In the first playoff matchup of the year for the Warren G Harding Raiders, they are projected to come away with a 31-23 win over the Garfield Heights Bulldogs. However, it should be one of the more hotly contested matchups of the round and all statistical predictions could easily go out the window. The playoffs are an interesting time of year as 7 teams fulfill their most ambitious goal in winning a state championship while the other 217 playoff teams will end their season with a loss. This matchup is no different as the winner will continue their playoff run while the loser will end its 2018 season with a loss. The Bulldogs rank 22nd in the division while the Raiders rank 33rd. The teams did not appear on each other's schedules last season, which presents a degree of unpredictability. Stylistically and schematically, past matchups are often used as a guiding tool. This week, however, each team will likely take time to adjust to an unfamiliar opponent, which should make for some added excitement.
Garfield Heights comes into the game on a 10-game winning streak. After last week's 52-8 win against the Normandy Invaders, they are 10-0 and look to continue the positive momentum. The Bulldogs offense has been one of the best in the division, especially in recent weeks. For the year, they rank 12th in Division 2 with 37.9 points per game. Over the last 2 weeks, they've scored an average of 37.9. On defense, their last few weeks haven't even done justice to how good they've been all season. They've given up 15.5 points per game over their last 2, down from their average of 8, which ranks 3rd in their division on the season.
Warren G Harding will look to continue the momentum of their 7-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 36-19 win against the Howland Tigers last week, bringing their record to 8-2. Particularly in recent weeks, the Raiders offense has struggled to put points on the board. In their last 4 games, they've put up an average of 23.25 points per game. Throughout the course of the season, they've averaged 30.5, which ranks 39th in Division 2. While the defense hasn't been much better, they have improved lately - while they average 16.2 points allowed per game, which ranks 21st in their division, they've taken that average down to 11.5 points over the last 6 weeks.
Prediction: Warren G Harding to win (57.27% chance of victory)