It’s hard to believe, but Week 4 of the Alliance of American Football's (AAF) season is already upon us. Week 3 was arguably the most entertaining week of the season so far. A total of 158 points were scored last weekend and for the first time, every team posted double digits. All four winners finished above the 20-point threshold, a total of 56,312 fans attended last week’s games, and for the third straight week, the AAF averaged more than 1 million television viewers.
While there is still talk about the AAF's reported financial state, the league continues to push on. Week 3 was definitely the most competitive week of the season as even the losing teams put up a fight, especially in the latter stages of those games. Heading into this weekend, the league’s top contenders are starting to emerge. With that being said, here are the AAF’s power rankings leading into this week’s games.
AAF Power Rankings Entering Week 4
1. Orlando Apollos (3-0, tied for 1st in Eastern Conference)
Steve Spurrier’s unit is hands down the best overall team in the AAF. They’re averaging 30 points per game (98 total points so far) while giving up a little less than 20. On offense they’ve gained a total of 1,179 yards (averaging 393 per game), Garrett Gilbert (827 passing yards, 5 TDs) has been a stud at quarterback, and they’re second in the Eastern Conference in both sacks and turnovers (6 in each category). Saturday night the Apollos play their first road game of the year when they travel to Salt Lake City to take on a Stallions team that has had some struggles to start the season.
2. Birmingham Iron (3-0, tied for 1st in Eastern Conference)
As the only other unbeaten team in the AAF, the Iron are the most balanced team to this point. They average 22 points per game thanks to workhorse running back Trent Richardson (213 yards from scrimmage, six touchdowns), the efficient passing of Luis Perez (58.8 completion percentage, 596 passing yards), and they’re backed up by a defense that’s only given up a league-low 21 points and leads the AAF with eight takeaways (5 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries). On Sunday they return home to Legion Field to take on a San Antonio Commanders squad that’s lost two in a row and is in the midst of a three-game road trip.
3. San Diego Fleet (2-1, tied for 1st in Western Conference)
The team’s quarterback situation seems to have been remedied. Since taking over for the struggling Mike Bercovici, Philip Nelson has thrown for 403 yards and two touchdowns. And in that time the Fleet have won two straight games, avenged the season-opening loss to San Antonio, and have put themselves atop the Western Conference. Complementing Nelson is dynamic running back Ja’Quan Gardner who leads the AAF in rushing yards (281), is averaging eight yards per carry (8.0), and is second behind Birmingham’s Trent Richardson in rushing touchdowns (3).
As the Fleet travel to Memphis on Saturday to take on the winless Express, their offense is starting to look more like what head coach Mike Martz envisioned at the start of the season.
4. Arizona Hotshots (2-1, tied for 1st in Western Conference)
Despite falling short against the Stallions last week, the Hotshots are still a formidable threat. They are the AAF’s No. 2 offense with 81 total points scored and 1,068 total yards. The three-headed monster that is quarterback John Wolford (7 TD passes, exited last week's game with an injury), running back Jhurell Pressley (188 yards from scrimmage), and wide receiver Rashad Ross (221 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns) would give any defense a hard time. Rick Neuheisel’s team looks to get back on the winning track when they host the winless Atlanta Legends on Sunday night.
5. Salt Lake Stallions (1-2, tied for 2nd in Western Conference)
Dennis Erickson’s team finally got in the win column last week by slowing down the red-hot Hotshots in their first home game. Quarterback Josh Woodrum is healthy again as he returned and threw for 178 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. But the key to this offense has been running back Joel Bouagnon. The Northern Illinois alum is fifth in rushing yards (154), tied for third in rushing touchdowns (2), and ranks fourth in rushing attempts (39). The Stallions also lead the AAF in sacks (8) but with undefeated Orlando coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Erickson will need both his offense and his defense to be at their best to help keep the Apollos' offense off the field.
6. San Antonio Commanders (1-2, tied for 2nd in Western Conference)
After putting on the best defensive performance in their Week 1 win over San Diego, the Commanders have fallen on hard times. They’ve lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-40, Logan Woodside has thrown three interceptions in those two losses, he’s been sacked six times in that same stretch, and San Antonio hasn't scored in the fourth quarter of either game. To say this three-game road trip has gotten off to a rough start is an understatement. Next up is a visit to Birmingham to play the undefeated Iron on Sunday.
7. Memphis Express (0-3, tied for 2nd in Eastern Conference)
Despite the struggles that this team has faced, the Express have a couple of things going for them. Running back Zac Stacy is second in the AAF in rushing yards (188), their defense comes to play every week (5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries), and their recent change at quarterback has given this offense a new lease on life. Former LSU and Tennessee Titans starter Zack Mettenberger replaced Christian Hackenberg in the second half of last week’s loss in Orlando. In two quarters, Mettenberger completed 75 percent of his passes for 120 yards, two touchdowns (none for Hackenberg), and no interceptions (Hackenberg has thrown three).
With newfound confidence in their offense, head coach Mike Singletary is quite optimistic that his team can finally get in the win column when the Express host San Diego on Saturday afternoon.
8. Atlanta Legends (0-3, tied for 2nd in Eastern Conference)
Kevin Coyle’s team has had trouble both scoring points (30 in three games) and moving the ball (792 yards of offense). The defense has held its own with five sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery, but the Legends are still searching for their first win. The issue has been dropped passes and struggles in the red zone. But the fourth quarter hasn't been kind to Atlanta (outscored 38-6) and the team has scored a total of two touchdowns in three games. Matt Simms has put up decent numbers (614 passing yards, 59 percent completion rate), but he's also thrown six interceptions.
The Legends will look for a more complete effort on both sides of the ball as they head to Arizona to take on the Hotshots Sunday night.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.