The first week of the Alliance of American Football is in the books and the response seems to be overwhelmingly positive for all of the games that took place in week one. Locally, the Birmingham Iron got a huge 26-0 shutout win over the Memphis Express. I ranked the teams going into Week 1 based solely on the rosters and preseason performance, but with this being the first official week ever, it was hard to get an accurate ranking before the real games started.
My preseason pick on Primetime for the playoffs was:
Arizona def. San Antonio (West)
Orlando def. Memphis (East)
Arizona def. Orlando (Championship)
My full preseason rankings were:
1. Arizona Hotshots
2. Orlando Apollos
3. San Antonio Commanders
4. San Diego Fleet
5. Memphis Express
6. Salt Lake Stallions
7. Birmingham Iron
8. Atlanta Legends
Week 1 Picks (5-3):
San Antonio (-3) vs. San Diego – Under 64.5
Orlando (-4) vs. Atlanta – Over 62.5
Memphis (+2.5) at Birmingham – Under 57.5
Arizona (-4.5) vs. Salt Lake – Over 67.5
Now that we have a full week of serious competition to look at, here are the latest Alliance power rankings and how teams shifted from the preseason:
1. Arizona Hotshots (1-0) –
LW: def. Salt Lake 38-22
While Orlando started with a dominant win on Saturday night, Arizona followed it up with a dominant performance on Sunday night. John Wolford got the start and played very well for the Hotshots, throwing 18/29 for 275 yards and 4 TD and also running 8 times for 23 yards. Jhurell Pressley and Justin Stockton played fairly well throughout the night running the ball while Rashad Ross killed it at receiver with 5 catches for 103 yards and 2 TD. The defense forced three turnovers from Salt Lake (and were +3). It wasn’t as dominant of a win as Orlando, but Salt Lake is a better team than Atlanta.
Next week, Arizona travels to Memphis who struggled in week one.
2. Orlando Apollos (1-0) –
LW: def. Atlanta 40-6
Orlando was dominant in their opening week win over Atlanta. Partly because Atlanta is bad, but also because the old ball coach had put together a very well-rounded team. Garrett Gilbert and company started slow, but got it together and played very well down the stretch. Gilbert was 15/25 for 227 yards and 2 TD while also catching a 5-yard touchdown pass on the Orlando Special, mimicking the play the Eagles ran in the Super Bowl. Akeem Hunt had 10 carries for 73 yards and the entire Apollos offense outgained Atlanta 363-224. The defense played well also getting 4 turnovers including a pick-6.
Next week, Orlando has what should be the game of the week as they travel to the Alamodome to face San Antonio.
3. Birmingham Iron (1-0) +4
LW: def. Memphis 26-0
— WJOX 94.5 FM (@WJOX945) February 11, 2019
As you can tell by the +4 next to their name, I wasn’t super confident in Birmingham, but Luis Perez came out slinging it and played very well. Even with some dropped passes, he played well and moved the ball for 252 yards. Trent Richardson didn’t play great, but did put a pair of touchdowns on the board (along with a catch for a two point conversion). The defense was tough, holding Memphis to no points (including a missed field goal), and Nick Novak was phenomenal hitting 4 of 4 from 28, 29, 31 and 47 yards out.
Next week, Birmingham stays at home as they host Salt Lake.
4. San Antonio Commanders (1-0) -1
LW: def. San Diego 15-6
San Antonio had their moments where they looked good. The most viral moment of the entire league so far is the hit Shaan Washington put on Mike Bercovici, showing that their defense can be hard hitting. Their defense also got three interceptions on San Diego. Logan Woodside was 18/36 for 255 yards and 2 INT, so not great, but enough to move the ball decently to get a few field goals.
San Antonio hosts Orlando for their second week match-up.
5. Salt Lake Stallions (0-1) +1
LW: lost to Arizona 38-22
Salt Lake lost starting quarterback Josh Woodrum to a hamstring injury, we’ll see if he’s out for any period of time. However, he was only 10/22 for 103 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Matt Linehan came in for the second half and played fairly well in relief going 7/13 for 56 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Joel Bouagnon was the lead running back for a while but then Branden Oliver stepped up and played decently. On defense, Arizona moved the ball for over 400 yards on the Stallions, but Salt Lake was decent on third down.
Next week, Salt Lake travels to Legion Field to take on the Iron.
6. San Diego Fleet (0-1) -1
LW: lost to San Antonio 15-6
San Diego just could not get anything going in week one against San Antonio. Mike Bercovici got lit up and was 15/25 for 176 yards with 2 interceptions. That was good enough to get him benched for week two as former East Carolina QB Phillip Nelson will take his place. Nelson was 5/10 for 68 yards and 1 INT in relief Saturday night. On defense, the Fleet got a couple of turnovers themselves off Logan Woodside, but could only end the game with a pair of field goals.
Next week, San Diego hosts Atlanta.
7. Memphis Express (0-1) -2
LW: lost to Birmingham 26-0
Memphis just couldn’t get anything going against Birmingham. The Iron’s defense was so tough and bent but never broke leading to Memphis being the only team to still be scoreless this season. Christian Hackenberg was abysmal in this game and was eventually benched for Brandon Silvers from Troy. Zac Stacy had a good day with 12 carries for 58 yards, but they didn’t give him enough of an opportunity to do something. The best player on the team was former LSU punter Brad Wing, averaging 46.8 yards per punt, putting Birmingham inside the 20 twice.
It doesn’t get much better next week as they host Arizona, but at least the Liberty Bowl may give them a little bit of an advantage.
8. Atlanta Legends (0-1) –
LW: lost to Orlando 40-6
Atlanta looked lost in their opening night game on the road at Orlando. Matt Simms was 15/28 for 126 yards and 2 INT. Aaron Murray was the QB we all thought would start, and maybe he should next week, but he was 4/7 for 38 yards an an interception. Atlanta only had 80 yards rushing and was outgained in total by 139 yards. Younghoe Koo had a pair of field goals and they will have to rely on him to get any points on the board since they can’t find the end zone.
Next week, they are on the road again as they travel across the country to face San Diego who will also be looking for revenge after a loss.