AAF Week 1 Betting Predictions: Odds, Picks, and Best Betting Value
On Saturday, February 9th, the Alliance of American Football kicks off their inaugural season with a full slate of games starting with the Atlanta Legends playing vs. the Orlando Apollos and the San Diego Fleet vs. the San Antonio Commanders. All eight of the league’s teams will be in action this weekend, and every weekend for the next 10 weeks, until the playoffs begin. The Arizona Hotshots opened as the league’s odds on favorite to win the AAF Championship in April. Will they be able to fulfill the experts’ expectations?
For the first week of the season, the AAF will hold two games at the same time on Saturday night beginning at 8 PM ET. After this weekend, the games will be split with an afternoon game and a night game.
Let’s dive right into Week 1’s matchups to check out the football betting odds, look for betting value, and make our AAF picks. All odds are courtesy of 5Dimes.
Atlanta Legends vs Orlando Apollos (Feb 9th, 8PM ET)
|Atlanta Legends||+3.5 (-120)||Over 44.5 (N/A)|
|Orlando Apollos||-3.5 (+120)||Under 44.5 (N/A)|
Legends vs. Apollos Betting Preview
This matchup should be all about the offense as the Legends have Michael Vick as their offensive coordinator and the Apollos have Steve Spurrier as their head coach. However, the first week of the season tends to always feature a few mistakes as teams try to get on the same page. Will the Legends embody their OC and electrify, or will “the old ball coach” get a win in the opening week?
— Atlanta Legends (@AafLegends) February 7, 2019
This game will be played at the Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
The Apollos come into this matchup as the betting favorite largely due to playing at home and the perception that they could have one of the league’s best defenses. We’ll see if this defense can shut down Atlanta’s offense on Saturday.
Currently, the spread is -3.5 points for the Apollos with an Over/Under of 44.5 total points.
Must Watch Matchup: Atlanta Offense vs Orlando Defense
As I predicted in my preseason championship preview, I believe the Legends could have one of the top offenses in the NFL. It starts with their QB play as they have a solid duo of Matt Simms and Aaron Murray. Recently, Simms was named the starter as he won the QB battle during camp.
From there, the offense features a solid running game with former NFL and college studs in Denard Robinson and Akrum Wadley. However, the first man up to lead the charge will be Tarean Folston. The former Notre Dame running back is looking to establish himself as the main “bell cow.”
Simms will be throwing to the “Jones Bros” as Malachi Jones and Seantavius Jones are at the top of the receiver depth chart. Expect this offense to lean on the run in order to open up the passing game.
Orlando boasts of 26 players from the state of Florida, with many dotting the defensive side of the ball. Will Hill is considered one of the defense’s leaders due to his extensive NFL experience. However, other players like DB Marquez White are also predicted to have an impact on this game.
AAF Bet: Atlanta Legends +3.5 (-120)
Atlanta has plenty of potential on the offensive side of the ball, but the one area that they are being overlooked is their defense. The Legends have some solid players and two potential shutdown corners in Desmond Lawrence and Doran Grant. They also have a solid defensive line led by the “Barnes Bros” and a trio of veteran linebackers.
— Tom Alexander (@TheTomAlexander) February 6, 2019
This defense will go up against a suspect offense with Garret Gilbert leading the way. I’m not sold on Orlando’s offensive skilled players as of yet. With that said, I’m taking the Legends to cover the spread and to win the game outright.
San Diego Fleet vs. San Antonio Commanders (Feb 9th, 8PM ET)
|San Diego Fleet||+6.5 (-120)||Over 43.5 (N/A)|
|San Antonio Commanders||-6.5 (+120)||Under 43.5 (N/A)|
Fleet vs Commanders Preview
The San Diego Fleet are expected to be a pass-happy team under head coach Mike Martz. The former NFL coach and offensive coordinator was responsible for the Rams’ glory years when they were referred to as the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Now, Martz is coaching in his hometown and AAF pundits believe he will showcase that brilliant offensive mind with a bunch of players looking to become household names. The Commanders tasked former NFL all-pro fullback Daryl “Moose” Johnston to build a competitive roster, and it appears he’s accomplished that task. The Commanders are one of the favorites to come out of the Western Conference. The quest for the playoffs begins by stopping the Fleet’s offense this weekend.
San Diego will travel to play at San Antonio in the Alamodome.
The Commanders open as the largest betting favorite of the weekend. This is in large part to their overall balance on both sides of the ball. The Over/Under currently sits at 43.5 total points.
On a side note, San Antonio’s head coach Mike Riley and San Diego’s Mike Martz coached against each other in the NFL when Martz’s Rams pounded Riley’s Chargers by a score of 57 to 31 in 2000.
Must Watch Matchup: Fleet Offense vs. Commanders Defense
As mentioned, the Fleet are expected to have an innovative and high-scoring offense under Martz. They will be led by former ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici after Josh Johnson left for the NFL and played in Washington. The Fleet don’t have an imposing running game, but they do have some passing targets in Kam Kelly, who Martz has praised, and former Cowboys top TE Gavin Escobar. If the o-line holds up then the Fleet could be scary on offense.
The Commanders defense will be tasked with shutting down the Fleet’s offense. Along the d-line, both Holmes and Elliott are expected to wreak havoc from the defensive end position. Additionally, San Antonio appears to have a solid duo of corners in Sanchez and Thomas. These former Sooners appear ready to lock down the secondary and the Fleet receivers. Lastly, watch for solid linebacker play led by athletes like Joel Lanning.
We want more. 💥
This Saturday. 😤
🕖- 7 P.M.
Let's GO! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/hGU44TRJuS
— San Antonio Commanders (@aafcommanders) February 6, 2019
AAF Bet: San Diego Fleet +6.5 (-120)
Mike Riley will have the San Antonio offense humming along, but I believe he will try to accomplish this on the ground. QB Dustin Vaughan needs to prove he can be the main guy on offense, but until he does the Commanders will ride running back David Cobb who is a tank in the backfield. With that said, I expect the Fleet’s defense to play solid football and force Vaughan to beat them. Look for Freeney and Moore to have an impact on this game.
With the main focus being on the Fleet’s offense vs. the Commander’s defense, I believe it will be San Diego’s defense that keeps this game close. I’m taking the Fleet and the points.
Memphis Express vs. Birmingham Iron (Feb 10th, 4 PM ET)
|Memphis Express||+1 (-120)||Over 40.5 (N/A)|
|Birmingham Iron||-1 (+120)||Under 40.5 (N/A)|
Memphis Express vs. Birmingham Iron Preview
NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary is the head coach for the Memphis Express and I expect this iconic football player to have his team playing like a “bunch of crazed dogs.” Singletary has NFL coaching and coordinating experience and I believe he will get this defense to the top of the rankings. For Birmingham, former NFL player and coach Tim Lewis has this team poised to play physical football on each side of the ball. Both head coaches played against each other in the early to mid-1980’s when Lewis was on the Green Bay Packers and Singletary was on the Chicago Bears.
— Birmingham Iron (@aafiron) February 6, 2019
Memphis will travel down to Birmingham with the game being held at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL.
This is the closest spread of the weekend and the lowest Over/Under. Birmingham is favored by just one point and that’s most likely due to the home field advantage.
Must Watch Matchup: Express Run Defense vs. Trent Richardson
The Iron feature 18 players who have played in the state of Alabama prior to the AAF. None more well-known than Trent Richardson who played for the Alabama Crimson Tide and had an unsuccessful stint in the NFL. Perhaps, no other player is hoping for redemption in the AAF more than this talented running back. The Iron will need Richardson to lead the way because they have quite possibly the worst quarterback situation in the league. We’re still not sure if Luis Perez or Blake Sims will start at QB, but neither strike fear into the hearts of any defense.
— Memphis Express (@aafexpress) February 7, 2019
Speaking of defense, I expect Memphis’ defense to embody the spirit of their head coach. This unit will most likely have the league’s top defensive line as they’re led by Anthony Johnson and Sam Montgomery who bring explosiveness off the edge. Linebacker Drew Jackson will be the team’s top linebacker and defensive captain. He and his fellow LB’s will join defensive tackles Hughes, Gilmore, and Brady in an effort to stop Richardson.
Justin Martin and Jonathan Cook will lead the secondary, which will most likely play a lot of man-to-man due to their size and the task of putting 7 defenders in the box to stop the run. They will have a tough matchup against the Iron’s duo of former NFL receivers in Quan Bray and Quinton Patton.
AAF Bet: Memphis Express +1 (-120)
The biggest reason I really like the Express to be a championship contender is their talent on offense. This defense will be solid, but this offense should be the difference maker this weekend and throughout the season. QB Christian Hackenberg will get the start and he will be playing behind a strong offensive line with former NFL players Dallas Thomas and Demetrius Rhaney. I expect the o-line to open up plenty of holes for former NFL running back Zac Stacy to have a lot of success this weekend. Hackenberg will get to throw to many underrated weapons like 6’6” wide receiver Kayaune Ross.
I’m taking Memphis to easily cover the spread and win this game. I don’t see Birmingham scoring a lot, so the Under 40.5 could be a play as well, once betting sites list odds.
Salt Lake Stallions vs. Arizona Hotshots (Feb 10th, 8 PM ET)
|Salt Lake Stallions||+4.5 (-120)||Over 42.5 (N/A)|
|Arizona Hotshots||-4.5 (+120)||Under 42.5 (N/A)|
Salt Lake Stallions vs. Arizona Hotshots Preview
In the final game of week 1, the Salt Lake Stallions will take on the Arizona Hotshots in two teams that are expected to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Both teams are led by former NCAAF head coaches with a ton of experience: Dennis Erickson for Salt Lake and Rick Neuheisel for Arizona.
— Salt Lake Stallions (@aafstallions) February 5, 2019
Salt Lake will travel down to Arizona with the game being played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ.
The Hotshots open as a 4.5 point favorite, and are also the odds on favorite to win the AAF Championship in the league’s first year. The Over/Under is set at 42.5 total points.
8 of Arizona’s 10 games will be seen on the NFL Network.
Must Watch Matchup: Stallions O-line vs. Hotshots Will Sutton
One of the best defensive players in the Alliance of American Football league is Will Sutton for the Arizona Hotshots. This former collegiate standout defensive player earned national and conference accolades while playing for Arizona State. Sutton played three years for the Bears and now returns to his former college’s stadium to lead the Hotshots this year. I fully expect Sutton to wreak havoc this weekend at his old stomping grounds. His effort will permeate throughout the rest of the defense and I can see this unit being an underrated force.
Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano is going to have a big challenge on his hands as he and offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto try to figure out how to stop Sutton and his peers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Salt Lake attempts to run the ball at Sutton and the d-line in order to keep them away from the QB. The Stallions have two former NFL running backs in Branden Oliver and Matt Asiata who provide Salt Lake with a smash mouth offense. But, it all comes down to whether or not this o-line can hold up under the heat that the Arizona defense will bring.
AAF Bet: Arizona Hotshots -4.5 points (+120)
Rick Neuheisel has said that both QBs Wolford and Knight will play. This dual QB attack is a throwback to college football when teams used to employ this strategy. The key is how Neuheisel uses the other weapons on offense like running backs Pressley and Rose. These two can run the ball and catch out of the backfield. I’m curious to see how well former NFL receiver Josh Huff does in this offense as he could really be a dominating player if he gets enough looks.
With that said, I don’t believe in the Salt Lake defense as of yet. I believe that Arizona will win this game at home and probably do so by more than one score. I think this team has a lot of potential on offense to go along with what’s shaping up to be a stellar defense. Take AZ to cover the 4.5 points at home.