8-0. That is the record of the favorites over the underdogs through two weeks of play in the AAF. In Week 3, the Legends are coined as the underdog in their slate against a 2-0 Iron. These odds don’t bode well for the Legends. The Iron are fresh off another victory, led by their suffocating defense, as they routed the Stallions 12 to 9. On the other hand, the 0-2 Atlanta squad had to endure a beatdown on opening night as they faced the Head Ball Coach’s offense in Orlando. This was followed by a downpour in San Diego, and the failure to establish an identity on offense.
To say the least, things haven’t looked so hot for the boys in purple and gold so far this season. However, Atlanta fans don’t throw in the towel just yet for week 3. Let’s take a look into why Atlanta has a chance to pull off a legendary upset against the Iron. *I apologize for the use of cheesy puns and metaphors; they’re just to hard to resist
The Return of the Legends
If there is one thing Atlanta loves, it’s when their legends return home. Let’s take it back to 2014 when renowned Atlanta rap group, OutKast, performed together for the first time in almost a decade at Centennial Park. Tickets sold out in minutes as fans rushed to see the return of their hometown rap legends. Now I’m not saying this Atlanta football team is as revered as OutKast, nor did tickets sell out in a matter of minutes, but hey, they are a ‘Legend’ returning home to Atlanta.
One thing going in the Legends’ favor is that home teams in the AAF have faired extremely well, posting a combined record of 6-2. This home game serves as a sense of much-needed stability for the Legends. The adversity began before the start of the season as they entered into week one without their original head coach, Brad Childress, or their Offensive Coordinator, Michael Vick, both recognizable names in the football community.
If there is a somewhat decent sized crowd at Georgia State Stadium for the inaugural home game, the Legends could be in some luck. I mean, Parker H. Petit field sits on Turner Field, the former home of the Atlanta Braves, where many ‘legendary’ upsets did occur.
Trending in the Right Direction
After being embarrassed on opening night, all hope seemed lost for the Legends as they saw their championship odds plummet to dead last. Glancing through the rain last week, we were able to see a glimpse of improvement. Simms improved from his week one nightmare to actually pass for a touchdown, and only had one interception instead of two. Lawrence Pittman emerged as a capable option on the ground with his 4.7ypc, plus our receivers could actually catch the ball! Akrum was perfect on eight targets, and the whole unit averaged an 85% reception rate.
On the defensive side, this Atlanta squad is being led by their safety. Ed Reynolds was graded as the third highest ranked safety by Pro Football Focus and his counterpart Tyson Graham Jr. was rated as the fifth highest safety.
There is plenty of reason one might believe in the Iron. Luis Perez has been coined a top NFL prospect. Trent Richardson has become a de facto face of the league. Through two weeks, they have looked like a defensive juggernaut. However, there is reason to question the validity of these claims. The Iron’s previous opponents have a combined record of 0-4, with both games being played at home. Also, the quarterbacks they’ve faced were Austin Allan, a backup, and Christian Hackenberg, probably the worst QB in the league.
There have been some obvious trends that have emerged in the AAF that correlates to success and Birmingham has been fortunate enough to have both their games fall on the positive side of those trends. Though they are the favorites this week, they are playing their first road game. Trent Richardson, with all the hype, is only sixth in the league in rushing yards. Perez may be throwing against the best secondary he has faced. Finally, Matt Simms, (all be it not by much) is the best quarterback the Iron D has faced. To cap this off, here is a hot take for you: the Iron are the most overrated team in the league.
The Captain’s Final Take
I believe the city of Atlanta is in for a bit of a show. Not in the sense of a high scoring shootout, but a strong performance from an 0-2 team. If the Legends can utilize home field advantage, capitalize on their improvements, and exploit the Iron’s vulnerability playing on the road, I think we have a great matchup.
If there is any takeaway from this article, let it be this: the Atlanta Legends have the potential to set league history and pull off the victory as the underdog.
“Only Legends can smolder Iron.” (Sorry, I needed one last pun attempt)
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