The Arena Football League standings tell the story of the haves and have-nots in the National Conference.
San Jose (11-0) has clinched the Pacific Division with seven games left in the regular season. Arizona (8-2) has a five-game cushion in the West.
However, in the AFL’s come-one, come-all playoff format – four of six teams in both the National and American conferences qualify – Spokane (3-7) is locked in a three-way tussle with Portland and Las Vegas for the last two spots. Those three combined are 9-21 with a 10-game losing streak so head-to-head outcomes take on added importance.
Spokane holds one win over Las Vegas and will try to clinch the three-game season series with another tonight against the visiting Outlaws.
“We have to treat every game like a playoff game from here on out,” quarterback Warren Smith said. “We’re both battling for those 3-4 spots.”
Spokane has dropped three of its last four, including a franchise-low 26-point effort at San Jose last week. The victory in that stretch came at Las Vegas, where the Shock blew most of a 35-point lead before hanging on for a 63-56 win.
“We have to stay consistent,” defensive end Derrick Summers said. “We did really well in the first half. We just have to take it to the second half.”
Continuity and turnovers, somewhat predictable with a rookie at quarterback and a couple more in the receiver rotation, have slowed the Shock offense. They’ve had one turnover-free game – in a win over Los Angeles. They’ve committed at least two turnovers in eight of 10 games.
“If we don’t throw an interception, if we catch every pass, we’ll win the game,” coach Andy Olson said. “That’s a guarantee. That’s our focus, quarterbacks and receivers. Everywhere else we’re going to be OK. We’ve had so much change at receiver, it’s been really difficult to get on the same page every week.”
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