Believe it or not, we are already a fifth of the way through the inaugural season for the Alliance of American Football. Now that we have gotten to see a good sample size of all the teams, we can start to distinguish who the real contenders are and which teams aren’t as good. Let’s take a look at the power rankings for the AAF after Week Two.
AAF Power Rankings: Week Two
8. Atlanta Legends (0-2)
Last Week: 8
The Atlanta Legends scored more than six points this week, but they still didn’t look great on offense. After going up 9-0 in the first quarter (this was a common theme this week for the losing teams), they managed to score only a field goal through the whole rest of the game. Matt Simms played better than last week, throwing for 160 yards and a touchdown, but he still threw a costly interception. The run game never really got going, and the Legends were only able to muster up 222 yards of total offense.
The defense also improved, but they fell apart in the fourth quarter to allow the San Diego Fleet to pull ahead and win 24-12. The Legends certainly improved from Week One, but they have a long way to go.
7. Memphis Express (0-2)
Last Week: 7
The Memphis Express also improved from Week One. For one thing, they scored points instead of being shut out. In fact, they scored the game’s first 12 points (see the theme?) thanks to some big plays by their defense that gave them great field position. The highlight of the Express offense was running back Zac Stacy, who became the league’s first 100-yard rusher with 101 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Christian Hackenberg still didn’t throw the ball well, but he did have a nice touchdown run late in the game. The main weakness of this team is undoubtedly their passing offense.
The Express defense forced three turnovers and held the Arizona Hotshots scoreless in the first half, but they just couldn’t finish the job. They allowed 14 unanswered points in the last 12 minutes of the game, but this 20-18 loss falls mostly on the offense. This team has so much potential, but until they solve their problems in the passing game, they’re going to have a tough time.
6. Salt Lake City Stallions (0-2)
Last Week: 4
After a solid game in Week One, the Salt Lake City Stallions had probably the worst showing of any team in Week Two, thus the drop in ranking. They jumped out to a 9-0 lead (I wasn’t lying about the common theme) over the Birmingham Iron, but then the offense went MIA. Granted, they were starting Austin Allen at quarterback instead of their starter Josh Woodrum, but they looked really bad on offense. Allen completed just 15 passes for 114 yards, and once the Stallions hit field goal range, they got stuffed almost every single time.
Speaking of field goal range, the Stallions may need to find a new kicker after Taylor Bertolet missed three field goals in this game. That ended up being the difference in a 12-9 loss. Their defense actually played really well, but when your offense and kicker can only give you nine points, you’re not going to win a lot of football games
5. San Diego Fleet (1-1)
Last Week: 6
After a lackluster performance last week, the Fleet looked like a new team in Week Two when they defeated the Legends 24-12. Ja’Quan Gardner was the star in this one, as he rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Phillip Nelson got the start at QB and he didn’t play particularly well, throwing for just 142 yards and an interception. However, after struggling out of the gate, the Fleet decided to rely heavily on the run game and it worked, as they totaled 185 rushing yards on the day and scored two rushing touchdowns in the final quarter.
The defense played very well too, as they held Atlanta to just three points in the second half. San Diego may have improved more than any other team in Week Two, mostly thanks to their rushing attack.
4. San Antonio Commanders (1-1)
Last Week: 5
It’s pretty rare when a team loses a game but still moves up in the rankings, but that is exactly what the San Antonio Commanders did this week after losing to the Orlando Apollos 37-29. This was definitely the best game of the week, as both teams had a good offensive attack and they traded blows all day. For the Commanders, Logan Woodside had a big game, as he threw for 223 yards and a touchdown. Over a third of those yards went to De’Marcus Ayers, who had five receptions for 80 yards. Their running game was led by Kenneth Farrow II, who rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown. Their kicker Nick Rose even had a good game, hitting all three of his field goal attempts.
This offense played about as well as they could without winning, but the defense had a tough time containing the Apollos. This was really a dogfight that could have gone either way, but Woodside made one fatal mistake when he threw a pick six to Keith Reaser that would be the difference in the game. The Commanders were so close to potentially being #1 on this list, but right now they’ll have to settle for #4.
3. Birmingham Iron (2-0)
Last Week: 3
The Iron stand pat at #3 after a hard-fought 12-9 come-from-behind win over the Stallions. In a game where offense was at a premium, Birmingham found just enough of it to escape with the win and remain undefeated. They were shut out in the first half, and they couldn’t get much going offensively until a huge special teams play gave them some momentum. Jamar Summers forced a fumble on the Salt Lake City punt return and Shaheed Salmon recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. After that, Luis Perez and the Birmingham offense were able to move the ball and they eventually took the lead on a Trent Richardson touchdown.
Richardson had a solid game, leading his team in both rushing yards with 41 and receiving yards with 50. This team proved this week that they can win in multiple ways: in blowout fashion or in a comeback victory. The Iron established themselves as one of the top teams in the AAF.
2. Arizona Hotshots
Last Week: 1
The Hotshots didn’t play nearly as well as last week, but they were still able to get the job done in a 20-18 come-from-behind win over the Express. John Wolford threw two early interceptions, but he settled down and ended up throwing two big touchdowns in the second half. Tim Cook was a game changer for the Hotshots, as he rushed for 73 yards and also recorded a receiving touchdown. For as bad as the offense was in the first half, they made up for it in the second half, outscoring Memphis 20-6.
Arizona has established themselves as one of the teams to beat in the AAF through two weeks and Wolford is definitely one of the top quarterbacks in the league. This one wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win and the Hotshots are still undefeated.
1. Orlando Apollos
Last Week: 2
The Apollos were at #2 last week because they just rolled over a weak Atlanta team, but they removed any doubt of them being the best team in the league this week in their thrilling 37-29 victory over the Commanders. Garrett Gilbert went off for 393 passing yards and two touchdowns. Charles Johnson looked more like Calvin Johnson in this game, as he was on the receiving end of 192 of those yards and one of the touchdowns. Jalin Marshall caught the other touchdown as part of his three receptions for 84 yards. The biggest play of the day, however, was the pick-six by Keith Reaser to give the Apollos the lead and cap off a 17-0 run in the game’s final quarter.
Orlando proved that whether they blow a team out or have to play down to the wire, they will score a ton of points. They lead the league by a lot with 77 points and 791 yards of offense through the first two weeks. Until further notice, Steve Spurrier‘s squad is the class of the Alliance.
After two weeks, we have three teams that are 2-0, and all of those teams have shown that they are good in all phases of the game and can win in multiple ways. However, beyond just the top of the rankings, all of these teams have shown so much potential through their first two games. There is a lot of room for improvement for every team, and that is what this league is all about. It will certainly be fun to see how the rest of the season plays out.
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