Game Preview: Week 1 vs. Atlanta Legends
The long-awaited opener is finally here. The inaugural Alliance of American Football season gets underway tonight as the Atlanta Legends come to Spectrum Stadium for the opening clash of a budding rivalry. Though we have limited data and no film to go off of, here are our three keys to victory for the Apollos.
Establish the run early
The Apollos offense is a balanced one, with plenty of run plays at the ready. There are also a lot of play-action plays in the Apollos arsenal, and for those to be successful they’ll need to establish the running game early. During the scrimmage against San Diego, Orlando was able to run the ball effectively, but started off the game passing instead of rushing. Establishing an effective run game early will open up a lot of passing options for Gilbert and allow the Apollos to take advantage of the speed they possess.
Generate QB pressure on the edges
One of the highlights of the the scrimmage against the Fleet was the generation of seven sacks by the Apollos defense. The Legends also gave up seven sacks in their scrimmage against San Antonio. If the Apollos can keep the trend going, they should be in for a good day against Atlanta. The Legends offensive line struggled in general against the Commanders, as they were unable to establish a running game. With the “freaks and large athletes” at the Apollos disposal, they should be able to take advantage of Atlanta’s struggles, especially on the edges. By setting a perimeter, the Apollos can control the run game while generating QB pressure and hopefully a lot of sacks tonight.
It may seem obvious, but the Apollos need to minimize their injuries, especially in the secondary. The one place the Legends had success in their scrimmage was in the passing game, mainly with shorter passes. That leads to a lot of open field tackles, where injuries occur more frequently. The Apollos depth at cornerback will be tested tonight due to injury already. If one or two DBs go down, even for a short while, the Apollos will be in trouble.
This is a game the Apollos should win. They are ranked #2 in the initial power rankings for a reason (Atlanta is #5). With the turmoil surrounding the Legends team, losing both their initial head coach and initial offensive coordinator in the preseason, look for the Legends to come out a bit discombobulated early on as they try to find their rhythm. That’s the opportunity for the Apollos to jump on, much like they did against San Diego in the scrimmage. If Orlando can do that, their dominating defense should be able to take care of the rest.
Score: Orlando 34, Atlanta 15