The AFL’s National Conference playoff picture hasn’t changed in weeks.
Unbeaten Arizona (12-0) is comfortably No. 1. San Jose (8-4) holds the second seed. Spokane (6-6) sits in third, followed by Portland (3-9). If things stay the same, Arizona will host Portland and Spokane will travel to San Jose for playoff openers.
Spokane would like to adjust those pairings. For that to happen, the Shock desperately need a road win tonight against San Jose.
The Pacific Division rivals have split two meetings, so tonight’s winner owns the tiebreaker. They seem destined for a fourth meeting in the playoffs and the Shock’s goal is to have that game take place in Spokane.
“If we lose this game we’re probably not going to be division champions,” coach Andy Olson said. “But if we win it we have a very good opportunity to be first in our division.”
Spokane on Thursday activated quarterback Erik Meyer, who missed the last five games with a collarbone injury. The Shock went 1-4 without the 2013 AFL MVP and scored a franchise-low 28 points in last week’s loss at Jacksonville.
The Shock offense will tangle with the Arena Football League’s top-rated defense. San Jose leads the AFL in scoring defense (40.9) and pass efficiency defense (83.0). The SaberCats have collected 29 turnovers and 23 sacks, the latter second to Spokane’s 30.
Olson said San Jose played man-to-man defense when Meyer was healthy in an April contest. The SaberCats played primarily zone three weeks ago in quarterback Brian Zbydniewski’s first start.
San Jose thumped L.A. 63-35 last week behind Nathan Stanley’s 280 passing yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-5 rookie has 25 touchdown passes and eight interceptions in nine appearances.