Wednesday, February 27, 2019

2019 Alliance of American Football Power Rankings (Week Three)

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:
“The Check is in the Mail (Just Don’t Try to Cash It)

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 (3-0-0)
Season Point Differential: +046

Garrett Gilbert had a solid outing in the Apollos’ 21-17 win over Memphis, going 14 for 28 for 207 yards, no INTs and one TD pass. But that’s not all! Double G also racked up 43 rushing yards on seven carries, including a plum ridiculous 21-yard TD saunter around the nine minute mark of the fourth quarter. Also posting impressive ground stats for Orlando was D’Ernest Johnson, who wrapped up the winning effort with 79 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.

#002 Birmingham Iron (3-0-0)
Season Point Differential: +045

Birmingham stays unbeaten following a fairly facile 28-12 rout of the Legends, a game that’s noteworthy — if for nothing else — giving us the AAF’s first-ever rushing TD hat trick. NFL castoff Trent Richardson chalked up three touchdown runs in the affair, concluding the outing with 46 yards on 17 carries. Alas, Iron QB Luis Perez’s play was fairly ho-hum, as he wrapped up the game 17 for 31 for 160 yards, no TD passes and one INT.

#003 San Diego Fleet (2-1-0)
Season Point Differential: +023

The Fleet downright clobbered San Antonio in Week 3, shellacking the Commanders 31-11 in a one-sided drubbing. Ex-Golden Gopher Philip Nelson had a pretty good showing, going 17 for 23 for 193 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but really, it was the San Diego run game that really kept things rolling for the Fleet. Running back Terrell Watson wrapped up the game with 73 yards and two successful two-point attempts on 13 carries, but it was Ja’Quan Gardner who really made a name for himself. Not only did the ex Humboldt State Jack rack up an impressive 122 yards on 12 carries, he also posted what may very well be the most exciting play of the inaugural AAF season to date — a downright thunderous 83-yard rushing TD on a second and 22 play about halfway through the third quarter.

#004 Arizona Hotshots (2-1-0)
Season Point Differential: +010

Arizona fell to Salt Lake 23-15 over the weekend, in a game that saw Trevor Knight — yup, the MVP of the 2014 Sugar Bowl himself — take over quarterbacking duties after starter John Wolford (14 for 22, 127 yards and a 1-to-1 TD-to-INT split) left the game with an injury. Unfortunately, Knight’s play was anything but exhilarating; going 8 for 17 on pass attempts, he wrapped up the losing effort with 95 aerial yards and no TD throws.

#005 Salt Lake Stallions (1-2-0)
Season Point Differential: -011

The Stallions gave the Hotshots their first loss of the season — and, by default, their first loss in franchise history — in a 23-15 win over the weekend. Josh Woodrum went 22 for 31 for 178 yard and one TD pass in the victory, while backs Joel Bouagnon and Branden Oliver combined for 85 yards and two TD runs a piece on 27 cumulative carries. Playing hero for the day for Salt Lake, however, was receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El, who hauled in eight catches for 90 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown haul in the opening frames of the second quarter.

#006 San Antonio Commanders (1-2-0)
Season Point Differential: -019

The Commanders just plain got wrecked by San Diego over the weekend, dropping a 31-11 loss to the Fleet on the road. San Antonio quarterback Logan Woodside went 12 for 23 for 151 yards, one touchdown and two interception, while running back Marquise Williams went four for four on “trick passes” for 21 yards. Meanwhile, Trey Williams wrapped up the loss with 75 yards on seven carries, while receiver Mekale McKay finished the outing with 91 yards and one touchdown reception on four catches— including a blistering (if not false-hope giving, in hindsight) 47 yard score just seconds into the first quarter.

#007 Memphis Express (0-3-0)
Season Point Differential : -032

The Express are still winless in AAF play, but at least they made it somewhat close against Orlando in the weekend’s 21-17 loss. Indeed, former Tennessee Titan Zach Mettenberger looked pretty good, going nine for 12 on passing attempts for 120 yards and two TD passes. That ought to be enough to goad the Express into permanently benching ex-starter Christian Hackenberg, who could only muster 88 yards on eight completions … with zero touchdown throws and two costly interceptions … in an extremely forgettable performance.

#008 Atlanta Legends (0-3-0)
Season Point Differential: -062

Well, the good news for the Legends is that they managed to out-pass Birmingham 303 yards to 157 over the weekend. The bad news is, Atlanta still wound up losing the outing 28-12, thanks in no small part to Matt Simms’ iffy quarterbacking. Sure, he might officially have 328 yards on his 28 completions, but that’s with just one touchdown pass and three interceptions. And the less said about Atlanta’s anemic run game, the better — the Legends could only put up a meager 43 yards rushing in the demoralizing 16-point loss.


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