NEW ORLEANS – The VooDoo (1-2) return home for the last game in the New Orleans Arena this season to tangle with the Pittsburgh Power (0-3) this Friday.
The VooDoo has an opportunity to take advantage of winless Pittsburgh after losing in a blowout to Jacksonville last weekend. The New Orleans Arena will undergo renovation, so the Graveyard will take the party next door to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome the following week.
The Power is led by former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Jefferson's last football game in New Orleans was a forgettable one as the Tigers were shut out by Alabama 21-0 in the 2012 BCS Championship Game. Jefferson has had similar struggles in the AFL season as he has thrown five interceptions and has tossed only eight touchdowns in 2013. Last week against Chicago was his worst outing, as he threw only one touchdown in their 45-14 loss to the Rush. He has also been sacked 12 times this season. Jefferson, though, is second in the league in rushing yards with 96 on the year.
VooDoo quarterback Kurt Rocco has also struggled at times. Rocco has a 47.4 percent completion percentage. He threw for a season-low 172 yards in the 76-30 loss to the Sharks and was also sacked three times. Rocco has thrown for more yards and touchdowns (651 yds, 10TD) than Jefferson (506 yds) and has only been sacked six times all season. Something has to give in this matchup, and the team with better play at quarterback could be the difference in this game.
The VooDoo does have an edge in the receiving end of the offense as the team has four receivers with double digit receptions this season led by Courtney Smith, who has 19 catches for 276 yards and four touchdowns. Smith had a season-high eight catches for 150 yards in Jacksonville, so he could provide the VooDoo with an offensive boost to defeat Pittsburgh. Receivers Derek Lee and Donovan Morgan also have four scores and have played solidly in 2013. Pittsburgh only has three receivers with double digit catch totals led by Mike Washington who has 27 receptions for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, New Orleans should look to control the turnover battle. The VooDoo has forced four turnovers (3 INT, fumble recovery) while Pittsburgh has only forced one turnover (INT). Both teams have struggled offensively, so defense could be a factor in this game. VooDoo defensive back Demarcus Robinson is in the top ten league-wide with 20.5 tackles and can take advantage of a struggling Pittsburgh team. Pittsburgh's leading tackler, DB Sergio Gilliam, also has the team's lone interception (18 tackles) and could play a role in Friday's game.
What could help the VooDoo is having the home crowd on their side. New Orleans is 1-1 at home, but they have played much better in the Graveyard than on the road. They will be playing for a chance to get back to .500 in a competitive South Division. Pittsburgh, however, will be hungry to find their first win of the season and should not be overlooked. Another key to this matchup could be in the return game. VooDoo kick returner Brent Holmes is third in the league with 395 return yards. Holmes was brilliant last week with 10 returns for 205 yards.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. local time this Friday night.
About the New Orleans VooDoo
The New Orleans VooDoo will play in the New Orleans Arena, an SMG managed facility directly across the street from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as well as, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the last six home games. Single game tickets for VooDoo regular season home games are on sale now by calling 504-875-3900. For more information call (888) 277-5526 for Vice President and Director of Operations, Jason Coffel. To shop all things VooDoo, visit www.voodoostuff.com and get your gear today.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased their fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. CBS Sports Network will broadcast an AFL National Game of the Week on Saturday nights for the entire regular season and postseason through the semifinal round. The ArenaBowl XXVI Championship Game will air on the CBS Television Network on August 17, 2013.
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