Preview: Week 11 Big Matchups

July 4, 2024
By Sam Weiger

Indianapolis AlleyCats at Colorado Summit | Super Series
Saturday, July 6 - 9:00 PM/ET - Watch link

The Central Division remains a free-for-all, so this first-ever clash with Colorado is absolutely crucial for the Indianapolis AlleyCats. 

With three weeks to go, every team in the Central Division, except for Detroit, remains in the playoff picture.

Minnesota's victory last weekend cemented their playoff spot, leaving the Central Division with a thrilling four-team battle for the final two berths. The AlleyCats hold their playoff fate in their hands. A three-game winning streak would put them in an excellent position. Conversely, any losses could make their final game a nail-biting win-or-go-home battle.

The pressure is on for the AlleyCats, who find themselves in a familiar position – the playoff bubble. In 2022, it was the leadership of Cameron Brock, Levi Jacobs, and Xavier Payne that made the difference. Two years later, all eyes are again on these three veterans as Indy strives for another playoff appearance.

But against a tricky Colorado team, Indy might need a well-rounded effort that features strong performances from other contributors. Lucas Coniaris, who has been sharing the QB1 role with Travis Carpenter, has had a season of highs and lows. Coniaris struggled against tougher competition until last week's Madison game, where he racked up nearly 700 yards and seven total scores. He’ll be someone to watch this weekend.

We’ll also be keeping an eye on AlleyCats defensive standouts Ben Close and William Wettengel. They had a strong outing with three blocks each against Madison last weekend. Wettengel is a proven playmaker – he dominated last year with 20 blocks. The ‘Cats defense needs to tighten up, so watch how they handle Colorado. The Summit are very capable of lighting up the scoreboard.

The good news for Indy is that Colorado's O-line looked uninspiring in their big game against Seattle last week. Plus, the Summit don't have much at stake. While a playoff berth remains mathematically possible for the Summit, it hinges on them winning every remaining game and Oakland losing all of theirs, which is very unlikely. The Spiders are expected to capitalize on a matchup against the weak Portland Nitro (1-6 record).

Despite their slim playoff chances, the frustrated Summit will be hungry to spoil Indy's postseason aspirations. Expect Quinn Finer to make his presence known. After missing the first seven games, Finer will be looking to make the most of his likely final two appearances this season. 

Finer’s significant absence this season, along with several other key players from Colorado, has been a factor in the team's struggles. Jonathan Nethercutt, Felix Pronove, Conor Tabor, and Tyler Nguyen, along with many other Summit players, haven't even played half the season. Will they see the field this weekend against the AlleyCats? Their presence could drastically alter the outcome.

Kai Marshall and Mathieu Agee, who have played most games this season, have been putting in the work. Marshall led the Summit with five blocks last weekend. Agee has maintained a streak of at least one block per game for the past four weeks.

But the Summit haven't fared well against the Central Division this season, falling to both Madison and Minnesota. They'll get a shot at redemption this Saturday with their first home game against a Central Division foe. 

The AlleyCats are 0-2 on the road and have been thoroughly outmatched. They were outscored by a combined 13 goals in Pittsburgh and Chicago, and their offense has yet to find its stride, averaging only 16 goals per game. To make matters worse, their break percentage was a meager 12 percent in those two games.

They will play their remaining four games on the road.

One Big Number:
- The AlleyCats are allowing an average of 21.5 goals per game, fifth most in the league.
38 - Colorado's offensive line converted a season-low 38 percent of their possessions against Seattle last week.

Chicago Union at Minnesota Wind Chill | Game of the Week
Saturday, July 6 - 7:00 PM/ET - Watch link

Can the streaking Wind Chill earn a season sweep of their bitter rivals for the first time in six years?

Despite leading the season series 2-0, Minnesota hasn't had it easy against Chicago. They secured narrow wins by two goals in Week 3 and one goal last week.

Minnesota’s approach to this game is crucial. While they've secured the Central Division title for two years running, Championship Weekend seeding is still on the line. As the league's top dog right now, Minnesota can clinch the top seed by winning out.

Since William Brandt made his season debut in Week 7, the Wind Chill have been unstoppable. He's become the offensive engine, leading in scoring, assists, completions, and offensive points played. Their red zone conversion rate has skyrocketed since his arrival.

Adding to their red zone prowess, the Wind Chill welcome back Matthew Rehder for the first time since Week 8. However, Chicago gets a lucky break as two other impactful Wind Chill players (Dylan DeClerck and Quinn Snider) will be unavailable on Saturday.

Chicago has a lot riding on Saturday's game – they’re stuck in the thick of the Central Division race. Important wins against Indy and Madison have them in a good spot, but the playoffs aren't a certainty. A victory this weekend against Minnesota practically secures their spot, considering their season finale is against the 1-8 Mechanix.

If Minnesota brings their A-game this weekend, Chicago might be in for another tight battle. To avoid another loss, Chicago needs to reduce turnovers, especially down the stretch. Two turns by Jack Shanahan in the final minutes of last week’s game against Minnesota proved costly.

While Shanahan's completion percentage hasn't been stellar throughout his career, he's excelled as a receiver and goal scorer the past two seasons. This year, however, his receiving yards and goals have dipped. In this critical game, all eyes will be on Shanahan to see if he can recapture his past offensive form.

Scoring remains a persistent problem for the Union. Their highly anticipated offseason additions haven't delivered. Their biggest signing, John Lithio, hasn't replicated his past success. His goal production has dipped compared to the previous three seasons. Similarly, Jeff Weis, who averaged a stellar 3.3 goals per game in his most recent season (2022), is currently averaging just 1.28 per game.

Another of Chicago’s major offseason additions, Joe White, has yet to take the field this year. White was ranked the league's fourth-best player in the preseason, and with just three games left before a potential playoff run, Chicago could desperately use his talent on the field. 

This is Chicago’s first trip of the season to Sea Foam Stadium, where the Wind Chill secured their two most impressive wins of the season. 

They got a comfortable revenge win over Colorado and a crushing five-goal victory against a 5-2 Radicals team. It will be a treat to see the Wind Chill, in front of their home crowd, face a Chicago team fighting for a playoff spot. 

One Big Number:
- This season, the Wind Chill have converted 86.4 percent of their red zone chances with Brandt in the lineup, but just 76.75 percent without him. 
- The Union have averaged a paltry 15 goals per game in their two defeats to Minnesota this season.