Here we are at the halfway point of the AAF’s inaugural season. If I may say so, the league has pretty predictable standings. I’m speaking broadly, but how big of a shocker is it that the teams from Orlando, Florida (coached by the legendary Steve Spurrier) and Birmingham, Alabama (coached by Marvin Lewis’ older brother and former 1st round draft pick Tim Lewis) are undefeated through 3 games? On the same note, how predictable is it that the two worst teams in the league are from Memphis, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia and mostly because of quarterback issues. Let’s just say after Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford, there’s a drop-off in talent at the position. Yeah. On to the games!
On Saturday, March 2nd at 4pm, the San Diego Fleet (3-0) play at the Memphis Express (0-3) and you can watch that on Bleacher Report Live. The Fleet finally have their Admiral in QB Philip Nelson, who is 36/65 (55.4%) for 403 yards with 2 TDs and 3 INTs in a shade under 2 games played. The cruise missile among Fleet skill players is RB Ja’Quan Gardner, former Humboldt State star and 49er, has 35 carries for 281 yards and 3 TDs along with 5 catches for 45 yards. The rising tide in the Fleet offense is WR Nelson Spruce, an undrafted Colorado prospect that was most recently cut from the Chargers. The Express, on the other hand, appear to have quickly moved on from QB Christian Hackenburg and last week, QB Zack Mettenberger went 9/12 (75%) for 125 yards and 2 TDs in relief. The most reliable weapon Memphis has is RB Zac Stacy, who has 45 carries for 188 yards and a TD. I expect the Fleet to win a close game here.
On Saturday night, March 2nd at 8pm, the Orlando Apollos (3-0) play at the Salt Lake Stallions (1-2) on NFL Network. The Orlando offensive output has been astronomical compared to other teams in the league, with QB Garrett Gilbert going 48/81 (59.3%) for 827 yards and 5 TDs. Apollo RB D’Ernest Johnson, the USF and New Orleans Saints product, has blasted off with 26 carries for 171 yards and a TD. The real supernova on this offense, though, is WR Charles Johnson, and he paces the league in receiving with 14 catches for 305 yards and a TD. Salt Lake, on the other hoof, are just finding traction at the quarterback position with Josh Woodrum. At this point, he’s 32/53 (60.4%) for 281 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. The Stallions have a pair of them in RBs Brandon Oliver and Joel Bouagnon. WR De’Mornay Pierson-El leads Salt Lake with 13 catches for 125 yards and a TD. I expect Orlando to win the space race and continue to establish their global (league) dominance, as it were.
On Sunday at 4pm on CBS Sports Network, the San Antonio Commanders (1-2) play at the Birmingham Iron (3-0). The Commanders have a wily one in QB Logan Woodside, who is 50/98 (51%) for 629 yards, 2 TDs and 5 INTs through 3 games. RB Kenneth Farrow II leads the backfield with 36 carries for 138 yards and 2 TDs. The real jewel of San Antonio is WR Mekale McKay, who has 11 catches for 207 yards and a TD. Flatly, the Iron are just a better team, with QB Luis Perez hammering it out on offense. He’s 60/102 (58.8%) for 596 and an INT. Everyone’s favorite blind rhinoceros, RB Trent Richardson, leads the backfield with 59 carries for 145 yards and 6 TDs. WR Quinton Patton has 11 catches for 209 yards. I still find it amazing that a team that feeds T-Rich 15+ touches a game is undefeated, but I think the Iron get it done on Sunday.
Sunday night at 8pm on NFL Network, the Atlanta Legends (0-3) play at the Arizona Hotshots (2-1). The Legends have QB Matt Simms at the helm, and he’s 60/101 (59.4%) for 614 yards, 2 TDs and 6 INTs. I would like to see former Georgia QB Aaron Murray given an opportunity instead. As a result of Simms’ 6 turnovers through 3 games, the rest of the offense suffers. Outside of RB Lawrence Pittman (17 carries for 72 yards) and WR Seantavius Jones (10 catches for 138 yards), Atlanta has been anything but legendary. The Hotshots, however, are led by QB John Wolford. Through 3 games, he’s 46/73 (63%) for 596 yards, 7 TDs and 3 INTs. The Arizona backfield is paced by the likes of RB Jhurell Pressley, and he has 40 carries for 155 yards. WR Rashad Ross is a without a doubt a Hotshot, as he has 15 catches for 221 yards and 4 TDs, which leads the league. I think Arizona gets back on track Sunday.
If you’re watching the games, what players do you see that the Colts could use? Personally, I’m looking at wide receivers like McKay, Ross and Spruce. Defensively, Karter Schult and Shaan Washington are the sack leaders while Terence Garvin and Ryan Moeller et al lead the league in interceptions. There are, without a shadow of a doubt, a dozen or so actual NFL starters playing in the AAF. I don’t know exactly who as of yet, but I’d bet on that for sure.
Enjoy the games, understand you don’t HAVE to pick a team, and no one will make fun of you but Colts fans if you take to the Iron because of Trent Richardson as a sort of meme fandom.