One week after clinching their second consecutive AFL postseason berth, the San Jose SaberCats (11-4) travel to the Steel City for a matchup with the Pittsburgh Power (3-12) on CBS Sports Network. “NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday” action is set to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET from CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

The SaberCats locked down a spot in the National Conference playoffs last week following a 62-35 victory at home over the San Antonio Talons (8-7). San Jose’s veteran southpaw quarterback, Russ Michna, passed for five touchdowns in the win. Since joining the team in mid-April, Michna has completed more than 64 percent of his passes for 2,497 yards and 53 touchdowns. He was out with an injury when the SaberCats defeated the Power, 68-54, in Week 12. His top target has been former Pittsburgh receiver Jason Willis, who has tallied 103 receptions for 1,292 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. Willis was a member of the inaugural Power team in 2011. Michna has also developed a rapport with Fred Williams and Huey Whittaker, who combined for five receiving touchdowns in last week’s contest.

The Power, who are coming off a 58-71 loss to the East Division-rival Cleveland Gladiators last week, are led by quarterback Steven Sheffield, who has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,878 yards and 38 touchdowns since taking over as the starter midway through the season. Mike “The Joystick” Washington has proven once again to be Pittsburgh’s top offensive weapon, recording a franchise record 116 receptions this season, resulting in 1,343 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns. Rookie receiver Julian Talley has also shown flashes of brilliance as of late, tying a single-game franchise record with five touchdown receptions against Cleveland last week.

On the defensive side of the ball, the strength of both teams lies in the secondary. San Jose boasts one of the all-time greats in defensive back Clevan Thomas, who is tied for the League lead with 11 interceptions on the season. Thomas earned Riddell Defensive Player of the Week and Cutters Catch of the Week honors in Week 16 after snagging two interceptions, returning both for scores. His SaberCat comrade, Ken Fontenette, leads the team with 84 tackles. Conversely, defensive back Sergio Gilliam leads the Power with a single-season franchise record 80.5 tackles and came away with what looked to be a game-winning interception in the final minute of the last matchup between these two squads.

Both teams’ kick return specialists have displayed game-breaking ability as well. Chris LeFlore leads the Power with 56 returns for 974 yards and a pair of scores, while Williams has handled return duties for San Jose admirably, totaling 884 yards and two touchdowns on 44 returns this season. A loss by the Power would officially eliminate Pittsburgh from playoff contention, while a San Jose win would maintain their position as the No. 4 seed in the National Conference playoff picture, with the potential to move up to No. 3 in the event of a loss by the Spokane Shock (11-4) in Week 17.

About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. CBS Sports Network will broadcast an AFL National Game of the Week on Saturday nights for the entire regular season and postseason through the semifinal round. The ArenaBowl XXVI Championship Game will air on the CBS Television Network on August 17, 2013.

Posted in Sports Talk Radio