The brief history runs deep but the stakes have never been higher in the rivalry showdown between the Spokane Shock and Arizona Rattlers as they will be this weekend in the National Conference Championship.
The Arena Football League's two best teams – statistically speaking – square off at 6:30 p.m. PT Saturday from the US Airways Center in Phoenix with a trip to Arena Bowl XXVI on the line.
The Shock (15-4) enter the game looking for its second Arena Bowl appearance since joining the AFL in 2010. Spokane won its only other Arena Bowl appearance in the team's inaugural season, downing Tampa Bay 69-57 in Spokane.
Arizona (16-3) is aiming for its eighth Arena Bowl appearance – and third in a row – after knocking off San Jose 59-49 in the first round of the playoffs. The defending champion Rattlers are 3-4 all-time in the Arena Bowl dating back to their inception in 1992.
Both teams know each other well; since Spokane joined the AFL in 2010, the Rattlers and Shock have matched up 10 times in regular season play (5-5) and twice (1-1) in postseason play, including splitting the regular season series this year. Additionally, Arizona quarterback Nick Davila spent two seasons with Spokane (2008-2009) when the Shock played in the af2. Davila helped lead the team to a 38-3 overall record, two ArenaCup appearances and a championship in 2009. In that championship season, Davila completed 349 passes for 3,863 yards and 86 touchdowns on the way to being named first-team All-af2.
The National Conference Championship boasts the League's first and second ranked teams in several statistical categories, including points per game, touchdowns, and red zone conversion rate. Arizona has a slight edge in a couple key defensive categories: turnover margin (+33 to +32) and interceptions (41-31).
The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.