AAF Week 5 picks, odds: Orlando Apollos cover in Birmingham, Arizona Hotshots get right at home
Playing at home was a key advantage in the AAF … until it wasn’t. In Week 4, three of the four road teams came away victorious, while Memphis, the only home team to win, needed a come-from-behind effort to get its first victory of the season. At almost the halfway point in the regular season, there still aren’t many tendencies to lean on with these teams ().
Except, of course, lean on taking the under.
Offenses have been moving the ball as of late, but red zone opportunities have still been tough. Take last Sunday’s game between the San Antonio Commanders and Birmingham Iron. The Commanders aren’t a great red zone offense anyway, but they couldn’t even get two yards to hit pay dirt on five-straight carries against the “Iron Curtain.” Similarly, the Atlanta Legends had three-straight unsuccessful red zone trips in the early portion of their 14-11 win at Arizona.
This week’s games are divisional matchups, so there’s a lot on the line as we enter the second half of the season. How will Week 5 of the AAF shake out? Check out our picks below. Lines are courtesy of MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Orlando Apollos (-5.5) at Birmingham Iron, O/U 41
I’ve been taking unders, almost blindly, for the first month. The under looks good here given how well both of these defenses have played — plus, Birmingham’s offense has been a slow starter, to say the least. The more interesting part is the spread because this game feels like it could go in one of two directions. Either it’s decided by, say, a field goal in favor of either team, or Orlando wins by 17. It’s concerning that Iron quarterback Luis Perez has yet to throw a touchdown and the Apollos’ secondary is one of the team’s best units. I wouldn’t be surprised if the score is close for most of the game, I just don’t know where Birmingham is going to get its points other than through non-offensive touchdowns or hidden yards.
Pick: Orlando -5.5, Under 41
Salt Lake Stallions at San Diego Fleet (PK), O/U 39
Saturday night’s game is interesting in that it features a team that has played better than its record and a team that just lost its starting quarterback for most, if not all, of the remaining regular season. This is a chance for the Stallions (1-3) to get a much-needed win and take a step forward in the West, where every team is 1-1 in the division. The Stallions’ running game with Branden Oliver vs. the Fleet’s defensive front will be the matchup to watch. In the end, if the line is a pick’ em, I’m going to go with the team that isn’t trying to patch things together at quarterback.
Pick: Salt Lake PK, Under 39
Memphis Express at Atlanta Legends (PK), O/U 38.5
Even though both teams have made quarterback changes, and their offenses are better for it, these are still two of the lowest-scoring offenses in the Alliance. Both can move the ball just fine, but capitalizing on red zone opportunities have been an issue. Again, given the line, I’m going to side with the team playing better football at the moment. Zach Mettenberger’s ability to stretch the field and Memphis’ disruptive defense are the keys.
Under: Memphis PK, Under 38.5
San Antonio Commanders at Arizona Hotshots (-3.5), O/U 40
What to make of this one? Arizona has lost two in a row and you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get with the Commanders – except for a porous secondary. Cornerback Zack Sanchez has come up with some clutch interceptions, but far too often wideouts have been able to get behind the defense for big plays. The Hotshots, unlike Birmingham last week, are capable of stretching the field vertically and San Antonio may pay for that. At the same time, I’d expect the Commanders to lean on their ground game and play ball-control offense after having a lot of success with that in Week 4. Will that be enough, though? Arizona needs a big rebound game.
Pick: Arizona -3.5, Over 40