A week ago, we made more picks and got more results.
I am currently in the lead (7-1) after going 4-0 in week two. Everyone else sits tied for second at 6-2. JB and Jason both went 3-1 last week, while TK caught up with them after running the table on his picks last week.
Everybody correctly predicted San Diego would beat Atlanta on Sunday. The Fleet ran all over Atlanta and proved almost all of us right when we say that they look to be the worst team in the league.
JB got his one and only incorrect prediction at the hands of the Birmingham Iron and their comeback victory over the Stallions. Points were at a premium in this matchup as the rest of us predicted a Birmingham win, but not that close. Arizona predictably left Memphis with a win, but none of us predicted that it would be that close. Memphis kept it close because of their defense and running game, but Arizona was too much for them late in the game.
Jason picked San Antonio to beat Orlando and was ultimately wrong as the Apollos came back and won the game late. The rest of us picked the game correctly, but nobody expected the game to be as high scoring as it was.
Another week of games are coming and we have a whole new set of game picks and some major upset picks. Sadly, TK won’t be joining us in this week’s picks due to outlying circumstances.
Zach: 87.5% (7-1)
JB (TAFKAFS): 75% (6-2)
TK (TAFKAFS): 75% (6-2) (Missing Week 3)
Arizona Hotshots (2-0) at Salt Lake Stallions (0-2)
Arizona (28)-Salt Lake (23)
This matchup will be determined in the trenches. Pressure really derailed Arizona early against Memphis and forced Wolford to make a couple of bad decisions. I’d expect Wolford to bounce back and have another big day as the Hotshots running game may struggle a little bit early. The Hotshots defensive back group can shut down the Stallions underachieving receivers, so I wouldn’t expect too much from that group. If Josh Woodrum is back, the Stallions will play better offensively. But defensively, I expect that Salt Lake defensive back group to struggle against the talented wide receivers of the Hotshots.
Key Matchup: Karter Schultz vs. the Arizona offensive tackles
Schultz leads the league in sacks and has dominated when on the field. If the Hotshots don’t have either of the two tackles they were missing last week, Wolford will be having a long day in the pocket.
Arizona (26)-Salt Lake (12)
Before the season started Arizona was the odds on favorite to win it all. They have looked the part but I wouldn’t say they sit alone that category any longer. Salt Lake has struggled. They did not look great against Birmingham and let’s be real, that Iron defense is stout! I don’t foresee a blowout but I don’t think it will be close either.
Key Matchup: Gionni Paul vs. Tim Cook
Salt Lake (28)-Arizona (22)
I’ve got a hunch that as the season goes on we’ll find out that home-field advantage means more than we thought. I think that a healthy Josh Woodrum will be enough to move the Stallions offense against the Hotshots defense. The Stallions are better than their 0-2 record, and they’ll show it this week… unless Josh Woodrum re-aggravates that injury.
Key Matchup: Josh Woodrum vs. his hamstring
Memphis Express (0-2) at Orlando Apollos (2-0)
Orlando (24)-Memphis (15)
I actually think this will be a good game. Strange I know, but I think Memphis’s defense can hang with Orlando’s high flying offense for most of the game. Memphis boasts a great front seven with a decent secondary headed by Channing Stribling, who had a great game against the Hotshots. But Memphis isn’t good enough offensively, with or without a QB change, to do much damage offensively. Zac Stacy will get a lot of carries, but nothing else will look good. Orlando’s offense will stall early, but as the game wears on their offense will find openings in either the rushing or passing games. The Apollos defense will get one or two turnovers at just the right time to turn the tide of the game.
Key Matchup: Channing Stribling vs. Charles Johnson
Whether Stribling can win this matchup could determine the game. Johnson showed he can take the top off of a defense, and having to put two defenders on Johnson will create openings in other spots. It will be a challenge for both players, but I expect Johnson to win late.
Orlando (22)-Memphis (16)
The Apollos have certainly been a force to be reckoned with after two weeks of football. They have shown the ability to put up a lot of points. Memphis, though their record might not reflect it, have played solid football (outside of their quarterback play). This could be Orlando’s toughest test yet when it comes to maintaining their offensive dominance. While the Apollos pull off the victory the Express will slow them down in the process.
Key Matchup: Charles Johnson vs. anyone trying to stop him.
Orlando (36)-Memphis (17)
The issues with Memphis’ offense are systemic and probably not fixable at this point. I respect Singletary for sticking with Hackenberg for as long as he has. I don’t think a quarterback change will help at this point… but I don’t think the offense will continue to play hard for Hackenberg if he doesn’t get off to a good start. A strategic quarterback change may be the right call. Orlando is the best scoring offense in the league. The Express will hold them close for a half, but the wheels will come off the wagon as fatigue becomes a factor. Momentary lapses will be enough for Gilbert to hit Johnson deep. Cover your eyes Memphis!
Key Matchup: Mike Singletary vs The Express Offense
Birmingham Iron (2-0) at Atlanta Legends (0-2)
Birmingham (25)-Atlanta (17)
Birmingham should win this game. Atlanta has looked like the least complete team in the league and probably won’t be able to move the football. The only reason the Iron could lose this game is if they keep force feeding Trent Richardson. He has been very ineffective everywhere except in goal to go situations. They have to trust Luis Perez to make plays or else they will struggle offensively again. For Atlanta, expect a quarterback change. Rich Bartel has been coming up with good gameplans, but his players have not been performing. If they switch quarterbacks, you could see a revitalized offense that could surprise the Iron’s top-notch defense.
Key Matchup: Jamar Summers vs. Seantavius Jones
Seantavius Jones has gotten his share of targets but hasn’t been able to produce from much of them. Expect Jamar Summers to control this matchup and probably end the game with at least one forced turnover, probably an interception.
Atlanta (19)-Birmingham (14)
These two teams are fairly similar though their records don’t show it. The one difference being that Iron Curtain defense. They can really apply pressure to the quarterback and also test quarterbacks with a great defensive backfield. Atlanta is still trying for their first win. They looked out of synch in San Diego last week, but I can tell you the weather was a huge factor for both teams that game. I think they have something to prove and want to show their home fans they are worth coming out to watch.
Key Matchup: Trent Richardson vs. Atlanta’s goal-line defense.
Richardson has got in the end zone often but cannot find the hole in general. His low yards per carry reflect it.
Atlanta (21)-Birmingham (18)
Trent Richardson has been the focal point of the Iron offense. That will continue this week, but the Legends, in their first home game, will find a way to jump out to an early lead. Look for the Iron to stick with Richardson for as long as they can. He hasn’t been able to generate chunk plays so far this season. Luis Perez will try to throw the Iron back into the game, but the Legends defense will be up to the task. Look for Matt Simms to have his best game yet as Legends QB.
Key Matchup: Seantavious Jones vs. Jack Tocho (or the entire Iron Secondary)
San Antonio Commanders (1-1) at San Diego Fleet (1-1)
San Diego (23)-San Antonio (20)
This is the toughest game to pick. The Fleet are probably going to try and throw the ball coming out, which the Apollos showed is a key to beating the Commanders. San Antonio has a great front seven that can control the line of scrimmage but their defensive backs didn’t play well against Orlando. I’d expect San Diego to pound the rock late if Phillip Nelson can’t get the ball moving through the air. And I don’t expect him too, thanks to the Commanders pass rush. San Antonio’s offense will have a hard time running the ball against San Diego, so it will be on Logan Woodside to be the difference in this game. With that stellar San Diego defensive line pressuring him all game, I don’t expect Woodside to be very comfortable in the pocket.
Key Matchup: San Diego Offensive Lineman vs. San Antonio Front Seven
My key matchup has to be the battle in the trenches. If San Antonio cannot stop the San Diego offensive line from controlling the line of scrimmage, the Fleet’s running backs will have a big day.
San Diego (31)-San Antonio (17)
Coming off their first victory of the season the Fleet will be looking to keep their momentum in the win column. We all saw the second half ground attack last week with Gardner and Watson running all over the Atlanta. The Commanders did suffer a loss but put up respectable numbers against a red hot Orlando squad. These teams meet for the second time and a budding rivalry could be heating up right before our eyes.
Key Matchup: Mike Martz vs. Mike Riley
The biggest factor in this game could be in-game adjustments.
San Diego (20)-San Antonio (14)
The only thing standing in the way of a San Diego win this week is Fleet Head Coach Mike Martz. If Martz can stay on track as a play caller, feeding the ball to the two-headed monster of Ja’Quan Gardner and Terrell Watson, the Fleet will win this game. The Commanders are light on the Defensive Line and prone to give up yards to the run. A consistent effort by the Fleet will see the Commanders defense in a shambles by the 4th quarter. The trick then is for Martz to keep his nerve. Look for the Fleet interior OL to dominate the Commanders DL in the Run Game.
Key Matchup: Fleet Center and Guards: Jeremiah Kolone, Damien Mama, and Beau Nunn vs. Commanders defensive lineman Winston Craig and Joey Mbu