Orlando Apollos (5-1) at Atlanta Legends (2-4)
Where to Watch: TNT
The first game of Week 7 of the AAF gets kicked off with a matchup of two teams trying to get back in the win column. The Apollos come off their first loss of the season against the Hotshots and now roll into Georgia State Stadium against an Atlanta Legends team that put up a very disappointing performance against the San Antonio Commanders where they could only manage to put 6 points onto the board. Both of the QBs in this matchup are coming off of their roughest performances of the year and will look to get back to their accurate and confident playing styles. This is one of the games that was flexed into being broadcast by TNT, and this matchup should not disappoint with the Legends grasping at what little chances they have at making it into the playoffs against an Apollos team that are angry about their first loss and should be motivated to put to rest any doubt they are the best team in the AAF.
Players to watch
Charles Johnson will look to bounce back from his roughest outing of the season, one where he caught less than half of his targets that came his way. He will look to exploit a somewhat suspect set of CBs on the Legends en route to a big day statistically. Garret Gilbert is also looking to brush off an uneven performance against the Hotshots, but he will be going toe to toe against one of the better Safeties in the AAF in Ed Reynolds who is a quality ballhawk on the back end of the Legends defense. With all the success that Orlando has had through the air, it has been the running game that has been the backbone of this team, and look for them to lean on their stable of RBs against a Legends defense that seems to struggle to contain quality runners.
Aaron Murray’s last performance was one that I am sure he wishes wouldn’t be able to be revisited on tape. He struggled mightily with his accuracy and at times it wasn’t even close. He will look to get some of the magic back from the two previous games where he looked like the second best QB in the AAF. The one part of the offense that can help Murray out tremendously is the running game. Lawrence Pittman is a strong grinder between the tackles, while the underrated Tarean Folston has made himself into a viable asset as a target out of the backfield, the Legends are going to need both of them to perform admirably to help them get ahead of the proverbial eight ball. The Legends offensive line have their work cut out for them, and the Apollos will be motivated to get back into the win column, and their pass rush will get an added boost this week with the return of Earl Okine from injury. The combination of Okine and Jerel Worthy pushing the pocket from the interior is going to be a tall task to match.
Keys to the game
Establish the Running Game
Get the Gilbert to Johnson connection rolling
Let the pass rushers pin their ears back and get after Murray
Force some turnovers
Don’t abandon the running game
Get Murray into a rhythm to gain some confidence
Top 5 Fantasy Players
Garrett Gilbert, QB (ORL)
De’Veon Smith, RB (ORL)
Aaron Murray, QB (ATL)
Charles Johnson, WR (ORL)
Tarean Folston, RB (ATL)
I have a feeling the loss that the Apollos experienced against the Hotshots last week will help motivate this team to not get complacent with their best record in the AAF, and I see them coming into this game like an awoken giant. I see the Apollos getting pressure on Murray earlier and often, and then they will make their presence felt with a huge game in the rushing department. I could see both De’Veon Smith and D’Ernest Johnson going for over 100 yards rushing apiece.
Final Score: Apollos 42, Legends 20
Written by: Roy Countryman
Salt Lake Stallions (2-4) at San Antonio Commanders (4-2)
Where to Watch: NFL Network
The San Antonio Commanders are riding a three-game win streak, as they head back to Texas to take on the Stallions on Saturday night. The Stallions finally got back in the win column when they dominated the Memphis Express for all four quarters. The Stallions are 2-4, but a win this week over the West Conference leader Commanders will bring the Stallions within one game of the top of the division. A Commander's loss would log jam the entire West Conference, however a loss the Commanders would all but take the Stallions out of playoff contention. With the postseason implications this game processes, it is a must watch.
Players to watch
Mekale McKay has been one of the best wide receivers in the AAF using his combination of size and speed to be an easy target for Logan Woodside. It will be up to the Stallions defensive lineman Mike Purcell and Karter Schult to get to Woodside early because the Stallions corners have struggled all season A
according to PFF. Only one corner is ranked in the top 15 of Stallion defensive player who has played more than 3 games. The Stallions have the best-run defense in the AAF. Kenneth Farrow will not get any easy yards in this game.
Josh Woodrum has the 3rd highest completion percentage of all QBs. A big part of that has been the reliable hands of WR De’Mornay Pierson-El and TE Nick Truesdell who is perfect on the season with 18 catches on 18 targets. Pierson-El will match up with the Commander nickel corner Zack Sanchez. Sanchez can be a little aggressive, and he will need to be more patient to cover a shifty route runner like Pierson-El. If the Stallions can contain the Commanders Edge Rushing duo of Shaan Washington and Jayrone Elliott long enough for Woodrum’s weapon to get open, Stallions should be able to move the ball.
Keys to the game
Salt Lake Stallions
Give Woodrum time for plays to develop
Karter Schult and company need to get to Logan Woodside early and often to make life easier on their secondary
Contain Greg Ward on punt returns. Do not let the Commanders have free yards on special teams.
San Antonio Commanders
Establish the Run against a great front 7
Do not allow big plays. Keep everything in front of them
Top 5 Fantasy Players
Logan Woodside, QB (SA)
Nick Truesdell, TE (SLC)
Mekale McKay, WR (SA)
De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR (SLC)
Kenneth Farrow II, RB (SA)
This is going to be a fun game with a lot of offense and big hits. Mekale McKay will have his way with the Stallions secondary, but Josh Woodrum has shown the skill to keep up. Expect big hits and big plays on both sides of the ball. The Stallions have their backs against the wall, and I expect this to be a chippy contest. I think it will come down to a big play or two by the Commanders that gives them edge in the end and just about knocks the Stallions out of playoff contention.
Final Score: Commanders 42, Stallions 37
Written by: David Connors @connors_david