Just four games remain in the PLL regular season. For now, Chrome looks like the team sinking toward the bottom, Archers trending towards the top. Both of those things can wildly change every week. We had some shootouts in Dallas, this week, the PLL heads to Baltimore for games at Homewood Field.
It’s Hall of Fame weekend, and the second class will be getting their gold jackets. The class includes legends like Ryan Powell, Brian Spallina, Ryan Boyle, and more. PLL also has two games on ABC this weekend, which presents some solid opportunity. Last week’s ABC number was solid, and with other sports in a lull there isn’t as much competition for eyeballs. That is a double edged sword, because it also means there aren’t as many strong lead in or follows to PLL games.
All four matchups this week are intriguing, let’s get into it.
Last week, I went 3-1 on game picks and 0-4 on totals.
For the year, I am 11-9 on game picks and 7-13 on totals.
Archers (5-1) vs Atlas (2-4)
When: Saturday, August 5th, 3pm.
TV: ABC, ESPN+
The Spread: Archers favored by 1.5, Game total set at 25.5
Believe it or not, this is the first time this year the Atlas are getting points. Archers currently stand alone atop the standings. They also have the second best goal differential in the league at +15. Because we don’t get to do it that much anymore, let’s highlight the faceoff matchup.
Trevor Baptiste and Mike Sisselberger are still dressing every week, as teams around the PLL begin to experiment with lineups devoid of faceoff specialists. Sisselberger in particular looked prepared and ready to beat the prevent from the first time Archers saw it. Last week, Baptiste put on a clinic on exits. That’s really the critical part of making the prevent work. If you can’t force the faceoff man backwards with his exit, you aren’t going to prevent much. Baptiste went wherever he wanted last week against Chrome, and Atlas were able to capitalize. This week, there will be no prevent to be seen. It’ll be the top two in the league going at it, and possessions will be huge, even if they are on short time.
After that, the Atlas defense still needs to be dialed. Archers share the ball well, and they run Mac O’Keefe through pick and rolls well. The struggles for Atlas defensively have come off ball, and Archers will bury a team that doesn’t defend all six guys well. The individual matchups might even favor Atlas in some spots, but in the 6v6, Archers can execute.
Archers are looking locked in. This is the time of year they need to keep things ascending. In the past, they’ve faltered late in the season or lost early in the playoffs despite being loaded on paper. The chatter this offseason was around their roster moves and being better positioned for a title run. The social media thumbs will be ablaze with takes about this being the same old story should they start dropping games now.
But those thumbs get the weekend off. Archers execute at a high level and Siss is able to keep it close to parity against Baptiste. Archers winning ways continue with another high scoring offensive performance, while Graeme Hossack and Brett Dobson stifle the Atlas weapons. Archers cover and the game goes over.
Whipsnakes (2-4) vs Chrome (1-5)
When: Saturday, August 5th. 5:30pm.
The Spread: Whipsnakes favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5
It’s been a tough year for Chrome, and they really could not be playing the Whips at a worse time. The Whips are getting healthy. Last week they had their fully healthy offense on the field and hung 17 goals on Blaze Riorden and one of the best defenses in the league in the Chaos. They’ll likely be fully healthy on the offensive end again. The Whips are the best 2-4 team pro lacrosse has ever seen. They may need to win some high scoring games while they wait for Kyle Bernlohr to return and Matt Dunn gets back to 100%, but they have the tools to do just do that.
On the other side, Chrome is a team figuring it out. Last week they gave the prevent a whirl, sitting all star Connor Farrell and going without a faceoff man. Dylan Molloy was sent to the player pool, things are just a little scattered. Chrome are a team that beat themselves way too often. They lead the league in turnovers, and while it isn’t tracked so this is just anecdotal, it feels like they commit their turnovers in very high leverage moments. It’ll take a clean, well executed game to hang with the Whipsnakes. In a somewhat surprising move, the Chrome are once again going without Connor Farrell, and will run the prevent against Petey LaSalla.
The Whipsnakes are a super dangerous team. The first half of the season went about as poorly as it possibly could for them from an injury perspective. That’s in the rear view. With their full compliment of weapons, they look like the team Coach Stagnitta envisioned from day one. Multiple players to pressure a defense, multiple deadly shooters around those players. Chrome’s tough run continues. Whips win and cover, avenging their week one loss, and the game goes over.
Redwoods (3-3) vs Chaos (3-3)
When: Sunday, August 6th, 1pm EST
TV: ABC, ESPN+
The Spread: Chaos favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5
Redwoods won the first meeting between these two. It took a spectacular effort from Jack Kelly to deliver that win. The Chaos offense was effective, but just was shooting at a wall. The Chaos have been, in my eyes, basically improving a bit each week every year. In the first half of the year, Coach Towers was candid about wanting to see everyone in his 25 man get game action so he could pick his best 19 man for the playoff stretch. At this point, I think we are seeing that team take the field every week. Brian Minicus has been unguardable as a dodger the last few weeks, how the Redwoods set up their defensive matchups will be a story.
The Chaos defense will take on a Woods offense that’s figuring things out. They shuffled the lineup last week, moving Sergio Perkovic to SSDM and Nakeie Montgomery to the offensive end, while putting Myles Jones on reserve. Kevin Rogers joined the team from the pool, and Cole Kirst saw his role expand. Things continued to shift this week, with Myles Hones and Perkovic both on reserve as Chris Merle returned to the lineup at SSDM. It’s still an offense that’s inconsistent, and can struggle to rally if the chips are down. The Chaos can frustrate opponents, particularly if Blaze Riorden is really seeing it well. There’s a powder keg ready to go in this one.
The Chaos seem like a group to hold a grudge. They weren’t thrilled with their performance against the Woods earlier in the year, and they need to rinse that taste out. Coming off a loss, the Chaos get off the boss ready to make a statement with a roster looking to take a step up before the playoffs. They cover and the game goes under.
Waterdogs (4-2) vs Cannons (4-2)
When: Sunday, August 6th, 3:30pm
The Spread: Cannons favored by 1.5, game total set at 25.5
Waterdogs are coming off a game where they gave up 19 goals, not exactly the type thing you can do and win. They continue to run the prevent, and now haven’t dressed a faceoff man essentially since the second game of the year against the Redwoods. They bailed on the faceoff about midway through the game in week three against Atlas. This week, it’ll be fascinating to see who the teams dress. Both are have gone to the faceoff prevent full time. But what do you do when neither team dresses a specialist? Someone has to win these faceoffs and play with the short clock?
The Waterdogs have a bit of a cheat code in Zach Currier. He can be the guy taking the draws and playing at either end, no subbing necessary, and he can win them against non-specialists. With Currier, they can use players like Ryan Conrad on wings, another player who doesn’t have to sub. Given that their personnel plays both ends so well, the 32 second offensive clock isn’t as a big a problem for them, since they have to do so little subbing.
For Cannons, it’s different, as they have been using Ethan Rall almost exclusively to run the prevent. They could go with a guy like Jeff Trainor, who like Currier can play all parts of the field. But typically it’s been giving up the possession and winning it back via a turnover or good defense on a short clock. The Cannons seem less equipped to handle situations where they may be consistently winning faceoffs without a specialist, as crazy as that is to say.
Waterdogs have two losses this year by a combined two goals. Cannons have won four straight, covered in five straight, and have yet to lose or fail to cover as a favorite. The faceoff conundrum is enough to put my brain in a pretzel. Given how things are shaping up, it’s very difficult to get a read. I’m just going to bet the Waterdogs play another close game. The Cannons offense is excellent, arguably the best in the league, but the Waterdogs keep finding ways to win. The Waterdogs cover the +1.5 and the game goes over.