Have you been following the Alliance of American Football? It has been a solid post-NFL betting alternative for those who can’t do without football. In the early going, it looks as if Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollos are the team to beat. Here’s a look at two intriguing AAF matchups this week. Check back for AAF odds.
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Touchdown Hotshots, who else..@RocketRoss_19! 🔥@aafhotshots | #SAvsAZ pic.twitter.com/13EtCIDH0u— The Alliance (@TheAAF) 11 de marzo de 2019
Arizona Hotshots at Orlando Apollos
- When: Saturday, 8 PM ET (NFL Network)
The first meeting between these teams. The Hotshots are one of The Alliance’s top offenses. They’re second in total yards per game, third in both rushing and passing yards, and tied for second in points per game. But Arizona is last in the league in third-down conversion percentage, a mere 29 percent. QB John Wolford has a prime target in Rashad Ross, who has five touchdowns this season. No team has found a way to completely stop Ross. Wolford is fourth in the league in passing, while Jhurell Pressley is third in the league in rushing.
Orlando, coached by Steve Spurrier, is the AAF’s only unbeaten at 5-0 following a 31-14 win over Birmingham this past Saturday. Garrett Gilbert threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns and De’Veon Smith rushed for 119 yards.
Gilbert, a former Texas and SMU quarterback who may best be remembered for taking over for Colt McCoy in the 2009 BCS Championship Game, was 23-of-35 passing with no turnovers and attributed the success of the offense to the play of the offensive line. The Apollos netted 182 rushing yards and were led by Smith, who had the game-high 119 yards on 14 carries with a long run of 40 yards. Fellow running back D’Ernest Johnson had a big game, as well, with 122 total yards from scrimmage, including 73 receiving.
Overall, the Apollos gained 468 yards of offense against the league’s best defense while holding Birmingham to only 272 yards — 49 yards rushing — and 2-of-13 on third-down conversions.
Orlando sacked Birmingham’s quarterbacks five times. The Apollos’ defense managed to drive Iron quarterback Luis Perez — second in the league in passing yards heading into the game — out of the game after cornerback Keith Reaser ran an interception back 40 yards for a touchdown, his second such play of the season.
Spurrier said after the game that this performance may have been his team’s best yet, and is proof Orlando is a contender for The Alliance Championship. “If we can stay in focus, stay within ourselves, our guys can achieve a lot this year,” Spurrier said.
Birmingham Iron at San Diego Fleet
- When: Sunday, 8 PM ET (NFL Network)
The first meeting between these teams. The San Diego Fleet are coached by former NFL coach Mike Martz, considered an offensive genius. However, Martz has lost his starting quarterback, Philip Nelson, to a fractured clavicle. Nelson’s injury could sideline him for at least a month and potentially for the rest of the regular season, which concludes on the weekend of April 13-14. Nelson’s injury is the first serious blow to an AAF team’s quarterback situation.
Nelson was the starting quarterback for the Martz-coached Team National in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl college football all-star game. Nelson was placed on reserved/injured. To fulfill the league requirement that they have three quarterbacks on the active roster, the Fleet signed former Pennsylvania quarterback Alek Torgersen, who played three preseason games with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, completing eight of 20 passes for 95 yards.
Mike Bercovici, who started for the Fleet in Week 1, has retaken the starting job for now and led a 27-25 win over Salt Lake in Week 5. Stallions QB Josh Woodrum led his team 76 yards down the field in the closing minutes of the game to go up 25-24 with less than a minute to play, but it wasn’t enough. Bercovici answered with a 45-yard connection to Dontez Ford and set up Donny Hageman for the game-winning 44-yard field goal as time expired. Hageman, who is now 11-for-13 on field-goal attempts after making 3 of 4 on Saturday, said he actually mishit his kick, but had enough power behind it to sail it safely through the uprights.
Former San Diego State star Kameron Kelly turned in a career performance for the home crowd, recording three interceptions. He was actually converted to a receiver in training camp but moved back to corner after Week 2. Kelly is the first player in The Alliance of American Football history to intercept three passes in a game. Kelly’s first two interceptions came in the red zone, both in the second quarter, denying the Stallions a pair of likely touchdown scores.
There is one well-known quarterback on the market, but Martz has ruled out the team signing former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel after he was basically kicked out of the CFL.
“For us, it doesn’t make sense because we’re so far along with what we do, by the time he’d learn what we do the season would be over,” Martz said recently. The AAF is already past the halfway point of its regular season.
Birmingham comes off a 31-14 loss to league-best Orlando. After Iron quarterback Luis Perez threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the team’s third drive, Coach Tim Lewis made the switch under center. Backup Keith Price was inserted into the lineup, and he provided an immediate spark for the offense. Price led two scoring drives and threw the Iron’s first passing touchdown of the season. Running back Trent Richardson had a rushing score and has scored at least one TD in every game. His eight rushing scores lead the league.