the bottom
of the playoff pack from the Cobras.
HAS THE EDGE?
the Cobras have the ball...
||Rushing - So much
for consistency. On a night where many of the typically weakest facets
of the Cobras played strongly, the ground game, reliable all season, disappeared
in Arizona. Carolina hasn't abandoned the run, but can it still count
on it? Advantage: Even
||Passing - Fred McNair
continues to grow more comfortable with the Cobras offense, and with Dexter
Dawson and Cornelius White as his go-to guys. While the line protection
is still uneven, McNair still hangs onto the ball too long on some occasions.
New Jersey comes into the game with one of the league's best pass defenses,
led by Kevin Gaines, and a head coach who was a former defensive back.
the Red Dogs have the ball...
||Rushing - New Jersey
is not a threat on the ground from a yardage standpoint. However,
Kevin Clemens has rushed for a pair of touchdowns and quarterback Tommy
Maddox has scrambled for five. The Cobras line should be able to
stop the Red Dogs ground assault, but must also eradicate the mental errors
that have hurt Carolina all season. The Cobras were successful in
putting pressure on Sherdrick Bonner last week. Advantage: Carolina
||Passing - Rookie
signal-caller Tommy Maddox, a former NFL first round draft pick and six-year
veteran in 'the show,' leads a potent Red Dog attack. Receiving duties
are spread between Michael Lewis, David Saunders and Dimitrious Stanley.
The Cobras, however, finally gelled on defense last week, as the return
of Reggie Carthon seemed to boost the secondary. Advantage: Even
||Special Teams - Mistakes
on special teams cost the Cobras again last week. I'm surprised Coach
Kay didn't warn his return men about the strange net in America West Arena,
considering he coached their for four seasons. The Cobras need to
be diligent on kick returns, as Lewis has two run backs for scores this
season. Fortunately, kicker Derek Schorejs is only 50% from under
50 yards and one for nine from beyond. He has hit a 54-yarder.
||Coaching - Kay has
the Cobras playing focused and determined, as proved by their refusal to
lay down early in the desert. Guy has yet to win in his first head
coaching stint, and his team has given up early leads in the past two games.
||Intangibles - The
Cobras are no longer under pressure to get their first home win, and are
playing for pride and for the fans. New Jersey needs a win to stay
in the playoff hunt, but that motivation hasn't prevented four straight
losses. If the Cobras play hard, the fans will support them, which
should boost their game. Advantage: Carolina
Carolina 52 - New Jersey 49
your prediction in the CobraZone
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