AAF Power Rankings Week 3: Orlando new No. 1 after statement win in San Antonio
The Apollos are on top in our newest power rankings, so how far did Arizona slide?
It's good to have Steve Spurrier coaching again.
Back in January during training camp, he mentioned a recent encounter he had with now-retired Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who was at a coach's convention in the area. As they caught up on old times, Spurrier couldn't help notice how at-ease Meyer seemed.
"He looks really good. He is happy and content," Spurrier said, before adding, "I told him wait 'till you're out about two years, though, and we'll see how happy you're going to be."
Spurrier called it the two-year itch. And, sure enough, about two years after retiring from coaching at South Carolina, Spurrier got the itch to get back into coaching again. That's when the Orlando Apollos. It was a chance to call plays again in a familiar area not too far from Gainesville, where he's still an ambassador at his alma mater, the University of Florida.
Two games into the AAF's first season, it's easy to see that Spurrier still has it -- both as a play-caller and as a thrower of maximum shade. Not only does Orlando have the No. 1 scoring offense in the Alliance, Spurrier's wit remains as sharp as ever. Following the Apollos' thrilling 37-29 win at San Antonio, Spurrier was asked what he thought of the Alamodome crowd noise. His answer:
The Apollos should in every right be No. 1 in this week's power rankings based on that answer alone, but we're trying to run a legitimate operation here. Yes, Orlando is your new No. 1 team in the AAF, but it's earned that recognition. It wasn't a terribly difficult call, either. After No. 1, though, is where things get interesting.
Check out this week's power rankings below to see how the rest of the AAF shakes out.
1. Orlando Apollos (2-0)
Let's go beyond the 37-29 win at San Antonio. Points and offensive explosiveness have been at a premium, so their value is higher. No team is valued more than the Apollos, who lead the AAF with 38.5 points per game. The scoring isn't solely from the offense -- Orlando has a pair of pick-sixes as well -- but that's what stands out. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert has gone from career journeyman to one of the Alliance's standout players, no doubt because of the work of coach Steve Spurrier. Gilbert has weapons around him, too. This offense is already clicking on a level that most others aren't, which gives them the inside edge towards a championship run. Previously: No. 2
2. Arizona Hotshots (2-0)
Coupled with Orlando's big win, Arizona's 20-18 escape at Memphis knocks the Hotshots down a spot. Rick Neuheisel's team could still be the one to beat in the West division, but the first half of Saturday's road game brought them down to Earth just a bit. Five turnovers, including two failed fourth-down attempts, will do that. Credit Memphis' defense for circling the wagons and playing lights out for most of the game, but the Hotshots also showed they're still one of the most prolific offenses in the Alliance. When they absolutely needed points, Arizona scored two touchdowns on consecutive drives spanning an average of 81 yards in under five minutes. That's worth something. Previously: No. 1
3. San Antonio Commanders (1-1)
Finally, controversy. Wins and losses matter, of course, but the Commanders had a lead on Orlando heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday's thrilling game. San Antonio fell victim to what eventually became a game-sealing pick-six, but that was a terrific back-and-forth football game with a lot of positives. The Commanders have weapons with running back Kenneth Farrow and the emergence of receiver Demarcus Ayers. One negative, though: The defense I was so bullish on after Week 1? Yuck. There were a few too many busted coverages in the secondary. Previously: No. 4
4. Birmingham Iron (2-0)
The Iron cut it close at home against the Stallions, erasing a 9-0 halftime deficit to win 12-9. Gritty, certainly, but worrisome at times. Two-thirds of the Iron's offensive possessions were four plays or fewer, and their average yards per play for the game was 3.4. And the receiving drops? Woof. Birmingham had one offensive touchdown and the other, a muffed punt returned for a score, probably shouldn't have counted. I'll never dog on a team for finding a way to win -- the Iron are committed to grinding teams out with strong defense -- but if I'm sticking to my guns that explosiveness matters, this team is a couple of steps behind. Previously: No. 3
5. San Diego Fleet (1-1)
Like every other favorite this past weekend, the Fleet needed a rally to win. Shout out to Mike Martz's team for 1) getting their first touchdown of the year, 2) kicking down the front door in a 24-12 win over Atlanta and 3) doing it all in the pouring rain. There are still plenty of questions about the offensive line and quarterback situations, but this defense has looked strong over two weeks. Previously: No. 6
6. Salt Lake Stallions (0-2)
Thus begins our journey into the 0-fors. The Stallions have looked the best of the winless teams and defensive end Karter Schult (two sacks vs. Birmingham) is emerging as one of the top defensive players in the Alliance. But not having starting quarterback Josh Woodrum (hamstring) hurts and Austin Allen had his share of struggles in the Birmingham loss. Previously: No. 5
7. Memphis Express (0-2)
It wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, and it wasn't over when the Express got shut out by the Iron in Week 1. Mike Singletary's team did an excellent job of getting Arizona out of its comfort zone with three turnovers in the first two quarters -- all in plus territory. What they didn't do well was converting those turnovers into points. A 12-0 halftime lead was nice, but didn't feel too comfortable. Sure enough, the Hotshots made a comeback. Memphis looked better from Week 1 to Week 2, but that offense remains a liability. A road game at Orlando in Week 3 is going to be a beast. Previously: No. 8
8. Atlanta Legends (0-2)
Atlanta's had an awful start with two road games: one against Orlando and the other in the driving rain. Those aren't excuses for why the Legends are 0-2, but they haven't helped. To Atlanta's credit, it did have a lead on San Diego, it just couldn't close it out. Back at home against Birmingham in Week 3, can the Legends finally get their first win? Previously: No. 7
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