Salt Lake Stallions (0-1) at Birmingham Iron (1-0)
Date: Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 2 p.m. ET Live From Legion Field, Birmingham
The Birmingham Iron got their season off to a good start with a dominating 26-0 drubbing of the Memphis Express in Week 1. Express quarterback Christian Hackenberg made it abundantly clear that he is not yet ready for the NFL but Birmingham’s defense exacerbated his poor outing. The Salt Lake Stallions had some success in their match against the Arizona Hotshots but ultimately lost by a score of 38-22. The game was relatively even until Stallions starting quarterback Josh Woodrum was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury. This will be the only time that these two teams meet this year.
Salt Lake’s Running Game Key
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Ex-Vikings running back Matt Asiata notched the first points in Salt Lake Stallions history but managed just four rushing yards on four carries while running back Joel Bouagnon got the most carries in Week 1. Branden Oliver picked up 40 yards on eight carries while quarterback Josh Woodrum scrambled once for 5 yards. In total, the Stallions called 28 running plays which produced 88 yards and a touchdown while their passing game consisted of 35 plays which totaled 159 yards, 2 TDs, and a pair of interceptions.
With the relentless pass pressure that Birmingham looks like they are capable of bringing, the Stallions will have to find a way to move the ball on the ground and keep the Iron’s defense guessing. They can ill afford to get forced into a pass attack against a Birmingham pass defense that looked so fearsome last week. Speaking of defenses, Salt Lake allowed 275 passing yards through the air and 149 on the ground. However, that came against what could be the AAF’s most potent offense. They should have a better outing versus Luis Perez and the Birmingham Iron.
Is Birmingham’s Defense For Real
As stated, the Birmingham defense looked like beasts against Memphis. They allowed Christian Hackenberg to complete just three passes in the first quarter while intercepting a pass. The pressure was unrelenting but how much of that can be attributed to a clearly frustrated Hackenberg and a porous offensive line? Despite the intense pressure, Birmingham managed just a pair of sacks which is the number of sacks that Salt Lake gave up last week.
The Iron’s defense will face a bigger challenge this week. Salt Lake’s offensive line looked stronger that Memphis’ did but neither Stallions quarterback looked all that much better than Hackenberg. The keys for Birmingham’s defense will be containing the ground attack and seeing if they can frustrate either Woodrum or Linehan.
The line for this tilt has been set with Birmingham being a 7-point favorite at home. The Stallions should prove to be a tougher challenge for Birmingham on both sides of the ball while Salt Lake’s defense should be able to slow down the Iron. So, the question is whether Salt Lake’s offense can put up enough points? A 28-20 Iron victory seems like a reasonable final score all things considered.
The Pick: Birmingham Iron -7
Oddmakers have set the total at 44.5 and this number is very reachable. It’s not like either team should be expected to hit this number by themselves but Salt Lake should put enough points on the board to compliment Birmingham’s total.
The Pick: Over 44.5