Sharks need a win at home vs. Soul

Jacksonville lost to the Portland Thunder 72-48 last week.


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sharks return to their home turf this weekend, as the team hosts the Philadelphia Soul on Saturday, July 18, in Week 17 of Arena Football League action. Kickoff on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 7:00 p.m.

Jacksonville (7-7) enters this week hoping to bounce back from last Saturday's loss in the Pacific Northwest, as the team fell to the Portland Thunder by a 72-48. This is the third and final meeting between the Sharks and Philadelphia (13-2) this season, as each team won the previous meeting on its home turf. The Soul took the team's Week 3 matchup at Wells Fargo Center, while the Sharks returned the favor with a victory in Week 8.

The Sharks enter this week as the No. 3 seed in the American Conference, as the team sits a half-game ahead of the 7-8 Cleveland Gladiators. Jacksonville is a game and a half behind the Orlando Predators in the South Division race, though the Sharks still control their own destiny for the division title. For their part, the Soul have already clinched the top seed in the conference, as the road to ArenaBowl XXVIII goes through Philadelphia.

This week, Jacksonville will look to better protect the football, as the team committed three turnovers in Saturday's loss in Portland. One of those came at a critical stage of the game, as the Sharks trailed by five heading into the third quarter but lost a fumble on the opening drive of the second half. Portland turned the stop into a score, taking a two-score lead and never looking back.

This was the first time since Week 6 that Jacksonville had lost the turnover battle, as the team was a combined plus-19 in its previous seven games. The Sharks have actually recorded a positive turnover margin in both games against Philadelphia this season, though Jacksonville was a decisive plus-three in its Week 8 victory. In that contest, the Shark defense totaled five stops, including a crucial turnover on downs in the final minute to preserve an eight-point lead.

With that said, stopping the Soul's offense is no easy task. Philadelphia ranks second among all AFL teams with an average of 58.9 points scored per game, and a big factor in that output is the efficient play of quarterback Dan Raudabaugh. Raudabaugh has completed 66.5 percent of his passes this season, throwing for League-leading totals of 4,291 yards and 101 touchdowns. Having thrown for 15 more scores than any other signal-caller in the AFL, Raudabaugh has put up those numbers while throwing just 10 interceptions – only one more than Jacksonville quarterback Tommy Grady.