The defending Legends Football League Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Steam (3-2) will travel to Chicago this Saturday looking to win their first game in four tries against the two-time defending LFL champion Chicago Bliss (5-0) for what promises to be an all-out, leave it all on the field slugfest that will determine which team advances to the 2015 Legends Cup. Despite Chicago winning both of the previous meetings this season, including handing Atlanta their first home loss in the 2+ year history of the franchise when they outscored the Steam 27-24 in the season opener, the Steam are confident that they are ready to end the Bliss march toward a third consecutive LFL title.
While most outside of the Atlanta faithful give the team any chance of leaving Chicago with a win, the Steam believe they are ready to stake their claim to the throne by knocking the current occupant out of it. While many will consider that attitude just more of the bravado Atlanta has displayed ahead of each of the two prior losses to Chicago this season, there is reason to believe the result of this game may be different than the previous contests.
The Bliss has a very good defense combined with a power ground attack on offense that is led by ChrisDell Harris. Quarterback Heather Furr is an experienced game manager that is solid under pressure, makes few unforced mistakes and has a true dislike for Atlanta. In addition to being the team leader in tackles, Alli Alberts is the top targeted receiver for Chicago.
The Atlanta offense, led by second-year quarterback Dakota Hughes, has proven they can score against Chicago, but the defense has been unable to contain Harris which allows the Bliss to control the game clock as well as wear down the defense. With play-makers like Hughes, Lauran Ziegler and Nas Johnson on offense, look for the Steam to put a minimum of 21 points on the board, but for that to be enough to win the Steam D must hold Chicago to less than their 100+ yards rushing per game average.
The reason that the outcome of this game may be different than the previous three-meetings (going back to last season’s Legends Cup) is simple: The Atlanta defense has the talent, experience and strength to meet the challenge. The Steam play a high-energy, all helmets to the ball style defense which makes it a complete team effort that is led by middle linebacker Leanne Hardin, who leads the league in tackles.
With impact players like Keyon Harrison, second in the league in tackles, Ziegler and Adrian Purnell in the secondary and Dina Wojowski, Coco Montgomery, J Mac and Aussie import Jayne Caldwell holding the line, the Steam defense CAN slowdown the Bliss ground assault. However, slowing the Chicago rushing game will not be enough for Atlanta to advance to their second straight Legends Cup. For that to happen, the Steam defense MUST force a couple of turnovers to give Hughes and the quick-strike Atlanta offense a couple of extra possessions.
Robinson last season’s Coach of the Year, has been clear about his expectations for this season from the opening of training camp and with another trip to the Legends Cup just a win away, his goal for Saturday is just as clear:
“We intend to be the best team in those three hours so that we will be recognized as the best team in the Eastern Conference, and then we will head to Seattle for our next shot at a Legends Cup title.”
This is going to be a hard-hitting, very physical game that is likely to come down to the final minutes before the Eastern Conference Champion is decided. While Atlanta is officially a 4.5 point underdog, look for the Steam to leave Chicago with back-to-back conference titles.
Steam 2015 Schedule
WK 1: Saturday, April 11 vs. Chicago (L, 27-24)
WK 2: Saturday, April 18 @ Omaha (W, 79-0)
WK 4: Saturday, May 2 vs. Omaha (W, 62-0)
WK 5: Sunday, May 10 @ Chicago (L, 29-13)
WK 14: Friday, July 10 vs. Omaha (W, 71-13)
WK 20: Saturday, August 15 @ Chicago (Eastern Conference Title Game)
The Steam play home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.
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