When the inaugural season for the Alliance of American Football (AAF) began a little over a month ago, it was impossible to really know what each team had to offer. Based off what we knew of some of the players and the coaches we could come up with a decent educated guess.
But there was no telling who would be in contention until we saw them play—which we now have.
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The AAF season has crossed the midway point. While each team is still evolving, five games give us enough data about everybody to provide a more accurate assessment of who the championship contenders are.
As of March 14, BetOnline.ag lists the odds to the AAF Championship as follows:
- Arizona Hotshot: +450
- Salt Lake Stallions: +2000
- Atlanta Legends: +2500
- Orlando Apollos: +115
- San Antonio Commanders: +600
- Birmingham Iron: +500
- Memphis Express +5000
- San Diego Fleet: +500
With it being the inaugural season of a new football league featuring the guys that couldn’t make it in the NFL the quality of the game was bound to have some issues. However, overall, the games have been okay. Yes, there have been some real stinkers. But there have also been some pretty good ones. What is important to remember is that the AAF is considered a developmental league. Guys are supposed to be raw and in need of coaching and/or experience. That means mistakes are going to be made and the quality of play is going to suffer—but that it will also get better.
You just need to look at the Atlanta Legend for proof of that. With Matt Simms at quarterback, their offense was unimpressive. However, with Aaron Murray at the helm the last two weeks the offense has looked good, and the Legends have won a couple of games after starting 0-3. With a record of 2-3 and five games remaining, anything can happen. The same could be said for the 1-4 Salt Lake Stallions and the Memphis Express even though they are 1-4. All they need to do is find the right combination of players over the second half of the season.
Okay—so, who’s going to win?
Out of the Eastern Conference, it is pretty easy to say who the conference winner and one of the playoff teams will be—the Orlando Apollos. Steve Spurrier had his team more prepared to play than any other team when the season started. As the season has gone on, he has shown that he can adjust and win by taking what opposing defenses give.
Birmingham will be a popular choice for the second spot out of the East. But while their defense is solid, their offense can’t be relied upon. After a slow start, the Legends are looking like a better pick. However, in the end, the Apollos will be representing the East in the championship.
The Western Conference is a little more challenging to call. San Antonio appears to be one of the better teams so far. Logan Woodside has shown a lot of promise, but their offense is inconsistent. Overall, the defense has played well, but they tend to give up a lot of big plays.
The second playoff spot in the West will go to either Arizona or San Diego. Arizona has one of the better offenses in the league, but they struggle on the defensive side of the ball. San Diego has a decent defense but has had issues with quarterback play/health.
In the end, it will probably be San Antonio representing the Western Conference in the championship.
So—who is going to win the first Alliance of American Football championship? The bets are on the Orlando Apollos. Steve Spurrier has his guys playing the most complete game in the AAF and with the fewest mistakes. San Antonio will give them a run for their money, but Orlando appears to be the better team.
However, if you are looking for a dark horse to get behind, put your money on Atlanta. Aaron Murray has the Legends offense looking good. If the defense can tighten up a little, the Legends could surprise a few teams down the stretch.