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NLL Weekend Primer, Week 17

Week 17. I don’t know what happened to 1-16 but somehow it’s already Week 17. NLL season, all gas, no brakes. Every game is massive now, and some teams are basically already in the playoffs. Fully clinched spots aren’t really done yet, but it would take mathematical miracles for some teams to miss the playoffs at this point. Teams like New York, Philly, PCLC, Saskatchewan, they’re playing for their postseason lives at this point. Some teams near the bottom can be spoilers. Seeding is up for grabs at the top. This is the good stuff.


Last week, I was 6-1 against the spread and on 4-3 game totals. My best week of the year 


For the season, I am 41-56 against the spread and 53-45 on game totals 


All spreads/odds come from DraftKings at the time of writing. In case you can’t tell from the records, I’m not good at this. If you are serious about picks/wagering, you should line shop across all sportsbooks and consider the odds you are getting. I don’t actually bet these games, just picks.


BUFFALO BANDITS (7-6) VS PANTHER CITY LACROSSE CLUB (6-7)


When: Friday, March 22nd. 8:00pm EDT.

Where: Dickie’s Arena, Texas

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Buffalo favored by 2.5, game total set at 23.5


The Pick:


Big one in Texas. Buffalo getting that 8th win is big. Panther City win puts both these teams at .500. Hard to imagine making the playoffs with less than 10 wins. Buffalo has five games left at thie point all five against teams who are currently .500 or worse. Buffalo can prey on a weak schedule with their latest roster additions to build momentum towards May. Really, they already are. They’ve won two straight, beating the Rush two weeks ago and the Rock last week. Panther City. Lost to Halifax last week, they have brutal schedule to close the year. Buffalo, San Diego, Albany, and Calgary all remain on the calendar. This one is at home, they need to take advantage of home games when they can, protect the home turf, or May will be spent at home. Buffalo looks to be getting it together at the right time. The line is big but I’ll take the Bandits, and the over. 


ALBANY FIREWOLVES (10-4) VS CALGARY ROUGHNECKS (5-8)


When: Friday, March 22nd. 9:00pm EDT

Where: WestJet Field at ScotiaBank Saddledome, Calgary

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Albany favored by 1.5, game total set at 22.5 


The Pick:


Albany feels pretty safely into the playoffs at this point. At 10 wins, one more looks like it’ll all but lock a playoff spot. They are on the road for three of their last four, but even if they lose out, it’ll likely take some help to keep them out. That said, teams will much rather be hosting a playoff game than going on the road. Nobody wants to visit a hostile crowd in Halifax or Toronto. Albany should play to stay near the top and keep the magic season rolling. Calgary at 5-8 needs to be in playoff game mode. A 9th loss is bad news. They have five games left and three are at home, but they still have to travel to Buffalo once. They’ve lost straight, it’s time to turn it around, or start dusting off the golf clubs. I tend to back the desperate teams, so give me Calgary and the under. 


HALIFAX THUNDERBIRDS (8-6) VS TORONTO ROCK (11-3)


When: Saturday, March 23rd. 7:00pm EDT.

Where: FirstOntario Centre, Toronto

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Toronto favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5 


The Pick:


It’s funny, this is the best game of the weekend in terms of the quality of the teams, but it might be the one I watch the least. These two are both looking solidly like playoff teams. Toronto is the likely 1 seed barring a melt down. Halifax is at eight wins, in good form, and has a very favorable remaining schedule. It’s really just about seeding for these two. Halifax hosting a playoff game would be huge for them. They sold out the lower bowl of their home arena recently, one of the best crowds ever. It’s becoming a very loud and difficult place to play. For that reason alone, Halifax should be trying to accelerate here a bit and hold onto a position in the top four if they can. I’ll still take Toronto though. Rock and the under. 


VANCOUVER WARRIORS (4-9) VS PHILADELPHIA WINGS (5-7)


When: Saturday, March 23rd. 7:00pm EDT.

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Philadelphia favored by 1.5, game total set at 22.5 


The Pick:


Vancouver at this point is playing spoiler. Winning out isn’t enough to get them in, it’s a wax-pencil-on-a-window level math problem to get to the playoffs. Some teams, however, relish in playing that role. Vancouver has won two of their last three, including a win over Buffalo in that time. The schedule for Vancouver is brutal, but there are teams like Philly and New York in there battling for playoff spots that could see their seasons ended by the Warriors. Philly has also won two of three, Zach Higgins has been electric in net. They count on him to be, and he delivers. Five games left for Philly, this week and next week at home before going on the road for hte last three. Winning the home games is key for them. I’m going to take Vancouver here to have a big game from their young defense against a very good Wings offense. 


SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (5-6) VS NEW YORK RIPTIDE (6-8)


When: Saturday, March 23rd. 7:30pm EDT.

Where: Nassau Coliseum, New York

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: New York favored by 1.5, game total set at 24.5


The Pick:


It’s a night for the Boomer Esiason Foundation on Long Island for this one, always a great night and a great cause. Raising money for CF, they’ll have all sorts of auctions and other cool stuff. Check this one out if you’re in the area. To the game itself, New York needs it. Bad. Right now I see a team with 9 losses and I think, they’re out. Riptide have four games left, they need to find the magic that delivered them four straight wins back in january and february. A major part of that is Cam Dunkerley playing well. He did not last week against the Rush. This week, in the second half of a home and home, New York’s success starts with him in goal and Jeff Teat on offense. The Rush have plenty of games left, but it’s a grueling stretch coming. Just int erms of volume. They have a dulbe header this weekend, first in New York on Saturday then in Georgia Sunday. Then a Thursday game with PHilly, and another double header in April. Winning now is key, because fatigue and soreness will be a factor down the stretch. I’m going to take New York to right the ship on a big night in their penultimate home game as a team. 


ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS (6-6) VS COLORADO MAMMOTH (4-9)


When: Saturday, March 23rd. 9:00pm EDT.

Where: Ball Arena, Colorado

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Rochester favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5


The Pick:


What a year for the Hawks. Start the season 3-0. Lose six straight to go to 3-6. Win three straight, right back at .500.  Hawks have six games left but it’s not an easy slate. This is probably their most winnable game, despite it being at the Loud House. Colorado made some moves at the deadline to acquire picks, white flagging it a bit by shipping out Chris Wardle and Paul Dawson. Five games left for them, the playoffs are probably out of reach at thsi point. But a win here can take the Hawks down with them. Rochester will need their usually performance of massive scoring from Fields, Smith, and company to get a W. Not always easy against Dillon Ward. I’ll take the over and a hot Hawks team to find a way. 


LAS VEGAS DESERT DOGS (4-9) VS SAN DIEGO SEALS (10-4)


When: Saturday, March 23rd. 10:00pm EDT.

Where: Pechanga Arena, San Diego

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: San Diego favored by 3.5, game total set at 22.5


The Pick:


San Diego is a game back of toronto for the one seed. IF they want the top spot they’ll probably need to win out. They keep playing low scoring, close games, which is a little puzzling given how good they are on offense. ADding Wardle only makes them  better. Vegas actually won this matchup back in January. But a lot has happened since then. Vegas losing to Vancouver last week dropped them to 4-9 and likely out of the playoffs. The schedule the rest of the way is probably too difficult to climb back into postseason contention. The line here is enormous, which I tend to enjoy in a lacrosse game. I’ll take the goals and the under, give me Vegas. 


SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (5-6) VS GEORGIA SWARM (8-7)


When: Sunday, March 24th. 5:30pm EDT.

Where: Gas South Arena, Georgia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Georgia favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5


The Pick:


Last game of the weekend, a little late afternoon tilt down in Georgia. The Swarm at 8-7 have three games to go, all of them are at home. They’ve shown this year that they sometimes struggle to put teams away. But the offense has plenty of weapons, and their defense is anchored by one of the best young goalies in the world in Brett Dobson. The last three are this one, the Rush in their second game in two days, Vegas in two weeks, and then Rochester two weeks after that. It’s about as favorable as it gets for the Swarm. The Rush do have zigging when you think they’ll zag. They are a .500 team when they are an underdog. It’s hard to pick these games when it’s a team’s second game of the weekend, particularly when they games are back to back days. I’ll take Georgia because they’ll be fresh, and they’re at home, plus the under. 


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