Not only was the action on the field in the AAF great last week, but some interesting news broke off of the field. Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman winner at Texas A&M signed a contract to join the AAF. He was picked up by the Memphis Express, who had first waiver priority due to their league-worst 1-5 record. His presence automatically makes the Express a more interesting team to watch and he could get his first chance to play on Sunday against Birmingham. The West also has a good battle brewing on Sunday afternoon. The Hotshots and Fleet are currently tied for second in the division and the winner will gain a large advantage over the loser. This weekend has some major storylines to follow in the AAF and these two games should be filled with them.
San Diego Fleet (3-3) at Arizona Hotshots (3-3)
These two teams may be the tightest teams in the standings in the entire Alliance. They have the same record, but also their point differential is only separated by 11 points. This matchup should be one of the closest of the year and one of the most important as well. The winner can take sole possession of second place in the West and depending on how San Antonio fares on Saturday, could take over first. The Hotshots were able to bounce back from three straight losses with a big win over Orlando. The Apollos looked unstoppable heading into last week. However, Arizona was in desperation mode as we enter the later part of the season. They were able to clinch a crucial victory.
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The Fleet have only lost two games since Week 1. Both of those losses were only by the margin of a field goal. San Diego could easily have five or six wins at this point in the season despite the quarterback turmoil they have had. I believe they will get a big road win over the Hotshots this week. Arizona was able to win last week, but has still struggled since starting 2-0. I expect the Fleet to get back above .500 this week.
Prediction: Fleet 31 Hotshots 25
Birmingham Iron (4-2) at Memphis Express (1-5)
The Express aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, but they could still be one of the more fun teams to watch in the last month of the season. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was placed on injured reserve after getting hurt in last week’s game against Salt Lake. Manziel’s time may not come this week, but it will come soon. The Express and the AAF need to grow fan support and Manziel will bring publicity immediately. Memphis is no threat to win this year, but they will be the most popular team in the league next year if Johnny Football is still on the roster.
As for this game, the Iron will win. They shutout the Express earlier in the season and are clearly a much better football team. Fiver wins for Birmingham should put them in a good situation to make a run at the playoffs. If Orlando falters down the stretch, the Iron could even make a run at the East division title.
Prediction: Iron 22 Express 11