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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
AFL: Putting it on the line

By Tom Herrera
Special to

My Week 16 Score: 9 out of 9

Overall Season Score: 100

Week 16 was the easiest Pick 'Em week yet; the scoring average of 7.2 was a season-high, and many people notched nine wins to put themselves back in prime position. Going into the final week of the season, there's a two-way tie between Ameet Doshi and Brad Gary for the lead. Doshi has impressively reeled off back-to-back perfect weeks, while Gary has been steadily producing throughout the season; he hasn't had a poor showing since Week 2. Check out the overall leaderboard here.

Two things to remember for the final week of action:

- There is a Thursday night game this week, so be sure you have the Orlando/Philadelphia game locked it starts.

- With so many teams still in contention, the difference between a trip to Arena Bowl XXI (officially sold out) and a flat-screen TV could very well come down to the overall tiebreaker. In case you're unfamiliar with how the overall tiebreaker works, here's the lowdown:

Tiebreaker #1 - Higher number of points scored for Week 17
Tiebreaker #2 - Higher number of points scored for Week 16
Tiebreaker #3 - Higher number of points scored for Week 15
Tiebreaker #4 - Higher number of points scored for Week 14
Tiebreaker #5 - Higher number of points scored for Week 13
Tiebreakers will continue backwards from week thirteen (13) until week one (1).

It's all on the line in Week 17!

Week 17 Picks

Orlando Predators (8-7) @ Philadelphia Soul (7-8)

Game Time: Thursday, June 21 / 7:00 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Shane Stafford (ORL), WR Ron Johnson (ORL), DL Greg White (ORL), QB Tony Graziani (PHI), WR Charles Pauley (PHI), DL Dwayne Missouri (PHI)
Pick Em' Prediction: Orlando Predators

Orlando has lost three out of its last four games, while Philadelphia is coming off a big last-minute win over Columbus last week. Both teams have clinched playoff berths and are just playing for seeding in this one. Although the safe pick is Philadelphia here, I think Orlando's defense -- led by sack machine Greg White -- will put enough pressure on QB Tony Graziani to force a couple of mistakes out of him. The Soul's secondary allowed seven passing touchdowns to Columbus QB Matt Nagy last week. Wideout T.T. Toliver should be more comfortable in Orlando's offense in his second game with the team, and help QB Shane Stafford keep up the pace offensively.

Columbus Destroyers (6-9) @ New York Dragons (5-10)

Game Time: Saturday, June 23 / 7:00 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Matt Nagy (CLM), WR David Saunders (CLM), DL Ken Jones (CLM), QB Rohan Davey (NY), WR Mike Horacek (NY), WR Kevin Swayne (NY)
Pick Em' Prediction: Columbus Destroyers

This isn't a must-win game for Columbus in order to clinch a playoff spot, but they can't lose by nine points or more if they want in. If New York wins by nine points or more, they will secure that spot instead. The Destroyers lost in the closing seconds to Philadelphia last week and are on a five-game losing streak overall. However, after watching QB Rohan Davey in that debacle of a loss to Dallas last week, there's no way I'm picking New York (and I'm a Dragons fan). New York is a completely different team without QB Aaron Garcia on the field; the of consistency on offense has affected the team's play defense and specials teams. Columbus won the last time these two teams met on May 4 by a score of 51-42, and that was with Garcia still active for New York.

Austin Wranglers (4-11) @ Tampa Bay Storm (8-7)

Game Time: Saturday, June 23 / 7:30 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Lang Campbell (AUS), WR Otis Amey (AUS), WR Derrick Lewis (AUS), QB Brett Dietz (TB), WR Terrill Shaw (TB), DB Jeroid Johnson (TB)
Pick Em' Prediction: Austin Wranglers

There's a good chance that this will be the Wranglers last season in the AFL, putting an end to their four-year stay in the league. According to a report in the Austin American-Statesman, a source with the team said they might be downgrading to the AF2 league due to financial considerations. If this is, in fact, the Wranglers last game in the league, expect them to leave it all out on the field. Best of luck to the Wranglers organization, whatever the future holds. If the roster is disbanded, QB Lang Campbell and WR Derrick Lewis, amongst others, have shown enough ability to get starting opportunities with other teams next season. Tampa Bay has won seven of its past eight games and has already clinched a playoff spot. At this point, the Storm are only playing for a higher seed. I'm going with the big upset here, as I think Austin's offense will do just enough to defeat one of the hottest teams in the league.

Grand Rapids Rampage (4-11) @ Nashville Kats (6-9)

Game Time: Saturday, June 23 / 8:00 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Adrian McPherson (GR), WR Cornelius Bonner (GR), WR/DB Jerome Riley (GR), QB Matt Kohn (NAS), FB Dan Alexander (GR), DB Ahmad Hawkins (NAS)
Pick Em' Prediction: Nashville Kats

In order to make the playoffs, Nashville must win this game, while Utah has to lose to Los Angeles. Grand Rapids has dropped three straight games and has only one win on the road this season. Grand Rapids beat Nashville on May 5 by a score of 71-55, but that was when the team still had QB Chad Salisbury and WR Timon Marshall in the lineup. Now, it's Adrian McPherson's show, and that means a dynamic, but mistake-prone passing game. Look for Nashville to play a little smash-mouth football to get the win; FB Dan Alexander and DB Ahmad Hawkins should lead the way with big contributions.

Kansas City Brigade (10-5) @ Chicago Rush (11-4)

Game Time: Saturday, June 23 / 8:00 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Raymond Philyaw (KC), WR Charles Frederick (KC), DB Kenny McEntyre (KC), QB Matt D'Orazio (CHI), WR Bobby Sippio (CHI), LB DeJuan Alfonzo (CHI)
Pick Em' Prediction: Chicago Rush

This has the makings of the game of the week, as the Central Divisional title is on the line for these top two teams. Kansas City has won six of its past seven games, but Chicago has been very stingy at home, where it has a 6-1 record this season. Kansas City beat Chicago 54-41 in the season opener, but both teams have changed considerably since then. WR Bobby Sippio has reinvigorated the Rush's offense with his MVP-caliber play, but DB Kenny "The Glove" McEntyre is on a hot streak, with three interceptions and two return touchdowns in his past three games. It should be a close one, but I expect the home crowd to play a big factor, and the Rush defensive front to be better prepared for a Brigade catch and run attack.

Utah Blaze (7-8) @ Los Angeles Avengers (9-6)

Game Time: Saturday, June 23 / 10:30 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Joe Germaine (UTA), WR Siaha Burley (UTA), WR Tom Pace (UTA), QB Sonny Cumbie (LA), WR Rob Turner (LA), DB Damen Wheeler (LA)
Pick Em' Prediction: Utah Blaze

Utah is in the playoffs if it wins this game, or if Nashville loses to Grand Rapids. Utah is coming off a bye week of mourning, as WR/LB Justin Skaggs passed away last Friday following cancer-related brain surgery. I offer my sincere condolences to the friends and family of Skaggs. At just 28 years old, he was a rising talent in the league, and from everything I've heard, an outstanding human being as well. In spite of the tragedy, I think the Blaze will band together under coach Danny White, and their powerhouse offense will lead them to a narrow victory over a Los Angeles team that has already clinched a playoff berth.

New Orleans VooDoo (5-10) @ Georgia Force (13-2)

Game Time: Sunday, June 24 / 3:30 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Steve Bellisari (NO), WR Tyronne Jones (NO), WR Kenny Henderson (NO), QB Chris Greisen (GEO), WR Chris Jackson (GEO), DL Jermaine Smith (GEO)
Pick Em' Prediction: Georgia Force

After losing seven straight games, New Orleans finally broke the skid with a close win over the Wranglers last week at the Graveyard. The VooDoo offense, led by QB Steve Bellisari, has continued to improve, but the team's secondary play still leaves a lot to be desired. They allowed 356 passing yards and seven touchdowns to QB Lang Campbell last week. New Orleans only has one win on the road this season while Georgia remains undefeated at home; and Georgia won 72-57 the last time these teams squared off on April 27. Georgia QB Chris Greisen -- fresh off establishing a new AFL record for touchdown passes in a season -- should be ready to pad his totals this week, and help Georgia try to capture home field advantage.

San Jose SaberCats (12-3) @ Las Vegas Gladiators (2-13)

Game Time: Sunday, June 24 / 6:00 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Mark Grieb (SJ), WR James Roe (SJ), WR Rodney Wright (SJ), QB Brian Jones (LV), WR Travis LaTendresse (LV), WR Thabiti Davis (LV)
Pick Em' Prediction: San Jose SaberCats

After last week's 66-26 trouncing of Arizona, the SaberCats are officially the hottest team in the league. They've won nine straight games and their secondary has consistently made game-changing plays. Las Vegas has lost three straight games and seems to be undergoing another QB switch from Nick Rolovich back to Brian Jones. There's really not much else to say here, as San Jose should coast to victory.

Dallas Desperados (14-1) @ Colorado Crush (8-7)

Game Time: Monday, June 25 / 10:00 p.m. ET
Key Players: QB Clint Dolezel (DAL), WR/DB Will Pettis (DAL), DB Jermaine Jones (DAL), QB John Dutton (COL), WR Damian Harrell (COL), DB Rashad Floyd (COL)
Pick Em' Prediction: Dallas Desperados

With a blowout victory over New York last week, Dallas set the AFL record for most wins in a season. Colorado has lost three straight games, as its offense continues to sputter during key stretches. QB John Dutton was forced into a pair of costly turnovers in last week's game against Chicago. Dallas still needs to win this game to avoid Georgia taking home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and I think the Desperados will continue to bring their A-Game. DL Colston Weatherington and the rest of the Desperados defense will put on too much heat for Dutton to handle.

Points Tiebreaker: 58-50 Dallas

Bye Week

Arizona Rattlers (4-12)

On Tuesday, the Arizona Rattlers announced that Gene Nudo has been relieved of both his coaching duties and his role as general manager. Nudo will remain with the organization in an administrative and consulting capacity. The team will certainly have a fresh look with a new head coach in 2008 -- and hopefully better results.

Tom Herrera is a sports video logger and a fantasy sports analyst for E-mail him with your questions and comments at