Week 18 preview: Storm at Sharks

Jul 26, 2016 Tampa Bay Storm

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm (2-13, 0-7) heads to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks (6-9, 4-3) this Saturday, July 30 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Storm will look for its third win of the season and momentum as it heads into the postseason. Fans will be able to catch all of the action as Darek Sharp and Ian Beckles make the call for 1250 AM WHNZ. The game can also be streamed on the Lightning Power Play through the iHeartRadio app and ESPN3. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.

This will be the 17th meeting between Tampa Bay and Jacksonville and eighth in Jacksonville. The Sharks hold an overall series lead of 12-4.  The Storm has found little success when on the road, going 0-7 since the beginning of this instate rivalry. In addition, Jacksonville has outscored Tampa Bay by a margin of 128 points over the course of the 16 game series.

The Storm enters the game coming off of a hard fought victory over the Portland Steel.  With 3.9 seconds left in regulation, and up by one point, Storm defensive lineman James McClinton blocked a potential game-winning field goal. It was a tremendous victory and showed the Storm can overcome adversity to preserve a win. The victory was significant because it showed the Storm playing through the entire game and not taking plays off, something that has plagued them several times this season.

The main thing to focus on this game will be the offensive distribution to the Storm receivers.  This past week all four receivers were involved in the passing game, including offensive lineman Anthony Parker.  It will be imperative for the Storm quarterbacks to get each receiver involved early in order jump out on the Sharks early. This will be easier said than done with a Sharks defensive line that is tied for third with 15 sacks. Luckily, the Storm has allowed just 16 sacks all season, good for a top-five ranking. Through 15 games last season, the Storm allowed 27 totals sacks, so the offensive line has seen significant improvement.

On the other side of the ball, Jacksonville enters the game with one of the top rated offenses in the League.  The team is ranked fourth in the League, averaging 52.1 points per game.  Much of the points scored can be attributed to Sharks receiver Joe Hills, who averages 21.6 points per game.  His 21.6 points per game accounts for 42.2% of the Sharks total points scored.  The Storm defense will need to keep Hills in check if wants to limit the Sharks scoring output.  The team will also have to contend with Tiger Jones, another dynamic receiver that has reeled in 1,034 receptions over the course of his career

Look for the Storm to come out and ride the momentum that it has been building over the past few weeks. The team is playing together as a unit and could be peaking at the right time. A win for the Storm will go a long way in providing confidence heading into the postseason.