Pick ‘Em Preview: Week 7
By Josh Schafer | Jul 30, 2021
It’s been too long since we’ve been previewing matchups, and Epoch Lacrosse wants to reward us for waiting patiently. They’re giving a custom Epoch Lacrosse shaft to one person with the most accurate picks this week.
A big storyline to watch when picking games over the next two weeks will be playoff qualifications. As of now no teams have secured a playoff spot and all eight teams are still eligible for the seven spots remaining.
Some interesting races to watch: Who captures the top seed? Redwoods lead with a 38.6% chance at the one seed followed by Atlas at 26.6% and Archers at 16.6%.
The race for the final playoff spot is heating up as well. While no team can get eliminated from the playoffs this weekend, a few teams still have better odds headed into the weekend. Chrome, Chaos, and Cannons all have two wins. Chrome enters Friday with a 80.4% chance of making the playoffs followed by Chaos at 73.1% and Cannons at 46.9%.
So if you’re a believer that desperation wins, watch out for the Cannons to defy the numbers these next two weeks. Let’s Pick’em.
Atlas (4-2) vs. Chrome (2-4)
Friday, July 30th at 9:00 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-time series: 4-0, Atlas
Player to watch: Chrome attack Jackson Morrill, No. 4
During this weeks’ Pick’em we’re leaning into advanced analytics. Morrill, who’s 19th overall in the PLL with 15 points ranks first in an offensive category. Morrill's four goals is tied for the most goals from the righty wing in the league. If Morrill gets open at the five and five on that righty wing this Friday, watch out. He’s hit on 36 percent of his shots from there.
Stat to know: 133
Atlas is tied for the most shots off an isolation dodge this year, scoring on 24 percent of those opportunities. So why’s that matter? Chrome is tied for the second worst team at defending isolation dodges in the PLL, allowing goals on 30% of iso dodges from opposing offenses.
Why the Chrome: Chrome has two of the best wins in the PLL this year defeating the Archers and Whipsnakes. But the thing to remember is Chrome only has two wins in six games. Inconsistency has been an issue for Chrome this year. Last time these two teams played Chrome saved just 38 percent of shots, if John Galloway can come out hot Friday in between the pipes like he has in several games this year, Chrome has a strong chance.
Why the Atlas: Atlas won the first game by six goals featuring dominant performances from Bryan Costabile and Romar Dennis. Both of those players are dangerous dodgers, (see Romar’s alley-dodge chart if you don’t believe me) and will likely find success once more against Chrome’s defense.
The pick: The young bulls are growing fast, it's the Atlas in this one.
Archers (3-3) vs. Redwoods (4-2)
Saturday, July 31st at 7:15 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-time series: Redwoods lead, 2-1
Player to watch: Archers attack Will Manny, No. 4
One of the PLL’s top scorers stands above the rest in assisted shooting. All 16 of Manny’s goals this year have been assisted and he’s converting on 50% of assisted opportunities. When Manny’s scoring, the ball is whipping around and the Archers offense is clicking. Look for him to be a catalyst, or a sign of a stagnant offense, for the Archers offense on Saturday.
Stat to know: 31%
The Redwoods are tied for the second worst defense efficiency (goals per possession) in the league. Yes, the team we so often laud for great communication and a strong defense hasn’t actually played that way by the numbers this year. The ‘Woods allow a goal nearly every three trips down the field, only the Whipsnakes have been worse. Also relevant for this weekend: The Archers are the most efficient offense in the league (scoring on 34 percent of possessions).
Why the Redwoods: While the defense isn’t going to challenge the ‘85 Bears for the Greatest of All-Time, the Woods can score the rock and are second behind the Archers in offensive efficiency. Perhaps the key to this game for the Redwoods is to make it a shootout.
Why the Archers: The Archers have the most efficient defense and the most efficient offense in the league but have lost three-straight. At some point it’s hard to think those numbers don’t lead to more wins. The Redwoods like to iso dodge more than any team in the league. That’s not a good recipe against a stingy defense like the Archers. If the Archers can parlay those stops with it’s quick striking offense, they could run away with a much needed win out of the All-Star Break.
The pick: A long break helps the Archers get back on track.
Waterdogs (4-3) vs. Whipsnakes (4-2)
Saturday, July 30th at 10:00 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-time series: N/A
Player to watch: Waterdogs defenseman Liam Byrnes, No. 21
If the Waterdogs are going to win this game it will be centered around stopping Zed Williams. That starts with Byrnes who leads the league in caused turnovers with 16. Fellow defenseman Eli Gobrecht sits third in the league with 12 caused turnovers. It's not an easy task, but if the Waterdogs can make the Whipsnakes just a little bit uncomfortable, an upset becomes that much easier.
Stat to know: 33%
The Whipsnakes score on 33 percent of fast break opportunities. No team is more efficient on the fast break than the two-time defending champions. The Waterdogs are a middle of the road transition defense. How Jake Withers slows down Joe Nardella at the stripe and what the wings can do to support will be critical. Also watch for the Waterdogs two-way middies to play a role in limiting the Whipsnakes’ transition offense.
Why the Whipsnakes: Without Rambo, the Whipsnakes will need to continue to find alternate scoring options, something they’ve found mixed results with thus far. The Whips are a two-edged sword with not many ways to solve what they offer. A slow game favors the Whips best in class settled defense. A fast pace game favors an offense that scores in transition. The best solution has been to physically beat down the Whips, something that may fit the Waterdogs style.
Why the Waterdogs: The Waterdogs have won two in a row but are still searching for a marquee win. But the last weekend before the All-Star break something appeared to click for the Waterdogs as a team as they broke through for dominant wins. Ryan Brown has been a key catalyst on the right wing for the Waterdogs, an area the Whipsnakes have struggled to cover at times. One of the world’s top shooters with time and room could help launch the ‘Dogs
The pick: Pardon my take, but I don't see how the Waterdogs lose with Jake Marsh on the call.
Chaos (2-4) vs. Chrome (2-4)
Sunday, August 1st at 2:00 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-time series: Tied at 2-2
Player to watch: Chaos short-stick defensive midfielder Mark Glicini, No. 16
Glicini is known as one of the toughest, and perhaps craziest players in the PLL. This week we wrote about his mental performance training and how that puts him in the right headspace to block shots with every part of his body.
Stat to know: 66
Chaos has initiated offense via iso dodge just 66 times this year. Only one other team in the league (Archers with 97) has initiated fewer than 100 shots via isolation. In fact, the Chaos initiate with a one-man dodge so little that three teams in the league have more than doubled the Chaos’ 66 iso dodges. If you like pick-and-rolls in basketball or the spread offense in football (OK it’s not really that kind of trips), checkout Chaos on Sunday.
Why the Chrome: Speaking of the two-man game, Chrome holds opponents to just 22 percent shooting when operating out of the two-man game. If Chrome can repeat that success, it’s a solid starting point. Chrome also has the better wins on the season and flashed an impressive ability to play lockdown defense against the Archers. If this game becomes a defense battle, I’d take Chrome.
Why the Chaos: Offensively, Chaos wants to do so many of the things Chrome normally defends well. With a different personnel specifically suited for this type of game, Chaos could throw Chrome for a bit of a curveball.
The pick: Chrome's defense leads the way.
Atlas (4-2) vs. Cannons (2-5)
Sunday, August 1st at 4:45 p.m. ET | Peacock
All-Time Series: Atlas leads, 1-0
Player to watch: Cannons midfielder Paul Rabil, No. 99
Digging into the advanced analytics shows how lethal Rabil has been this year as a scorer. His 10 unassisted goals is second in the league (teammate Lyle Thompson leads with 13). Rabil is tied for a league-high six goals from the high middle of the field inside the two-point arc, shooting 55 percent from that area. Add in his four second assists and it looks like this Cannons team might go as far as their veteran leader can take them.
Stat to know: 32%
The Cannons score on 32% of settled situations, which ranks second best in the PLL. The last time these two teams played Atlas killed the Cannons with several transition goals. If the Cannons can keep the pace of the game a bit slower, it will favor the expansion team.
Why the Atlas: Atlas is rolling right now and already beat the Cannons this year. For as well as the Cannons play settled offense, Atlas matches with the second best settled defense in the league and a unit that’s beaten up Cannons attackman Lyle Thompson in the past. The last time these two teams played, Jeff Teat notched nine points. If the Cannons can’t figure out the rookie this time around, Atlas has to be the pick here.
Why the Cannons: The Cannons arguably pass the eye test better than any of the other two win teams. For some reason, things just haven’t fully clicked. With their backs against the wall, it’s hard to see a veteran team with so many high-level players not make the playoffs. Perhaps this is the week they turn it on.
The pick: I'll take Lyle Thompson, Brodie Merrill, and Paul Rabil in what's almost a must-win game.