A week ago, the NAL was as predictable as the sunrise. At the time, we (the fans) just knew the playoffs would include Sharks, Cobras, Streets, and Lions. The New York Streets would put up a fight, and the Columbus Lions would be blown out. The Championship would be a fantastic matchup between the Jacksonville Sharks and Carolina Cobras. Not everyone would agree on how it would turn out, but almost everyone was certain that the Massachusetts Pirates and Orlando Predators would continue to be the red-headed-step-children of the National Arena League. Little Orphan Annie would be the one to comfort the two one-win teams and give them hope that there is life after the Miss Hannigan’s of the league Miss-Handled them. The 1982 Columbia Pictures film seemed to provide better entertainment than the Pirates and Predators games. But, they never gave up by lamenting their past. Like their new friend, Annie, “Tomorrow, Tomorrow” was their focus… and everything changed.
Everywhere you looked, fans of the game predicted a blow-out victories for the Cobras and Streets. But, management of both the league’s single-win teams wasn’t satisfied with their one win. The Orlando Predators replaced a third of their team, adding eight new players. The Massachusetts Pirates replaced two-thirds of theirs with 16, including NFL standout Dexter McCluster, and Super Bowl Champion Tre Jackson. The result?
The Predators Charm the Snake Pit
In a completely shocking display, the Predators offense went from 7 to 74 in just one week. That speed likely has race car companies Hennessey and Bugatti, making development changes to stay competitive in the market. In fact, Hennessey’s Venom F5, fastest car in the world, perhaps, has lost its Venom when watching the Predators offense, and the Cobras defense lost theirs. The most points they had allowed all season was 35. The Predators more than doubled that in the Snake Pit. Their 8 new players made a huge difference, but who would have thought that new quarterback, Bryan Hicks could go into Carolina and throw 9 touchdowns against the leagues best defense, after putting up only 7 points the week before? The 1-5 Predators upset the 4-1 Cobras 74-69. To say we are shocked is an understatement!
Pirates Pillage the Streets of New York
On Memorial Day, a similar thing happened. The Massachusetts Pirates were a whole new team! They played like one too. They plundered a road win whose glory was akin to Jack Sparrow and his miscreants pillaging Tortuga’s rum supply. “Drinks all around,” Sparrow would say. Captain Sean Brackett sang a similar tune. “Touchdowns all around!” Every Pirates receiver that suited up scored. Dexter McCluster got his first arena touchdown, and the greedy Mardy Gilyard added to his treasure chest of touchdowns with 4 more. He now has 13 on the year, averaging more than 2 a game! The New York Streets defense seemed to have no answers as the new-look Pirates finished a 70-51 beatdown.
So, what does this all mean? Two gigantic upsets have well…upset the prediction ecology of the NAL. Who can we trustingly pick now? Anybody can win anybody, except maybe the Columbus Lions, whose 2 wins came against the Predators and Pirates before they were good. This league is wide open and with that! I’ll make my predictions for Week 8…or is it 7? Who knows? And who knows who wins this week? I’ll start with Jacksonville @ Orlando.
Friday, May 31, 6:30 PM EST
Is this a guess? Yes. Yes, it is. There is no telling what we have in the Predators. Was it a fluke, or are they that good? Regardless, Siaha Burley and Sharks players are on the alert. It won’t be a 61-7 beatdown, but expecting there to be a great game in Orlando on Friday night.
Saturday, June 1, 6:00 PM EST
The Cobras get their Venom back, but won’t have their Venom Dancers to cheer them on. The rematch of last years Championship might end with a similar result, but due to Columbus’ home field advantage, they keep it close for most of the game. The Lions are likely the whipping child of the league at this point. Side note: how fierce do these logos look when facing each other?
Saturday, June 1, 6:00 PM EST
The Streets of New York are coming to the Pirate cave this time and may think they are bringing a Manhattan-sized surprise. In the league of “anything can happen,” I see this one being decided by a deuce.
Because none of us know “What the NAL is going on,” it makes these weekend matchups all the more exciting. The evenly matched teams make for suspenseful games and fun surprises. Let’s GO!