Premier Lacrosse League Week 2 expert picks and best bets: Don't sleep on the Chrome

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Charlie White

Lacrosse · 2 weeks ago

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Lacrosse handicapper for Pickswise.

The one word I would use to describe Week 1 of the PLL season is a perfect microcosm of the league as a whole: “unpredictable.” Between the new-look Chrome beating a very talented Archers squad, the Atlas blowing the doors off of the Redwoods and the depleted Chaos going blow-for-blow with the Whipsnakes, the parity of the league showed itself throughout the opening weekend of game action. The erratic nature of the league is what makes it so fun to bet on.

With that being said, here are the picks our experts believe are the best ones to take in Week 2.

Atlas vs Cannons Over 24.5 (-130)

The two highest-scoring teams from Week 1 totaled 17 and 16 goals in their respective blowouts. It would be simple to put those two numbers together and assume they are going to combine for 50 goals on Saturday, but betting is never quite that easy. 

Both the Cannons and the Atlas played at extremely fast paces in their openers, pushing from defense to offense seamlessly attempting to expose defenses in transition. That allowed both teams to propel themselves to early leads, which forced opposing defenses to play more aggressive — leaving themselves exposed in settled situations. That only led to more goals being scored. 

The Cannons were able to jump out to an early lead thanks in part to newly acquired faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly dominating possession at the stripe in the first half. That was a welcomed sight for a Cannons squad that finished last in the PLL at 38% in the faceoff category last season. While Jake Withers of the Waterdogs was a worthy opponent, Kelly has an entirely new beast to prepare for this week in Trevor Baptiste. The faceoff battle likely favors the Atlas in this position, which bodes well for the over. 

The Cannons’ defense played fine against the Waterdogs, but without an other-worldly effort from Nick Marrocco in goal the final score may have been much closer than it was. He led the league in Week 1 with 19 saves and a 66% save percentage. The Waterdogs still managed to score double-digit goals. Unless you are expecting another performance of that magnitude in the cage against an even more lethal Atlas offense, you would be naive to think the Atlas aren’t going to flirt with 13-15 goals by themselves. 

If the Cannons’ offense can climb into double-digits themselves, I have a tough time seeing this over not hitting. With Lyle Thompson leading the charge on offense and complimentary pieces like Ryan Drenner, Stephen Rehfuss and Jake Froccaro pitching in, eclipsing that double-digit goal threshold should be relatively attainable. 

When these two teams met in the regular season last year, both of their games went over this total; the Atlas won 18-17 in Week 3 and 13-12 in Week 7. You know you’re in for fireworks when the Atlas and Cannons face off, and this week should be no different. 

Check out the full analysis for this game here!

Chaos +1.5 (+100) over Archers

There’s no such thing as a good loss, but the Chaos losing to the Whipsnakes 9-8 in week one is about as close as you can come to it. With the Chaos missing the majority of their starters on offense, they were able to battle hard against a Whipsnakes squad that has been to the championship game in each of the last three seasons. On the other hand, the Archers suffered what most would describe as a bad loss, 11-10, against a Chrome squad that finished 2021 in last place. Most would pin this as a bounce-back spot for a very talented Archers team, but it may not be that simple.

The Chaos have been a thorn in the Archers’ side over the last two years. Of their last five meetings the Chaos have won four straight up. Chaos head coach Andy Towers is one of the few in the league that has the answers in slowing down this high-powered Archer offense. 

How do they do it? Well, the Archers finished 2021 second in the league in assisted goal rate (50.6%) — meaning they rely heavily on drawing slides to get them good looks on offense. The Chaos’ defense relies on their big three poles of Jack Rowlett, Jarrod Neumann and now Brett Kennedy to win their one-on-one matchups; they rarely slide to those guys. Without slides, offenses have to become one-dimensional — living and dying with isolation dodges. With the best goalie in the league (Blaze Riorden) in net, you are basically signing your own death sentence by shooting off isolations. Riorden is able to track the ball the entire time and can get a better read on it when he isn’t moved off his spot. That strategy worked beautifully against the Whipsnakes in Week 1, when Riorden finished with 13 saves and the Chaos only allowed one assisted goal. With the Archers still missing Grant Ament, they will have a tough time winning isolation battles against the Chaos. 

The Chaos’ offense is returning Wes Berg from his NLL commitments and he is one of the best off-ball attack-men in the league. While he isn’t the entire puzzle, he is certainly a rather large piece in putting together that offense. They will still be without Josh Byrne, Dhane Smith, Tehoka Nanticoke, Chris Cloutier and more this week, but I believe their offense will still be good enough to keep this game within one at the very least. 

Check out the full analysis for this game here!

Chrome +1.5 (-110) over Redwoods

The Chrome came out in Week 1 surprising the world and beating the Archers outright after being +2.5 underdogs. Following an offseason where they lost four of their best players to retirement, many thought there would be a rather long adjustment period before they reached their true potential. While I still think there is a long way to go before that happens, Week 1 showed that they are well ahead of schedule. On the flip side, this veteran Redwoods squad looked more like the team that had a lot of adjusting to do — falling to the Atlas 17-11 in a game that was over minutes into the third quarter. Despite their respective results, the Chrome are actually underdogs in this contest. But they shouldn’t be.

The matchup advantage on the field favors Chrome in every category besides maybe faceoffs. The Redwoods’ defense finished the 2021 season last in the league in assisted goal rate allowed (55.6%). Their defensive philosophy of sliding and switching everything put them in compromising positions time and time again against an Atlas team that is deadly from everywhere on offense. They allowed 11 assists on 16 goals (66.8%) to the Atlas in the season opener. The Chrome were able to amass seven assists on 10 goals (70%) in their victory, a strategy that will likely carry over into their Week 2 game-plan.

Additionally, the Chrome were pushing from defense to offense with ease in Week 1, something that got the Redwoods’ defense in trouble in their game. The Redwoods’ defense struggled in transition all of last season, allowing teams to convert fast breaks into goals 33.8% of the time — second-to-last in the league. The Chrome are one of the few teams that can keep their defensive midfielders on the field for the first 20 seconds of the shot clock to be a part of their offense and trap opposing teams offensive midfielders on defense. This is a recurring issue for the Redwoods (as we saw in Week 1) and will likely be exposed by Chrome all game long. 

On the other side of the ball, the Chrome defense is a matchup nightmare for midfielders. Their short-stick defensive unit of Ryan Terefenko, Will Haus and Mike Messenger is incredible at not getting beat one-on-one from up top, which is exactly how the Redwoods like to initiate their offense. The Redwoods scored 56.1% of their goals last season off of isolation dodges — something that likely won’t be attainable against a stout Chrome defense. 

The Redwoods were 2-4 ATS as a 1.5 goal favorite in 2021. Even if they win the game, I expect it to be close. I really like the matchups at all levels of the field for the Chrome and getting 1.5 goals at almost even money is very good value. 

Check out the full analysis for this game here!

Pickswise is the home of PLL Predictions. Check out all of our PLL Picks throughout the Premier Lacrosse League season.

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