AFL Playoff Pick & Prediction: Cleveland at Tampa Bay

 

Last Updated: 2017-08-30

Not that many people care, but the second team to reach Saturday’s Arena Bowl will be decided tonight in Tampa, as the Cleveland Gladiators visit the Tampa Bay Storm at Amalie Arena. The Storm is favored by 6.5 and the total on the game is 103.5. The winner of the game will face the Soul in Philadelphia and either team will be decided underdogs in the championship game.

Cleveland is just 5-9 on the season, but when you play in a five-team league, somebody has to make the playoffs and the Gladiators came in as the No. 3 team. Cleveland may not be quite as bad as their record looks, as they developed a habit of losing close games. For the season, Cleveland scored 49.7 points per game and allowed 51.1. In road games Cleveland scored 52 points and allowed 52.6. The Gladiators do get credit for having played a tougher schedule; although most of that has to do with they played four games against Tampa Bay, while the Storm had four games against Cleveland.

Tampa Bay was tough at home during the year, posting a 6-1 record and losing only to Philadelphia. The Storm averaged 54.9 points at home and allowed 47.7 compared to scoring 50.7 and allowing 47.3 for the year. Tampa Bay is 10-4 overall on the year.
The teams did play four times during the year and Tampa Bay won three of them, including a 57-27 waxing of Cleveland the last time they met. The game was a complete disaster for the Gladiators, who lost three fumbles and were intercepted twice. The Storm only had 234 yards of offense in that game.

The other three games were quite a bit closer and included a fairly exciting Storm 62-61 win at home in a game where both teams tallied more than 370 yards of offense. Cleveland won a hard-fought 41-39 decision at home and also dropped a 46-40 contest in front of the home fans.

My numbers made this one Tampa Bay 53-49 and I’m inclined to agree and will grab the 6.5 points in this one. Three of the four games were decided by 6 points or less, which is all we would need in this one, and you can at least make a bit of an excuse for the last game turning out the way it did because of Cleveland’s turnover situation. This could be a decent game to watch and will be streamed on Twitter.

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