Pick ‘Em Preview: Week 5
By Josh Schafer | Jul 9, 2021
We’re celebrating the end of this rigorous four-day work week by giving away $100. But you have to play along to get the money. Whoever finishes with the best record in this week’s PLL Pick ‘Em will be entered to win the prize.
This will likely require you picking the PLL’s most contentious rivalry correctly. If you’ve ever seen the Red Sox and Yankees benches clear or the Packers and Bears stuff each other into a frozen Midwest field, this Saturday’s matchup won’t look unfamiliar. It’s one of those games it feels like anyone can win.
It’s an extra push at GLE. An unnecessary dive for a ground ball. Or maybe even an extra loud fist pump after a goal. It’s why we love rivalries and why we’ve learned to love Whipsnakes-Redwoods.
In a young league, Whipsnakes-Redwoods is on track for something similar to the great rivalries across professional sports. The Whipsnakes and Redwoods have gone into overtime in each of the first two postseasons. There’s been instant classic moments, like Matt Rambo’s game-winner to seal the first PLL Championship or Brent Adams' flying game-winner that almost was but wasn’t in an eventual Redwoods loss in the bubble.
Over the years, the jerseys will change. New faces like the Redwoods’ Rob Pannell will become centerpieces in the matchup. But rivalries are rivalries for a reason. It all stems back to a foundation. It stems back to years of the same colors battling in close game after close game. We’re watching that foundation settle right now. Enjoy it.
Let's Pick 'Em.
Waterdogs (2-3) vs. Cannons (1-4)
Friday, July 9th at 8:00 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-time series: 1-0, Cannons
Player to watch: Cannons attack Lyle Thompson, No. 4
One of the world’s best attackmen hasn’t been himself recently. After notching eleven points through the first three games, Thompson has just three points through two games. Against the Waterdogs, Thompson likely won’t see the physical matchup defensively he’s seen the last few games. It’ll be interesting to see if that helps Thompson return to leading the stat box.
Stat to know: 18%
Looking back at the box score from the first matchup, the Waterdogs shooting percentage sticks out. It’s the only category the Waterdogs were truly dominated in. With the Cannons more than tripling the Waterdogs’ shooting percentage it was merely impossible to win that game without somehow amassing significantly more shots. The Waterdogs need to be more efficient on offense in the rematch.
Why the Cannons: The Cannons cleaned up with a dominating six point victory the first time these two teams played at Gillette Stadium. While that game sticks out as the Cannons only win on the year, the PLL’s newest club has shown sparks of greatness. The offense has been there pretty consistently. If the Cannons can lock in other parts of the game, its top end offensive talent will shine through.
Why the Waterdogs: It’s hard to beat a team twice in the same season. The Waterdogs have proven to be a better team than what they showed week one against the Cannons. Watch for the Waterdogs improved offense to make the second battle of the expansion teams a closer matchup.
The pick: The Cannons offensive talent prevails.
Redwoods (3-2) vs. Whipsnakes (4-1)
Saturday, July 10th at 6:00 p.m. ET | NBCSN and Peacock
All-time series: Whipsnakes lead, 4-1
Player to watch: Redwoods faceoff specialist TD Ierlan, No. 6
We highlighted Ierlan in the first Pick 'Em preview newsletter, noting that his dominance at the stripe could change the trajectory of the Redwoods season. Well this is the moment for that to come true. In a rivalry that’s always been close but often dominated by the Whipsnakes faceoff specialist Joe Nardella, Ierlan has a chance to make his mark on the PLL’s most intense rivalry.
Stat to know: 16
If I told you one team caused 16 more turnovers than another across two games, you’d probably think that stout defense would’ve won one of those games. Nope. The Redwoods defense played strong against the Whipsnakes in both games last year but just didn’t finish in the right moments to close out the defending champions.
Why the Whipsnakes: The Whips showed last week that even with a banged up roster, they can compete with anyone. Beating the Archers furthered the narrative that the Whipsnakes are still the team to beat in a close game amid two-highly regarded clubs. Nardella has the experience advantage at the stripe and Zeddy Williams can always do Zeddy Ballgame type things. It’s always hard to pick against a team that’s lost once in the last two seasons.
Why the Redwoods: Filling out an All-Star game ballot reminded me just how much I like the star power on this Redwoods roster. The defense has always been in sync. Now with Myles Jones feeding better than at any point in his career, Sergio Perkovic dominating the scoring column and the additions of Rob Pannell and Jules Heningburg in new offensive roles, this Redwoods team looks like the one that can finally break through against the Whipsnakes.
The pick: The Redwoods finally get their revenge.
Atlas (3-2) vs. Chaos (2-3)
Saturday, July 10th at 8:45 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-time series: Tied at 1-1
Player to watch: Chaos attack Mac O'Keefe, No. 3
The rookie can flat out shoot. His explosive shots have come to forefront over the last two games in which he’s tallied seven points across the two Chaos victories. No. 3 is quickly emerging as a top threat in the league from beyond the two-point arc and becoming more dangerous by the week inside the arc.
Stat to know: 57
Since scoring six goals in the season opener, Atlas has scored 57 goals across four games for an average of 14.25 goals per game. In a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the league, Atlas brings an offense that’s clicking on all cylinders,
Why the Chaos: The Chaos just shot down another potent offense in the Cannons, holding an offense with Paul Rabil and Lyle Thompson to just 10 goals. The Chaos proved in the 2020 Championship Series that they aren’t a team to be counted out after a slow start. We’re seeing that again in 2021.
Why the Atlas: It’s officially not a fluke. The Ben Rubeor rebuild is coming together faster than a 4-on-3 transition goal. With a young roster, Atlas is one of the most intriguing teams in the league. A physical defense and the league’s top goalie stand in the way this week, though and might have the proper mix to put a stop to the Atlas hot streak.
Chrome (2-3) vs. Waterdogs (2-3)
Sunday, July 11th at 4:45 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-time series: Tied at 1-1
Player to watch: Chrome attack Colin Heacock, No. 2
It’s the Heacock on the Peacock! OK, rhyming jokes aside, Heacock has been the catalyst for the Chrome offense in the team’s two biggest wins of the year. Heacock scored five points against the Whipsnakes in a win. He then followed up that performance with four of the Chrome’s eight goals, including the game-winning goal, against the Archers.
Stat to know: 11.4
Chrome’s goal against average has slowly ticked up to the second best in the league as John Galloway has heated up in between the pipes. Meanwhile, the Waterdogs have one of the worst scoring offenses in the league. If Galloway comes out disguised as a brick wall again on Sunday, it could be a long day for the Dogs.
Why the Waterdogs: When Michael Sowers comes back on the Waterdogs’ attack, it will be a different offense. Until then the Dogs are showing enough on offense to survive if Dillon Ward can provide just a little bit more in net. The Waterdogs have been close enough in so many games this year it’s not hard to imagine them pulling one out before the all-star break.
Why the Chrome: Beating the Whipsnakes and the Archers proved Chrome can beat anyone on any given day. Holding the Archers, the league’s top scoring offense, to seven goals proved Chrome’s defense can strike out anyone, too. The numbers are in Chrome’s favor here. But as we’ve seen week after week, the obvious bets aren’t always the right bets.
The pick: Chrome's defense is too solid right now to slip, even against the Waterdogs.
Cannons (1-4) vs. Archers (3-2)
Sunday, July 11th at 7:30 p.m. ET | NBCSN & Peacock
All-Time Series: N/A
Player to watch: Archers short-stick defensive midfielder Dominique Alexander, No. 23
This could be a backslash Latrell Harris category as well because how the Archers short-stick defensive midfielders perform on Sunday will be key. Alexander and Harris have both been a big part of why the Archers defensive has performed so well this season. With a player like Stephen Rehfuss that likes to take short sticks behind the cage, the Archers will need another stout performance from their shorties.
Stat to know: 42
The Archers have assisted goals more than any team this year. Yes, they have a lot of offensive talent but pay attention to how they move the ball on offense on Sunday. The Archers probably set themselves up for easy goals more than any other offense.
Why the Cannons: The Cannons have the offense to run with the Archers.If this game opens up with a quick pace, the Cannons can certainly score enough to win this game. The question lies in if the second game of the weekend the Cannons have enough energy to hold back the Archers defense?
Why the Archers: A week ago we thought the Archers were hands down the best team in the league. After two losses, it’s important not to let those things we loved about the team in orange be overshadowed by the losses. This is still a stout defense. This is still the scariest offense in the league. Don’t overthink this pick.
The pick: The Archers are too good to drop three in a row.