The playoffs are in full force and, in the second round, comes what could turn out to be one of the best matchups of the entire season. The Manchester Panthers have earned homefield advantage and will face one of their biggest challenges of the year in the Garaway Pirates. The Panthers are projected to win the game 27-24 but nobody truly knows what's in store for Sunday's game. 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. Garaway comes in as Division 5's 16th-ranked team. Manchester comes in ranked 13th. A new game on the schedule for both teams, it should shape out as an unpredictable affair. Usually, matchups from the previous year are used in developing a strategy for upcoming games. For these two, no such opportunity will be afforded.
Garaway is currently on a 3-game winning streak, which they hope to continue on Sunday. Coming off of a 41-22 win against the Garfield G-Men, they are 9-2 and their confidence continues to build as they finish up the year. Scoring an average of 34.9 points per game on offense, the Pirates rank 19th in Division 5. They've been even more explosive in recent weeks, scoring an average of 51.5 over their last 2 games. While their defense has given up more points than usual in recent weeks, they deserve every bit as much of the credit for this season's successes as the offense. Over the course of the season, they've given up an average of 16 points per game, which ranks 17th in their division.
Manchester is no stranger to winning recently as they come off of a 5-game winning streak, including last week's 44-0 win against the Rootstown Rovers. That brings their record to 8-3 as they look to add another notch to the win column. While the Panthers offense has not been particularly great, ranked 31st in Division 5 with 30.8 points per game, they have improved in recent weeks, averaging 35.5 points over their last 2 contests. Their defense hasn't been much better throughout the course of the season, ranking 20th with an average of 17.3 points allowed per game. In recent weeks, they have improved, giving up an average of 3.5 points over their last 2 games.
Prediction: Manchester to win (84.47% chance of victory)