CEO of the AAF, Charlie Ebersol, stops by the USA TODAY studio to discuss the start of the new football league.
Two weeks into the season, and already there seems to be some separation going on in the Alliance of American Football. Here’s how the league’s eight teams rank after its second week of play.
1. Orlando Apollos (last week: 2) — While Steve Spurrier continues to provide postgame zingers, his Apollos have been the most impressive team in the league through two games. After dropping a 40-burger on the Atlanta Legends in the opener, the Apollos rallied on the road to beat the San Antonio Commanders on Sunday. While fans wait for a bona fide on-field star to emerge in The Alliance, the “Head Ball Coach” — predictably — has been an entertaining ambassador for the new league.
2. Arizona Hotshots (1) — Down 12-0 at the half and 18-6 early in the fourth quarter, the Hotshots came tantalizingly close to being on the wrong end of Christian Hackenberg’s first win as a pro quarterback. Instead, coach Rick Neuheisel’s team rallied late and became the first team in AAF history to win a road game (of course, less than 24 hours later, the Apollos also won on the road).
3. Birmingham Iron (3) — Trent Richardson — the No. 3 overall draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2012 — might be averaging only 2.4 yards per carry, but he’s provided the late-game heroics for the unbeaten Iron. After scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns in Birmingham’s Week 1 win over the Memphis Express, Richardson scored the winning touchdown in Saturday’s victory over the visiting Salt Lake Stallions.
4. San Antonio Commanders (4) — The Commanders led the Apollos until midway through the fourth quarter in what was the most exciting game in AAF history … so far. However, a pick-six thrown by Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside to the Apollos’ Keith Reaser sealed the thrilling win for Orlando. In a promising sign for the young league, nearly 30,000 fans were on hand at the Alamodome.
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5. San Diego Fleet (6) — For the first time since Jan. 1, 2017 — when the Chargers lost 37-27 to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs — pro football was back in San Diego. Running back Ja’Quan Gardner piled up most of his 104 yards rushing as the Fleet pulled away from the Legends in the fourth quarter, winning 24-12, and providing the local football fans with something to cheer for.
6. Salt Lake Stallions (5) — The Stallions came close to their first win. After building a 9-0 halftime lead, the Stallions couldn’t muster any points in the second half as Birmingham rallied to win late. Not helping matters is the play at quarterback. Coach Dennis Erickson has given playing time to each of his three quarterbacks — Austin Allen, Josh Woodrum and Matt Linehan — who have combined to complete less than half of their passes. Maybe the team’s fortunes will change when it hosts its first home game Saturday. That game, however, is against the Hotshots, who beat the Stallions in Week 1.
7. Atlanta Legends (7) — Like the Stallions, the Legends are 0-2 and will be looking forward to hosting their first home game in Week 3. Also, like the Stallions, the Legends will welcome an undefeated team — the Iron — to town.
8. Memphis Express (8) — Through the first two weeks, Christian Hackenberg — a 2016 second-round draft pick by the New York Jets — has been one of the new league’s least impressive quarterbacks. He ranks seventh in passing yards, eighth in completion percentage (at least 10 attempts) and has thrown no touchdown passes. Next up for the Express? A road game against Spurrier’s high-powered Apollos.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.
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