SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Blaze take on division rival Spokane tonight as the Arena Football League enters the final third of its season.
Game time is 8 p.m. at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Blaze (8-5) are coming off their most dominant performance of the season after handing the Chicago Rush 68-28 and grabbing sole possession of the fourth and final National Conference playoff spot.
Meanwhile, Spokane (7-5) earned a strong victory of its own last weekend after overcoming the Kansas City Command, 70-46.
Utah'secondary unit is playing with a new sense of confidence and has allowed an average of just 212.5 aerial yards per game over its last two contests. At the same time, Utah's defensive line appears revitalized, often collapsing the pocket while causing errant throws by opposing quarterbacks.
"It is a good sign for any team to be playing better defense as the season winds down," said coach Ron James. "A continued level of confidence on the defensive side of the ball is vital when you are making the final push towards the playoffs."
Utah's defense will need another strong performance as they take on the AFL's fifth-ranked scoring offense (60.2 ppg). Shock QB Kyle Rowley has thrown 22 touchdowns over the past three games while Spokane has averaged 66.7 points per contest.
When the Blaze offense takes the field, it will be a matchup of the AFL's top-ranked passing attack against its worst-ranked passing defense. Spokane has allowed an average of 318.5 aerial yards per contest.
Spokane's greatest strength lies in its special teams.
"Special teams are the 'X' factor in any AFL game," James said. "Spokane is one of the elite teams in every special teams category. We will need to excel in the kicking game this week to bring home a win."