It took just two games between the Chicago Bliss and the Atlanta Steam for one of the best rivalries in the Legends Football League to begin. With Chicago winning both contests by a touchdown or less, game one earlier this season and the other in the 2014 Legends Cup Championship, the Steam look to change the outcome in the third match-up between these two franchises.
Atlanta comes into the game this Saturday, riding high just one week off their win at home against the Omaha Heart last week. Atlanta had a great offseason with veteran acquisitions from the Jacksonville Breeze that have already made a huge impact on their team, and now with the addition of the Australian LFL star, Jayne Caldwell, the depth and talent of the Steam has improved immensely. With Caldwell’s size and agility running the ball, she just might be the needed offensive dimension to put Atlanta over the top against the strong Chicago Bliss defense. Atlanta has speed in their backfield with Nas Johnson and Jessie Locklear, but the pounding running game was something they lacked. With the receiving weapons around Dakota Hughes and the running-back’s speed and now size, Atlanta looks to become the most dangerous and best balanced attack offense in the LFL this season.
After the week one loss to the Bliss and two big wins against the weak Omaha Heart, the Steam sit 2-1 behind the 2-0 Chicago Bliss. This game is a must-win for the Atlanta Steam if they look to repeat as the Eastern Conference regular-season Champions. Look for the Defense to play a smart game and have a spy on Bliss running-back ChrisDell Harris. Atlanta knows that stopping the ground game and getting pressure on Heather Furr is crucial for success at shutting down the Chicago offense.
KEY FOR ATLANTA
The Steam defense will need to stop the Chicago Bliss running game. With ChrisDell ‘Ferrari’ Harris leading the Chicago ground-game with depth from Nneka Nwani, big plays from Deena Fagiano, and quarterback Heather ‘Rockstar’ Furr’s ability to run the ball, the Bliss offense is not easy to defend. Adrian Purnell, Dina Wojowski, and Leanne Hardin will need to make big plays and have a good game against the Bliss running game. If Atlanta can in fact defend the run successfully, forcing Furr to pass the ball, Atlanta will have a great chance of winning as Furr lacks on throwing accuracy and the ability to always find the open receiver. Offensively the Steam need to protect Dakota Hughes and allow her to make big pass plays down the field. If Atlanta can make Chicago respect their running game, Hughes should have open receivers on Saturday.
Chicago enters the game Saturday completely healthy from a week off, after beating the Heart two weeks ago in Toyota Park. Chicago is confident in their ability to come out strong against the Steam and crush any hopes they might have at a victory on Mother’s day. There is no love between the two teams and one could say that each team despises the other. It is clear that even the coaches hate each other’s guts, let alone the players on the field. This rivalry is what makes the LFL so entertaining for fans, as the intensity is paramount during these games and trash-talking and hard-hits take place nearly every snap.
The Chicago roster is filled with the most experience and talent in the league, as Coach Hac has been able to mold his key players and retain them from year to year. There isn’t much to criticize on the Bliss this season, despite some sloppy play from center Jamie Barwick week one, but the weakness that analysts point out is Heather Furr’s passing ability against stout defenses. Heather Furr has worked on improving her throwing this offseason but it still needs to be seen against a strong team like Atlanta. She was able to pick apart the Heart defense as she was 8 for 9 passing with 129 yards and two touchdowns (no interceptions). However, the defensive coverage that she saw against Omaha is nothing like the strong coverage she will see from Atlanta this Saturday.
KEY FOR CHICAGO
In the first game this season it was clear that Chicago wore down the Atlanta defense by the fourth quarter. Chicago needs to have success running the ball Saturday which will make it difficult for Atlanta to keep the Chicago’s offense off the field, not allowing their defense to get a rest. It will be key for Chicago to also pass the ball Saturday, as it is expected that Atlanta will try and shut down the running game. On defense, Chicago needs to get pressure on Dakota Hughes and Heather Furr and Alli Alberts need to defend the pass well, keeping Lauran Ziegler and Jodie Nettles from getting behind them down-field for the big play.
– Text by Colton Cull, originally posted on LFL360.com
Don't miss these two collide on Legends Football League Saturday, May 23, at 9/8c, only on Fuse.
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