Welcome to the Week 5 edition of our Alliance of American Football (AAF) Betting Overview. Each week, I’ll strive to provide a sports betting-based breakdown of each of the league’s four games. With the league’s first weeks in the books, we have considerably more information about each team at our disposal.
AAF lines are now offered on DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, BetStars Sportsbook, and PointsBet. Additionally, MGM Resorts International is now offering AAF odds on the New Jersey edition of its playMGM app.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Rules differences between AAF and NFL
Before our preview of each game, there are a few AAF rules to keep in mind that differ from what we’re accustomed to seeing in the NFL.
- No kickoffs; each team begins any game-opening/second-half-opening and post-score drive at its own 25-yard line.
- No extra points; two-point conversion attempts are mandatory after each touchdown.
- No onside kicks; teams will have the option of running a “4th-and-12” play from their own 28-yard line in lieu of onside kicks. The play will only be made available if a team is trailing by 17 points or more or if they’re trailing with 5 minutes or fewer left in regulation.
- Teams that are scored upon via a safety also have the option of attempting to gain possession by running this same play from their own 18-yard line.
- 35-second play clocks, as opposed to the 40-second clocks utilized in the NFL.
- All overtime periods played under “Kansas Playoff” rules. Each team begins on the opponent’s 10-yard line and given four chances to score. No field goals are allowed in overtime. If the score remains tied after each team has had a possession, the game ends in a tie.
- No more than five defensive players may rush on any one play. Any players on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage at the snap count towards those five players whether they rush or not.
- Pass rushing from a starting position that is more than two yards outside the widest offensive lineman and more than five yards from the line of scrimmage (defensive pressure box) is prohibited. However, there are exceptions to this rule on play-action or run-pass option plays, or if the ball leaves the tackle box.
- Violations of the aforementioned defensive alignment rules will prompt a 15-yard illegal defense penalty.
- Finally, a “sky judge” situated in a suite above the field acts as the ninth member of the officiating crew and will have access to review each play. The sky judge will have the ability to correct any on-field officiating errors that it deems “egregious.”
Week 4 Recap:
ATS/Moneyline Winners: Express +6, Commanders +8, Legends +14
ATS/Moneyline Losers: Stallions +4, Fleet moneyline, Hotshots moneyline
Season to Date:
ATS Leans/Picks: 9-7 (.563)
Moneyline: 2-3 (.400)
Week 5 AAF Betting Picks
Orlando Apollos (4-0) at Birmingham Iron (3-1)
- DraftKings Sportbook: Apollos -4, o/u 34
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Apollos-4, o/u 34
- PointsBet: Apollos -4, o/u 34
- playMGM Odds: Apollos -4.5, o/u 34
Week 4 Results
- Apollos: Won 20-11 against Salt Lake Stallions
- Iron: Lost 12-11 to San Antonio Commanders
The Apollos gutted out another win in an unfamiliar, snowy environment in Week 4. They conquered the Stallions with a solid effort on both sides of the ball. QB Garrett Gilbert looks increasingly comfortable in coach Steve Spurrier’s offense by the week. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 244 yards and one touchdown versus the Stallions. While Charles Johnson (9-105) and Rannell Hall (4-57) were solid contributors through the air and Donteea Dye Jr. caught his first touchdown, the three-headed running game would not be overshadowed. RB Akeem Hunt put the finishing touches on the victory with a two-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, De’Veon Smith (12-51) and D’Ernest Johnson (8-31) offered solid complementary contributions.
On the defensive side, Orlando continued to demonstrate vulnerability on the ground. The Stallions’ trio of Branden Oliver, Joel Bouagnon and Terrell Newby rushed for a combined 116 yards on 27 carries. They also allowed 161 passing yards to Salt Lake QB Josh Woodrum, which he accomplished on the strength of a 72.7 percent completion rate. Orlando kept Woodrum out of the end zone, however. The Apollos are now tied for second in the AAF for fewest passing touchdowns allowed (three). Yet in allowing two catches apiece to Oliver and Newby, Orlando is tied with the Commanders for the second-most catches allowed to RBs.
The lack of a consistent and aggressive air attack was likely to come back to haunt the Iron at some point. Modern-day football often requires more than the old adages of a consistent running game and solid defense to win over an extended period. Birmingham found that out firsthand in a narrow 12-11 loss to the Commanders. QB Luis Perez failed to throw a touchdown pass for the fourth time in as many games to start his AAF career. He did, however, throw two interceptions, and averaged a sub-par 5.2 yards per attempt. The latter figure places the former Division II star last among current starting quarterbacks.
Then, while RB Trent Richardson did find his way into the end zone yet again for his league-leading seventh touchdown, his inefficiency on a per-touch basis is concerning. The 2012 NFL first-round pick is averaging just 2.4 yards per rush. And Maryland product and backfield mate Brandon Ross is finding running lanes at 7.1 yards a pop. That makes Richardson look even worse.
Then, the Iron’s signature defense did plenty to keep Birmingham undefeated. But they faltered late and also showed surprising vulnerability against the run. Commanders RB Kenneth Farrow ripped off 142 yards on 30 carries. That’s likely to put a target on their back for now. Meanwhile, it’s important to note that Birmingham did continue acquitting itself very well defending the pass. They limited San Antonio QB Logan Woodside to a meager 106 passing yards.
The Final Word
The Apollos keep finding ways to win. And they have proven they can do it with a number of approaches. Their vaunted offense might face its stiffest challenge yet in the Iron, however. Birmingham will be out to make up for last week’s loss in front of the home crowd. While I’ve learned better than to doubt Spurrier’s players on the moneyline, I see the Iron posing enough resistance to slide under the four-point number. Moreover, with Orlando allowing its fair share of yards on defense, I can see Birmingham’s offense finally breaking out of its funk while trying to keep pace with the Apollos’ typically aggressive attack.
The Pick: Iron +4.5
Salt Lake Stallions (1-3) at San Diego Fleet (2-2)
- DraftKings Sportbook: Fleet -5.5, o/u 36
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Fleet -5.5, o/u 36
- BetStars NJ: Fleet, o/u
- PointsBet: Fleet -6, o/u 36
- playMGM Odds: Fleet -6, o/u 35.5
Week 4 Results
- Stallions: Lost 20-11 to Orlando Apollos
- Fleet: Lost 26-23 to Memphis Express
The Stallions put together a valiant home effort in snowy conditions. However, they came up short in Week 4 against the Apollos despite solid offensive performances on the ground and through the air. As cited earlier, QB Josh Woodrum demonstrated improved accuracy. He spread the ball around generously while connecting with seven different pass catchers.
Then, coach Dennis Erickson seems to have settled on Branden Oliver as his primary running back. Joel Bouagnon checks in as more of the complementary option. Both players have the ability to handle double-digit carries, even if Bouganon saw a drop to eight rushing touches in Week 4. Oliver notably suffered a pulled groin in the fourth quarter of the loss and missed practice to start the week. Therefore, his status will be something to monitor leading up to game day. On the receiving front, it’s worth noting both Brian Tyms and Kenny Bell (five targets apiece) appear to be carving out larger roles.
Salt Lake’s defense did a mostly commendable job versus Spurrier’s aggressive attack, although the inclement weather certainly helped their cause. But the Stallions couldn’t stop Apollos QB Garrett Gilbert or Orlando’s three-headed running game consistently enough. Even so, Salt Lake emerged from Week 4 allowing the fewest rushing yards per contest (84.5). It’s a different story in the secondary. The Stallions now yield the second-most passing yards per game (231.0) and have surrendered the most passing touchdowns (six) in the AAF. With an aggressive Fleet passing attack on tap, Salt Lake’s secondary appears to be set for a second straight particularly busy week.
The Fleet’s biggest loss in Week 4 may not have been on the scoreboard. It was likely under center. Philip Nelson appeared on his way to a momentous day, completing nine of his first 12 attempts for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Legends. Then, he went down with a broken collarbone. Mike Bercovici, who started Week 1 before being pulled for ineffectiveness, will be back at the controls Week 5.
Coach Mike Martz has raved about Bercovici’s practice performances this week. The former offensive luminary in the NFL credits the additional time the quarterback has had to absorb the offense with his successful showing. It remains to be seen if that will translate to live action. He’ll have the luxury of a talented rushing attack (Terrell Watson and Ja’Quan Gardner) and a deep pass-catching corps (Nelson Spruce, Dontez Ford, Marvin Baugh, Gavin Escobar, and Brian Brown, among others) to help his cause.
San Diego’s defense left plenty to be desired against the previously winless Express. Memphis was seemingly buoyed by the change under center from Christian Hackenberg to Zach Mettenberger. The Fleet couldn’t force the first-time AAF starter into any mistakes and were only able to record one sack against the LSU product. The passing game did most of the damage for the Express. The Fleet continued to stymie opposing rushing attacks by limiting Zac Stacy to just 39 yards on 18 carries, and Memphis as a whole to just 1.8 yards per tote. Factoring in their Week 4 performance, San Diego is allowing the second-fewest rush yards per game (89.3) and have yielded just one rushing touchdown. The latter is the lowest figure in the league.
The Final Word
The biggest X-factor in handicapping this game is the Fleet quarterback situation. At least Martz seems to have confidence in Bercovici. His system seems to suit the rest of the offense. Then, the San Diego run defense, in particular, appears well equipped to slow down the Stallions and make them one-dimensional. Oliver’s potential absence or limitations due to his groin injury only tip the scales further in the hometown Fleet’s favor. Bercovici’s presence gives me at least slight pause. This is more of a lean at the moment.
The Lean: Fleet -5.5
Memphis Express (1-3) at Atlanta Legends (1-3)
- DraftKings Sportbook: Legends -1.5, o/u 38.5
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Legends -2, o/u 38
- BetStars NJ: Legends , o/u
- PointsBet: Legends -1.5 , o/u 38.5
- playMGM Odds: Legends -2, o/u 38.5
Week 4 Results
- Express: Won 26-23 against San Diego Fleet
- Legends: Won 14-11 against Arizona Hotshots
Speaking of the Express, the Zach Mettenberger Effect looks like a real thing. A disjointed air attack under Christian Hackenberg suddenly looked much crisper. And WR Reece Horn seems to be emerging as an excellent possession option and Mettenberger favorite after putting up a 4-63 line in Week 4. Alton “Pig” Howard and Dontez Byrd are talented options as well that could see a surge the more rapport they build with their new QB. Then, even though RB Zac Stacy and backfield mates Sherman Badie and Terrence McGee couldn’t get anything going versus the Fleet, they certainly have the talent to make an impact versus a Legends defense allowing the most rushing yards per game (117.7) in the AAF.
Memphis’ defense remains a work in progress under the guidance of Hall of Famer Mike Singletary. Yet they did demonstrate impressive improvement in a previously problematic area during Week 4. The Express mostly shored up their weaknesses against the run versus San Diego. They held the AAF’s leading rusher coming in, Ja’Quan Gardner, to just six yards on nine carries. The strong performance helped their metrics some, but Memphis is still allowing the second-most rushing yards per game (101.7) and the third-most rushing touchdowns (four) in the league.
Just like their Week 5 opponent, the Legends notched their first win in Week 4. The good news is that perhaps the most pivotal factor in the victory, the offense, is here to stay. A play-calling switch to new arrival Ken Zampese had the Atlanta attack resembling the St. Louis Rams of old at times. The new wrinkles Zampese installed helped produce 25 first downs and 454 total yards. Taking over for an injured Matt Simms (hand) early in the game, QB Aaron Murray proved to be a natural fit for Zampese’s concepts. The Georgia product threw for 254 yards in three-plus quarters and added another 54 on the ground. The pass-catching corps was a beneficiary of Zampese’s innovative attack, as nine different players recorded at least one reception.
Then, the rushing attack also started to gain some clarity. Brandon Radcliff (12-48) assumed the role of lead back. Then, Denard Robinson (9-43-1) finally showed glimpses of his old self with a scamper around right end for a nine-yard touchdown. Tarean Folston, who’d opened the season as the lead back and carried 12 times for 32 yards in Week 1, also logged five rushes for 21 yards and excelled in the passing game with a team-leading 5-66 line. The one recent piece of bad news for the Legends backfield this week was the placement of Akrum Wadley on injured reserve with a leg injury he’d suffered back in Week 3.
Despite the excitement generated by the team’s new-look offense, the Legends defense certainly earned its fair share of accolades in Week 4. They simply shut down the high-powered Hotshots. Atlanta got the game off on the right foot with a safety. They also held Arizona without a touchdown until the 5:27 mark of the fourth. The Legends limited the Hotshots to a respectable 5.3 yards per play and 310 total yards while also sacking Wolford thrice. Standout games by Ed Reynolds, Jr. (eight tackles, including two for loss) and Tyson Graham, Jr. (seven tackles) led the way. But Jhurell Pressley’s 110-yard day on the ground served as a reminder of how far the Legends still have to go in defending the run.
The Final Word
This could actually turn out to be the most intriguing and highest-scoring affair of the week. Each team is enjoying a breath of fresh air under center, but Atlanta has the benefit of a new offensive system overall. It’s important to keep in mind this was a team that had to switch gears on the precipice of the regular season when both head coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Michael Vick resigned their respective posts for different reasons. With Murray serving as a legit dual threat under center and the Legends on their home field, I see Atlanta notching its first home win a week after securing their first victory overall.
The Pick: Legends -1.5, Legends moneyline
San Antonio Commanders (2-2) at Arizona Hotshots (2-2)
- DraftKings Sportbook: Hotshots -2.5, o/u 40
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Hotshots -2.5, o/u 40
- BetStars NJ: Hotshots -, o/u
- PointsBet: Hotshots -2.5, o/u 40
- playMGM Odds: Hotshots -2.5, o/u 40
Week 4 Results
- Commanders: Won 12-11 against Birmingham Iron
- Hotshots: Lost 14-11 to Atlanta Legends
The Commanders got back into the win column in Week 4 with an impressive defensive effort. They limited the Iron to 4.7 yards per play and 283 total yards. San Antonio’s offense had an impact as well. They played plenty of keep-away with the help of a stellar rushing effort by RB Kenneth Farrow (30-142). The Commanders kept the ball for 33:34 thanks largely to Farrow’s handiwork. Meanwhile, QB Logan Woodside struggled through the air, totaling just 106 passing yards. Through four weeks, the Commanders are averaging the third-fewest passing yards per game (189.8) and have just two passing TDs on the season.
In addition to the impressive numbers just cited with respect to defense, the Commanders also picked off Iron QB Luis Perez twice after coming into the game with the AAF’s most generous pass defense. While San Antonio continues to allow the league’s most passing yards per game by far (258.0), the fact they were able to put the clamps down on Birmingham WRs Quinton Patton (2-17) and L’Damian Washington (3-35) is certainly is a step in the right direction. It only gets more challenging this week with Rashad Ross and company on the opposite sideline for the Hotshots.
Arizona had QB John Wolford back under center in Week 4 after he exited Week 3 early with a back injury. It wasn’t enough to topple a previously winless Legends squad. Wolford turned in a respectable 185-yard, one-touchdown day through the air. But he couldn’t get his team into the end zone until connecting with Ross late in the fourth. Nick Folk missed a key field goal late as well. The Hotshots eventually saw Younghoe Koo nail a game-winning 33-yard field goal with 1:07 remaining.
RB Jhurell Pressley was a bright spot. He bounced back from a pair of rather ordinary outings to explode for 110 rushing yards at 7.9 yards per clip. On the receiving front, Ross continued to set the pace (4-74-1). However, second-leading receiver Josh Huff (4-43) was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury Thursday. Marquis Bundy (6-77 and a two-point conversion catch on the season) and Freddie Martino (3-42 on the season) will have to step up to keep the Hotshots offense humming.
Then, the Hotshots defense faltered late against the Legends. Plus, they appeared to be off-balance throughout the night versus Ken Zampese’s play-calling. While Arizona did keep Atlanta out of the end zone in five of six red-zone visits, they still yielded 25 first downs and 454 total yards of offense. Those numbers imply that had a handful of plays gone differently, the score could have been much more in the Legends’ favor. Therefore, the Hotshots will look to tighten up this week against both the run and the pass. Arizona is currently allowing the third-most rushing yards per game (105.5) and five rushing touchdowns. They find themselves with the same rank against the pass, yielding 218.8 passing yards per contest while also having surrendered the most passing touchdowns (eight) in the AAF.
The Final Word
The Hotshots are undoubtedly looking to bounce back from a somewhat embarrassing performance in front of the home crowd last week. They’ll look to do so against a team that’s been challenged to consistently score points in the Commanders. That inefficiency could spell trouble versus Arizona, which still has plenty of offensive talent despite the loss of Huff. Wolford, Ross and the rest of the pass catchers have the skills to exploit the Commanders’ weaknesses in the secondary. Plus, San Antonio could be in trouble if the Hotshots load up to stop Farrow and dare the inconsistent Woodside to beat them for all four quarters. Ultimately, I see Arizona having enough here to cover a very thin spread in their return to the win column.
The Pick: Hotshots -2.5, Hotshots moneyline