AAF Week 7 Schedule and Picks
It’s Week 7 in the Alliance!
Some questions we have entering this weekend’s action:
- Will the Orlando Apollos clinch a playoff spot this weekend?
- Can the Salt Lake Stallions knock off the first place San Antonio Commanders to keep their own slim playoff hopes alive?
- Will the first weekend of spring get the crowds to the games?
- Will we continue to have a pass-dominated league (greater than 65% of yards through the air?)
- Can Johnny Manziel start and find success in his third professional football league?
With those questions and more, we are prepared to head down the homestretch of the season. With the playoffs just five weeks away, we could officially have a couple of the participants as soon as Saturday night depending on the results.
Orlando Apollos (5-1) at Atlanta Legends (2-4)
Saturday, March 23, 2019, 2:00pm EST (TNT), Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
The Apollos lost their first game of the season last week, yet they remain one win away of being the first team to qualify for the AAF’s four-team playoffs. The Atlanta Legends could play spoiler this week, but even a win here in front of the home crowd would likely be delaying the inevitable. Still, the Legends will likely need to win out the rest of the season to keep their own slim playoff hopes alive.
The Apollos are led by the no-longer-perfect Garrett Gilbert at quarterback, and he hopes to add to his MVP resume with another dominant performance this week. However, for all of their flaws this season, the Legends do currently boast the #1 defense in the league… at least in regards to yards allowed. They did just lose 37-6 last week – and 40-6 in their Week 1 game against the Apollos – so I don’t think this one is going to be pretty. Orlando should win and find themselves as the first team to clinch a playoff spot.
Salt Lake Stallions (2-4) at San Antonio Commanders (4-2)
Saturday, March 16, 2019, 8:00pm EST (NFL Network), Alamadome, San Antonio, Texas
The Salt Lake Stallions will head to San Antonio for the Commanders’ first game in the Alamodome in a month. The Commanders drew more fans to their last game during Week 2 than the Stallions have drawn all season in the home games in Salt Lake. Expect this one to be loud, which would definitely be a departure for the Stallions. The Stallions have played their six games in front of an average of 12,960 fans, while the Commanders have averaged 28,517 in their two home games.
Will that matter? I don’t know, but either way, the Stallions really need a victory this week to keep pace with the rest of the Western Conference. The best they can do against the San Diego Fleet is 1-1 after losing two weeks ago, and they have already finished the season series against the Arizona Hotshots at 1-1. Getting an early chance on winning the season series against the team they close the season against would be good for their slim playoff chances and any tiebreaker needs.
Note: Like every week, we’ll be back tomorrow with an in-depth preview of the Stallions visit to San Antonio.
San Diego Fleet (3-3) at Arizona Hotshots (3-3)
Sunday, March 17, 2019, 4:00pm EST (CBS Sports Network), Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
It’s the battle for second place out west – or potentially a tie for first should the Stallions beat the Commanders. And like the matchup in San Antonio, it’s the first match between teams that will meet again the last week of the season (in the last game of the entire season).
The teams couldn’t be more even on both sides of the ball:
However, the teams respective strengths run counter. Arizona averages a league-leading 142.2 yards rushing per game; San Diego is second in the league at surrendering only 93.0 yards rushing per game. Whether or not that ends up mattering in this passing league remains to be seen, and if it comes down to quarterbacks, the Hotshots may have the advantage with John Wolford of the Hotshots playing better this season than Mike Bercovici of the Fleet. Either way, should be a good, fun matchup.
Birmingham Iron (4-2) at Memphis Express (1-5)
Sunday, March 17, 2019, 8:00pm EST (NFL Network), Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
The Johnny Football show will be delayed by at least a week, with Memphis Express coach Mike Singletary indicating that Brandon Silvers will be the starter in this game. Silvers will be the third different starting quarterback the Express have used this season, after the ineffective Christian Hackenberg and the injured Zach Mettenberger. Johnny Manziel joined the Express this week after being dismissed from the CFL, and it remains to be seen whether he or Hackenberg will be Silvers’ back up for this game.
It may not matter, though, with the Express seemingly playing our the string this season. Though not officially eliminated from playoff contention, they would need numerous miracles to find themselves in the playoffs this season – they would need the Birmingham Iron to go 0-4 down the stretch while going 4-0 – so it’s not likely. I fully expect Manziel to be the quarterback for the final three games of the season, if only to drive hype for next season (if there is one). The Iron can accelerate the move to Manziel by taking care of business this week and officially eliminating the Express from the playoffs with a victory.
Enjoy all the games this weekend! We’ll be back with game recaps as the action concludes around the league.
My winners for the week, which just happen to be all the road teams: Orlando Apollos, Salt Lake Stallions, San Diego Fleet, and Birmingham Iron. An Orlando win would clinch a playoff spot for them, while a loss would likely delay the inevitable until next week.