Looks like we’ve lost a member of our weekly game picks crew. T.K. has gone on sabbatical from the AAF as he and J.B. retired the TAFKAFS and FleetSpeak podcasts (R.I.P.). J.B. has been kind enough to stick around and now you guys have less to read!
Instead of the one sentence recap of our past picks, I am going to change it up and give you guys some of my bold predictions for Week Four as we near the halfway point in the regular season. If everybody likes this little bold predictions segment, I may get Jason and J.B. to give us their “Bold Predictions” as well. By the way, these are BOLD predictions and I wouldn’t be surprised if none of them happen.
- Aaron Murray (ATL) steps in for Matt Simms after the first half and throws for two touchdowns
- Trey Williams (SA) leads the league in rushing during Week 4
- Josh Woodrum (SL) throws three interceptions, two to Keith Reaser
- Shakir Soto (SD) has two sacks and cements himself as the AAF’s best defensive tackle
- Jamar Summers (BIR) forces a turnover in his fourth straight game
And with my very bold predictions done, here’s our weekly picks for Week Four of the AAF Regular Season.
Zach: 83.3% (10-2)
Jason: 66.6% (8-4)
JB (TAFKAFS): 75% (9-3)
Atlanta Legends (0-3) at Arizona Hotshots (2-1)
Arizona (24)-Atlanta (15)
Unlike some, I still believe in Arizona. With quarterback John Wolford in and healthy, they are as dangerous as any team out there. But that’s where the problem lies, can the Hotshots keep their star quarterback healthy. A strong running game will help, something they lacked last week. Also, I just don’t see the drama that has become the Atlanta Legends offense stopping any time soon. The Legends offense will continue to struggle and their defense won’t fare much better
Key Matchup: Rashad Ross vs. Tyson Graham Jr.
If the Hotshots continue to struggle on the offensive line, Wolford’s connection to Rashad Ross will be huge. Tyson Graham has t be able to take him down after the catch.
Arizona (26)-Atlanta (14)
Arizona Hotshots had their fire extinguished against Salt Lake last week. They will be on the road again against a reeling Atlanta team that has yet to register a win. This one has mismatch written all over it. Look for Arizona to stoke the flames against a rather pedestrian Atlanta squad that has been anything but Legendary.
Key Matchup: Thomas Duarte vs. Tyson Graham Jr.
Even though Graham plays up in the box to stop the run he also will be a roaming defender. If he can help take away Duarte as the Stallions did it could help Atlanta stay in this one.
Arizona (36)-Atlanta (12)
The Legends are in disarray. Losing Brad Childress, Michael Vick, and now Quarterbacks Coach and defacto Offensive Coordinator Rich Bartel will prove too much for the Legends to overcome. Under other circumstances, I would push for backup quarterback Aaron Murray to get a start. The thing is, with no coaching, and no time to prepare, I don’t think that’s the right play for the Legends offense. The Hotshots lost last week against a better than their record Stallions team. Wolford looks healthy and they have home field advantage.
Key Matchup: Obum Gwachum vs. Matt Simms
Gwachum (Go Beavs) leads the ‘Shots with six quarterback hits. The Legends offensive line has had trouble with the pass rush all year. If Gwachum can get to Simms it will go a long ways towards cementing a victory for Arizona
Orlando Apollos (3-0) at Salt Lake Stallions (1-2)
Orlando (31)-Salt Lake (21)
I don’t think this game is going to be very close. The Apollos may be playing in the cold up in Salt Lake, but they will come out hot after their subpar performance against Memphis and beat Salt Lake handily. This Apollos team has skill at almost all of the skill positions and a good quarterback under center which has been their recipe for success. The one way the Stallions can keep this close is by not turning the ball over and getting to Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert. If Salt Lake can make Gilbert uncomfortable, this game will turn out a lot different then I think. But I just think the Apollos will come out looking to make a statement after their tight game against Memphis.
Key Matchup: Karter Schult vs. Orlando’s Offensive Tackles
Protecting Garrett Gilbert has to be the most important thing for the Apollos. Karter Schult has been dominant and can change the course of this game if he can get to Gilbert.
Orlando (24)-Salt Lake (19)
This Apollos team is just rolling. I can’t pick against them until they stumble. Succinct and to the point. Orlando in a close one on the road.
Key Matchup: De’Morney Pierson-El vs. Orlando secondary
Pierson-El had 61 yards after the catch in week three. His big-play ability will be needed if the Stallions hope to upset the league’s top squad.
Salt Lake (26)-Orlando (22)
The Stallions have looked better than they played in all three of their games this year. Even in last week’s win against the Hotshots, it looked like they left something on the table. Orlando has been the most impressive team in the AAF in this early part of the season. I think this week, on the road in Salt Lake, is where they let down just a bit.
Key Matchup: Karter Schult vs. Garrett Gilbert
Orlando has been relying on the deep ball. Those patterns take time to develop. AAF Sack leader Karter Schult will disrupt the pocket, and Gilbert won’t be able to get comfortable.
San Antonio Commanders (1-2) at Birmingham Iron (3-0)
San Antonio (24)-Birmingham (18)
San Antonio should be coming back with a vengeance this week. They lost big against the San Diego Fleet after what some people (The Command Post Podcast) reported was a laid back week of practice. I’d expect them to come back and play a tough fought game and really test the best defense in the AAF. Look out for Trey Williams to have a big game and if Logan Woodside starts out bad, expect Marquis Williams to get more snaps. Birmingham hasn’t exactly played the best competition in their first three games, as their opponents are a combined 1-8. But their defense is elite and capable of taking the ball away anywhere on the field. If they want to win this game, they will have to score points on defense or set the Iron offense up with great field position. I just don’t expect their offense to do much since Birmingham’s receivers can’t catch and won’t be able to exploit the Commanders biggest weakness on defense, which is their defensive backs.
Key Matchup: Mekale McKay vs. Jamar Summers
Jamar Summers has been one of the best corners in the AAF through three weeks and has a big challenge on his hands with Mekale McKay. For the Commanders offense to succeed, McKay needs to have a big day and always be available for Woodside or Williams.
Birmingham (22)-San Antonio (17)
San Antonio has lost momentum. Nothing like a home game to try and get that back. They haven’t won since week 1 at home vs SD. The key for the Commanders will be ball control (limiting turnovers against a ferocious defense that swarms the ball and forces turnovers) and goalline defense. Trent Richardson averages under 3.0 yards per carry but cannot be stopped on the goalline. I still like the Iron in a tough road battle.
Key Matchup: Trent Richardson vs. San Antonio’s Goalline Defense
Birmingham (25)-San Antonio (19)
The Commanders have been in a funk since their week one win against the Fleet. The Iron have gone 3-0 to start the season without looking very imposing. With any luck, one of these teams will start clicking this week. Richardson leads the AAF with six rushing touchdowns, in spite of his anemic 2.5 average yards per carry. Perez has the look of a future NFL player but needs to show that his ability to read defenses is improving week to week. Logan Woodside has struggled. I don’t think Marquis Williams is the answer, but don’t be surprised to see Riley give him a shot if Woodside isn’t producing. The Iron Defense has been the most complete unit in the AAF so far this season, and they will be the difference in this game.
Key Matchup: Logan Woodside vs. Iron Defense
The Commanders have better offensive talent than Birmingham, but Tim Lewis has done a fantastic job with the Iron Defense. Look for the that Defense to get to Woodside. When that happens the game might get out of hand.
San Diego Fleet (2-1) at Memphis Express (0-3)
San Diego (27)-Memphis (20)
Memphis really surprised me with how their defense played against the Apollos, and that defense is what makes them dangerous against San Diego. San Diego hasn’t struggled to score during these past two games due to improved offensive line play and they will need every bit of it against DeMarquis Gates and the good Memphis defense. With Mettenberger starting, I expect them to challenge the Fleet’s defensive backs early and often. The Fleet will need improved safety play and their defensive line to be dominant again to win. If Philip Nelson can go without throwing an interception in this game, I think the Fleet will win due to their strong rushing attack and a strong offensive line. Just watch for that Mettenberger lead offense to look completely different from the Memphis offense of the past.
Key Matchup: DeMarquis Gates vs. JaQuan Gardner/Terrel Watson
This two-headed rushing attack gives the Fleet a lot of options in the backfield and could give linebacker DeMarquis Gates a lot of trouble ad the game goes along. Expect a healthy dose of each as the Fleet look to tire out this Memphis defense that hasn’t performed very well late in games.
San Diego (27)-Memphis (18)
San Diego finally had a great game from their offensive line. That allowed Philip Nelson to find his groove. At one point Nelson completed nine of his 10 passes. Ja’Quan Gardner was also extremely effective in the Fleet’s two-headed RB attack with an electric 83 YD TD run. Memphis, on the other hand, has had issues. At 0-3 that goes without saying. It seems that Zach Mettenberg has taken over for an inept Christian Hackenberg at QB. I like the Fleet to get their first road win of the season.
Key Matchup: Fleet Offensive Line vs. Memphis’s Front Seven
If San Diego continues their offensive line development then Gardner and Watson could have big days.
Memphis (21)-San Diego (20)
The Express showed signs of life last week after Singletary gave quarterback Christian Hackenberg the hook, in favor of Zach Metten’baconcheese’berger. That change at quarterback gave a spark to the Express offense. Look for that to carry over to this week. The Express have already had success in the rushing game with Zac Stacy and his season average 4.2 yards a carry. Combining that with fresh life in the passing game and a stingy defense gives the Express the recipe for their first win. The Fleet have looked better since they’ve established the running game. Ja’Quan Gardner and Terrell Watson have both had success, but Gardner has been on fire with an average of 8 yards per carry. Gardner has been picking up yardage in chunks in all three games he’s played this year, and his 83-yard touchdown run last week was the cherry on top of the Fleets week three win. I think Singletary’s defense will hold the Fleet rushing attack in check, forcing Phillip Nelson to throw the ball. Interceptions, turnovers, and hilarity will ensue.
Key Matchup: Demarquis Gates vs Ja’Quan Gardner
Honestly, this should be the Express front seven against the Fleet offensive line and running backs. If the Express can limit the Fleet rushing attack and force Nelson to throw they will have a better than even chance to win this game. If not, look for the Fleet to sail off into the sunset.