Lions vs. Sharks Week 8 Preview: By the Numbers

by Alex Husting

When the Lions and Sharks squared off for the first time this season on June 19, the Sharks had only played one game up to that point and there was not much in terms of numbers and film to anticipate how the first meeting would go. Now, with the Sharks and Lions both playing five games, we will be taking a look at how the two rivals match up by the numbers heading into Saturday’s showdown.

Despite the difference in records, the Sharks at 2-3 and the Lions at 4-1, both teams are very similar on the offensive end. The Lions are second in the NAL in both yards per game (237.4) and points per game (55.0) and the Sharks are not far behind, averaging 45.4 points per game and 233.6 yards per game, both third in the NAL.

Both teams have been heavily reliant on their passing games with the Sharks averaging 236.4 passing yards per game and the Lions right on their heels with 234.0 passing yards per game, second and third in the NAL. The teams are tied with 185 total passing attempts, which is third in the NAL but the Sharks are fifth in the NAL in completions (111) and sixth in interceptions with 13. The Lions, however, are tied for first in completions (128) and are first outright in interceptions with only two on the season.

While both teams have found success with their passing attacks, they are the two worst rushing offenses in the NAL. The Columbus Lions are fifth in the NAL in every major rushing category, including touchdowns (4), yards per game (3.4) and yards per rush (0.4) The Sharks come in at sixth in all rushing categories, including -2.8 yards per game and -0.4 yards per attempt.

In the red zone the Sharks and Lions are nearly polar opposites. The Lions have been one of the best red zone teams in the league this year. They are second in red zone scores (37) and touchdowns (35) and first in red zone percentage (84%) and red zone touchdown percentage (80%). The Sharks have been unable to find the same success in the red zone; they are near the bottom of the league in all red zone categories, including sixth in touchdowns (19) and touchdown percentage (56%).

On the defensive side, the Lions have been the league’s most dominant unit while the Sharks are near the bottom of the NAL. The defense for Columbus ranks first in the NAL in sacks (11), points allowed per game (35.8), yards allowed per game (189.0) and tackles per game (34.2). They are also second in fumble recoveries with six and interceptions with eight. 

The Sharks defense has been gashed throughout the season and they are currently fifth in points allowed per game (53.6), yards allowed per game (272.6) and passing yards allowed per game (240.4). Their biggest problem is their rushing defense which is last in the NAL as the Sharks give up an average of 32.2 yards per game. This could be something the Lions look to take advantage of with Corey Crawford at fullback or when they motion Desmond Reece to a running back position.

The Sharks and Lions are pretty evenly matched on the offensive end and it appears that defense and red zone success will play a huge role in deciding Saturday’s game. This will be the biggest test for the Lions defense since the season opener against the Empire and Danny Southwick and the Sharks will need to find success in the red zone to keep pace with Mason Espinosa and the Lions. 

Kickoff in Jacksonville is set for 7 p.m. EST. The game can be watched live with CTV Beam, at or on the NAL’s official Youtube channel


The Columbus Lions are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2007, the Columbus Lions are starting their 15th season in 2021. The Lions are a 3x league champion and 13 playoff appearances in their rich history. The Lions play their home games at Hughston Field in the Columbus Civic Center. Lions Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (706) 322-3336 or visit Follow the Lions on Facebook at, twitter @columbuslions and


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