The playoffs are here and, in the first round, comes what could turn out to be one of the best matchups of the entire season. The Euclid Panthers have earned homefield advantage and will face one of their biggest challenges of the year in the Jackson Polar Bears. The Panthers are projected to win the game 31-28 but nobody truly knows what's in store for Saturday'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. The Polar Bears rank 29th in the division while the Panthers rank 15th. A new matchup on the schedule for each team, Saturday's game is a chance for each to test its skills and strategies against an unfamiliar opponent. Strategically, this might lead to complications that could throw off the gameplan of either team.
Looking to build upon their 3-game winning streak, Jackson comes into the week at 8-2. After their 29-23 win against the Hoover Vikings, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. The Polar Bears offense has been one of the best in the division, especially in recent weeks. For the year, they rank 25th in Division 1 with 29.1 points per game. Over the last 2 weeks, they've scored an average of 29.1. Nevertheless, the defense could actually be the true strength of the team, which they've shown in their most recent contests. Over the last 6 games, they've allowed only 10.67 points per game. However, success on defense isn't just a recent trend - on the season, their defense ranks 12th in their division, allowing 13 points per game.
Euclid tallied up a 32-14 win against the Shaker Heights Raiders last week, bringing their record to 8-2 - they'll look to add to the win column once again on Saturday. The Panthers offense is the 6th-ranked offense in Division 1, scoring an average of 35.8 points per game over the course of the season. In their last 2 games, however, they haven't been quite as explosive as they've averaged 16 points per game. Their defense ranks 51st in their division giving up an average of 27.1 points per game, but they've been improving with each game - over the last 6 weeks, they've allowed an average of 21.5 points.
Prediction: Euclid to win (93.63% chance of victory)