Legends
Via https://www.si.com

Date: Sunday, February 24 at 4 pm ET Live From Georgia State Stadium In Atlanta

Birmingham had a much tougher time in Week 2 against Salt Lake than they did in Week 1 when they drubbed Memphis 26-0. The Iron were forced to come from behind with a Trent Richardson touchdown run with under five minutes left. Birmingham’s stout defense held the rest of the way and the Iron got the 12-9 win.

After getting pounded in Week 1, the Legends looked a lot better in their Week 2 showdown with San Diego. Matt Simms had somewhat of a bounce-back outing completing 17 of 25 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. He could use a little more help from his offensive line while a repeat performance from receiver Akrum Wadley would give them a chance against Birmingham. Wadley caught all eight of his targets for 70 yards including a 33-yard strike. He also racked up 81 yards after the catch.

Birmingham’s Defense Is Solid

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Birmingham has only given up 9 points in their first two games. They blanked the Express and gave up a single touchdown and a field goal in Week 2. The fact that they are facing a rather impotent Atlanta offense bodes well for the Iron D. San Diego was able to put a lot of pressure on Matt Simms last week sacking him three times and hitting him seven times. Birmingham’s Beniquez Brown and Jeremy Faulk could be in for a big game. Last week, Brown recorded six tackles, a pair of quarterback hits, and a sack while Faulk had four tackles, two quarterback hits, and a sack while also recording a pair of pass deflections. It could be a tough outing for Simms.

Birmingham will need a little help from the offense. Luis Perez and his receivers continues to do enough to get the job done while Iron fans are waiting for Trent Richardson to bust out. He gained just 41 yards on 19 carries in Week 2 but his lone touchdown run was crucial. He was also Birmingham’s lead receiver hauling in 6 of 7 passes for 50 yards and adding another 45 yards after the catch.

Can Atlanta Keep It Close?

Birmingham doesn’t have a great offense but Atlanta’s defense will have to rise to the occasion if they have any hope at all in this game. They haven’t shown that they can pressure opposing quarterbacks although Tyson Graham and Ed Reynolds have had their moments. Despite all of the buzz surrounding Trent Richardson, he only averaged 2.2 yards per carry last week and his longest rush was just 9 yards. Keeping the ex-NFL flame-out contained is doable. Birmingham quarterback Luis Perez does a good job spreading the ball around but the passing game hasn’t had too many big plays so far. The Legends’ defense will need a lot of things to go their way but they hold the key to keeping the Legends in it.

Atlanta’s running game hasn’t done a heck of a lot so far but they should be able to gain yards on the ground against an Iron defense that allowed over 150 rushing yards last week. A lot of the weight will be on Matt Simms and the offensive line. Atlanta’s receivers will have to get open quickly and Simms will need to get the ball to them fast. Look for Akrum Wadley to play a big role on Sunday.

Prediction

The Birmingham Iron are listed as 6.5-point road favorites. The winless Legends should be playing with a chip on their shoulder in front of their home crowd. This looks like a great opportunity for Atlanta’s defense to step up against a mediocre offense. They will be challenged to score points but they should keep this one relatively close.

The Pick: Atlanta +6.5

The Total

The total sits at 40 at most books and this might be a tad high. 19 or 20 points seems like a reasonable expectation for Birmingham in this situation but Atlanta probably won’t be able to do enough to send it over the total.

The Pick: Under 40

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