NEW-LOOK BLISS HAVE A CHANCE FOR RETRIBUTION AGAINST STREAKING MIST (OFFICIAL GAME PREVIEW)
(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA- Thursday, May 12th, 2016)
The Seattle Mist (2-0) are closing in on history with their winning streak of eight consecutive games, which began nearly a year ago when they beat LA in a week-8 contest last season. The LFL’s longest winning streak in league history is currently held by the Los Angeles Temptation. LA recorded 11 consecutive wins from 2009-2011, which included their perfect 6-0 season, and still stands as the only perfect season recorded by an LFL team.
Another notable streak, which some might argue is more impressive than that of the Temptation, is Chicago’s span of 18 consecutive games without being defeated. The streak began in May of 2013 and ended last August when Seattle defeated the Bliss in the 2015 Legends Cup Championship. Before the Championship loss, the Bliss’ winning streak stood at 10 consecutive games, just short of matching LA’s mark. Seattle seems to be the ultimate spoiler of Chicago’s streaks, as a tie against the Mist in the 2014 season was the only game that kept the Bliss from accomplishing perfection for 18 straight games.
This Saturday, the Chicago Bliss (0-0) have an opportunity to bring the Mist’s current streak to a freeze, and spoil any discussion of Seattle’s chance at perfection in 2016. The Bliss probably don’t care one bit about Seattle’s current stretch because their focus is on starting the season 1-0 and on the right foot, as they begin another year with Championship goals set forth. This Week-6 match-up between the Bliss and Mist will be must-see for Gridiron fans across the globe.
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Las Vegas Betting Line
Seattle- 2 points | Over/Under 37 points
The Bliss are soldiering a group of athletes that feature a handful of rookies and free-agents at important positions this season. After the Heather Furr quarterback era ended in Chicago, there was a lot of talk about who would be the new Bliss signal caller heading into this season. After training camp, it appeared that rookie Sara Finn, acquired at the January tryout, would be the starter heading into the Bliss’ first game this season, but after a slower than expected progression at the position for Finn, Chicago inquired about LFL Australia’s Jacinda Barclay to come in and compete for the starting job. With Barclay’s experience in the league and her ability, it was clear that she would be the starter this year.
Barclay will join an offense led by ChrisDell ‘Ferrari’ Harris, who has established the reputation as the best running-back in league history. Harris combined for 505 yards rushing and receiving, while recording 10 touchdowns for the Bliss last season. Starting at the wide-receiver roles Saturday night will be free-agent signing Tamar Fennell and rookie Amanda Johnson. The line will feature center Stephanie Murray, who excelled during her time starting at the position last season. Murray will be joined by veteran tight-end Deena Fagiano and rookie tight-end Ava Mae Gamble.
Defensively, the Bliss will look much differnt from seasons past, as two rookies will be showcased and only two players are staring in their prior defensive roles. The secondary will feature three Bliss veterans with Dominique Collins in her usual starting role at corner-back and Kim Perez and Javell Thompson at the safety positions. This will be the first start for Perez and Thompson at the safety positions, as Alli Alberts and Heather Furr were the duo for the past few seasons. Joining the secondary will be free-agent Tamar Fennell who has proven to be one of the most reliable defensive backs in league history. Up front defensively, veteran defensive-end Chantell Taylor will be joined by two rookies- Jazmin Calep at the other end position and Kristin Morrison in the middle at linebacker.
Key for Chicago
A key match-up will be how well Fagiano, Murray, and Gamble play against the defensive front of Seattle led by Schnoor, Chase, and Steinmetz. Those battles upfront will be crucial for Chicago to establish their running game. Barclay’s poise and decision making at quarterback will have a big impact on the Bliss’ offensive success. Defensively, the key will also be in the trenches, as the Bliss will have two rookies defending the Mist’s versatile offense. With some film on what Seattle can do offensively from two games this season, Chicago will need to play smart defense and react according to what they have been coached up to look for.
Players to Watch
As mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the preview, Seattle is chasing history and playing football at a very high level, a level that only two other teams have been on previously. Despite the dominant streak, the Mist barely hung on to a win over LA in week-3, as their offense went mute in the second half of a well fought game. A win is a win, and the Mist sit at a perfect 2-0, as they are set to host the Bliss in a rematch of the Legends Cup Championship from a season ago.
The Mist offense hasn’t started out on the level that most expected in their first two games this year. Matheny is completing less than 50% of her passes (14 of 33), having thrown five touchdowns and one interception for a total of 124 yards in two games. Matheny has connected with Bryn Renda five times for 47 yards (two touchdowns), Jessica Hopkins twice for 34 yards (two touchdowns), and center Jenna Wise for the other touchdown reception thrown by Matheny. She has also found Stevi Schnoor, Danika Brace, and Dominique Malloy on the receiving end so far this season. On the ground things have looked better compared to the passing game for the Mist, as Schnoor has rushed for 90 yards on 18 carries and found the end zone three times. Malloy was given six carries in her first game of the season against LA and racked up 34 yards averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Look for Schnoor and Malloy to become one of the toughest tandems to defend as the season goes on.
Defensively, the Mist are again led by Danika Brace who has already recorded 14.5 tackles in two games. Right behind Brace is Mele Rich who is having an incredible season so far with 13.5 tackles. Both Brace and Rich already have an interception this season. The 2014 League MVP, Saige Steinmetz, has been a big help on the defensive front having recorded 2.5 tackles-for-a-loss in her first two games. The addition of All-Fantasy defensive-end Kimm Chase has also improved the Mist on the front-line, who played great against her former LA team in week-3.
Key for Seattle
Most expect Matheny to improve her completion percentage as this season goes on, but facing Chicago will be a true test to do so. Chicago has a solid secondary, with a lot of experience, so finding her open receivers will be critical for Matheny. If she continues to throw into double coverage or off target, it could get ugly for the Seattle passing game. Chicago has put tremendous pressure on opposing quarterbacks in seasons past, so it will be important for the front-line to focus on giving Matheny time. Also using both running-backs effectively will keep Chicago on their heels. On the defensive side of the ball, their goal is to contain the ‘Ferrari’. If Seattle can keep Harris under locks, they should have success handling the Bliss offense that is not expected to have much of a passing game in their opener, due to the lack of chemistry between Barclay and her receivers.
Katie Whelan – Back – Out