Playoff questionsSpokane is in the playoffs, but its seeding isn’t determined. The Shock (6-11) can secure the third seed, and a first-round playoff date against Arizona, with a win at Las Vegas. The Outlaws (5-11-1) earn the third seed with a victory and drop Spokane into fourth. At least, that’s how it appears. The AFL took over daily operations of the struggling Las Vegas and New Orleans franchises two months ago and canceled the teams’ head-to-head game, declaring it a tie. There has been speculation the Outlaws will be ineligible for the playoffs. It’ll apparently be decided by a vote of the board of directors (league owners). It seems implausible the owners would help Las Vegas pay its bills and then vote to allow the Outlaws into the playoffs if they finish with the same number of wins as Portland (5-12). Asked Wednesday for clarification, AFL director of communications BJ Pickard said via email: “As far as I know, they’re in with a win.” Portland, which faces Arizona, would qualify with a victory and a Las Vegas loss. “We’d like to win this game, the third seed, be on the road and be the underdogs,” Shock defensive back Sergio Gilliam said. “We’ve seen sparks of what we’re capable of doing.” In 2013, the AFL assumed ownership of Chicago and prevented the second-seeded Rush from hosting a first-round playoff game. Instead, Chicago traveled to third-seeded Spokane and lost 69-47.
Making their pointSpokane struggles more on defense than offense, according to statistics, but sometimes numbers can be misleading. The Shock rank No. 8 in scoring offense (46.8 per game) and last (12th) in scoring defense (55.1). In the last five games, however, Spokane has surpassed 42 points just once and its minus-6 in turnover margin. The Shock needed three touchdowns in the final 6 minutes to reach 42 points against Cleveland. “Cleveland was one of the worst offensive games we’ve played,” said Olson, whose team has been held below 30 points four times. “We could have blocked better, run better routes and caught the ball better (nine drops). No quarterback is perfect. It’s just limiting those mistakes.”
Vegas revisitedSpokane got a victory on its last trip to Las Vegas, but the good feelings didn’t last long. Shock players Samuel Charles and Mark Jackson were charged with theft after security video showed Jackson taking $600 from the purses of two women inside a lounge and handing some of the money to Charles. Jackson was booted from the team. Charles’ theft charge was dismissed after he paid a fine and attended counseling. “There won’t be a distraction in Las Vegas,” Olson said. “We’ll never see anything like that happen again.”
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