Philadelphia is riding a five game winning streak after earning a 58-26 victory over the Chicago Rush last weekend. The Soul already clinched the East Division for the second-straight season. Utah will be looking to bounce back following a 63-49 loss to the New Orleans VooDoo in Week 16. Kickoff from the Wells Fargo Center is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. MT.
Familiarity exists between Utah Head Coach Ron James and Philadelphia Head Coach Clint Dolezel. Dolezel – a 2012 AFL Hall of Fame inductee as a player – started at quarterback for the Las Vegas Gladiators in 2005 under James, who served as the Head Coach. James and Dolezel have previously squared off as head coaches in 2011, when James’ Blaze defeated the Dolezel-led Dallas Vigilantes.
The Soul possess a balanced offensive attack and rank fourth in the AFL in total offense (306.3 ypg) as well as third in scoring offense (59.3 ppg). Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh holds the highest passer efficiency rating in the League (126.7) and has thrown for 4,057 yards with 81 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season while completing 69.1 percent of his attempts. Raudabaugh’s go-to receiver is 2012 Season-Team All-Arena performer Tiger Jones, who has hauled in 131 passes for 1,942 yards and 33 scores in 2013.
In its backfield, Philadelphia employs the most productive rusher in Arena Football League history in fullback Derrick Ross. Ross owns the all-time AFL rushing record with 1,718 yards on the ground over his three-year career. The 2012 First-Team All-Arena choice has gained 451 yards with 30 touchdowns this season.
In the secondary, rookie defensive back Maurice Leggett ranks sixth in the AFL with a total of 26 passes defended. Leggett has registered 21 pass breakups and five interceptions, gaining 81 yards with one touchdown on returns. Alongside Leggett is veteran David Hyland, who leads the team in both tackles and interceptions. Through 14 games, Hyland has delivered 74.0 stops while posting 31 yards with one score on seven picks. The Blaze defense ranks third against the pass, as the unit has allowed just 244.8 aerial yards per game.
Quarterback Jason Boltus will be making the fifth start of his career this weekend and has thrown for 1,417 yards with 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 62.9 percent of his attempts. His favorite target is Mario Urrutia, who ranks fourth in the AFL in receptions (129) as well as fifth in receiving yards (1,535) and touchdowns (34). Rookie DeJay Lester emerged last week against New Orleans, coming up with four receptions for 104 yards and two scores.
Boltus will face the League’s top-ranked scoring defense, as the Soul have allowed only 47.7 points per game. Two-time All-Arena performer Rayshaun Kizer patrols the secondary and has contributed a team-high eight interceptions and 24 pass breakups. Philadelphia’s defensive front is anchored by 2012 Second-Team All-Arena honoree Bryan Robinson, who has recorded 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss this season.