When the Arizona Hotshots meet the Orlando Apollos this week, it’ll be a matchup of the preseason favorite against the current favorite.
The two teams have been heading in opposite directions lately. Arizona has lost three in a row while Orlando is still undefeated. Is there any reason to believe the trajectory of the teams will change this week?
Arizona Hotshots at Orlando Apollos
Date: Saturday March 23th, 2019 – 8:05 PM ET
Location: Spectrum Stadium – Orlando, Florida
Arizona, the preseason favorite to win the championship, started the season with a decisive win in Week 1 but has been slipping ever since. They barely eked out a win against the Christian Hackenberg-led Memphis Express in Week 2 and have since lost three straight times – twice at home.
The performances are getting worse and worse, though, as the Hotshots fell behind 26-0 to the San Antonio Commanders last week. They managed to come to life and eventually lost 29-25, which is far more respectable.
The Hotshots have been hampered by poor defensive performances and giving up huge plays. They allowed a 55-yard touchdown pass to San Antonio, which felt like a backbreaker.
The late 25-point surge, which almost completed a 26-point comeback against San Antonio, should not be allowed to mask the fact that the HotShots’ offense has been stale for the past three weeks. Through 10 quarters preceding the 25-point second half against San Antonio in Week 5, the Hotshots’ offense had scored 26 points in total. That figure accounts for all of Weeks 3 and 4 plus the first half of Week 5. This offense needs a jump-start and has to find ways to play well in first halves of games.
The Apollos continue to have answers for every team in the AAF. Birmingham was the scoring defense leader in the Alliance of American Football heading into last week before Orlando shredded them. The Apollos collected 31 against the Iron in a 17-point win, moving to 5-0.
Led by league MVP frontrunner, Garrett Gilbert, Orlando has scored at least 30 points in three of its five games. It has also allowed 17 points or fewer in four of its five games. This is a complete team which has not yet had a terrible day on either offense or defense. Don’t expect it to happen here against an opponent that has really been struggling – especially since Orlando is at home.
The Arizona Hotshots are 2-3 straight up, but have lost three straight games. They had regularly been playing games under the point total, but in Week 5, a three-game under streak came to an end. They went over the number in a 29-25 loss to San Antonio.
The Orlando Apollos are 5-0 straight up, 4-1 ATS. They are the only unbeaten team in the AAF through five games. They have been winning most of their games by more than one possession (eight points) and have won only one game by fewer than eight points. No one else in the AAF has won four games. Three other teams in the league are 3-2 straight up through Week 5 (Birmingham Iron, San Antonio Commanders, San Diego Fleet).
Hotshots vs. Apollos Prediction
Apollos 26, Hotshots 14
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