In the first round of the playoffs, there are usually a few games in each division that serve as a preview to the rest of the excitement we'll see as we approach the state championships. This week's matchup between the Carey Blue Devils and the Western Reserve Rough Riders looks to be one of those games as the Blue Devils comes into the game as 3-point favorites in what essentially amounts to a toss-up. The playoffs are the best time of the year but also come with a great deal of drama as many powerhouses will even see their seasons cut short. Each week, it's do or die and, after this week is complete, half of the current playoff teams will be eliminated. The Blue Devils rank 44th in the division while the Rough Riders rank 51st. The teams did not appear on each other's schedules last season, which presents a degree of unpredictability. Strategically, this might lead to complications that could throw off the gameplan of either team.
Looking to build upon their 2-game winning streak, Carey comes into the week at 5-5. After their 28-20 win against the Colonel Crawford Eagles, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. The Blue Devils offense will look to continue to improve as they've scored an average of 35 points per game over their last 2 games, up from their season average of 21.1, which ranks 72nd in Division 6. On defense, they'll also be looking for improvement, which they have shown signs of in recent weeks. Over their last 2 games, they've allowed an average of 10 points, an improvement over their 31st-ranked season average of 19.
For Western Reserve, Saturday is a chance to expand on a 7-game winning streak after their 42-21 win against the Mapleton Mounties brought their record to 9-1. The Rough Riders offense is one of the most high-powered in their division, particularly in recent weeks. For the year, they rank 23rd in Division 6 with 35.4 points per game. Over the last 2 weeks, they've scored an average of 35.4. On defense, they rank 50th in their division, giving up an average of 23.9 points per game.
Prediction: Carey to win (60.22% chance of victory)