After World Championships, and what will ultimately be the only break in the PLL season, pro outdoor season resumes this weekend in Minnesota. The crowd last year in MN was excellent, and hopefully they show well again so the PLL can keep the positive momentum going from it’s solid first three weeks.
Some teams may be missing key players this week, as the return from World Championships saw a number of players head to the PUP List. JT Giles Harris, Jesse Bernhardt, Jack Rowlett, Connor Kelly, and Ryan Lee all were placed on the PUP List meaning they are unavailable this weekend. There were others who were carrying injuries in San Diego but didn’t go on PUP, and the injury report should be closely watched, as well as active rosters, particularly this weekend. On top of that, with all the close games this year (eight of 12 games have been decided by one goal), bettors will see some serious juice on the underdogs.
Last week, I went 2-2 on game picks and 1-3 on totals.
For the year, I am 6-6 on game picks and 4-8 on totals.
Chrome (1-2) vs Waterdogs (2-1)
When: Saturday, July 8th. 6:00pm EST
The Spread: Waterdogs favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5.
That PUP list group is hitting Chrome hard. No JT Giles Harris and no Jesse Bernhardt means the top cover option and the leading voice on the defense are going to be out. Mike Manley picked up a back injury in Ohio, but hopefully the international break afforded him time to recover. It’ll be Greg Weyl, Troy Hettinger, and Nick Grill in expanded roles picking up the slack barring any roster moves being made. Hettinger impressed in his debut, particularly off the ground. The Waterdogs personnel will be a major test for him. Weyl is a pro veteran, but this will be his first game action in over a year should he be in the lineup. The offense returns Brendan Nichtern for his first action of the summer, as his military commitments won’t conflict with the schedule this week. Nichtern could be inserted back into his regular spot at X, or run out of the box as Jackson Morrill has looked excellent as a behind the net QB through three weeks.
The Waterdogs won’t have Connor Kelly, and the rosters may still be impacted by other players returning from San Diego. Zach Currieris questionable but if he is good to go, Waterdogs offense should have an edge. Sowers and McArdle both look like they’ll be in lineup. Even without them, it means an expanded role for players like Jake Carraway and Ethan Walker. Thomas McConvey also likely makes his season debut, and will be looked to for production in the absence of Kelly at a minimum.
The Chrome defense is a major factor here. Waterdogs may be missing some players, but they’ve been resilient already. As long as Dillon Ward or Matt Deluca return from San Diego able to go, they’ll have their defense more or less intact. Their offense is built on versatility and interchangeable parts. It’s an incredible opportunity for McConvey, who can show off his full skillset as a dodger, shooter, off ball player, picker, anything. It’s what made his draft stock so high.
The shuffling of the Chrome defense could lead to a few cheap ones for Waterdogs. They may be experimenting in this game a bit and going without a faceoff man, but they essentially didn’t use bother with one for most of the Atlas game and ended up with 19 goals in a win.
Waterdogs -1.5 and the over.
Atlas (1-2) vs Cannons (1-2)
When: Saturday, July 8th. 8:30pm EST
The Spread: Atlas favored by 1.5, game total set at 24.5
Not a single name on the injury report in this one, a happy sight for fans of both teams. The Gavin Adler matchup will be interesting here, I’d expect him to get Asher Nolting. As Cannons primary carrier at attack, he’s got to be the top threat and as such, should draw the top pole. Really, I’m excited to see how Cannons deal with Baptiste, and how Atlas defends the Cannons midfield. Those are two major stories in this one. Drenner and Campbell in particular have been outstanding for the Cannons this year, with Campbell looking like a home run of a pick. Drenner is able to invert as a natural attackman, wins in unsettled situations, is dangerous down alleys, he’s really thrived. Jonathan Donville is as good a complimentary piece as you’ll find.
The Cannons defense will be tested in this one. They struggled with the powerhouse attack of Chaos before the break. Atlas aren’t any easier to guard. Teat, Gray, and Law is one of the best groups in the sport. Cade Van Raaphorst should be in the lineup with something to prove against the team that surprisingly sent him to the player pool, but it’ll take an outstanding team effort to slow the Atlas attack down.
The Bulls are coming off a brutal loss, forgetting all about it for a couple weeks likely did them well, but the team defense has been a bit of an issue for Atlas. Cannons, like any team in the PLL, can cook you if you don’t guard all six. I’m hesitant to take the Atlas until a see a more complete game from them on the defensive end of things. Cannons +1.5 is the only underdog this week that doesn’t have insane juice, in fact it’s plus money. Give me the Cannons and the under.
Redwoods (2-1) vs Chaos (2-1)
When: Sunday, July 9th, 2:00pm EST
TV: ESPN2 and ESPN+
The Spread: Chaos favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5
No Rowlett means Chaos have to decide who guards Garnsey, who guards Pannell, it’s all a shuffle against an attack that doesn’t leave a lot of room to shuffle against. Blaze can protect against a lot of issues on a defense. But Rowlett is, at worst, a DPOY finalist so far this year. It’s a big absence. Chaos will have to guard an offense that starts looking more and more like their own. It’ll be quite a fun one.
For the Woods, the defense has interesting matchups here. Garrett Epple more than likely draws Josh Byrne. After that, it’s interesting. Brian Minicus has a level of speed and quickness akin to Michael Sowers, and that’s not hyperbole. Arden Cohen struggled in the matchup with Sowers against Waterdogs. Cohen could guard Dhane Smith, but that leaves Glazener in a position of having to guard a top dodger in Minicus, which again isn’t ideal for the Redwoods. How the Woods deploy their personnel on defense will be interesting, and I’d expect them to be ready to slide and support with regularity. The Woods offense at times leans a little too hard in Ryder Garnsey. Against the Whips, there were moments that felt like "give it to Ryder and hope he scores", which isn't a reliable offense. They have had games with good balance. Mixing in opportunities for Garnsey with opportunities for Bertrand, Pannell, and Heningburg are key to beating a stingy Chaos defense.
The Chaos defense will have it’s hands full, and without it’s best field player. Blaze Riorden gets leaned on to erase mistakes and steal saves every week, so it’s another day in the office for him. Minicus could be an X factor in this one. I think the Chaos offense is enough to cause plenty of switching and rotations from the Woods, which is what the Chaos thrive against.
The Redwoods have a knack for battling, and Ryder Garnsey has been otherworldly. Without Jack Rowlett, the Woods could find themselves with some advantageous matchups as well. In a year where a lot of games play close, it’s hard to pick a winner in this one, so I’ll take the points. Woods +1.5 and the under.
Archers (2-1) vs Whipsnakes (1-2)
When: Sunday, July 9th, 4:30pm EST
The Spread: Archers favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5
I’m on Grant Ament watch here. With two weeks off from last week, how healthy is that hamstring, can he get through a game feeling good, all that. He’s listed as questionable, he’s been giving it a go but unable to get through games without reaggravating his injury. The offense has looked strong even in his absence. Schreiber was clearly wearing some injuries in San Diego, and he’s also listed as questionable, but it’s hard to fathom Captain America actually missing time in meaningful game action. Another fun one to watch here is when Inacio gets back into the mix for Archers. Because he looked great at Worlds. A chance to mix it up with rookie Petey LaSalla is a good opportunity for him to get back into a PLL groove following his injury. Sisselberger has been great, but after San Diego, there should be PLL teams interested in Inacio if he’s available.
The Whips will be without two major leaders in Matt Rambo, who hit the PUP list, and Michael Ehrhardt, who is declared out with a number of lower body injuries. Zed Williams wasn’t on the injury report and will be a key piece of the offense, but he likely has a date with Graeme Hossack in what will be quite a battle of wills. Tucker Dordevic once again will be leaned on the separate from defenders and draw slides. If Zed and Tucker can’t consistently draw doubles, the Whips offense could be in for a long day.
Archers have enough weapons to stay dangerous. No Ehrhardt, possibly no Matt Dunn for Whips. Bryce Young and Tim Muller are still elite, and Colin Squires played an entire half for Ehrhardt in Ohio, the Whips shorties are still good, but it’s just a pair of defenders that no one can easily absorb losing. Jack Myers from the player pool could get an opportunity to create this week with Rambo out, and the Whips might need him to. But if a rookie debut ends up being a big part of your gameplan, it’s tough to pick you to win. I’ll be on the Archers and the under.