Week four is all wrapped up in the Alliance of American Football. One team has established themselves at the top of the league, and a lot of others are fighting for the next few spots. Who moved up and who moved down after week four?
1. Orlando Apollos, 4-0 (No Change)
Previous Week: 20-11 win at Salt Lake Stallions
Upcoming: at Birmingham Iron
Orlando marched into Salt Lake this week and came out of the snowstorm with an unblemished record. Now the only undefeated team in the AAF will get a different kind of test in the Birmingham Iron next week. Though the Iron were beaten in week four, their passing defense still came to play. Orlando QB Garrett Gilbert has been the most consistent passer by far in the AAF this year. He’ll have to overcome a massive test in week two, or rely more heavily on running backs D’Ernest Johnson and De’Veon Smith.
2. San Antonio Commanders, 2-2 (Up 4 Spots)
Previous Week: 12-11 win at Birmingham Iron
Upcoming: at Arizona Hotshots
The big risers of the week are the San Antonio Commanders. They walked into muddy Legion Field in Birmingham and snuck out a 12-11 win. It wasn’t pretty, but it still counts. The Commanders were lead by their defense which flustered Iron QB Luis Perez and stuffed Trent Richardson in the run game. On offense, Kenneth Farrow carried the load. If Logan Woodside can start to make more consistent throws to his talented array of outside weapons, the Commanders could develop into one of the most balanced squads in the league.
3. Birmingham Iron, 3-1 (Down 1 Spot)
Previous Week: 12-11 loss vs San Antonio Commanders
Upcoming: vs Orlando Apollos
I really considered still keeping the Iron ahead of the Commanders even after the loss. I couldn’t justify it though after seeing how poorly the Iron played on offense. The defense continues to be the strong point of the Iron, but the run defense was exposed by the tough runs of Kenneth Farrow. Offensively, Luis Perez still continues to make questionable decisions by forcing too many throws into tight windows. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass through four weeks, and has picked up a ton of his 797 passing yards on checkdowns to his running backs. Without the ability to go vertical, the Iron offense lacks a dimension.
4. San Diego Fleet, 2-2 (Down 1 Spot)
Previous Week: 26-23 loss at Memphis Express
Upcoming: vs Salt Lake Stallions
The Fleet currently sit in a three way tie for first in the West, but it’s about to get a lot tougher for them. Starting quarterback Philip Nelson is out for 4-6 weeks with a broken clavicle, meaning Mike Martz will have to find another answer at signal caller. Nelson had been improving as the year progressed having taken over for Mike Bercovici in week one. Bercovici is now back in, and will rely heavily on the Fleet rushing attack. Ja’Quan Gardner leads the AAF in rushing with 287 yards and the Fleet added former Tennessee Titan Bishop Sankey to their backfield this week, making it all the more potent.
5. Arizona Hotshots, 2-2 (Down 1 Spot)
Previous Week: 14-11 loss vs Atlanta Legends
Upcoming: vs San Antonio Commanders
Arizona is the third member of the three way tie in the west, also sitting at 2-2. Quarterback John Wolford has cooled down from his hot week one (4 touchdown passes) due to injuries and some inconsistency. The Hotshots offense has a lot of weapons, including halfback Jhurell Pressley and electric receiver Rashad Ross. The issue has been big plays and stringing together consistent drives. Defensively, Arizona has played steady all year. Forcing more turnovers would go a long way to keep the defense fresh and give Wolford and the offense some short fields.
6. Memphis Express, 1-3 (Up 1 Spot)
Last Week: 26-23 win vs San Diego Fleet
Upcoming: at Atlanta Legends
All aboard the Zach Mettenberger hype train! It wasn’t just Mettenberger that contributed to Memphis’ first W of the year: the defense for the Express came to play. Linebacker Drew Jackson put up one of the best stat lines of the year on defense (14 tackles, 1 sack, 4 passes defended and an interception) and the defense came up clutch when they needed to. Jackson was the defensive player of the week in the AAF, and Memphis also had the special teams player of the week in new kicker Austin MacGinnis. If Mettenberger can work with halfback Zac Stacy to get the offense going, we could see the Express really take off next week.
7. Atlanta Legends, 1-3 (Up 1 Spot)
Previous Week: 14-11 win at Arizona Hotshots
Upcoming: vs Memphis Express
Atlanta got their first win of the season by outlasting the Arizona Hotshots in the desert. The Legends got a boost from incoming quarterback Aaron Murray who helped the offense with both his feet and his arm. The Atlanta defense also did a solid job against Arizona, sacking John Wolford three times. A name to look out for on the Legends defensive line is T. J. Barnes. He won’t be hard to find: he’s listed at 6’6” and 355 pounds. He acts as an effective space eater to let other rushers get to opposing quarterbacks.
8. Salt Lake Stallions, 1-3 (Down 2 Spots)
Last Week: 20-11 loss vs Orlando Apollos
Upcoming: at San Diego Fleet
Salt Lake came up short in their home game against Orlando this week. There’s no shame in losing to Orlando, as the Apollos have proven to be the most complete team in the AAF. There are definitely some areas for the Stallions to improve however. Salt Lake was only 2 for 12 converting on third and fourth down this past week, stalling many of their drives before they could get going. Branden Oliver and Joel Bouagnon still work effectively as a running back tandem, but the team find themselves in third and long often and can’t convert those. The good news for the Stallions? Even without a sack this week, defensive end Karter Schult still leads the league with 4.