SUPER 16 – The second ever league championship rematch in Super 16 history is set to take place as Super Bowl 6 kicks off this week featuring the Arizona Firebirds (10-3-0) and the Birds of Prey (10-3-0) who also faced each other in 2013’s Super Bowl II. In that first Super Bowl meeting, Coach Roger Tripp’s Birds of Prey were the defending league champions and they defeated Arizona 169-108 to capture their second League Championship. They’ve returned to the big game twice since then (including 2014’s 4-way championship fiasco), winning a third championship along the way, while Coach Crash’s Firebirds are making their first return trip, having fallen just 10 points short of an appearance in 2015.
Each team won their respective divisions in 2017 and entered the playoffs as the number 1 and 2 seeds, enjoying a first round bye. In round 2 they each took on two of the hottest teams of the later portion of the season, defeating the high scoring Who Dat Saints and Steel Curtain. Though they did not meet in the 2017 Regular Season,
Super Bowl VI will be the fifth time these two charter franchises have faced off, and the Firebirds have just one win in that series. Both teams are Association Gold Star Teams – each having recorded over 50 career wins – Birds of Prey accomplishing it in 72 games, while Arizona took 83 to do it, and both of them are 2017-18 Pro Bowl Nominated Teams. The numbers all add up to making it a very evenly matched game on paper, and the Birds of Prey enjoy a 2 field goal advantage in the latest odds coming out of Vegas.
Birds of Prey don’t seem to have any roster issues for the big game, but the Firebirds’ defensive captain, inside linebacker Zach Brown has not practiced this week and is projected to miss. He’s averaging 19 points per game and could be hard to replace, but Arizona has just signed Saint linebacker Manti Te’o, who’s set to start in SimulPlay action against the Falcons. If he starts, Te’o will join Marshon Lattimore on the field against Birds of Prey’s parent Falcons, and the two of them combined for 35 points against Atlanta just 2 weeks ago. Birds of Prey meanwhile, has signed the Cardinal defense out of free agency this week and will be using them against Arizona, and whether that’s because of the juicy match-up, or just to get inside the Firebirds’ heads isn’t clear, but either way, both the Firebirds’ Saints and the Birds of Prey’s Cardinals will be storylines to watch for on Gameday.
Through the Regular Season, the two of them were the #1 and #3 ranked teams in the league in total scoring, with Arizona averaging 199 points per game, while Birds of Prey scored at a clip of 192 per game, with the Firebird’s scoring more often offensively generated, while the Falcon franchise had a more defensively situated roster, although both teams are capable of putting up points on either side of the ball, and both have showed outstanding special teams play all season. Including the post season, Arizona has scored over 200 points in 8 of 14 games this season, with their highest score of the year coming just last week when they put up 234 points on the Who Dats, while Birds of Prey have topped 200 in 7 of 14 matches, and both teams have gone over 200 points in 3 of their last 4 games, making a shootout likely, as the Super 16’s 2017 season careen’s toward it’s climactic finish.