3/9/2008 12:35:00 PM
The Gladiators won their first games since moving to Cleveland last week, and they did so with a nice running attack. Expect the same strategy here, setting up a nice Under.
The AFL kicked off in fine fashion last week in Cleveland when the Gladiators won their first game of the season over the New York Dragons in a game that saw over 17,000 fans pack the Quicken Loans Center to get a glimpse of Cleveland icon Bernie Kosar’s new team.
[articleBanner]who2beton[/articleBanner]The Gladiators franchise came over from Las Vegas where they turned into one of the worst franchises in the league the last couple seasons. Kosar wanted experienced vets to lead his team in its first year of existence in Cleveland, and that’s exactly what he got. He couldn’t have made a better choice at the quarterback position when he decided to bring in Raymond Philyaw who had a monster season in Kansas City last year to help lead the Brigade to the post-season in just the franchises second year of existence. He also stacked the defensive line with AFL vets Silas Demary and Joe Minucci, who made names for themselves while playing for Los Angeles and Nashville.
The Gladiators proved to be more of a smashmouth team last week when they gained 308 yards overall, but gained 68 of them on the ground. Marlion Jackson set the pace on the ground, while Philyaw kept the Dragons defense honest by completing 18 of 23 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. They won the turnover battle 3:2 and outscored New York 21-14 to pull away for the 61-49 home win and cover.
Head coach Danny White’s Utah Blaze were one of the more entertaining teams to watch in the league last season. Their offense was simply sensational led by QB Joe Germaine who passed for a league record 5,005 yards. He picked right back where he left off last week against Arizona when he completed 19 of 31 passes for 236 yards and five TDs with one INT. The Blaze lost however by a 63-62 final count when kicker Steve Videtich’s last second field goal attempt sailed wide left.
Utah failed to cover the spread in both of their meetings with the Gladiators last season. They won by a 57-47 final tally in Sin City as 10½-point road chalk, and shockingly lost straight up at home in the rematch as 17-point favorites. The Under has cashed in four of Utah’s last five road games, and it’s also cashed in six of the Gladiators last nine home games. Look for Cleveland to look to the control the clock with its ground attack while keeping the potent Blaze offense on the sideline in the process.
The Under looks to be an awfully tasty proposition.
Free Pick: Blaze, Gladiators Under 109