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Tampa Bay Bandits (4-4) vs. New Orleans Breakers (5-3) Week 9 Preview

The second edition of the Breaker Bay Brawl is a pivotal playoff deciding match up. One spot remains for either the Tampa Bay Bandits or New Orleans Breakers reach Canton, Ohio on June 25. 

Tampa Bay Bandits

The playoffs essentially start now for the Bandits. A win keeps them in the race and creates a path to Canton. A loss ends all postseason hopes.

The offense is coming off a sluggish performance in week 8 against the Houston Gamblers. A unit riddled with inconsistency all Spring has yet to see back-to-back stellar performances from their lead play caller Jordan Ta’amu. Ta’amu put up a measly 98 yards through the air to go with a touchdown and an interception.

A league worst turnover margin has stifled any momentum for a squad that alternates wins and losses. Two more giveaways in the second half could have handed momentum to the Gamblers, but a fantastic day from the defense shut the door on any potential comeback. Outstanding days from Antonio Reed, Anthony Butler and Michael Scott fueled a win that crept the Bandits closer to a showdown with the Breakers.

A record of 4-4 accurately depicts their on field output, but a win over the Breakers can wash away those middling results. 

New Orleans Breakers

Much like the Bandits, the Breakers had to reflect on a flat offensive effort in week 8. A prime opportunity to ruin the Birmingham Stallion’s perfect season was foiled by costly turnovers and a miserable day for place kicker Taylor Bertolet going 1-for-3  on field goals and missing his only extra point. A 10-9 loss was a ugly as the score indicated. 

Quarterback Kyle Sloter once again struggled with turnovers tossing three interceptions and was hassled by Birmingham’s defensive front. Yards did not equate to points as the offense stalled multiple times in Birmingham territory. With a revamped Bandits defense in view it is imperative for New Orleans to limit giveaways.

The Breakers received reinforcements on their own defense with defensive end Shariff Miller coming off the inactive list. They also will see an opponent switch jerseys with linebacker Christian Sam being picked up off waivers and was previously with the Bandits. This paired with the Breakers holding the Stallions to 10 points bodes well for a unit giving up the least amount of passing  yards per game in the league (161.1).

Prediction

Expect a defensive battle featuring takeaways and stagnant offense. The Bandits have more film to dissect this time around in identifying the Breakers’ offensive tendencies and will look to avoid losing jump ball situations on defense like they did in week 2.

The Breakers will inevitably rely on the run game to carry them in the second half. While Sloter leads the league in passing, at times that production does not materialize and thus will cause head coach Larry Fedora to lean on backs Jordan Ellis and Anthony Jones. Conversely, the Bandits may not have the ability to match the Breakers; run game production and may ask Ta’amu to play hero ball, a method that has produced mixed results.

Ultimately, the Breakers will emerge from this slog with a ticket punched to Tom Benson Stadium.

Breakers 16 Bandits 13

Breakers-Bandits will air at 4:00 ET on the FOX network.

Stay with USFL News Hub to the road to the playoffs.

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