Philadelphia Masterminds vs New York Knights
Unfortunately for this hot playoff race in the east Jan Ehlvest is unavailable it seems for Philly this week so it looks like they'll be in a tough position trying to get that final playoff spot with their late season rally. I definitely would rule them out just because of their rating trouble, they have dangerous players on their bottom 2 boards and a very solid player on board 2. Still I think New York has a solid edge on boards 1 and 2 and probably board 3 is a close one. My prediction gives New York the edge.
New York over Philadelphia 2.5-1.5
Baltimore Kingfishers vs Boston Blitz
This is an interesting situation, Baltimore still needs to defend their season to make the playoffs in their own control whereas Boston is sending out a lineup without a GM for the first time I can remember this season. On board 1 Baltimore should have a slight edge, but i wouldn't oversell the title. On board 2 it should be a fairly close game, Kelleher looked strong last week, but Enkhbat would be in MVP contention had he actually been playing this season. On board 3 Kaufman should have a pretty good edge over Riordan, but on board 4 I think I would pick Martirosov over the struggling Rohonyan.
Baltimore over Boston 2.5-1.5
Carolina Cobras vs Tennessee Tempo
Likely Carolina's playoff destiny will not be in their own hands, but if they want to give themselves real chances they have to win this one big and as they've been struggling all season I'm sure they're looking to give themselves every chance to make it. The lineup Carolina is bringing out tihs week looks like it should give them a chance to win on all 4 boards, but don't expect Tennessee to lay down after being excited after their first ever USCL victory. Still, I expect Carolina to take this match by a solid margin.
Carolina over Tennessee 3.5-0.5
San Francisco Mechanics vs Miami Sharks
San Francisco pulled a huge win last week to clinch the division over the division-rival sluggers and this week they're giving a few of their regular guns a rest (they'll also have week 1 in the playoffs off). For Miami however they can't hold back anything in this match. Dallas has a tough match against Seattle, but due to tie-break issues Miami MUST WIN this match in order to advance to the playoffs and they need Dallas to lose to Seattle. I expect Becerra to come out firing with black, but McCambridge has been really tough to beat in the USCL, especially this season. I think Becerra has the edge, but I wouldn't be surprised to see McCambridge put him away in the clean style we've seen from him earlier this season. On board 2 Zilberstein is seeing some time higher in the lineup than he's used to and he's looking at some tough competition so I'll have to give Lugo a slight edge with the white pieces. On board three Mark Pinto, another "Trusty Trustee" as Donaldson put it, is playign against NM Espino, but mark has the white pieces and has been deadly even in his 2 games as black this year, I expect Pinto to show up ready to do some damage, I'd give him the slight edge. On board 4 Sam Shankland faces off against Luis Barredo, on paper he's the lower-rated player, but only due to some old supplements used for the US Chess League to help teams set lineups, I expect Sam will be eager to show his form and I give him the edge here even with the black pieces. Overall I think it will be a close match that could easily go all 3 ways, but I think there's a lot more danger on the Mechanics side as Miami has a lot more to fear in this match. I'd say all 3 results are about equal so I'll be nice to the official USCL prognosticators and pick the relatively dangerous draw. (I can predict Mechanics to not win when all they have to protect right now is an undefeated season)
Mechanics tie Sharks 2-2
Dallas Destiny vs Seattle Sluggers
Seattle doesn't have too much they can gain from this match other than getting to pick their colors in the finals under some rare scenarios, but they're still bringing out one of their tougher lineups for the final week proving they really are playing to win every week. Also I doubt they want to go into the playoffs with consecutive losses. Still it might not be unreasonable not to give away too much against Dallas, if Seattle loses this week they'll likely see the same lineup in week 1 of the playoffs. On board one Stopa faces off against Serper, I think Serper should have an edge even with black, but definitely wouldn't rule Stopa out, he's been solid for Dallas all season. On board 2 Vavrak, who according the USCL page, is undefeated in 2 seasons of play and holds a perfect record this season faces off against Mikhailuk. Vavrak has black, but has been incredibly dangerous so far in the USCL so I have to give him the edge on board 2. On board 3 Zaremba faces Milat, it's a pretty close pairing, but I think Zaremba should have a slight edge as white. On board 4 Kiewra faces Koons in a battle of relatively young masters. This match has huge playoff implications in some sense for both teams, Seattle looking not to give up any psychological edge and Dallas wanting to score to make the playoffs. A draw would suit both teams quite nicely, clinching a playoff spot for Dallas and proving Seattle can do what it takes to move onto the Division Championship next week. I expect no love lost in the match.
Dallas ties Seattle 2-2
NY over Phi 2.5-1.5
Bal over Bos 2.5-1.5
Car over Ten 3.5-0.5
SF tie Mia 2-2
Dal tie Sea 2-2