Philadelphia Soul look for first title in last eight years

Zane Miller and Zane Miller

ArenaBowl XXIX, the Arena Football League’s championship game, will take place on Friday night between the Philadelphia Soul, searching for their first ArenaBowl win since their only championship season in 2008 and the Arizona Rattlers, who won three in a row in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Rattlers are looking break the AFL record for most championships won by a franchise, as the team is currently tied with the Tampa Bay Storm with five titles.

Will the Soul pull off their second ArenaBowl victory, or will the Rattlers capitalize on their home field advantage and resume their dominance of the early 2010s?

To make an accurate prediction, it is important to take a good look at the stats that both teams have put up during the regular season and thus far in the playoffs to have a firm foundation of understanding the teams.

Starting by looking at the teams’ win-loss records from the regular season, neither team holds a statistical edge, as both the Rattlers and the Soul earned a 13-3 record, leading their conferences as well as tying for first place in overall standings. If we were to predict, before the playoffs began, which teams would go deep into the playoffs based on the win-loss record alone, then the predictions would be spot on. However, because there are only two teams left standing at this point in the playoffs, it would not be an accurate way to pick the ArenaBowl winner because both teams have gone equally as deep into the playoffs and both teams have proven themselves to very good regardless of regular season standings.

On the offensive side of the ball, the teams are again very closely matched, although this time with Arizona holding a slight advantage in points per game, while Philadelphia leads in total offensive yards. Arizona scored a total of 1068 points, or 66.8 points per game, during the regular season, while Philadelphia was not far behind, with 983 points scored, 61.4 per game. In terms of total offensive yardage, Philadelphia was second overall with 4780 yards, while Arizona was ranked third with 4678 yards (the Jacksonville Sharks beat both teams with 4948 yards). With the teams so even in both categories, an accurate prediction can’t be made here, either.

On the defensive side, the teams are even more evenly matched, as Arizona allowed a total of 766 points during the regular season, or 47.9 points per game, while Philadelphia gave up 776 points, or 48.5 per game. Again, the teams are so close statistically that it is hard to decide on a champion in this category as well.

With both sides of the ball covered, neither one giving a clear advantage to one team, then it is time to go to the tie-breaker with predicting games: home-field advantage. In the AFL this season, the home team has won 59.4% of the time, therefore giving Arizona a small statistical edge, as the game will be played at Arizona’s home field of Talking Stick Resort Arena. Although it is close, I would go with the Rattlers to win the ArenaBowl this season.