Heading into Week 8 of the AAF’s inaugural season, inter-conference games headline the weekend.
The season hangs in the balance for several teams this weekend. Depending on the outcomes, the playoffs could be decided, or spots in the postseason may still be very much up for grabs.
(6-1) Orlando Apollos at Memphis Express (2-5)
When these two first met, it was 21-17 Orlando. It’s safe to say that the predictions for this game will be all over the map. Memphis is a completely different team than they were in Week 3, but so is Orlando. The Apollos have found their identity on both offense and defense, and are looking to close out home field advantage in the playoffs. With a win and a Birmingham loss, the Apollos will do just that. Memphis, meanwhile, needs to win out and get some help along the way to make the postseason.
Bottom Line: The determining factor in this game will be sustained quarterback play for the Express. If Brandon Silvers can have a repeat performance of last week, the Express will pull off an upset. Orlando knows this and with their mistake-free quarterback Garrett Gilbert returning to form, they will look to control the clock. Expect Orlando to run early, use the screen game to move the sticks, and dominate the time of possession.
Prediction: Apollos 25, Express 19
(3-4) San Diego Fleet at Salt Lake Stallions (2-5)
This game is most certainly a must-win for both teams. If Salt Lake wins, they remain in the race. Lose, and they are all but eliminated from contention. If San Diego wins, they keep the pressure on Arizona in a battle for the second spot. San Diego is dealing with a ton of injuries to key players (quarterback, wide receiver, running back) and is facing the number one rushing defense in the AAF. Salt Lake, on the other hand, comes in with a turnover prone offense that has to face a defense that has eleven interceptions on the year. Something’s gotta give.
Bottom Line: It’s an elimination game for Salt Lake. The Stallions are playing well on defense and are at home this week. San Diego’s players are dropping like flies and their turnovers are on the rise. Salt Lake wins a close one.
Prediction: Stallions 21, Fleet 20
(2-5) Atlanta at Birmingham (4-3)
Both teams find themselves in a bit of a free fall. After starting the season at 3-0, Birmingham has lost three of the last four games. Atlanta has been absolutely dominated over the last two weeks, and have lost safety Tyson Graham for the year. Birmingham was stunned by Memphis last week and is looking for answers in their rushing game.
Bottom Line: Birmingham can eliminate Atlanta with a win, and will lock up the playoffs with a Memphis loss. Atlanta, like Memphis, is on life support. The difference though is that Atlanta has looked lost the last two weeks. It will take a monumental effort to overcome the Iron, and the Legends don’t have it in them.
Prediction: Iron 24, Legends 15
(4-3) Arizona Hotshots at San Antonio Commanders (5-2)
This is the number one matchup of the weekend. San Antonio can cement its place in the postseason, or there could be a first-place tie in the West. No two teams in the league are hotter than the Commanders and Hotshots. San Antonio has won four consecutive games and Arizona is the only team to take down the Apollos.
Bottom Line: This is a home game for the Commanders. Last week they put over 30,000 fans in the seats. Combine that with leading the league in interceptions, and the Commanders have the edge in this one, but not by much.
Prediction: Commanders 21, Hotshots 20