The Arizona Hotshots were looking pretty damn good after the first two weeks of the season, and John Wolford seemed about to challenge Garrett Gilbert for the distinction of being the #1 quarterback in the Alliance of American Football. But Arizona has suffered back-to-back losses against teams who were arguably the least potent in the league, so some doubts invariably have to surface as the Hotshots take the field against the San Antonio Commanders in AAF action that is set to begin at 8 PM ET, televised on the NFL Network.
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In a sense, everyone is still kind of feeling their way around things in this maiden voyage of the AAF, and through four games a lot of things need to be taken into consideration. The Commanders, for example, scored an impressive victory in Week 1 over San Diego, but Mike Bercovici was not prepared to run Fleet coach Mike Martz's offense, and so he ran into plenty of trouble before being replaced. They had a rematch two weeks later, where San Antonio got almost nothing going on offense and lost.
The fact that they had compiled five drives of at least ten plays against Orlando, the league's best team, was a good sign. Last week, San Antonio benefited from a bruising ground attack, led by Kenneth Farrow's 142 yards, and it resulted in a 12-11 victory over Birmingham, which had gone into the game undefeated.
Arizona looked very good in the first two games, but when you lose to Memphis and Atlanta these last two weeks - with the inability to move the ball against the Legends, who don't have a lot of defense - that has to bring up some concerns. So while the Commanders might have received a real confidence boost last week, the Hotshots could be sliding.
In the AAF football betting odds that have been placed on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Arizona is favored by a field goal:
Arizona Hotshots -3
San Antonio Commanders +3
Over 40 points -110
Under 40 points -110
In three consecutive weeks, Arizona will have faced the three least potent offenses in the league. San Antonio had some success running the ball last week, but looked pretty shaky in the red zone. At this stage of the season, teams are going to have a tendency to stick with what has worked. And for the Commanders, that means more of Farrow. Through the first four weeks, they are leading the AAF in team rushing (on a per-game basis).
Daryl Johnston, the former Cowboy who is the team's GM, salivated at the 21-play drive his team put together last week, beginning at the one-yard line. And he indicated that he'd love to keep seeing that, as his team leads the league in time of possession. Well-traveled head coach Mike Riley, who is familiar with just about everything, says that "We would like to lead the league in rushing, if that means we can lead the league in wins."
They may not do that, but the running game is a good alternative to the inconsistency of Logan Woodside, who seems like he is being held back a bit. When he was at Toledo, Woodside was known for making huge plays, as his receivers all had monster per-catch numbers. He's completed less than 50% of his passes and Riley has intimated that he'd like to see Woodside as a "game manager."
So we have a host team that can't outscore bad offenses, and a visitor who wants to chew up a lot of clock and has scored four TD's in sixteen red zone trips - and to give you an idea of how unproductive that is, the worst red zone team in the NFL this past season was San Francisco, at 41%. Even executing their game plan ideally last week, the Commanders had twelve points. Let's move UNDER this total.
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