Must-see TV this week as the Cleveland Gladiators (7-7) battle the Los Angeles KISS (6-7) . The game can be seen nationally on CBS Sports Network Saturday at 10 p.m. ET. Cleveland must win by six or more points to lock up the number four seed and home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
If the Glads were to win by six or more, it would make up for Cleveland’s 47-42 loss when they last faced the KISS in Week 3 in Cleveland, giving them the second tiebreaker of total points in head to head games. For LA, a win would mean they sweep the season series and control the first tiebreaker in the event the two teams finish the regular season with the same record. The KISS are a half game back though, so they need to keep winning.
The last two games for LA will have them facing a troubled and rumored-filled Jacksonville Sharks team and then the one-win Portland Steel, so there is a decent chance they could get W’s in both of those games, even with both being on the road. 3-0 or 2-1, with one of those wins being this week, would send the KISS back to the Honda Center the first weekend of August for sure.
There will be a little difference in the quarterback battle in this game, as the previous meeting was started by KISS quarterback Nathan Stanley but not current Gladiators quarterback Arvell Nelson, well at least not at quarterback. Nelson did have two tackles as a Jack Linebacker, his “natural” Arena Football League position. Stanley passed for 191 yards and four touchdowns in the Week 3 win that gave the KISS a record of 2-1 and the Gladiators at 1-2 at that time.
LA has the advantage this week being home and their defense should be confident. They are giving up the least amount of points per game coming into this week at 45.6, where the Glads come in dead last in scoring offense, averaging 57.4 points per game.
With the short week and just one day of full practice, the KISS defense that racked up four total stops and three in the second half in its last outing will be expected to play a major part in the game plan, especially with Cleveland’s strength usually being their own defensive unit, despite last week’s poor effort. In Allentown at the PPL Center against the Philadelphia Soul, Cleveland was eaten up from the start, allowing Dan Raudabaugh to throw eight touchdowns and having only one pass hit the turf all night, and most considered that one a drop.
Plus, running back Jeramie Richardson rushed for three touchdowns. The Philadelphia Soul put up 83 points, which can kill a team’s defensive average. Even in Arena ball an 80 point plus game is crazy, and not what the Glads want to be doing at this point in the season at all.
The positive for Cleveland was that Collin Taylor added to his franchise record of 30 straight games with at least one touchdown. Taylor also ranks fifth in the AFL for receptions, right at 100 for the season.
Who To Watch For:
Cleveland: Arvell Nelson
The KISS have not seen him live, and being a speedster he should be a major factor that will loom large if the Glads expect to win this game. Nelson is the only quarterback in the league with over 150 rushing yards. In fact, he comes in at #3 in total rushing yards for the season regardless of position with 191. Nelson also ranks third in interceptions per attempt, picking off a pass 2.7 percent of the time.
Los Angeles: DJ Stephens
Stephens was the only KISS receiver to go over 35 yards in the Week 3 match-up, pulling in 12 catches for 109 yards and two scores.
Stephens out caught the rest of his team by 27 yards. With mixed reviews on how well Stanley is spreading the ball around and a Cleveland defense eager to prove last week was just an off week, getting the ball in Stephens’ hands will prove large. And Cleveland will have to believe that Donovan “Captain” Morgan will be ready to go, having scored at least twice in each his last 10 games this season, which he has said will be his final one.