SAN JOSE -- An Arena Football League record win streak is on the line when the San Jose SaberCats host the archrival Arizona Rattlers on Friday.
The Rattlers (14-0) bring the AFL record for most consecutive wins to start a season into the game. The 2002 SaberCats held the previous mark at 12-0.
No AFL team has finished the regular season undefeated. The SaberCats have played the Rattlers close in both meetings this season, losing 57-51 on April 12 and 52-41 on May 31.
"Besides being undefeated, they've beat us the past two games," SaberCats receiver Dominique Curry said. "This is something personal. They are a team we want to beat for ourselves. We can compete with them. We just haven't taken it to the next level."
The Rattlers have beaten San Jose (9-4) the past three times they've met and five of the past six.
Arizona has eliminated the SaberCats from the playoffs in each of the past two years en route to winning the Arena Bowl championship.
"We have to make the plays we missed before," Curry said. "They have a fast defense that creates turnovers and a high potency offense that can score at will. We've got to get stops and show that our defense is good."
The Rattlers have the league's No. 1 offense, and the SaberCats own the top defense. Something has to give.
The SaberCats enter the contest with plenty of motivation.
San Jose, which clinched a playoff berth two weeks ago with its 47-37 victory over the Spokane Storm, can wrap up the Pacific Division title and earn a home playoff game with any combination of two wins and two Spokane Shock losses.
"The guys understand it's a great opportunity to play Arizona," SaberCats coach Darren Arbet said. "They have won the last two Arena Bowls and three overall. It means something to beat them."
At the game, the SaberCats will be marking the 10th anniversary -- to the day -- of their 69-62 victory over Arizona in the 2004 ArenaBowl, a game that was voted the greatest ever played by an AFL committee.
Veteran defensive back Clevan Thomas, who missed that game with a torn ACL, said he sees similarities between then and now.
"We had guys who trusted the system, the coaches and each other," he said. "That's where we are now. Earlier we had guys trying to do too much, and now they are trusting each other."
Thomas plays a pivotal leadership role. "We talk about being thankful," Thomas said. "It can be anything, just something about the guy next to you that you may not have known before."
Thomas said the team also talks about becoming great.
"In any sport, you want to play the champion so you can grade yourself and see what you are made of," he said. "They are the best, and they have been the best. We talk about being great, and we have the talent. It's time to become great."
Arizona (14-0) at SaberCats (9-4), 7:30 p.m. No TV