HIGHLY ANTICIPATED MATCH-UP SATURDAY NIGHT WITH ATLANTA HOSTING LA (OFFICIAL GAME PREVIEW)
(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA- Friday, July 8, 2016)
There is a lot of buzz surrounding Saturday night’s contest between the Los Angeles Temptation (2-1) and the Atlanta Steam (1-0) for a number of reasons. These two franchises have never played each other and both Atlanta and LA have been to the playoffs every year in their team’s existence. Along with that, there are three starters that will be facing their former team from a season ago.
Due to the fact that this LA team has competed with two of the top teams in the league, Dallas and Seattle, this game will be an opportunity for Atlanta to really gauge their team’s ability to compete with the dominant Western Conference. In the six years of LFL playoff history, an Eastern Conference team has never won the Legends Cup, and the same goes for non-conference play. This is the first season that teams played an opponent out of their conference and so far this season, the Western teams have been on the winning side as Seattle defeated Chicago and Austin defeated New England.
What it boils down to is the fact that Atlanta has the chance to be the first Eastern Conference team to defeat a Western Conference opponent. With two teams full of All-Fantasy talent, numerous veterans, a Hall-of-Famer and future Hall-of-Famers, Saturday night’s battle between the Temptation and Steam is no doubt a game that will be referenced for years to come.
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Las Vegas Betting Line
Atlanta- 3 points | Over/Under 52 points
Los Angeles Temptation
As one of the original LFL franchises, LA is the only team in history to play in all six LFL playoffs, where they won the first three titles. Right now, the Temptation are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time ever. To make matters worse for LA, they do not have control over their destiny for advancing to the playoffs, which depends almost solely on the Week-15 game between Dallas and Omaha. Regardless of an LA win or loss this Saturday, the Temptation will be hoping and praying for Omaha to upset the Desire because if both teams finish 2-2, LA has the head-to-head tie breaker over Dallas, but with a 3-1 finish for both teams, the point differential would be in Dallas’ and Seattle’s favor to advance to the postseason.
Both quarterback Jayne Caldwell and running-back Nas Johnson played for Atlanta last season and look forward to competing against their former team. This will certainly add to the ‘grudge’ match that began brewing in the 2015 All-Fantasy game in Guatemala. There are a number of players on both LA and Atlanta who will be looking to make a statement. Ogom Chijindu, Megan Hanson, and Cynthia Schmidt were all on the losing end of the All-Fantasy game as the East defeated the West. Saturday night in Atlanta they will be playing a handful of their opponents from that game in Central America- Lauran Ziegler, Dakota Hughes, Dina Wojowski, and Adrian Purnell.
As this game almost has little factor in their playoff chances as many expect Dallas to handle Omaha easily, you can certainly bet that LA is looking to come out on top and finish with a first place tie between them, Seattle, and Dallas despite their odds of clinching a playoff spot. With a 3-1 finish LA will be able to hold their heads high this season and feel that they were among strongest teams in the LFL. Expect veterans like Monique Gaxiola, Ogom Chijindu, Lily Granston, and Megan Hanson to have a big impact in this game.
Key for Los Angeles
LA’s offensive and defensive line will be a big factor in their success tomorrow against Atlanta. Megan Hanson will need to play an important role in protecting Jayne Caldwell as well as putting pressure on Dakota Hughes. Looking at how Chicago has been able to shut down the Atlanta offense, specifically in the playoffs last year, expect LA to bring the pressure and force Hughes to get rid of the ball quickly. Offensively the key will be to get either Caldwell or Kiara Patterson established at quarterback. It is tough for a quarterback to get into rhythm when you know you’ll be sharing time. With the likely close contest expected, a balanced attack on offense will probably be their best opportunity against Atlanta. But if LA can establish an early lead, expect to see a lot of passing in attempt to put as many points on the board to help in their favor for a point differential scenario.
Players to Watch
The Atlanta Steam are coming off of their huge win against Omaha in which they toppled the Heart by a final score of 77-0. Having only faced a team like the Heart so far this season, makes it difficult to gauge their team’s strength and competitiveness against other top teams in the league. Currently the Steam are remembered for the battering they received from Chicago in the Eastern Conference Championship game last year. LA has competed well in the West proving that they are among the top teams in the league. LA beat a strong Dallas Desire team and nearly got past Seattle. Nearly beating the Mist team that has beat Chicago already this season and in the Legends Cup last year helps gauge LA’s competition this year and the overall strength of the Western Conference. A win for Atlanta on Saturday would help silence the critics who believe the Steam can only win against a weak opponent.
Quarterback Dakota Hughes is coming off of her best game statistically of her career as she completed 16-of-21 passes for 176 yards and throwing for a record 7 touchdown passes with no interceptions. Her primary target was veteran Lauran Ziegler who had three touchdowns on five receptions that totaled 57 yards. Three other receivers caught touchdowns for Atlanta- Adrian Purnell (1), Dina Wojowski (1), and Theresa Petruziello (2).
This week Hughes will have another speedy receiving target with Heather Hudson who is filling in for Petruziello who will not be active for Saturday’s game. Also getting the start this week at the running-back position is Amanda Ruller who played her previous season’s with the LA Temptation. Ruller had two rushes for 14 yards in her debut with the Steam.
Key for Atlanta
The key to this game will be the battles in the trenches. Much like Megan Hanson’s role for LA on both the offensive and defensive line, Dina Wojowski will need to be a big contributor to their success on the line. Wojowski and Hanson are only a couple of the athletes in the league who start both ways in the trenches and their play is important for their respective teams. If Atlanta can protect Hughes and give her time in the pocket, they should be able to pick apart the LA secondary which isn’t known for great coverage ability. Defensively, containing Nas Johnson will be important as Johnson has had a great season so far and has contributed to this offensive success. Lauran Ziegler and Adrian Purnell will need to have a big game defensively and force Caldwell and Patterson to throw into traffic and make them pay.