AAF Week Five Preview: Memphis Express-Atlanta Legends

Memphis Express-Atlanta Legends
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - MARCH 02: Zach Mettenberger #8 of Memphis Express attempts a pass against the San Diego Fleet during the first quarter in the Alliance of American Football game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/AAF/Getty Images)

Every week in the Alliance of American Football there is a first of some kind. Four weeks into the first season for the league, both the Atlanta Legends and the Memphis Express did something they haven’t been able to achieve thus far. They won.

Heading into week five, both teams are fresh off of their first wins and competing for that elusive second victory. Both teams are seeing success after making quarterback changes.

AAF Week Five Preview: Memphis Express at Atlanta Legends

Recapping Week Four

The Legends offense came alive in their week four victory over one of the hotter offensive units in the Arizona Hotshots. The Legends only managed one touchdown in the contest. Quarterback Matt Simms exited the game with a hand injury and Aaron Murray entered the game. Prior to the start of the season, it was largely expected that Murray would be the starter. Having seen how he moved the offense, both with his arm and his legs, it’s no wonder why fans were clamoring for him. He finished the game with 254 passing yards and added another 54 on the ground.

The Legends defense came up big in this game, with crucial stops and limited the Hotshots to 11 points. The defense controlled the pace of the game and harrassed Hotshots quarterback, John Wolford.

Elsewhere in the League, Memphis Express fans are reveling in Mett Fever. Zach Mettenberger got his first career start and walked away with their first win after nearly coming back for one in the prior week. The Express managed to outlast the San Diego Fleet. Mettenberger did struggle at times, losing a strip sack early in the game. However, he maintained his poise and was able to keep drives alive. The offense has looked drastically improved with Mettenberger under center coupled with the already effective run game.

Week Five Matchup

The Express (1-3) travel to Atlanta to face the Legends (1-3) in the first-ever meeting of these two franchises. Both teams have occupied the bottom of the power rankings, and both collected their first victories. However, one of these teams seems poised to make a climb up the rankings. While the Legends were able to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes, they still have some work to do on offense. Up to this point, the Legends have the least points scored (44) and the most points against (103) of any team in the league. That’s a trend the Express will look to take advantage of. However, their defense came on strong last week and was able to make key stops.

The Express, on the other hand, outside of a week-one shutout, have remained competitive in the games they’ve lost. They lost by two points in week two, and four points in week three. Their defense has come up big when called upon but have struggled to stay off the field long enough to rest. Mettenberger showing that he’s able to move the offense instead of them relying entirely on Zac Stacy and the rushing attack is a reason for Express fans to remain hopeful. The rise of Mettenberger has broadened the offensive horizon, taking the Express from a one-trick pony to a team on the brink of being very competitive.

Last Word on Express vs. Legends

This game could easily be the most entertaining of the weekend for AAF fans. Both teams are still creating their identity. Both have key pieces and players that can change the complexion of a game. Yet, both have failed to close out games. This game will be decided by the deeper, more complete team.

The Legends have a much better chance with Murray at the helm than Matt Simms but will need another strong defensive outing to remain in the game. The Express are starting to show signs of being a two-phase offense and can score both through the air and on the ground. As Mettenberger gets more comfortable running the offense, the more he will be able to utilize a core of good receiving options. Expect Mett and company to come out strong and try to build a foundational lead while keeping the defense off the field.

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