In just under two days the game we have been waiting for all year will take place. The 2018 League Championship pits the top two seeds from each conference against each other in an epic rematch of the 2017 game.
Coming off two consecutive league titles, the South Central Louisiana State Mud Dogs are looking to extend their streak of perfect (extremely perfect, 19-0 perfect) seasons to three. Blowouts in the division and conference rounds of the playoffs have the Mud Dogs four quarters away from another ring.
On the other half of the field, Houston has lived up to its reputation as a perennial challenger to the Mud Dogs by breezing through the playoffs and landing in the championship once again. Houstonâ€™s record has improved in each year, starting with 9-7 and increasing to 15-1 in 2018.
Both teams have a decorated history; the Mud Dogs have finished as the division champion once and league champions twice, while Houston has two division titles and a conference title.
In 2017, the Mud Dogs defeated Houston by a score of 29-12. The Mud Dogs pulled away after three hotly contested quarters, scoring two unanswered touchdowns, one off a fumble that was recovered in the end zone. Houston enters this game seeking revenge for last yearâ€™s defeat.When the Mud Dogs have the ball
The Mud Dogs donâ€™t have many weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball. They have the leagueâ€™s most prolific offense, scoring a total of 751 points over the course of the year. Analysts expect the Mud Dogs to continue to feed running backs Kevin Souza and Raymond Webb, who combined for 3806 rushing yards and 37 rushing touchdowns in the regular season. With them, the Mud Dogs can dominate time of possession and keep Houstonâ€™s aggressive aerial attack off the field. While it may seem the Mud Dogs rely heavily on the run game â€“ they lead the league in rushes per game, rush yards per game, yards per carry, and rushing touchdowns per game â€“ they also possess a steady passing game (7th in completion percentage and yards per attempt, 3rd in touchdowns) led by veteran quarterback Matt Petrosky. The many potent weapons in the Mud Dogsâ€™ offense are precisely what makes them so hard to stop.
On the defensive side of things, Houston will have to pick its own poison. No other team seems as prepared to do so, for Houston has both a strong defensive line and solid secondary, allowing only 181 points all season (tied for lowest in the leagueâ€¦ with the Mud Dogs). Houstonâ€™s best bet for victory is to eliminate the Mud Dogsâ€™ run game and make Petrosky beat them through the air. Allowing just 55.81 yards per game and 2.49 yards per carry, Houstonâ€™s defensive line is about to show the world what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. If Houston can limit the Mud Dogsâ€™ gains on the ground, they can then rely on their second-ranked secondary to lock down Petroskyâ€™s receivers and allow defensive ends Dennis Shea and Philip Fuhrman to get to the quarterback. Then again, this strategy didnâ€™t work last year, as the Mud Dogs still got the victory despite taking 4 sacks and only accumulating 274 total yards.When Houston has the ball
Disappointed by Donald Ariasâ€™ lackluster performance in the 2017 League Championship (15-32 passing, 229 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 57.94 rating), Houston GM Chipped began the offseason by trading for Phoenixâ€™s quarterback James Mitchell. Chippedâ€™s investment seemed to pay off, as Mitchell achieved a 111.66 rating in the regular season and the Offensive Player of the Year Award, far eclipsing any of Ariasâ€™ seasons with Houston. Houstonâ€™s passing offense reached new heights in 2018, scoring the most passing touchdowns per game as star wide receivers Gerald Minor and Curtis Connor combined for 30 receiving touchdowns to lead Houstonâ€™s offense to 556 total points (2nd in the league to the Mud Dogs, but by a wide margin). While Houston also boasts a decent run game led by stalwart Noe Helms and speed back Scott Robinson, look for Houston to rely on Mitchell to keep up with the Mud Dogsâ€™ offense.
Itâ€™s no question that Houstonâ€™s offense has the capability to generate fireworks, but can they even get off the ground? The Mud Dogs allow the least yards per attempt (5.86) and hold opposing quarterbacks to a 53.65% completion percentage. With five cornerbacks that can be considered elite, the Mud Dogs have the capability to shut down any wide receiver group. Look for the Mud Dogs to dial up many blitzes to make Mitchell uncomfortable and prevent him from getting the ball to his playmakers. The Houston offensive line is good but not unbreakable, and the Mud Dogs have the players â€“ especially the linebackers â€“ to execute a variety of blitz and cover schemes to throw Houstonâ€™s offense off track. If the Mud Dogs neutralize Houstonâ€™s passing game, can Noe Helms and Scott Robinson then carry Houston to victory? The Mud Dogsâ€™ defensive line, allowing just 3.34 yards per carry, dares Houstonâ€™s running backs to try. Prediction
The League Championship truly features the leagueâ€™s best teams going head to head; however, the Mud Dogs will once again prove to be the crown jewel of the league. With both teams possessing lockdown defenses, the Mud Dogsâ€™ offensive strength and talent will prove to be the deciding factor in the biggest game of the year.Mud Dogs 30