San Diego Fleet (0-0) at San Antonio Commanders (0-0)
Saturday February 9, 2019- 5:00 PM CBS
Alamodome- San Antonio, Texas
The Alliance of American Football league’s first ever game will be played on Saturday.
The San Diego Fleet are set to take on the San Antonio Commanders at 8 pm EST in the Alamodome. With that, the AAF and its ten-week season will officially begin. This western division matchup between the Fleet and the Commanders will be the first of two meetings between the two. It might also be the beginning of one of the AAF’s first rivalries.
Mike Martz and the San Diego Fleet might be the most explosive offense in the entire league. Martz, the offensive coordinator for the “Greatest Show on Turf”, is ready to impose his high-powered offense in a league that seems to value offense over defense.
This all starts and ends with quarterback Mike Bercovici. An intriguing prospect, Bercovici is the prototypical “boom-or-bust” player. His ceiling is incredibly high, but his floor is basically rock-bottom. There will be games where he throws for 400+ yards and three or four touchdowns and other games where he turns the ball over four to five times. Ultimately, the outcome of some Fleet games will be entirely based on how Bercovici plays.
Establishing the run game early should be a priority for the Fleet. Keeping the ball on the ground will open up passing lanes for the Fleet, which is obviously the priority of their offense. The Commanders have a very good pass rush and formidable secondary, so running the ball will keep their strength on defense off balance. Ja’Quon Gardner and Terrell Watson must be established early and often.
A key matchup in this game will be how the Fleet offensive line holds up against the San Antonio pass rush. Mike Bercovici was sacked seven times in the preseason matchup against the Apollos and if that continues to happen, the Fleet will not win many games. The Commanders pass rush is experienced and just as talented as the Apollos. Keeping Mike Bercovici upright and ensuring that plays can develop will be the most important part of this game.
Another interesting matchup will be how the Fleet pass catchers will matchup against the Commanders secondary. Kameron Kelly and Dontez Ford are both athletic and big-bodied receivers on the outside for the Fleet. Nelson Spruce should be a reliable weapon out of the slot for Mike Bercovici and Gavin Escobar has the hands of a wide receiver but the body of a tight end. This group of talented pass catchers will face a tough San Antonio secondary on Saturday night. Zack Sanchez, Jordan Thomas, Nick Orr, and Da’Vante Bausby will make it hard on the Fleet’s pass catchers to create separation and make plays. This will be another interesting matchup.
The Commanders are very well-balanced on offense. Their priority, however, should be to get their duo of David Cobb and Kenneth Farrow going early and often. Both Cobb and Farrow are physical power-backs that will try and wear down the Fleet’s front seven. If the Fleet can stop the Commanders running game, they have a solid chance of coming out on top in this one.
Through the air, San Antonio might have the best receiving corps in the entire league. Mekale McKay and Greg Ward Jr. are both incredibly athletic receivers and, in my opinion, are currently the best receiving duo in the league. Demarcus Ayers has NFL experience under his belt and should slide into the slot for the Commanders. His speed might be a problem for a Fleet secondary that gave up big plays against the Apollos offense in the preseason game.
A starter has not been listed at quarterback for the Commanders quite yet. Either Dustin Vaughn or Logan Woodside will start for them. Neither of the two is really impressive, but they do have a ton of talented playmakers surrounding them. This is a true weakness in the San Antonio offense and one that the Fleet could potentially exploit. If the Fleet can get pressure and disrupt the pocket, they should be able to come out on top.
This game will come down to how well the Fleet protects Mike Bercovici and if they can stop the Commanders run game. A clean pocket for Mike Bercovici more than likely means the Fleet win this game, but if the offensive line plays how it did against Orlando, we may see a similar outcome to that game.
My prediction is that the Fleet will win 28-21 and the Fleet will win their first ever Alliance of American Football game. The offensive line is talented enough to hold their own and the Fleet’s front seven should neutralize the Commanders running game.