The Arena Football League season is just two games old for most of the 17 teams and there are only two unbeatens and three winless teams left.
Spokane and San Jose are among 10 1-1 teams as the West Division rivals collide tonight at the Arena in a nationally televised game on NFL Network. It’ll be the lone NFL Network appearance for both teams this season.
“It could be one of those years where anybody can beat anybody,” Spokane coach Andy Olson said. “I’m sure as the year goes along a couple teams will pull ahead and be front-runners, but I see a lot of teams battling and a lot of close games.”
San Jose defeated Arizona by one point and lost to Utah by one point. Spokane lost in overtime to Iowa and edged San Antonio by three points. Utah (2-1) is a half-game in front of Arizona (1-1), Spokane and San Jose.
San Jose is stocked with AFL veterans. Quarterback Mark Grieb, in his 12th year with San Jose, has experienced targets in James Roe, Ben Nelson, Samora Goodson and Huey Whittaker, a key player on Spokane’s 2010 championship team who was with Tampa Bay last season.
The SaberCats have just two sacks in two games, but they boast the AFL’s top three active sack leaders in Jermaine Smith (46 career sacks), Gabe Nyenhuis (32) and Tim McGill (26.5). Ex-Shock defensive back Ruschard Dodd-Masters has one of San Jose’s two interceptions.
“Our division is the toughest of any in the AFL and all four offenses are very high-powered so it’s challenge,” Olson said. “We want to get ahead in the division. We don’t want to start off looking up at everyone.”
The teams split a year ago, with Spokane’s win clinching a playoff spot on Kyle Rowley’s last-play Hail Mary pass to Randy Hymes.