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Simplicity the key in Force's final playoff push

ATLANTA -- Heading into last week, the Georgia Force's fate in the Arena Football League's American Conference playoff race was pretty simple.

However, an embarrassing 58-41 loss to the Pittsburgh Power has complicated matters heading into the regular-season finale.

One thing remains simple. The Force (8-9) can still clinch a spot in the postseason with a victory over the New Orleans VooDoo in tonight's 8 p.m. kickoff at the New Orleans Arena.

"We've got to go play and win (in New Orleans)," Force coach Dean Cokinos said shortly after last week's loss. "It is what it is. We've got to go play and win the game."

Like Georgia, New Orleans (8-9) can clinch a playoff berth with a win.

But beyond that one clear-cut mission, the playoff implications for both the Force and the VooDoo are considerably more muddled.

Each team even still has a chance to clinch the South Division, though the Force would need to win the game by at least 23 to counteract the VooDoo's 57-35 win at The Arena at Gwinnett Center on June 2, and then get help with a Jacksonville loss in Pittsburgh.

Both teams could also back into the playoffs even with a loss, though they would need help from a Tampa Bay loss in Spokane, and then have to sweat out the AFL's complex tie-breaker system.

But from Cokinos' perspective, the team's focus needs to remain simple.

"We've just got to go play better than we did (against Pittsburgh)," Cokinos said. "It's not good enough. I mean, we can't play like this going into the playoffs. We're a team that if we play well, we're well. If we play poor, we're just horrible. We just got to go have a good game and win."

And accomplishing the first goal means keeping the same simplicity goal on a macro level, according to veteran receiver and return specialist C.J. Johnson.

"We've just got to go ahead and buckle down and make plays," Johnson said. "We've just got to limit turnovers. If we can eliminate turnovers and keep the mental mistakes out, we'll be good."

Turnovers were a big part of last week's loss to Pittsburgh, as two first-quarter interceptions put the Force into a big early hole the could never get out of.

With so much on the line tonight, any mistake is magnified -- just like a playoff game.

"This is pretty much playoff mode right now," Johnson said. "The rest of the season is behind us."