Pick ‘Em Preview: Championship Edition
By Josh Schafer | Sep 17, 2021
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Whipsnakes LC vs. Chaos LC: Sunday at 12:00PM on NBC
All-time series: Whipsnakes lead 5-1
Prop bets to watch
Zed Williams: over/under 4.5 points
This one sticks out because it will be a key indicator for the overall result of the game on Sunday. The Whipsnakes could still win if Zed goes under 4.5 points but if he goes over, as he did in last year’s championship, it’s hard to imagine a Whipsnakes loss.
Blaze Riorden: over/under 0.5 points
At +450 odds, you’re taking the Chaos goalie to pick up an assist or a goal on Sunday. While that might seem crazy, Riorden did have two assists in the semifinals and has created more goals for his offense than any other goalie in the league.
Matt Rambo: over/under 2.5 points
The Whipsnakes attackman went under this number in the 2021 Week 1 matchup but over in last year’s championship game. Rambo’s currently favored to score under 2.5 points. While Rambo isn’t necessarily the kind of offensive player that needs to produce stats to make an impact, if you like the Whipsnakes this is an intriguingly low line for the 2019 MVP.
Player to watch: Chaos LC defender Jack Rowlett, no. 99
Go back and watch last year’s championship game, and you’ll probably wonder why Whipsnakes attack Zed Williams isn’t the player to watch. In some ways, he still is. But we know how good Zed can be. We know that when “Zedzilla” has turned it on in the playoffs, no team has stopped him. So the question heading into this game is how much better is Jack Rowlett than he was last year?
The third-year defender is physically bigger than he was in 2020. He’s forced a team high 14 turnovers, beaten up some of the league’s best attackmen in Lyle Thompson and Grant Ament, but he still hasn’t shut down Williams. In last year’s championship, Zed Wiliams scored six goals. If Rowlett can keep that number significantly lower, it’s a step in the right direction for Chaos. If Zed can’t be stopped...well we know what happens then.
Stat to watch: 3
Whipsnakes faceoff specialist Joe Nardella has three points in the last two games between the Whipsnakes and Chaos. He’s also won no less than 63% of his faceoffs in those matchups and enters the game leading the PLL in clamps won this season. There’s a million ways to present the simple fact: the Whipsnakes have a better faceoff unit on paper than Chaos and thus far it’s led to a league best 32% conversion rate on fast breaks.
If that on paper advantage plays out on the field, it usually leads to transition goals from Nardella, long-stick midfielder Michael Ehrhardt or another transition threat. When the Whipsnakes score in transition, the snowball can roll downhill quickly, it’s how the Whipsnakes have pulled off big runs in each of their last two wins over Chaos.
Why the Chaos: As noted above, this Chaos team has evolved throughout the season. Since losing the first three games of the season, Chaos is 6-2 and has a plus 12 goal differential. Blaze Riorden leads the PLL with 149 saves on a 61% save percentage. Advanced stats also credit Riorden with a league-high 10 goals created, a nod to his ability to turn clean saves into fast break opportunities for his offense.
Offensively, Chaos scores off the two-man game more often than nearly every PLL team. The Whipsnakes are tied for the worst two-man game defense across the league. Chaos also enters the game tied with Atlas for the most two-pointers with 12, double the two-point output of the Whipsnakes. The question for Chaos will be if the stout defense and offensive success of the last eight games carries over against a team it’s beaten once in the past six matchups.
Why the Whipsnakes: The Whips have won the PLL’s first two titles. They’ve been an unstoppable force in the playoffs throughout the league’s short history. With Matt Rambo and Zed Williams at attack, the Whipsnakes have two of the best attackmen in the game who have both turned in big goals in high pressure moments. The team is full of other scorers too, including midfielder Brad Smith who leads the Whipnakes midfield with 21 points.
Perhaps the best case for the Whipsnakes doesn’t spawn from the league's best transition game, the 5% advantage over Chaos in offensive efficiency or the overall star power spread across the Whipsnakes roster. It lies in the Whips ability to always have someone answer the call. At times it’s been Williams and Rambo. But it’s also been Guterding and former backup turned starting goalie Brian Phipps. Like they live with a horseshoe attached to their cleats, things always seem to fall the Whips way when it matters most.
The pick: It’s the Whipsnakes until they lose.