Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2019 Alliance of American Football Power Rankings (Week One)

A comprehensive recap of the inaugural (and let’s face it, probably only) AAF season — an especially needed service, considering the league is too ghetto to post box scores on its own website.

By: Jimbo X

This Week’s Episode:
“Let the Games Begin!”

Boy, it sure was a long one-week wait in between the Super Bowl and the first week of Alliance of American Football regular season play, wasn’t it?

For those of you not in the know, the Alliance of American Football — or, as the kids on the street call it, the AAF — is a D-league pro football organization created by Charlie Ebersol as a gargantuan tax write-off simply to spite Vince McMahon for restarting the XFL. Oddly enough, the AAF seems rather chummy with the real 800-pound gorilla of the pro football arena (err, stadium?) to the point that they’re actually showing a couple of AAF games on the NFL Network. Shit, they’re actually showing these games LIVE on prime-time CBS television, which, if nothing else, at least makes ‘em a classier and ritzier operation than the UFL.

The AAF has its differences from the mainline NFL product. For one, there are not PAT kicks, so everybody has to go for a 2-point try after each touchdown. Also, there’s no kickoffs, because apparently, football players are pussies now. And there’s also some stuff about referee oversight — i.e., the cameras actually follow the officials into the decision room, so you can hear for yourselves how they fuck up calls — which, if nothing else, should be applauded for trying to establish the illusion of transparency.

Whether or not the AAF makes it to a second season — or even completes one full one, as planned — remains an unknown, but we here at TIIIA are nonetheless committed to chronicling the minor-league pro football experiment live as it happens. And trust me, you’re going to want an armchair historian like me taking note of this stuff, because the AAF itself is so damn cheap that they don’t even publish the box scores from their own games on their own freaking website.

That means we will be here for the next 10 weeks, giving you the statistical skinny on each and every AAF game that’s played, leading us all the way up to the playoffs and eventual championship game, which — of nothing else — serves as a nice bridge in-between the end of the NFL season and the start of the hockey playoffs. And hey, even if the AAF turns out to be one big, giant colossal cluster-turd of a failed football league, at least at gave us SOMETHING to talk about in the sports world besides, ugh, college basketball. And for that reason alone, we ought to be thankful the AAF … if but for the year of our Lord 2019 … at least tried to exist.

And with that out of the way, who’s ready to explore THIS WEEK’S AAF Power Rankings countdown? Hey now — don’t everybody raise their hands at once here!

#001 Orlando Apollos (1-0-0)
Season Point Differential: +034

The Apollos certainly put on the most impressive offensive performance of the inaugural week of AAF play, as starting QB Garrett Gilbert — who, believe it or not, is technically a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, having been T.B.’s backup for the Pats in the 2014-15 campaign —went 15 for 25 for 227 yards and two touchdowns in Orlando’s 40-6 blowout of Atlanta. And, of course, Steve Spurrier being Steve Spurrier, he even let G.G do his best Nick Foles’ impersonation, as Jalin Marshall hit Gilbert on an “Orlando Special” to give him a receiving touchdown on the day, too. Former Boilermaker Akeem Hunt also had a pretty good day from the backfield; although he scored no touchdowns, he nonetheless managed to end the contest with a respectable 73 yards on just 10 touches.

#002 Birmingham Iron (1-0-0)
Season Point Differential: +026

While Trent Richardson still has PLENTY to atone for from his deservedly brief tenure as a Raider, he at least put on a decent showing in Birmingham’s 26-0 rout of Memphis, racking up two touchdown runs and 58 yards on 23 touches. Meanwhile, former Texas A&M-Commerce standout Luis Perez had a fair outing, going 19 for 33 passing for 252 yards, no touchdowns or no interceptions. Of course, as indicative of the final score, perhaps the true MVP for the Iron was its special teams play … in particular, kicker Nick Novak, he went four for four on field goal attempts.

#003 Arizona Hotshots (1-0-0)
Season Point Differential: +016

Give Hotshots QB John Wolford this week’s nonexistent award for best AAF performance — the Wake Forest product went 18 for 29 for 275 passing yards and a stellar four touchdowns in Arizona’s 38-22 win over Salt Lake. Two of those TD passes, by the way, went into the arms of Rashad Ross, the ex-Arizona State wideout, who completed the outing with 103 yards on just five catches. Meanwhile, Jhurell Pressley kept things going on the turf, finishing the game with 64 yards on 18 carries.

#004 San Antonio Commanders (1-0-0)
Season Point Differential: +009

Hot off a DUI arrest that more or less cost him an NFL gig, former Toledo Rocket Logan Woodside fared pretty well in his first outing as AAF QB. He went 18 for 36 for 255 yards in the Commanders (uh, commanding?) 15-6 win over San Diego, although he produced no touchdowns and lobbed two interceptions. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, this game will be remembered for one thing, and one thing only —Shaan Washington’s ALL-TIME clock-cleaning of Fleet QB Mike Bercovici. Hey, let’s see it one more time, why don’t we?

#005 San Diego Fleet (0-1-0)
Season Point Differential: -009

To say the Fleet’s offense stalled out in their 15-6 loss to San Antonio would be an understatement. Starting quarterback Mike Bercovici could only muster 176 yards on 15 completions, in the process lobbing no TD passes and two costly interceptions, while backup Philip Nelson went 5 for 10 for a meager 68 yards, no touchdowns and one INT. On the plus side, at least Ja’Quan Gardner — yep, the pride of Humboldt State University — looked halfway decent in the loss, collecting 55 yards on eight carries.

#006 Salt Lake Stallions (0-1-0)
Season Point Differential: -016

Ex-Liberty gunslinger Josh Woodrum had a fairly forgettable outing in Salt Lake’s 38-22 loss to Arizona. The former N.Y. Giant went 10 for 22 for 103 yards, plus a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio, while backup QB Matt Linehan — yes, THE Matt Linehan who played at Idaho — went 7 for 13 for 56 yards and a similar one-to-one TD-to-INT split. Rushing the ball, the Stallions couldn’t get too much going; top backs Branden Oliver and Joel Bouagnon combined for just 79 yards (and no scores)on 24 carries.

#007 Memphis Express (0-1-0)
Season Point Differential : -026

By the final horn, quarterback Christian Hackenberg may have racked up more FCC penalties than aerial yardage. The ex-Jet went a subpar 10 for 23 for 87 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in Memphis’ 26-0 blowout loss to Birmingham, while backup QB Brandon Silvers hardly did any better, wrapping up the game 3 for 4 for 22 yards, zero scores and an INT. When a guy whose nickname is literally “Pig” is your best receiver, you just KNOW your offense is in deep dookie.

#008 Atlanta Legends (0-1-0)
Season Point Differential: -034

No, the Legends did not play legendarily at all in their first regular season outing, unless, of course, you want to describe their 40-6 opening night loss as legendarily shitty. Matt Simms went 15 for 28 for 126 yards, zero touchdown passes and two interceptions, while former UGA QB Aaron Murray hardly played any better as backup, concluding the outing 4 for 7 for 38 yards, no scores and uno interception-oh. And when it came to rushing the ball, old “Shoelace” was virtually a non-factor, as Denard Robinson wrapped up the game with a mere three yards on just five carries.


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