Memphis Express coach Mike Singletary called the midway point of the season a critical time but not of panic or desperation
Evan Barnes, The Commercial Appeal
Here’s how the eight teams in the Alliance of American Football rank through six weeks of play.
1. Orlando Apollos (last week: 1; record: 5-1) — The Apollos’ hopes and dreams of becoming the first pro football team since the 2007 New England Patriots to go through a regular season undefeated were crushed in what might be the biggest upset in AAF history. The Arizona Hotshots — who had lost three in a row — scored a surprising 22-17 win in Orlando. The Apollos now get two road games before closing the regular season with two home games before what appears to be a likely AAF playoff appearance.
2. San Antonio Commanders (last week: 2; 4-2) — After taking a pass on Johnny Manziel, the red-hot Commanders went out and won a third straight game in dominant fashion. Logan Woodside continued his impressive play of late, throwing for two first-half touchdowns as the Commanders buried the Atlanta Legends early en route to a 37-6 rout.
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3. Birmingham Iron (last week: 3; 4-2) — Birmingham’s thrilling last-second win in San Diego kept it just a game behind the Apollos in the Eastern Conference standings. Can the Iron keep it tight enough in the standings so that their Week 10 showdown with Orlando provides for an intriguing regular-season finale?
4. Arizona Hotshots (last week: 6; 3-3) — The Hotshots ended a three-game losing streak with a stunning road win over the previously unbeaten Orlando Apollos. With three of their last four games against Western Conference teams, the Hotshots can make a run at the playoffs in what looks like a three-team race.
5. San Diego Fleet (last week: 4; 3-3) — A week after San Diego scored a last second win over the Salt Lake Stallions, the Fleet were undone in the final moments against the Birmingham Iron. The loss prevented the Fleet from moving into a first-place tie atop the Western Conference with the San Antonio Commanders.
6. Salt Lake Stallions (last week: 7; 2-4) — With Saturday’s win over the Memphis Express, the Stallions still are within striking distance for a playoff spot. Their remaining schedule, however, won’t do them any favors. Two of those four games come against the conference-leading San Antonio Commanders.
7. Atlanta Legends (last week: 5; 2-4) — It was a rough Sunday in Atlanta for the Legends. Quarterback Aaron Murray threw three interceptions, each leading to scores for the San Antonio Commanders (including a pick six). It won’t get any easier for the Legends, who host the Eastern Conference-leading Apollos on Saturday.
8. Memphis Express (last week: 8; 1-5) — Can Johnny Manziel be the answer for Memphis? Two other former NFL quarterbacks — Christian Hackenberg and Zach Mettenberger — haven’t quite worked out. Mettenberger left Saturday’s loss to the Salt Lake Stallions after hurting his ankle on the first offensive snap, leaving untested Brandon Silvers as the Express’ option behind center. With four weeks remaining in the season, how much playing time might Manziel actually get?
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.
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