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Soul Look for Postseason Berth, 3rd Straight Win Opposite League-Best Empire

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Playing in their regular season home finale, the Philadelphia Soul (5-4) will look for revenge — as well as improve their respective playoff picture — opposite the AFL-best Albany Empire (8-1) Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

To clinch their eighth straight postseason berth, the Soul either need to win just one of their last three games, or the Atlantic City Blackjacks need to lose at least one of their last three games.

After losing three straight games (May 11-26), the Soul have now won three of their last four games, outscoring opponents a combined 143-99 among the victories. The Soul last faced the Empire at home on May 11 (Week 3), and fell 57-48 to start their three-game skid stretch.

The Soul face a tough task on the defensive front opposite reigning league MVP QB Tommy Grady and his top target, WR Malachi Jones. Grady has completed 70 percent of his passes this season, while logging the most passing yards (2,390) and touchdowns (54). Jones has reigned in more than 300 receiving yards than any other receiver this season (1,074), having recorded seven 100-yard receiving games.

The Soul are giving free tickets for the home finale to children 14 and under, with the purchase of an adult ticket. Visit www.philadelphiasoul.com/kidsfree for more information; enter discount code KIDS at checkout.


Last Meeting vs. Empire (L, 57-48): Week 1 (Home) — Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Empire scored a touchdown on every possession, while Grady completed a season-high 82 percent of his passes and threw seven touchdowns.

The Soul, meanwhile, scored on five of their seven chances, as WR Lonnie Outlaw posted a career-high 191 receiving yards and three scores. Outlaw has only 305 yards and five touchdowns in all other games combined this season.

View Stats


Game Notes:

00Standings

  • The Empire are undefeated on the road this season, going 4-0 with 55.8 points scored per game and 44.5 points allowed per game. The Soul, meanwhile, are 3-2 at home, scoring 47.6 points per game and allowing 42.0 points per game.
  • The Soul vie for their first three-game winning streak this season.
  • Albany's defense has allowed a league-worst 266.4 yards per game.
  • The Empire are 3-2 against the Soul all-time.
  • AFL Leaders, entering Saturday, June 29 (click to expand):

Leaders

  • The Empire's Jones and Quentin Sims rank in the top two in nearly every category this season for wide receivers, including receiving yards and touchdowns.
  • The Soul defense has forced 11 turnovers in its last four games, after having recorded just five in its first five games this season, including none against Albany in Week 3.
  • The Soul have converted a league-best 85.7 percent of their red zone opportunities; the Empire have held opponents to just a 60 percent conversion rate.
  • What to Watch For:
    • A Soul win on Saturday would deny the Empire of clinching homefield advantage.
    • In the last two weeks alone, the Soul defensive line has four sacks; on Saturday, they look to be the first unit this season to sack Grady.
    • Soul rookie WR BJ Bunn has seven touchdowns (6 receiving, 1 rushing) since he was named a starter in Week 6. He logged a career-high 116 receiving yards in last week's win against the Columbus Destroyers.
    • Soul DB Dwayne Hollis has an interception in three straight games, including a
      fourth-quarter interception last week against the Destroyers.
    • With a win, Soul head coach Clint Dolezel would pass Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden for the seventh-most victories in AFL history. Dolezel is 8-5 in his career opposite Empire head coach Rob Keefe.
    • Keefe was a member of the Soul’s 2008 ArenaBowl-champion team. Current Soul GM and assistant coach Beau Bell, meanwhile, was the Empire's Director of Player Personnel and Pass Rush Coordinator last season, and oversaw a unit that led the league in sacks.

Soul Transactions:

  • Thursday, June 27:
    • Assigned: DL Malik Forrester, OL Jake Vogel
    • Placed on Injured Reserve: DL Isaiah Stephens
    • Placed on League Suspension: OL Chris Boles, QB Danny Southwick
  • Tuesday, June 25:
    • Assigned: QB Patrick O’Brien
    • Placed on Reassignment: QB Danny Southwick

Soul Injury Report:

  • TBA

Broadcast Information:

  • Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
  • Watch: NBCSP+, ESPN3, ESPN app
  • Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic

What's Next:

  • Saturday, July 6, 2019: at Atlantic City Blackjacks (3-6), 7 p.m.
    • Watch: NBCSP, ESPN3, ESPN app; Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic

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