The Alliance of American Football is officially eight weeks old after the league completed its Week 8 scheduled over the weekend.
The Orlando Apollos continued to separate themselves from the rest of the pack as they defeated the Memphis Express 34-31 in a game decided in the final minute. In the second game of Saturday, the Salt Lake Stallions bested the San Diego Fleet 8-3 in an ugly game.
Sunday proved to be crucial as teams continue to fight for the playoffs. In the first game, the Birmingham Iron locked up the 2nd playoff spot in the East with a 17-9 victory over the lowly Atlanta Legends. In the second game, the Arizona Hotshots ended the San Antonio Commanders’ win streak and forced them to a tie in the team standings at 5-3.
So after eight weeks of football action, here’s how the teams standings look like in the first ever season of the AAF:
|San Antonio Commanders||5||3|
|San Diego Fleet||3||5|
|Salt Lake Stallions||3||5|
Now, here is the schedule for Week 9:
|Memphis Express||at||San Antonio Commanders||Sat, April 6||Noon||CBS Sports|
|San Diego Fleet||at||Orlando Apollos||Sat, April 6||8 P.M.||NFL Network|
|Salt Lake Stallions||at||Atlanta Legends||Sun, April 7||4 P.M.||B/R Live|
|Birmingham Iron||at||Arizona Hotshots||Sun, April 7||8 P.M.||NFL Network|
The odds for Week 9 aren’t out yet but we’re previewing the week’s games anyway and will also be giving you our predictions for each Week 9 game:
Memphis Express at San Antonio Commanders
The Memphis Express are coming off what is arguably their best game of the season. The Express took on the league-leading Orlando Apollos on Saturday and they had a fantastic time moving the ball and creating takeaways. Despite what can be considered a brilliant effort, the Express still lost the game 31-34. But hey, Memphis to Orlando to the limit and nearly pulled off the upset .
On the other hand, the Commanders played their worst game of the season, San Antonio scored just 6 points and were forced into committing two turnovers by the Arizona Hotshots defense. The Commanders played without wideout Mekale McKay who ranks 6th in the AAF in receiving yards. Logan Woodside struggled at 4-9 passing with one interception and was relieved by Marquise Williams who did provide some spark on offense. It wasn’t their night though as the league’s longest winning streak was over.
Prediction: San Antonio Commanders. The Memphis Express are in a bad spot here, really. They are facing a San Antonio Team that not only had its winning streak snapped but had its march to the playoffs stalled. Logan Woodside had a poor outing against the Hotshots but he’s not had many this season and chances are, he won’t this time around, especially against a Memphis pass defense that ranks in the bottom of the league in passing yards per game allowed at 229.75. I like the Commanders to bounce back with a big win at home.
San Diego Fleet at Orlando Apollos
The San Diego Fleet were involved in an ugly game against the Salt Lake Stallions. The Fleet outgained the Stallions in the game and forced Salt Lake to three turnovers. Despite those, San Diego only managed to score one field goal all game long. Of course, that wasn’t enough to win the game. With the loss, San Diego drops to a tie with Salt Lake at 3-5 in the Western Conference team standings.
The Apollos were nearly ambushed by the lowly Memphis Express last Saturday. Memphis played its best game of the season but despite getting into trouble, the Apollos still managed to pull off a 34-31 win. Garrett Gilbert continues to impress with 312 yards and two touchdowns while De’veon Smith plunged to the endzone with two minutes left to give the Apollos the lead.
Prediction: Orlando Apollos. So the Apollos proved that they are mortals. The Apollos played an out of character game last Saturday where there were a combined 25 penalties totalling 259 yards. But then maybe it was because they played against the most undisciplined team in the AAF in the Memphis Express. Despite throwing two interceptions, Garrett Gilbert threw for 310 yards with two touchdowns. The Fleet are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, ranking 6th in total yards allowed and also sixth in points per allowed.I don’t think Memphis has the defense to stop Orlando’s offense nor do they have the offense to match them.
Salt Lake Stallions at Atlanta Legends
The Salt Lake Stallions kept their playoff hopes alive when they defeated the San Diego Fleet in a low scoring 8-3 game. It wasn’t as brilliant as the Fleet’s 27-25 win over the Stallions in Week 5 but Salt Lake is going to take the win regardless. The Stallions only managed 245 total yards at 3.4 yards per play but their defense came up big, forcing also three turnovers that were crucial in the game.
The Legends were losers again last week as they managed to score just a total of 9 points per game. Atlanta entered the game as the lowest scoring team in the AAF, they proved that with another paltry effort on Sunday. As in the previous weeks, the only bright spot for Atlanta was kicker Younghoe Koo who made three field goals in the game and is a perfect 14-14 with his kicks this season. Good as Koo is though, Atlanta needs more offense to win games.
Prediction: Salt Lake Stallions. The Atlanta Legends entered their Week 8 game averaging a league low 11.286 points per game. Well they ran in to the defensive minded Birmingham Iron and scored only 9 points while suffering another defeat. But if there’s something positive to take from last week, it’s that the Legends lost by just 9 points and not blown out. Unfortunately for the Legends, they will be facing a Salt Lake team that is 2nd in the league in total yards allowed at 290.875 per game. The Stallions also rank third in points allowed behind Birmingham and Orlando so the Legends are in trouble here as well.
Birmingham Iron at Arizona Hotshots
The Birmingham Iron are through to the playoffs. With their Week 8 victory over the the Atlanta Legends, the Iron clinched the 2nd spot in the Eastern Conference. As always, it was their defense which carried them to victory. The Iron defense stopped Atlanta on 4th and goal in the third quarter and then forced an interception and recovered a fumble in the 4th to win 17-9. The Birmingham Special Teams was also on fire as they recovered a fumble in the second quarter that led to a touchdown and a 49 yard punt return in the 3rd period.
The Arizona Hotshots made a huge statement against the rampaging Commanders on Sunday. The win put them in a tie with San Antonio for the #1 playoff spot in the East. The Hotshots got another huge game from star wide receiver Rashad Ross who had 4 catches for 78 yards and one touchdown. Arizona also has solid outings from running backs Justin Stockton and Tim Cook. With a chance to take the lead in the West, expect a big home outing from the Hotshots.
Prediction: Arizona Hotshots. This is without a doubt the best game of the week. Birmingham clinched the 2nd playoff spot in the East in Week 8. Once again, defense was their calling card as the Iron limited the Atlanta Legends to just 9 points in the game. But the Iron played without its best player in cornerback Jamar Summers who is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. They were also without star running back Brandon Ross and if Birmingham misses both players next week, it’s gonna be trouble for the Iron. Arizona has one of the best wideouts in the league in Rashad Ross who ranks second in the league in receiving yards with 583. If they give up more plays in the air, expect the Hotshots to take advantage and win the game.