As we reach the end of the season, teams that still have reasonable chances are jockeying for playoff positioning. For the home team in this matchup, the Marlington Dukes, anything but a playoff bid would be a disappointment. They come into the week projected to finish 8th in the Region 9 playoff standings. For the visiting Alliance Aviators, it's a battle to stay in contention. They are currently expected to finish the season 6-4, which would put them around 9th in Region 5. The Dukes are the favorites on Friday, projected to win the game by a score of 36-18. For Alliance, this is a chance to prove themselves legitimate by coming out on top against a solid opponent. For Marlington, this week is simply about doing what's expected of them. The teams have played each other in each of the last five years so neither is likely to surprise the other. Over their last 5 matchups, the Aviators have won 3, a trend they hope to continue. In last year's installment, the Aviators came out on top by a score of 29-8.
Alliance comes into the game on a 4-game winning streak. After last week's 55-21 win against the Minerva Lions, they are 6-3 and look to continue the positive momentum. While the Aviators offense has not been particularly great, ranked 55th in Division 2 with 22.6 points per game, they have improved in recent weeks, averaging 38 points over their last 2 contests. They rank similarly on defense, coming in at 28th in their division, allowing 20.4 points per game. That number has generally gone up in recent weeks as they've given up an average of 15 points in their last 4 games.
Marlington is no stranger to winning recently as they come off of a 6-game winning streak, including last week's 31-24 win against the West Branch Warriors. That brings their record to 7-2 as they look to add another notch to the win column. Scoring an average of 34.7 points per game on offense, the Dukes rank 18th in Division 3. They've been even more dominant in recent weeks, scoring an average of 43 over their last 3 games. On defense, they rank 45th in their division, giving up an average of 20.4 points per game.
Prediction: Marlington to win (98.26% chance of victory)