This week's matchup between the Jackson Ironmen and the Jonathan Alder Pioneers should be one of the more competitive of the second round, the Ironmen entering the week projected to win by a score of 30-24. 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 Ironmen rank 12th in the division while the Pioneers rank 18th. The teams did not appear on each other's schedules last season, which presents a degree of unpredictability. Usually, matchups from the previous year are used in developing a strategy for upcoming games. For these two, no such opportunity will be afforded.
Looking to build upon their 11-game winning streak, Jackson comes into the week at 11-0. After their 70-28 win against the Centennial Stars, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. Thus far, the Ironmen offense has put up an average of 43.2 points per game, which ranks 23rd in the state. In recent weeks, they've been even more powerful, scoring an average of 59.5 points per game over the last 2 weeks. On defense, they've been just as strong. Allowing just 12.5 points per game over the course of the season, their defense ranks 14th in their division. Over the last 6 weeks, they've been even more proficient, giving up just 10.33 points per game.
Jonathan Alder is no stranger to winning recently as they come off of a 11-game winning streak, including last week's 35-13 win against the Sheridan Generals. That brings their record to 11-0 as they look to add another notch to the win column. The Pioneers offense is the 7th-ranked offense in Division 3, scoring an average of 37.1 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 29.5 points per game. Their defense gives up an average of 17.5 points per game, ranking 33rd in their division.
Prediction: Jackson to win (55.41% chance of victory)