AAF Power Rankings Week 4: Birmingham Iron rising quickly, Orlando Apollos still No. 1
Our Week 4 power rankings have a lot of reshuffling behind No. 1
Let's go back to the first power rankings. (.) It's been said before but worth repeating: they were a guess. An educated guess, hopefully, but a guess all the same, considering the AAF had yet to play a single down of football. Nearly a month into the season, we officially have some major reshuffling in the standings.
Arizona and Orlando, the top two preseason teams, are still among the top four in this week's power rankings. However, two new teams, Birmingham and San Diego, are in the upper half of the league as well after starting at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. Combined, they are now 5-1.
It just goes to show that nothing beats actual football. Talking season is fun, but it's short-lived. Let's get to this week's power rankings with the final weekend in February on the horizon.
1. Orlando Apollos (3-0)
Steve Spurrier's team got an unexpected scare out of Memphis, but credit Spurrier for making excellent in-game adjustments by turning quarterback Garrett Gilbert into more of a runner. That was unexpected, but effective. The Apollos still have the best offense despite their lowest point total to date, but the next month is going to be a huge test of just how good and resilient they are. Four of their next five games are on the road. Previously: No. 1
2. Birmingham Iron (3-0)
Besmirched no longer, the Iron are the only other unbeaten team remaining. No, they aren't as flashy as the Apollos, but who am I to argue with how they get it done? They have an identity, which is to play great defense, namely in the red zone, and pound the ball with Trent Richardson for touchdowns. One thing to consider with these top two teams, though: they're a combined 6-0; everyone else is 6-12. Tough to play a hard schedule with those numbers. Previously: No. 4
3. San Diego Fleet (2-1)
Beating San Antonio 31-11 was as impressive as any Week 3 performance. Coupled with Arizona losing and generally not playing well for the past two weeks, there's a sudden case that the Fleet are the West Division's top team. Certainly, the move to Philip Nelson at quarterback has helped while the defense is allowing fewer than 13 points per game. The road trip to Memphis in Week 4 all of a sudden has more intrigue than it would have just a couple of weeks ago. Previously: No. 5
4. Arizona Hotshots (2-1)
Arizona is starting to show some cracks. The Hotshots needed a fourth-quarter surge to beat Memphis in Week 2 and never had a lead in a 23-15 loss to Salt Lake in Week 3. Losing quarterback John Wolford to a back injury didn't help, but Trevor Knight came in and went 8-of-17 passing, which didn't do much, either. Granted, home teams have had a distinct advantage on the scoreboard, so it's not a huge surprise that the Hotshots fell. However, some late-game coaching malpractice -- specifically, choosing to go for it on 4th-and-3 instead of kicking a short field goal down 11 points with four minutes remaining -- led to serious head scratching. A home game vs. Atlanta is a good opportunity to get right. Previously: No. 2
5. San Antonio Commanders (1-2)
The Commanders are heading in the wrong direction. Yes, they rose to No. 3 in last week's power rankings, but they had Orlando on the ropes for more than three quarters in a truly fun and well-played game in Week 2. Going on the road for the first time was an unknown, though, and San Antonio did next to nothing after quickly going up 8-0 over San Diego. The performances differed, but the outcomes were the same. That's back-to-back losses for Mike Riley's team. Will a road trip to Birmingham make it three in a row? Previously: No. 3
6. Salt Lake Stallions (1-2)
No change for the Stallions after getting their first win, but that's more due to a lot of reshuffling above them. A home game vs. Orlando will be huge for this team's ceiling. However, I like what I'm seeing out of Salt Lake. With quarterback Josh Woodrum back from a hamstring injury, the offense is moving again. This team runs the ball well with the Joel Bouagnon and Branden Oliver, and DeMornay Pierson-El is emerging as a go-to wideout. Defensive end Karter Schult leads the league with four sacks and is as disruptive as anyone in the AAF. Previously: No. 6
7. Memphis Express (0-3)
Still winless, Memphis won't rise out of the bottom two until it starts getting those Ws. However, starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who came off the bench in Week 3, is a step in the right direction. His movement within the pocket and ability to go vertical with the ball completely opened up the offense. The Express are at home again in Week 4 against San Diego, who, as mentioned above, is starting to heat up. This could be a sneaky-good game of two teams starting to find themselves. Previously: No. 7
8. Atlanta Legends (0-3)
A deeper dive into Atlanta's problems can be read in. Michael Vick may no longer be the offensive coordinator, but maybe the Legends should see if he can still play? Previously: No. 8
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