The NFL season has ended with the New England Patriots as Super Bowl Champions, but football season is far from over. Saturday night will kickoff the AAF with two marquee matchups. In primetime on Saturday, two games will begin the AAF, the hopeful developmental league for the NFL. So, football fans, don’t despair because the NFL is gone, celebrate because the AAF is here. From now until the NFL Draft, the AAF will be in full swing.
San Diego Fleet at San Antonio Commanders
In one of the kickoff games, we see two very experience head coaches facing off. Mike Martz was the leader of the greatest show on turf in St. Louis. He was the offensive coordinator for the Rams during their Super Bowl season in 1999 and then was promoted to be the head coach. He led the Rams back to the Super Bowl in 2001 where they lost to the New England Patriots. Martz now makes his return to coaching with the Fleet, with his last professional job coming in 2011 as the offensive coordinator of the Bears. He will be without his expected starting quarterback Josh Johnson, but if anyone can develop a signal-caller, it’s Martz.
His opponent on Saturday night will be Mike Riley and the Commanders. Riley will always be known for his rollercoaster career at Oregon State. He had eight winning seasons, but also six losing seasons in his two stints there. Now, he will look to lead the Commanders against the Fleet on Saturday. His first-round quarterback was Dustin Vaughan out of West Texas A&M. As a senior there he threw for over 4700 yards and 45 touchdowns. He bounced around the NFL, but hadn’t found a home until now. Vaughan is more of a project, however, and I believe that for one game, Mike Martz will out-coach Mike Riley on Saturday.
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Prediction: Fleet 31 Commanders 27
Atlanta Legends at Orlando Apollos
This game may not only be the most intriguing of the week, but maybe of the entire season. Steve Spurrier making his return to coaching as the head coach of the Apollos. On the other side, Brad Childress was supposed to do the same. However, he stepped down from the position, leaving Kevin Coyle in charge. Coyle has never been a head coach, but has been a defensive coordinator at both the collegiate and NFL levels. His offensive coordinator will be literal Atlanta legend, Michael Vick. That combination of football minds could be interesting throughout the season.
It’s hard to gauge how good any team is going to be, considering many of these players haven’t played a meaningful game in over a year. However, the Apollos have good pieces on both sides of the ball who can make an impact. Garrett Gilbert at quarterback will be interesting with Spurrier’s offensive system. Then, Will Hill, a former starter for the Baltimore Ravens will be patrolling the secondary on defense. In a game where teams are still trying to figure out what they have personnel-wise, coaching will win out and Spurrier is the better coach.
Prediction: Apollos 24 Legends 14