And then there were two. Two people were able to pick games this week as Jason was unable to due to unforeseen circumstances. Life is like that sometimes. But JB and I plan to move on at a record pace, placing our picks and seeing who comes out on top.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget my bold predictions. This week’s bold predictions include possibly my craziest one of the year.
–Garrett Gilbert throws his first interception of the season against the Hotshots
-Kameron Kelly intercepts two more passes
–Aaron Murray has the most passing yards of any quarterback in week six
-The Express have another quarterback change, this time its Brandon Silvers
-Richard Mullaney is the Hotshots leading receiver against the Apollos
-De’Mornay Peirson-El leads the AAF in receiving touchdowns with three
-Logan Woodside doesn’t throw a touchdown pass after his big week five performance
-The Birmingham Iron don’t rush for a touchdown (Yes, including Trent Richardson)
Once you are done reading this week’s picks, let us know what you think!
Zach: 70% (14-6) (2-2)
JB (TAFKAFS): 55% (11-9) (2-2)
Jason: 50% (10-10) (1-3)
Memphis Express (1-4) at Salt Lake Stallions (1-4)
Salt Lake (24)-Memphis (17)
Salt Lake is without a doubt the better 1-4 team. The Stallions have one of the best pass rushers in the league in Karter Schult and are the best team in the league against the run. They only allow 83 rushing yards a game. Josh Woodrum needs to stop turning the ball over, and I think he can. He has only thrown interceptions in 2 of the 5 games but has 4 on the season. The Zach Mettenberger offensive revolution may be over as Memphis struggled to do much of anything deep down the field. The Memphis offensive line is going to struggle against that Stallions front four and Mettenberger will never be comfortable. Expect a game similar to last weeks Memphis vs. Atlanta game, with Memphis once again on the losing end.
Key Matchup: Memphis Receivers vs. Salt Lakes Defensive Backs
The most receptions any Memphis receiver had against Atlanta was one. These receivers need to step up and get separation if Memphis wants to be able to move the football. If Salt Lake limits the impact of those receivers, Mettenberger will struggle again.
Memphis (22)-Salt Lake (15)
The Stallions have been letting me down all year. I keep looking for a breakout game, but here we are in week six and I haven’t seen it yet. Both the Stallions and the Express are 1-4. At this point, I have more faith in the re-energized Express Offense behind Zach Mettenberger and Zac Stacy than the Stallions and Josh Woodrum. I’m beginning to suspect that the reason Karter Schult is leading the sack race is that he’s played more snaps than any other defender. The Stallions are converting third downs at a 34% clip for the year, and haven’t been above 50% in any game so far. You’d best believe that Schult has been getting lots of opportunities.
Key Matchup: Karter Schult vs Zac Stacy
Karter Schult will need to be neutralized in some fashion in order for the Express to win this game. One of the ways that can happen is for Zac Stacy to handle the ball. Nothing slows a pass rusher down quite as much as playing the run.
Arizona Hotshots (2-3) at Orlando Apollos (5-0)
Orlando (42)-Arizona (38)
If there was ever such a thing as a trap game, this would be it. Arizona is reeling after two straight close losses while Orlando is on their five-game win streak. Orlando’s defense is good, but I think Wolford comes in and plays his best game of the season. This is going to be an offensive battle, and whoever has the least turnovers will win. And that will probably be the Apollos. The Apollos are second in the league in turnover differential (+3) while the Apollos are tied for fourth (-4). The only way the Hotshots are going to have a chance is if Wolford and Arizona can hold onto the football.
Key Matchup: John Wolford vs. Garrett Gilbert
I honestly believe this is going to be a quarterback battle. John Wolford and Garrett Gilbert can both deal, and whoever has the best game and doesn’t turnover the ball is going to win.
Orlando (36)-Arizona (15)
The Hotshots got out to a slow start last week, before mounting a comeback that fell just short. Four of the first five Hotshot possessions ended in turnovers. Obviously, this will not get it done against the Apollos. In fact, I’ll just save it. The Apollos are going to win this game, and I’d be surprised if it’s close. The Apollos are the best team in the league, playing at home. Don’t pick the Hotshots as your sleeper.
Key Matchup: Charles Johnson vs Hotshot Secondary
Apollos receiver Charles Johnson has been targeted more times (42) and has more receiving yards (493) than any other player in the AAF. The Hotshots will need to keep a lid on him to have a chance. But they won’t.
San Antonio Commanders (3-2) at Atlanta Legends (2-3)
Atlanta (24)-San Antonio (18)
What could have been if Marquise Bundy hadn’t fumbled that football. These same Commanders that scored 26 in the first half almost lost late, highlighting the inconsistent nature of their team. They either look like the best team in the West or one of the worst teams in the league. This week I expect the latter. The Atlanta Legends have been on the upswing though, and I fully expect that to continue. San Antonio has one of the more dangerous pass rushing groups in the league (league-leading 17 sacks), but Kevin Zampese and quarterback Aaron Murray are primed to pick apart this offense. Look for Logan Woodside to take a step back as Murray continues to play well.
Key Matchup: San Antonio’s Pass Rush vs. Atlanta’s Offensive Line
Atlanta needs to protect Aaron Murray to be successful. Without protection, Murray could end up looking like Bercovici in week one. But San Antonio needs to get pressure to win and stop Atlanta’s quick passing game.
Atlanta (30)-San Antonio (22)
There is no nice way to say this, so I’ll just say it straight. The Hotshots gave the Commanders last weekends win on a silver platter. Lightning will not strike twice. Couple that gift with a cross country jaunt to Georgia State Stadium, and it might be enough to hope for the Commanders to not get blown out. The Legends have turned a corner, having won their last two games. New Offensive Coordinator Ken Zampese has righted the ship. The Defense, which has played well all year, is now being given some support on the scoreboard. Aaron Murray has played well since going in for an injured Matt Simms in week four.
Key Matchup: Kenneth Farrow III vs. Legends Defense
The Commanders running back currently leads the league in rushing with 305 yards. If the Legends defense can keep him to under 70 yards this week, they will have a good chance of winning.
Birmingham Iron (3-2) at San Diego Fleet (3-2)
San Diego (21)-Birmingham (10)
San Diego is getting healthy again. While Nelson is out for the year, guard Damien Mama and linebacker A.J. Tarpley look ready to go against Birmingham. With Bercovici only getting more comfortable and his offensive line becoming more healthy, I’d expect his accuracy to only get better. With Keith Price presumably coming in as the starter, San Diego’s defense will be looking to take the ball away consistently. Birmingham needs a win to take back control of the second playoff spot in the West. While Price’s stat line looked good during his time against the Apollos, he had at least two dropped interceptions during that game. That offense isn’t much better with him at quarterback. While the Birmingham defense is really strong, they aren’t very good at rushing the passer. They will need to improve in that department since it is one of the best ways to beat the Fleet.
Key Matchup: Dontez Ford vs. Jamar Summers
Jamar Summers struggled against Charles Johnson last week but has been stellar throughout the rest of the season. Expect him to shadow San Diego’s number one receiver Dontez Ford. Ford needs to have a big day again since he will be seeing a lot of one on one matchups due to Birmingham consistently stacking the box.
San Diego (27)-Birmingham (16)
Luis Perez was removed from last week’s game against the Apollos in favor of former University of Washington Husky Keith Price. Price was able to do what Perez has not this year; throw a touchdown pass. But he was not able to lead the Iron to victory. It’s not clear who will start at quarterback against the Fleet but I suspect that if that one of them isn’t effective, he will be replaced. The two quarterbacks are different enough in style that it might cause trouble for the Fleet defense. Perez has looked more at home in the pocket, working through progressions than Price. Price seems more willing to take a short completion or run with the ball. The Fleet defense has been playing well of late, forcing five turnovers against the Stallions last week. Kameron Kelly had three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, on his way to earning AAF Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Key Matchup: Fleet Defense vs. Iron Offense
The Fleet defense are playing it’s best football of the year. They’re playing at home in front of what looks to be a huge crowd. Look for them to make big plays in this game and look for the Iron to be forced into a quarterback change.