PLAYOFF GAME TWO PREVIEW – EMPIRE AT BRIGADE
Maintaining the momentum for two lopsided victories to end the regular season, the Empire handled the Brigade in the first game of the home-and-home playoff series by a score of 61-26. Baltimore struck first, returning the game’s opening kickoff, but the Empire defense showed up and stifled the Brigade while the Empire offense scored on every possession, giving Albany a 35-point advantage in the aggregate score heading into game two. The Empire will travel to Baltimore this weekend for the second leg of the playoff round. With a victory, the Empire would advance to the ArenaBowl, which would be hosted in Albany. Should the Brigade win by 36 or more points, Baltimore would advance to the championship game. This weekend’s game will be at 7 p.m. in the Royal Farms Arena on Saturday, August 3 and broadcast live on MY4 Albany, ESPN 3, and Q105.7 FM.
The first matchup to lookout for is the Empire’s defensive line against the Brigade’s offensive line. In the first round of the playoffs, Albany’s defensive front set the tone early, applying pressure on Boyd from the first snap. Defensive lineman, Rodney Fritz, had himself an impressive night, recording a franchise-high three sacks and three forced fumbles. Fritz and company were a terror for Boyd all night, forcing two interceptions, one of which was taken back for a touchdown. It was a night for Boyd to forget, as the veteran quarterback was just 11 of 24 for 93 yards and zero touchdowns before being replaced in the second half. If the Empire defensive line can keep up the pressure, then the defensive backs will have a field day turning the ball over to Albany’s offense who will continue to pad on points to the aggregate score.
The key to an Empire victory in this matchup is to keep getting in the face of whichever quarterback is under center for the Brigade. Facing a 35-point deficit, in the aggregate score, Baltimore will most likely look to push the tempo on offense and try to score as quickly as possible on every possession. Albany’s defensive front was overpowering in the first round of the playoffs, forcing multiple turnovers, all of which the Empire offense capitalized on. Fritz had a monster game, but don’t sleep on the League’s all-time career sacks leader on the opposite side of the line. If the defensive line can keep pressure up and force errant throws, then the large hole that the Brigade see themselves in will be that much more difficult to climb out of.
The next matchup to come into play is between the Empire’s receiving unit against the Brigade’s defensive backs. Baltimore’s backfield had no answer for the Albany receiving corps in the first matchup of the series. Grady picked apart the Brigade backfield, completing 15 of 20 passes for 212 yards and seven touchdowns on the night. The Empire scored every time Grady and company took the field, as Albany ran up the score on the defense that allowed the fewest amount of points in the League over the course of the regular season. Quentin Sims, the League’s leader in touchdown grabs, torched his former team, hauling in seven passes for a game-high 106 yards and five touchdowns. Grady spread the ball around to four different receivers on the night, leaving the talented Brigade backfield scratching their heads. Expect much of the same in this matchup as the Empire seek to control the pace of the game and celebrate an ArenaBowl berth.
The key to a victory in this matchup is to get ahead early and keep the foot on the gas. Nothing changed since last week in the strategy here as the Empire hold a commanding lead in the aggregate score. Whether the Empire are up by 35 points or not, Albany needs to control the pace of the game and continue to play offense at the high level they have all season. The Brigade offense simply cannot keep pace with the Empire and will most likely have to post at least 80 points to overcome the current point margin. No team scored more than 72 points in a single game this season, making the lead seem all but insurmountable. That team, by the way, was Albany just two weeks ago, as the offense is firing on all cylinders and looks unstoppable heading into game two.
The final matchup and key to victory for the Empire is to win on special teams. Outside looking in, one would have to expect Baltimore to attempt numerous onside kicks to steal possessions away from the Albany offense. Being that the Brigade are down by 35 points heading into the game, Baltimore will need to find ways to have considerably more possessions than Albany if they want a chance of coming back. Albany has been solid at recovering onside kicks all season and have actually returned two for touchdowns. Baltimore will need to execute flawlessly on special teams if they want a chance to come back, and even then, the offense will have to perform at a considerably higher level if given extra opportunities.
Tickets for the August 11 ArenaBowl are on sale now 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! Should the Empire not make it to the ArenaBowl, all fans who purchased tickets will be full refunded. Call 518-533-2200 for additional information.
Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.
About Albany Empire
Season memberships for the 2020 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.
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 Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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