Three weekends left as the PLL will head out west for the remainder of the regular season. This weekend, it’s back to Denver and Peter Barton Stadium, an annual stop for the league, as teams battle for playoff positioning and berths in the Championship Series.
This weekend is throwback weekend, with teams all wearing porthole mesh jerseys with 80s/90s styled logos and aesthetic. It’s always popular, and should look great on TV. Last week the PLL had two games on ABC that both drew excellent audiences, this week they are back to one game on linear, as Atlas and Waterdogs will be on ESPN2 on Saturday night.
Last week, I went 2-2 on game picks and 2-2 on totals.
For the year, I am 13-11 on game picks and 9-15 on totals.
Chaos (4-3) vs Whipsnakes (3-4)
When: Friday, August 11, 8pm EST
The Spread: Whipsnakes favored by 1.5, game total set at 24.5
The Whips are a scary group right now. They are healthy, they are executing well, they have a depth of weapons on offense, and a defense that can grind you down. They are still without Kyle Bernlohr, but Brendan Krebs has looked solid as a replacement, so much so that Coach Stagnitta said they believe Krebs could be the future of the team. Last week, Chanenchuk did the scoring. This week, it could be Zed, it could be Rambo, Smith, Dordevic, who knows who is going to be the guy. The Whips are looking more like themselves now, which should make teams nervous.
Chaos are without Josh Byrne again due to injury. Last week that didn’t end up being a problem, Chris Cloutier stepped in and had four goals. Chaos will go right back to him again this week. The Chaos defense has handled the Whipsnakes well in the past. Jarrod Neumann has gotten the better of Matt Rambo before, and Jack Rowlett will likely guard Zed Williams. Behind it all, Blaze will need to be Blaze once again. Last week, Coach Stagnitta said these two teams know what the other does, they know what’s coming, it’s just a matter of executing.
Whipsnakes are on the up and up. They are healthy, they are dangerous, they are back to tough defense and hitting singles. The Chaos historically just seem to play them well. They find ways to battle and disrupt enough to pull out wins. I feel good about them as an underdog here, Chaos +1.5 and the under.
Chrome (1-6) vs Archers (6-1)
When: Friday, August 11, 10:30pm EST
Spread: Archers favored by 2.5, game total set at 23.5
IL’s Chris Rosenthal reported that Chrome faceoff specialist Connor Farrell would be returning to the travel roster this week. Farrell went 11-20 with five GBs and just a single turnover in the first meeting between these two. Considering that game against Mike Sisselberger, it’s hard to consider leaving Farrell out again. The challenge for Chrome in this one will be creating consistent looks at the net on the offensive end. The Archers have the second best scoring defense in the league, and have picked up the second most ground balls in the league. They won’t force a ton of turnovers because they just don’t play that way. It starts with Graeme Hossack winning his matchup, and the others follow suit. The shorties are outstanding and go defense to offense well, while Brett Dobson has enjoyed a serious star turn this year.
The Archers offense has scored the second most goals in the league, and they share it well. Grant Ament is still clearly getting comfortable with a role running out of the box, but the Archers don’t play a style of offense that leans particularly hard on one player. They want Mac O’Keefe to get some shots at net, they want Schreiber to do some dodging, but the ball does the work for them. The one area of weakness could be the pole spot. While Jared Conners is an elite LSM, Jon Robbins is on the PUP list. Reece Eddy and Kyle Pless were added from the player pool. If the Chrome can wear down the Archers defensive midfield and Conners, they may be able to exploit that lack of depth.
This game has the very rare 2.5 goal spread. In the last three years it’s happened just 18 times. And in those games, the underdog is 13.5. The Chrome are down, but they are also desperate, and desperation can be a hell of a spark for teams. The PLL cranks out close games every weekend. Archers are the safe bet on the moneyline, they look like the best team in the league. But whenever I see a 2.5 goal spread, I take the underdog. I’ll take the Chrome +2.5 and say the game goes under.
Atlas (2-5) vs Waterdogs (4-3)
When: Saturday, August 12, 7pm EST
TV: ESPN2, ESPN+
Spread: Waterdogs favored by 1.5, game total set at 24.5
Waterdogs are on a bit of a slide, dropping their last two games against top tier competition in Archers and Cannons. Things didn’t get any easier for them, as Thomas McConvey has been ruled out. Waterdogs will once again be going to the prevent against Baptiste. This time, they will not be sneaking up on the Baptiste with it though. The Atlas have been better in the short shot clock, and Coach Pressler said they have some scheme and options to go to against the prevent. Atlas also traded for Myles Jones and Dylan Molloy this week, so their offense could be shaken up a bit. It should still be all about Teat/Gray/Costabile, but the new weapons add another level of physicality.
The Atlas defense will need to play a complete, organized game. Momentary lapses in communication or off ball awareness and turned into goals in the PLL with regularity. Mistakes are identified, attacked, and punished. Gavin Adler has been excellent this year and likely gets the task of eliminating Michael Sowers this week. Koby Smith’s season is over due to a shoulder injury, so Craig Chick likely returns to the lineup, which could boost the defense a bit. The offensive firepower Koby brings ideally is replaced by Myles and Molloy.
Atlas have been trending upwards in my eyes. Their areas of weakness look a little less weak all the time. Their offense remains very good, the defense just needs to rise to the occasion, and Jack Concannon needs to be more consistent. This week, Atlas are ready for the prevent and find ways to beat it with their athleticism, and with more efficiency in the short clock, they hang with Waterdogs. Atlas +1.5 and the over.
Cannons (5-2) vs Redwoods (3-4)
When: Saturday, August 12, 9:30pm EST
Spread: Cannons favored by 1.5, game total set at 24.5
Cannons have won five straight, covered in six straight. They have the league’s most efficient offense. Their rookies and young players are ahead of schedule, as Colin Kirst has the best SAA in the PLL and second best save percentage. Ethan Rall has gone from undrafted to force between the lines at LSM. As those young players look better every week, Marcus Holman is putting up MVP numbers. So is Asher Nolting. Jack Kielty is quietly locking down his matchup every week. This is likely another game with their run the faceoff prevent with Rall, if they can execute and win the possession battle, they’ll be tough to beat.
The Redwoods acquired Romar Dennis this week to bolster the midfield. Last week, midfielders scored nine of their 12 goals, and the attack assisted six of their 12 goals. The Woods lost, but they sort of spread of stats is a positive sign. Cole Kirst (check out this week’s podcast for an interview with him) is rapidly becoming a star by dodging with confidence. And scoring a hat trick a week. Heningburg and Bertrand both looked comfortably in the flow of the offense, I think the Woods were moving in the right direction last week. Romar can fit into this team by hunting space around the arc while Pannell and Garnsey do their thing below the goal. Bertrand swings into space on big/little sets like these, Romar can do the same. The defense has a tall order this week, but they have the talent to be up to it.
Cannons have clinched a playoff spot. Redwoods are still playing for theirs, and for a possible Champs Series spot. The Redwoods looked better last week, they shared the ball. They also didn’t totally fold into hero ball when the chips got down. They’re on the up and up, and I think they could surprise people this week. Redwoods +1.5 and the under.