We are getting ready for Week 5 of the inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football. As per usual, four games are on tap with two games taking place on Saturday and another pair on Sunday. All four contests will be carried on major broadcast outlets this weekend. The first one on the docket looks to be the most appealing of the bunch from a competition perspective.
That game will see the 4-0 Orlando Apollos travel to Birmingham to take on the Iron. This is a meeting of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, and arguably the two best squads in the league. Saturday’s nightcap will see the 2-2 San Diego Fleet hit the road to take on the 1-3 Salt lake Stallions, a meeting of two squads which have delivered different products on the field through four weeks.
The early game on Sunday is another Eastern Conference affair which will see the 1-3 Memphis Express travel to square off with the 1-3 Atlanta Legends. These have been two of the league’s poorest teams thus far, but there have been some shimmers of light. The weekend of pigskin action wraps up with the evening game featuring the 2-2 San Antonio Commanders on the road at the 2-2 Arizona Hotshots.
While we’re still getting a sense of what all four teams bring to the table, there has been a clear line in the sand drawn. Orlando and Birmingham are at the top of the pyramid for the time being. Three squads are in the middle at 2-2, while another three are bringing up the rear at 1-3.
Let’s take a look at all four of this weekend’s games in full detail, starting with the first game of the weekend.
*Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Orlando Apollos @ Birmingham Iron, Sat. 2:00 PM EST, TNT
Apollos vs. Iron pick:
The Apollos opened up the season featuring a high-powered offensive attack, but they have come back to earth for the last two weeks. After dropping 40 and 37 points in their first two games, the team has only delivered 21 and 20 points for its last two outings. Nonetheless, they stand as the only undefeated team in the AAF through four weeks of play.
The Iron were knocked from the ranks of the undefeated with last week’s 12-11 home defeat to the San Antonio Commanders. Defense has not been an issue for this squad, as Birmingham boasts the top unit in the league. The offense has been a different story. There’s talent to be found, but it has been a hit or miss situation on a weekly basis.
Garrett Gilbert has the keys to the offense for the Apollos, and he has been playing lights out. He has completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards, six TDs and no picks. Gilbert has added on 64 yards and a score on the ground for good measure. D’Ernest Johnson tops the team in rushing with a line of 34/202/1.
Charles Johnson is the biggest threat in the passing game, and he has been one of the most impressive players in the entire league to boot. He has hauled in 23 balls for 410 yards and a score. The defense hasn’t been too shabby with six sacks and seven turnovers generated thus far.
Luis Perez stands behind center for the Iron. He has shown flashes of being a real player, but that hasn’t translated into a ton of production. Perez has thrown for 797 yards, no scores and three picks. Trent Richardson has enjoyed a renaissance in an Iron uniform. He has 265 total yards and has found the end zone seven times.
Quinton Patton is the team’s top pass catcher with 13 receptions for 226 yards. The defense has been the real story for the Iron. The team has allowed only 33 points in total while generating seven sacks and nine turnovers.
The Apollos have been installed as five-point road favorites for this one. It should be an entertaining affair between what looks to be the top two teams in the AAF. Orlando’s offense hasn’t been as explosive over the past two weeks, and they’ll find the sledding tough against the Birmingham defense. We’ll take the hosts in an upset for the opening game of the weekend.
Salt Lake Stallions @ San Diego Fleet, Sat. 8:00 PM EST, NFLN
Stallions vs, Fleet pick:
The Stallions opened up the season with two losses, but they bounced back for a 23-15 home victory over the Arizona Hotshots in Week 3. The good times didn’t keep on rolling into Week 4, as the team dropped a 20-11 home decision to Orlando.
The Fleet opened up the season with a disappointing 15-6 home loss to San Antonio, but they bounced back with two straight wins. The team was favored for last week’s road tilt with Memphis, but they came up short in a 26-23 defeat.
Josh Woodrum has been decent but unspectacular at QB for Salt Lake. He’s completing 64 percent of his passes, but he has only generated 442 yards, two scores, and one pick so far. Branden Oliver and Joel Bouagnon have formed a solid one-two punch at RB. Oliver has run for 210 yards and a score, while his tag-team partner has 184 yards and three TDs.
De’Mornay Pierson-El is the top target in the passing game. He has 15 receptions for 149 yards and a score so far. The defense has generated nine saks and three turnovers, but it’s also tied for third-most points allowed in the league.
The keys to the offense have been handed back to Mike Bercovici in the wake of the injury to the Fleet’s Philip Nelson. Bercovici has 176 passing yards and two picks on the season. Ja’Quan Gardner leads the way in the backfield with 44 carries for 287 yards and three TDs.
The ball is being spread around in the Fleet’s passing attack. Dontez Ford leads the way with nine receptions for 159 yards and a score. San Diego’s defense is ferocious. Through four games, the team has compiled 16 sacks and generated 12 turnovers.
Going backwards at QB stings for the Fleet, but the defense has a good matchup here as they square off with an offense which hasn’t been terribly productive. We’ll look for that to be the difference maker as San Diego wins and covers at home.
Memphis Express @ Atlanta Legends, Sun. 4:00 PM EST, CBSSN
Express vs. Legends pick:
After opening up the season with three straight losses, not much was expected from the Express as they welcomed San Diego to town last week. However, the team was able to put it all together and pull out a 26-23 upset victory.
The Legends also opened up the season in rough shape with losses in their first three games. Despite being big underdogs for last week’s visit to Arizona, the team was able to finally get off the schneid and pull out a 14-11 win.
Memphis has pivoted from Christian Hackenberg to Zach Mettenberger at QB, and the results have been readily apparent. Mettenberger has thrown for 294 yards and three scores, and the offense as a whole looks much better with him at the helm. Zac Stacy leads the way in the backfield with 232 yards and a TD.
Reece Horn is the team’s top option in the passing game. He has 12 receptions for 158 yards so far. The defense for Memphis has been solid in spite of the total points allowed. The unit has generated nine sacks and eight turnovers.
It has been a similar story on offense for the Legends, but perhaps a shift to Aaron Murray will produce better results. Murray has 292 passing yards and a pick thus far. It has been a committee approach in the backfield. Lawrence Pittman tops the team with 81 yards. Tarean Folston is right behind him with 73 yards.
Malachi Jones is the team’s leading receiver with eight receptions for 145 yards and one TD. Seantavius Jones is next up with a line of 10/138/0. The defense has been good on the pressure front with 10 sacks, but the unit has generated only three turnovers.
This is a battle to stay out of the basement in the east, as well as to avoid being christened with the title of worst team in the league. While Atlanta was able to notch a win last week, Memphis has been showing steady improvement and has been effective on defense. We’ll take the road team for a small upset.
San Antonio Commanders @ Arizona Hotshots, Sun. 8:00 PM EST, NFLN
Commanders vs. Hotshots pick:
The Commanders opened up the season with a 15-6 home win over San Diego, but they followed that up with two straight losses. The team was able to bounce back last week with a 12-11 road upset over Birmingham.
The Hotshots opened up the season at 2-0, but the team has dropped its last two. Last week, the team welcomed a struggling Atlanta team to town and was expected to waltz to victory. That wasn’t meant to be as the visitors pulled out a 14-11 upset.
Logan Woodside has been struggling for the Commanders. He has 735 yards, two scores and five picks to date. The running game has been more productive. Kenneth Farrow II leads the way with 280 yards and two scores.
Mekale McKay is the biggest weapon in the passing game. He has 13 receptions for 226 yards and one TD. The defense has produced 10 sacks and six picks so far, but the unit has had some troubles defending the pass.
John Wolford has been solid behind center or the Hotshots. He has thrown for 780 yards, eight TDs, and three picks. Jhurell Pressley leads the way in the backfield. He has delivered a line of 54/266/0 through four games.
Rashad Ross is the top option for Wolford. He has 19 catches for 295 yards and five scores thus far. The defense has been pretty solid on an overall basis. The unit has generated 10 sacks and forced four turnovers to date.
The spread is tight at 2.5 points for this battle of 2-2 teams. The Hotshots have been the more complete team to date, and we like them to walk off the home field with the win and cover.