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WEEK 6 PREVIEW - EMPIRE VS VALOR

Capping off a three-game road stretch with a win, the Empire improved to 5-0 on the season and sit comfortably in first place early on in 2019.  Albany most recently handled the Atlantic City Blackjacks in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall on Saturday, by a score of 54-35.  The Empire trailed at halftime for the first time all season but allowed a mere seven points in the second half to eventually pull away and win in dominating fashion.  Next up, the Empire returns home for a rematch against the Washington Valor whom they defeated in Week 2.  Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m. at the Times Union Center on Saturday, June 1 and broadcast live on MY4 Albany, ESPN 3, and Alt 105.7 FM.

The first matchup to come into play is between the Empire’s top-ranked defense against Valor quarterback, Arvell Nelson. With a record of 3-2 on the season, Washington features a quarterback who can score through the air and on the ground and can look unstoppable at times.  Nelson tops the League in passing yards (1,335), rushing yards (115) and rushing touchdowns (8), proving that he can beat you in more ways than one.  Albany’s defense however has allowed the fewest points in the League and was able to hold Nelson in check when the two teams met earlier in the season.  In that Week 2 game, Nelson completed only half of his passes (20 of 40) and looked uncomfortable all night.  Albany needs to continue to make things difficult for Nelson if they want to slow down a Valor offense who comes to the Capital Region riding a three-game win streak.

The key to an Empire victory in this matchup is to try limit Nelson’s ability to get out of the pocket. Nelson has been prone to make mistakes if he isn’t able to play his style of offense.  Through five games, Nelson has thrown five interceptions, tied for the League high, including throwing one against Albany in Week 2.  If Albany is able to force a turnover or two, it should be all the Empire needs to win this one.  So far in 2019, no team has been able to keep pace with the Albany offense.  If the defense can steal extra possessions for Tommy Grady and company, then this game can go from being close to a blowout in a hurry.  Look for jack linebacker, Terence Moore, to make a big impact on this game.  The reigning AFL Defensive Player of the Year picked off Nelson back in Week 2 and will be tasked with the responsibility of chasing down the mobile quarterback all night long.  ‘TMo’ will make it difficult for Nelson to throw over the middle while at the same time limiting Nelson’s running lanes.

The next matchup to lookout for is between the Empire’s defensive backfield against the Valor receiving unit.  Washington’s offense features two receivers with at least 30 catches thus far on the season.  Dezmon Epps and Jared Dangerfield have been target hogs for Nelson all year and fans should expect nothing different in this matchup.  In Week 2, the duo combined for 14 catches and 185 yards, but were limited to just one touchdown.  Both Dangerfield and Epps find themselves ranked in the top five in the AFL in receptions.  Albany can’t just focus on these two receivers though.  Josh Reese has had himself a nice season as the Valor’s third option, tallying 23 catches for 338 yards and three touchdowns.  Nelson will look to spread the ball around and Albany will need to figure out how to limit his options.

The key to victory in this matchup is for Albany to, well, shut down the Valor receiving options, right? The Empire did just that in Week 2 and should look to do the same in this one.  Washington’s offense has yet to prove that it can light up the scoreboard, ranking fourth in the League in total points scored (just one point above fifth ranked Atlantic City).   In fact, in the three Valor victories so far this season, all of them have only been by one possession scores.  If Albany can limit the production of their top wide receivers, then there is no way the Valor can keep up with the Empire’s offense.  Even a monster performance from one of their receivers might not be enough as Albany has surrendered big games to single receivers in each of the team’s last three victories on the road.  Nonetheless, Nelson will look to methodically utilize all of his options forcing Albany to not be able to hone in on just one target.

The final matchup and key to victory for the Empire is to not take the foot off the gas on offense.  Through the first five games, Albany has won each of them by at least nine points.  With the new timing rules, even a nine-point deficit seems to be too much to overcome late in the game.  Opposing defenses have had no answers for the Empire’s receiving corps and with a stifling defense to slow opponents down, Albany has the ability to put up points in a hurry and run away with the game at any given moment.  The Empire’s top three targets, Malachi Jones, DJ Stephens, and Quentin Sims, all average over ten yards per catch and have been able to pick up big chunks of yards on seemingly every play from scrimmage.  This is an offense that has been stopped only a handful of times this season and will look to land the knockout blow as early as possible in this matchup.  Albany’s offense simply has too many weapons for the Valor to try to stop.  Pair that up with the electrifying crowd and the Empire should come away with another home victory in this one.

Fans can secure season tickets for the Albany Empire by calling 518-533-2200, by going to TheAlbanyEmpire.com, or by stopping by the Empire office located in the Times Union Center.  A limited number of great seats are still available!  Want to bring your organization to a game, fundraise, or perform on the field? Group experiences are now on sale.  Call 518-533-2200 for additional information.

Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.

About Albany Empire

Season memberships for the 2019 season are on sale now. For tickets, contact the Albany Empire sales department at (518) 533-2200 or by going to TheAlbanyEmpire.com. Follow the team on Facebook at facebook.com/TheAlbanyEmpire and Twitter at twitter.com/Albany_Empire

About the Arena Football League

The Arena Football League enters its 32nd season in 2019. Since its inception in 1987, the AFL showcases a fast-paced, exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets. With the addition of two new teams in Atlantic City, N.J., and Columbus, O.H., the League totals six teams for 2019: Albany, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Columbus, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Each team will play 12 regular-season games in 2019. One can find the League can on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using the handle @OfficialAFL.

About Times Union Center

Albany’s Times Union Center, formerly Pepsi Arena, continues to have great success. Renamed in January 2007, the Times Union Center is “Upstate New York’s Premier Sports and Entertainment Facility. Owned by Albany County and operated by SMG, the world’s largest private management firm for public assembly facilities, the Times Union Center has an adaptable seating capacity between 6,000 and 17,500. Since Frank Sinatra christened the building on January 30, 1990, more than seven million patrons have walked through the turnstiles. As a multi-purpose facility, the Times Union Center has hosted a variety of events, including concerts, family shows and sporting events, averaging 165 events each year. 

About CDPHP®

Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 26 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Instagram.

About Transfinder

Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Schenectady, New York, Transfinder is a national leader in intelligent transportation systems, providing transportation management systems and services to school districts, municipalities and adult care facilities. Transfinder, an Inc. magazine “fastest-growing company” for the past eleven straight years, has offices in Austin, Texas, and Shanghai, China. The software company develops and supports routing and scheduling solutions for optimal transportation logistics. http://transfinder.com

Albany Empire Partners

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