ARENABOWL: TAMPA BAY STORM (10-4) at PHILADELPHIA SOUL (13-1)
ArenaBowl - Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA
Kickoff: Saturday – Aug. 26, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Philadelphia -11.0, Total: 103.5
The Philadelphia Soul will be hoping to cap off an incredible year with a victory over the Tampa Bay Storm in the ArenaBowl on Saturday, August 26th.
Tampa Bay handled Cleveland in a semifinal matchup on Aug. 5, when the Storm won 73-59 as 6.5-point favorites. They’ll now do their best to avoid being shot through the heart by Bon Jovi’s Philadelphia Soul in the ArenaBowl. The Soul have only dropped one game this season, and that was a 49-42 loss to the Brigade in Baltimore. Philadelphia was a 17-point favorite in that game, but you can’t fault them for having one slip-up on the entire year. A loss in this one would, however, render the entire season meaningless. Losing only one game to this point is impressive, but the ArenaBowl is the most important game of the year. The Soul will be going for their second straight ArenaBowl victory, as they beat the Arizona Rattlers 56-42 in Gila River Arena last season. Shaun Kauleinamoku was the MVP of that game, and he will be playing for the Soul this year as well. That means he will have an opportunity to become the first player to ever win back-to-back ArenaBowl MVPs.
The Storm beat the Gladiators by two touchdowns last week, and a lot of that was because of the play of QB Randy Hippeard. Hippeard was 24-for-33 for 313 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also rushed for two touchdowns on five carries in that one. If Hippeard can play another game like that then it’s very likely that the Storm are going to be celebrating an ArenaBowl victory in Philly. The three guys he’ll be looking to most often are WRs Lamark Brown, Kendrick Ings, and Joe Hills. The three of them combined to haul in 23 passes for seven touchdowns against Cleveland last game. They’ll need to be at their best on Saturday, but it’s not only about what this offense can do. The Tampa Bay defense absolutely must step its game up in this one, as they are facing an unstoppable Philadelphia offense. If they can hold the Soul to just two-thirds of their regular season production then they will have done their job here.
The Soul are coming off of a victory over the Brigade in the semis and they’ll now look to put the icing on the cake in what has been a remarkable Arena Football League season. The player to keep an eye on in this one is QB Dan Raudabaugh, who threw for 324 yards with nine touchdowns and only one pick against Baltimore. Raudabaugh is coming off of a ridiculous regular season, when he threw for 3,175 yards with 82 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. If he can do more of what he has done all season then the Soul will be lifting their second straight Foster Trophy. Raudabaugh’s top target in the semis was WR Darius Reynolds, who caught nine passes for 171 yards and six touchdowns. Raudabaugh could, however, opt to target Kauleinamoku in this one, as he was the MVP of last year’s ArenaBowl. Defensively, the team will be doing everything it can to put pressure on Randy Hippeard. If it can do that then this game should end in a rather convincing victory for Philly.