9th Man Nation

Week 6 – Albany Empire at Philadelphia Soul

Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations

ALBANY, NY – The Empire head to Philadelphia in Week 6 for a rematch to try to even the series matchup. The Soul came to Albany in Week 1 and spoiled the Empire’s inaugural game but since then, the Empire have been on a roll winning two straight games. The top two teams in the league power rankings will square off for the second time to prove who the most dominant team in the league is.

The first matchup to look out for is between Empire receiver Joe Hills and the Soul defensive backfield. In Week 1, the Empire were without their star wide receiver so the Soul have yet to see Hills in action this season. Look for Dwayne Hollis and James Romain of the Soul to attempt to shadow Hills all night and mix up coverages. Hills expects to dominate no matter who covers him. Currently he leads the league in receiving touchdowns (9) despite playing one less game than other receivers near the top of the leaderboard. He also holds the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception (84); a number he will look to build on against the Soul

Sticking with the Empire receiving unit, look for Malachi Jones to have another big game for Albany. The Soul got a brief look at Jones in the Week 1 matchup, but since then Jones has broken out as one of the leagues biggest threats. Jones leads the league in receiving yards, has six touchdown catches, and even chipped in two rushing touchdowns. With Joe Hills drawing so much attention, don’t be surprised to see Jones reel in a ton of targets over the middle of the field. Jones is a matchup nightmare for opposing DBs. He can burn the defense on a “go” route, or catch a short pass and use his elusiveness to make a defender look foolish.

The last matchup to look for is in the trenches between the Empire defensive line and the Soul offensive line. There were no sacks in the Week 1 matchup for either team. Since then, the Empire have seven sacks in their last three games. Led by Joe Sykes, who has six of those sacks, he has a nose for poking the ball out when he gets to the quarterback. Sykes has forced a league-high three fumbles on the season. Look for the league’s all-time career sack leader to put pressure on Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh. The Soul offensive line has only given up one sack on the season giving Raudabaugh plenty of time to seek out his targets. Look for Coach Keefe to mix up coverages in the backfield to confuse Raudabaugh and give the defensive line more time to force pressure. If the Empire defensive line can continue it’s dominance and get to Raudabaugh, Albany will have a real good shot at coming out of Philadelphia with a win.

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