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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week 18 Preview: Philadelphia Soul at San Jose SaberCats #PhillySoul

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Soul (11-5) look to extend their six-game win streak and maintain their position on top of the American Conference as they visit the San Jose Sabercats (12-4) on Saturday, July 20 at 10:30 p.m. ET. The matchup could be a potential scenario for the ArenaBowl, as both teams are headed for the playoffs.  

"It's going to be important for us to capitalize on opportunities," explained Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. "We need to score when we have the chance. San Jose has a tough defense and we need to make the right decisions, protect the ball, and play our style of football. We will need to put pressure on their quarterback and force turnovers. We just need to play our style of football and execute all three phases of the game."

Heading into Week 18, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh has thrown at least five touchdowns in three consecutive games. The Miami (OH) alum ranks in the League's top five in passing efficiency (No. 1), completion percentage (No. 1), passing yards per attempt (No. 2), passing yards (No. 3) and passing touchdowns (No. 3). He has not thrown an interception in a career-high six games.

Two of the Soul's major weapons, Tiger Jones and Derrick Ross, have been outstanding in 2013. Both players have been having seasons that can make a case to earn All-Arena and Offensive Player of the Year. Raudabaugh, Ross and Jones are part of an offense that is No. 3 in scoring (59.9) and is one of only four teams in the league to average at least 300 offense yards.

On defense, Philadelphia has allowed 47.1 points per game (No. 1). Their rush defense has allowed only 19 rushing touchdowns (T-No. 3) and 15.3 yards per game (No. 3). While they only rank No. 7 in total defense (280.0), Clint Dolezel's squad have created 18 turnovers in their last five games and has at least one sack in their last eight outings. Last week was the fourth time in five weeks the Soul defense allowed no more than 40 points.



The SaberCats are one of the more balanced teams in the AFL, ranking No. 3 in both scoring offense and defense. Their defense has created 38 turnovers (T-No. 4). While their offense is in the middle of the pack (No. 6), they have been excellent converting in the red zone (84.7). San Jose's best playmaker on offense is Fred Williams who has 1,207 receiving yards and 895 kick return yards, ranking No. 4 in all-purpose yards (162.8).

The SaberCats have two members of their defense that rank in the league's top 11 in tackles per game (Ken Fontenette and J.C. Neal). The secondary is led by 2012 Hall of Famer, Clevan Thomas, who leads the AFL in passes defended (35), interceptions (13), interception return yardage (245) and interception returns for touchdowns (4).

San Jose is No. 2 in sacks (36), while Philadelphia has given up just six sacks the entire season (No. 1). Raudabaugh will need to have a clean pocket or he could be forced into tough throws against the SaberCats' No. 4 ranked pass defense.

If the Soul can provide time for their quarterback, they should be able to open up plays for their other standout wide receivers. It will be important for the other players to step up because San Jose's focus will be on Tiger Jones. If Philadelphia's other playmakers can step up on offense, Philadelphia could see their winning streak stretch to seven games.


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