AAF Week 2 Power Rankings: Will Betting Favorites Continue To Dominate?
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) kicked off their inaugural season with a bang last weekend to high television ratings on CBS. The betting favorites went 4-0 straight up and ATS in Week 1 with three of the four games going under the total. Now that we’re seen the squads in action, we rank all eight teams heading into Week 2. Will the betting favorites continue to dominate or are some teams that lost in the opening weekend better than they looked? We have the answers.
Strong opening night
There was a lot of excitement leading up to opening night of the AAF and it resulted in better than anticipated TV ratings. On Saturday night, the two AAF games on CBS did better in the ratings than the NBA marquee matchup on ABC between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. The AAF did a 2.1 overnight rating, while the NBA matchup between the league’s last two MVPs did 2.0, although some reports had the two in a dead-heat.
It’s an impressive debut for the AAF but we it’s way too early to overreact to ratings. The AAF is something new, so people want to check it out. How many viewers the league retains in the upcoming week will determine if the AAF is destined for long-term success. Other startup football leagues like the USFL and XFL also put up big ratings initially but it didn’t last long.
It’s hard to compare CBS and the NFL Network but the ratings for the Salt Lake-Arizona game Sunday night was a measly 0.4. Again, comparing those two networks is apples to oranges because more households have CBS but 0.4 isn’t exactly knocking it of the park, and that was the AAF’s best game of the weekend.
It will be interesting to see what happens in Week 2. Three of the four games last weekend were decided by 16 points or more. Three of the eight teams failed to score a touchdown. It wasn’t the kind of action that had fans on the edge of their seats. Will people come back for a second week? Well, you can still gamble on the games and after watching all the teams play, there will be opportunities to make money this weekend.
Here are our AFF power rankings heading into Week 2:
The Hotshots were the betting favorite to win the AAF before the season at +250 and they showed why with an impressive 38-22 win over what looks to be a good Salt Lake Squad. Arizona broke open a close game at halftime to easily cover as a 4-point favorite. Quarterback John Wolford stole the show with 275 yards passing and four touchdowns. He was clearly the top quarterback in the AFF after the first weekend of play. Receiver Rashad Ross also had a big game with five catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
Rick Neuheisel deserves a lot of credit as well. His team was ready to play on both sides of the ball and Neuheisel called an aggressive game on offense, consistently taking shots down the field. Arizona’s defensive front held a Salt Lake rushing attack expected to be among the league’s best to 88 yards on 29 carries (3.0 YPC). Overall, it was an impressive debut all the way around for Arizona.
The Hotshots travel to face a Memphis team that got shutout in its opener. We could see the first double-digit spread in the AAF’s brief history Saturday.
An argument can be made for Orlando at No. 1 but the Hotshots beat a better team in Salt Lake. Orlando hammered the worst team in the AAF, defeating Atlanta 40-6. The Apollos got bet up from -5 to -7 and easily covered, dominating the game from start to finish.
The biggest star in the AAF after one week is probably Steve Spurrier. The Ol’ Ball Coach didn’t miss a beat after taking three years off. Spurrier had his offense humming behind quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who threw for 227 yards and two scores. He even had some fun by using the Philly Special to score a late touchdown. Orlando’s defense dominated with three sacks and three interceptions in its utter destruction of Atlanta.
While Orlando was impressive in the opener, we need to see them against better competition before going all-in on the Apollos. Atlanta is so bad it may not win a game this year. Spurrier and the Apollos will face a much tougher test in Week 2 when they go on the road to face San Antonio. The Commanders will have value if they open as a home dog of more than a field goal.
The Iron are probably the toughest team to judge after Week 1. Birmingham’s defense overwhelmed Memphis in a 26-0 shutout win. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Iron faced Christian Hackenberg, who is an atrocious quarterback. Hackenberg missed open receivers all game long and eventually, Memphis’ defense wore down in the second half. The Iron cashed as a 3-point favorite.
Even though Hackenberg stunk it up in the opener, the Iron did show they have the ingredients to be a contender in the AAF. Birmingham’s +1000 odds to win the league before the season appears to be a gift now. Not only did the defense pitch a shutout but quarterback Louis Perez looked good, completing 19 of 33 passes for 252 yards. Former Alabama star Trent Richardson managed just 58 yards on 23 carries (2.5 YPC) but he did score twice. The Iron’s offensive line played well too, something of a rarity in the AAF.
We’ll find out a lot more about the Iron in Week 2 when they host Salt Lake. Despite losing to Arizona, the Stallions played well for three quarters. That matchup is one of the top games in Week 2, along with Orlando vs. San Antonio. Look for the Iron to be around 5-point favorites at home.
San Antonio Commanders
The most intriguing team to me moving forward is the Commanders. San Antonio’s offense started slowly but the defense dominated in a 15-6 win over San Diego. The line in the game dropped from -5 to -1.5 with money coming in on the Fleet. San Antonio hung on to cover thanks to a late interception in the end zone.
San Antonio’s defense was one of the most impressive units in Week 1. The Commanders sacked San Diego quarterbacks three times and recorded three interceptions. Quarterback Logan Woodside was off early but played better after halftime. He finished 18 of 36 for 255 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. If Woodside improves and the offensive line plays better, the Commanders will be a serious threat in the AAF.
San Antonio hosts Orlando on Sunday. The Commanders will likely be a home underdog. Depending on the line, they will be worth a look. Based on competition, Orlando is probably a little overvalued and San Antonio undervalued.
Salt Lake Stallions
The Stallions came up short in Arizona but it was by far the best game of the weekend. Arizona led 19-16 in the third quarter before pulling away late. Salt Lake missed some opportunities in the first half with dropped passes and a fumbled punt. The turnover led to a Hotshots touchdown. Arizona won 38-22 to cover as 4-point favorites. It was also the only AAF game to go over the total last weekend.
Salt Lake can be a factor in the title picture but there are some concerns with the Stallions following their Week 1 loss. Quarterback Josh Woodrum looked like a potential star in the league but he struggled, going 10 of 22 for 103 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Woodrum was benched in favor of Matt Linehan, who wasn’t much better, finishing 7 of 13 for 56 yards, one score and an interception. The Stallions will need much better quarterback play moving forward to be a playoff contender.
The other problem with Salt Lake was Dennis Erickson’s conservative approach. He punted on fourth-and-2 from the 39-yard line to gain 24 yards of field position. Following the punt, the Hotshots scored two straight touchdowns to blow the game open. Erickson was also running the ball in the fourth quarter down by 11 points. He was way too conservative and that needs to change.
The Stallions have another tough matchup when they go on the road to face Birmingham Saturday. Expect Salt Lake to be over a field goal underdog for the second straight week.
San Diego Fleet
Last week I wrote the Fleet were a boom or bust team and worth a shot at +1000 to win the AAF title. That was on full display Saturday night. San Diego’s defense is good enough to win a title but its offensive line and quartehrbacks need to improve quickly for the Fleet to be a factor.
To be fair, the Fleet got a bad break after they selected Josh Johnson with the top pick in the AAF draft. Johnson was signed by the Redskins and now San Diego is left with Mike Bercovici and Philip Nelson under center. The two combined to go 20 of 35 for 244 yards but three costly interceptions were the difference in the game. San Diego’s offensive line did its quarterbacks no favors, as Bercovici almost got decapitated in the first quarter.
The Fleet look like the best team of the three that failed to score a touchdown in Week 1. If San Diego gets better play from its quarterbacks, it won’t be surprising to see them in the playoff hunt. The Fleet will be favorites at home Sunday versus lowly Atlanta.
Oh, Christian Hackenberg. Memphis was the only team to get shutout in its opener. Hackenberg is a big reason why after going 10 of 23 for 87 yards and an interception. The former Jet missed open receivers all game long and finished with an embarrassing 3.8 yards per attempt. He can’t play quarterback. At any level.
I actually didn’t think Memphis was that bad outside of the quarterback position. The Express’ defense kept them in the game before wearing down in the fourth quarter. Memphis’ offensive line also looks to be one of the better units in the league. The Express rushed for 103 yards on 26 carries (4.0 YPC).
Brandon Silvers replaced Hackenberg late in the game. Memphis also has former Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger on the roster. If Memphis can fix the quarterback position, it could still turn its season around but that’s a big “if.”
We’ll see if Mike Singletary sticks with Hackenberg when the Express host Arizona on Saturday night. If he does, that game will get ugly fast.
Atlanta looked like a mess heading into the season. The Legends didn’t disappoint, getting blasted 40-6 by Orlando in the opener.
Atlanta lost both its head coach and offensive coordinator before the start of the season. Brad Childress was originally supposed to be the coach but left after just a month on the job. Kevin Coyle replaced Childress and looked overmatched in his first game as a head coach. Mike Vick was the offensive coordinator and now he’s not the offensive coordinator. Somehow with all this uncertainty, the Legends were +500 to win the league before last week, ahead of three other teams.
The Legends have arguably the worst offensive line and starting quarterback in the AAF. With apologies to Hackenberg, Matt Simms has no business being a starting quarterback in any legitimate football league. Simms finished 15 of 28 for 126 yards and two interceptions. He should give way to Aaron Murray this week unless Coyle is already tanking for a better draft pick.
The Legends have been outscored 77-17 in two AAF games (Week 1 and preseason). They are clearly the worst team in the league and it’s not close right now. San Diego will be around a touchdown favorite at home Sunday, despite not scoring a touchdown in the opener. Lay the points.