This week’s power rankings only brought more uncertainty in the middle of the pack, as a couple of winless teams picked up wins after quarterback changes. There’s only one thing that all of the AAF community can agree on so far this year, the Orlando Apollos are the best team in the league.
And to continue a trend, here are some things I noticed around the AAF this week.
-The Legends and Express changed QB’s and won. Makes you wonder why they weren’t starting in the first place.
-Arizona is going to have a real problem if they can’t keep Wolford upright.
-The Fleet losing OG Damien Mama could be a bigger deal than losing QB Philip Nelson.
-The Stallions need to learn how to finish games in the fourth quarter.
-The Iron may have the best defense in the league, but their offense is really bad.
-The Commanders need some consistency if they want to be successful long-term.
This league has shown it has parity, which is a big factor in keeping people interested. Going into week five of the AAF’s inaugural season, fans don’t know who is going to win from week to week. This parity is what is going to keep fans intrigued from season to season, so hopefully, it continues.
Week Five Power Rankings
- Orlando Apollos (4-0) ↔0
- Birmingham Iron (3-1)↔0
- San Antonio Commanders (2-2)↑3
- San Diego Fleet (2-2) ↔0
- Salt Lake Stallions (1-3)↔0
- Arizona Hotshots (2-2)↓3
- Memphis Express (1-3)↔0
- Atlanta Legends (1-3)↔0
1) Orlando Apollos (Won 20-11 against the Salt Lake Stallions)
People keep waiting for Steve Spurrier and this Orlando team to fall to earth and they don’t. The Apollos are clearly the most complete team in the league. Garrett Gilbert continues to dominate, completing almost 70% of his passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. Week in and week out, the Apollos have had the best quarterback in the league. Having the best quarterback isn’t what makes them the best team though. They one of the best groups of wide receivers, a good stable of running backs, and one of the most well-rounded defenses in the league. They have given up more than 20 points only once, and have given up an average of 15.75 points per game. This is the most complete team in the AAF right now and the Apollos are easily the favorite to become AAF champions through four weeks.
2) Birmingham Iron (Lost 12-11 against the San Antonio Commanders)
A lack of an offense reared its ugly head on Sunday for the Iron, as they only scored 11 points. It was their second game of scoring less than 15 points in a game. Luis Perez did not look good this past week, throwing two interceptions and only completing 19 of his 39 passes. The lack of a passing attack has left the Iron with only one option offensively, and that is to run the football. They haven’t done that well either, only rushing for 85 yards on Sunday. They haven’t rushed for over 100 yards in a single game this year. The defense is the main reason they have been winning games. Their opponents are averaging 8.25 points per game, which is an elite number. But if their offense can’t find an identity behind that ragtag offensive line, this team will struggle down the stretch and against teams like the Apollos.
3) San Antonio Commanders (Won 12-11 against the Birmingham Iron)
This team has looked decent to good in three of the four games they have played. This past Sunday was one of the decent ones. San Antonio held a bad Iron offense to 11 points, constantly taking advantage of the Iron’s bad offense and not letting Trent Richardson (1.9 average yards a carry) move the football at all. The Commanders only had one sack, but they forced 3 turnovers and controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game. San Antonio also ran the ball really well, with Kenneth Farrow II rushing for 142 yards on 30 carries. Logan Woodside played well enough for the Commanders to win, not turning the ball over or making any crucial mistakes. But he was still a liability as he only completed 11 of his 25 passes. A good running attack and solid defense is the formula they will have to follow to win, but I just don’t know if they can do that consistently.
4) San Diego Fleet (Lost 26-23 against the Memphis Express)
Injuries have really hurt this team. Losing both of your leaders on defense (Damontre Moore and A.J. Tarpley) is never a good thing. But then losing your starting quarterback for 4-6 weeks due to a collarbone injury? Just brutal for a team that was just starting to gel offensively. The hope is that Mike Bercovici, who played a very unconvincing three and a half quarters against the San Antonio Commanders in week one. He didn’t have much help offensively, and there’s the hope that that will change after a rather dismal performance from the Fleet offensive line and running backs, who averaged 3.5 yards a carry against the Express. San Diego’s defense played very well against the run, but struggled against Mettenberger, allowing a passer rating of 104.4 to the Memphis Express. Of course, it was hard for the Fleet’s defense to do much while continually dealing with bad field position due to San Diego’s five turnovers. If the Fleet can’t figure out how to protect the ball, this won’t be the last game they lose.
5) Salt Lake Stallions (Lost 20-11 against the Orlando Apollos)
What a tough team to gage. The combined record of their opponents is 9-3 (played the Hotshots twice), so they are playing good teams… But they are still losing. They show promise every game but haven’t been able to find consistent success. In weeks one and three, the Stallions scored 22 and 23 points respectively, but during weeks two and four they only scored 9 and 11 points. Josh Woodrum has been pretty good, but not great and their running game has been as inconsistent as their scoring. The defense has played well after that first week, consistently getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. I believe Salt Lake has the second best group of defensive lineman, along with a good group of linebackers. But the problem of not being able to finish games is still present, and until they win more, they won’t be able to reach the top half of my power rankings.
6) Arizona Hotshots (Lost 14-11 against the Atlanta Legends)
To be clear, I still am really high on John Wolford as the starting quarterback for this team. Whenever he is in, this team has a chance to win. But he was a little off on Sunday, missing a lot of easy throws and only completing 55% of his passes. A lot of this can do with the pressure he has been dealing with since week two, as the offensive line has fallen off after their stellar week one performance when it comes to pass protection. The Hotshot’s defense has still been playing at a pretty good level, but the one thing they are missing is turnovers. They haven’t forced a turnover in any of the past three weeks, which is less than good as they are always dealing with bad field position. During the Hotshots, last three games, their average starting field position was the 25-yard line….. They have averaged 15 points over those last three games and lost two of them.
7) Memphis Express (Won 26-23 against the San Diego Fleet)
A lot of people are going to be begging for movement from this team after they competed with the Apollos and beating the San Diego Fleet, but I am still iffy on this team. Mettenberger played better than Hackenberg and they threw the ball a lot better, but the Express running game faltered. Memphis only had 57 yards on 32 carries, which isn’t very good at all. I’d expect a slight offensive regression next week versus the Legends and their almost elite secondary. While their defense did play well, Philip Nelson was carving them up before he was injured, and one could argue that they would’ve lost if Nelson had stayed healthy. That defense is still good and forced five turnovers against the Fleet. Decent offense and a good defense can lead a team really far.
8) Atlanta Legends (Won 14-11 against the Arizona Hotshots)
In the second part of this week’s edition of “What a quarterback change can do”, the Legends actually won… That wasn’t a typo. They actually beat the Arizona Hotshots with Aaron Murray coming in at quarterback after Matt Simms went out with an injury. The Legends rushing attack had three guys rush for over 40 yards against the Hotshots, with Denard Robinson scoring the one Legends touchdown. Younghoe Koo made both of the kicks, one from 27 yards and another from 33 yards. Those two safeties the Atlanta Legends have, Ed Reynolds and Tyson Graham Jr. are studs. Graham Jr. leads the AAF in tackles and Ed Reynolds is second on the team in tackles. There haven’t been that many big plays against the Legends despite being 1-3, and those two on the backend are a big reason for it. I want to wait and see if they can win more, but if they win they will go up these boards quickly.