Week 8 Game Preview - Blackjacks at Soul
With both the Atlantic City Blackjacks (3-4) and Philadelphia Soul (3-4) coming off tough losses, this week's game is going to be huge for whoever comes out victorious. There are three teams above both the Blackjacks and Soul, two of which are only one game ahead. With a Baltimore and Washington loss, the winner of this game would move into second place in a three-way tie. The Blackjacks schedule doesn't let up after Week 8, the team travels to Albany in Week 9 to take on the Empire and they finish off their road trip in Washington in Week 10. Every remaining game is important for the Blackjacks if they want to make a run at the playoffs in their first year. Fans can watch live on Sunday, June 16 on NBCSP+, ESPN3 or the ESPN app, or listen to the call on 97.3 ESPN at 4:00 p.m.
"Facing Philadelphia is always a challenge, especially in their building," said Ron James, Head Coach of the Atlantic City Blackjacks. "At this point in the season we are both desperately seeking a win. They will be geared up to do whatever it takes to win, and we need to go in with the same mentality."
This will mark the second out of three times the Blackjacks play the Soul this season. The first came in the opening week of the season where the Blackjacks saw their lead slip away after James Romain had two pick sixes and eventually the Soul won by a touchdown. It was the first real game the Blackjacks played together, and they have come a long way since. The first matchup to watch for will be how Randy Hippeard will fair against the Soul's secondary this time around.
In Week 1, Hippeard finished with 18 completions for 178 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. He spread the ball around evenly to his three starting receivers but LaMark Brown was his main target, connecting with him eight times for 90 yards and three touchdowns. That connection slipped away for a few weeks but looks to be back on track after Hippeard found Brown in the end zone five times in Week 7. Hippeard must be mindful of the Soul's defensive backs, especially Romain. Romain has four interceptions on the year which leads the league and two of them came against Hippeard in Week 1. It will be important for Hippeard to utilize all his receivers as to not give Romain too many chances to intercept anything.
Next, the Blackjacks will attempt to replicate a similar performance on the defensive side of the ball. Dan Raudabaugh only threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in Week 1. Where the Soul's offense did do some damage was in the run game.
Adrian Ferns had only 12 rushing yards but had three rushing touchdowns. Raudabaugh did move his offense down the field and Ferns only had to go a few yards for each touchdown but the Blackjacks will try to limit the damage from this combination in Week 8. The defensive line seems to always have an impact when the Blackjacks win this season. In Week 2 against Columbus Monte Lewis had three sacks and Antron Dillon had a forced fumble. In Week 4 Nick Haag had one sack and one forced fumble. In Week 6 Antron Dillon picked up another sack and had the huge blocked field goal as time expired. When the team suffers a loss, the defensive line doesn't have any big numbers like when they win. It's going to be important for them to show up in Week 8 to give the team a chance to limit Raudabaugh and the offense.
Lastly, the Blackjacks secondary needs to be better this week against the Soul's offense. The defense needs to be better as a whole as they did not have an answer against the Destroyers last week. The team had no sacks, no forced fumbles, and no interceptions all while Columbus scored on every one of their possessions. That sort of play will not fly against Raudabaugh and the Soul and the defense is going to have to step up.
Kiante Northington sits in second place in the League with 40.5 tackles and Arthur Hobbs slipped down to fourth with 35.5. With a healthier Hobbs going into Week 8, the defense will need both players to stop Darius Prince and Lonnie Outlaw. The two Soul receivers have a combined 1,067 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns on the year. A turnover can be the turning point in a game and give a team the upper hand it needs to win, and the Blackjacks secondary will need to create some turnovers to give the team a shot to win. All sides of the ball need to be clicking on all cylinders in order to have a strong game and get the Blackjacks a much-needed win in Week 8.
Fans can secure their season tickets for the Atlantic City Blackjacks now with a $50 deposit per seat ($75 for VIP seats) by calling 609-783-9494 or by going to ACBlackjacks.com. A team representative will contact those that have submitted a deposit within a week to select your specific seats, which will be done in order in which deposits were received.
Atlantic City Blackjacks 2019 Season Presented by Tropicana Atlantic City.
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Arena Football League Stories from June 12, 2019
- Brigade's Shane Boyd Named AFL Offensive Player of the Week - Baltimore Brigade
- Week 8 Game Preview - Blackjacks at Soul - Atlantic City Blackjacks
- Week 8 Preview - Empire at Valor - Albany Empire
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