SALT LAKE CITY -- Atop the AFL's West Division, the Utah Blaze are faced with yet another tough challenge.
Utah (5-2) is set to take on the division-rival Spokane Shock (3-3) tonight at EnergySolutions Arena.
The matchup should have strong playoff implications, as both teams look to gain ground in the West.
"We are excited about challenging ourselves early in the season with another top-flight divisional opponent," coach Ron James.
Utah is riding a three-game winning streak and remains in a tie atop the division following a 61-58 victory over the Milwaukee Mustangs in Week 8.
Spokane sits at the bottom of the division, but has won its last two contests, including a 56-48 win over Jacksonville this past Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
After struggling to find consistency during the first few weeks of the season, the Blaze offense has undoubtedly hit its stride. Led by QB Tommy Grady, the unit has produced 309.7 aerial yards per contest, ranking first in the AFL.
Grady has been on a tear, throwing for 36 touchdowns in his last three games. He's currently the league leader in total offensive yards (2,253), total offensive touchdowns (51), passing yards (2,198) and passing touchdowns (51).
Utah's offense will have a strong opportunity to continue its rapid pace against a Spokane defense that ranks at the bottom of the league in total defense (327.0 ypg) and 16th in passing defense (304.5 ypg). However, the Shock has been stingy in the red zone, allowing scores on just 76.7 percent of opponent's opportunities to place fifth in the AFL.
On offense, Spokane has given up 14 sacks on the season, tying for 13th in the AFL. That bodes well for a Blaze defensive line that ranks second in the league with 21.0 sacks.
Utah has been susceptible to the opponent's aerial attack in the past, but the Shock has averaged 252.7 passing yards per game.