Express Look to Get Going Against Hotshots
The Memphis Express host the Arizona Hotshots in AAF (Alliance of American Football) week two action. The Express have yet to score a point this season. The Hotshots, on the other hand, had their offense in high gear last week.
Arizona Hotshots at Memphis Express
Date: Saturday, Feb. 16 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Liberty Bowl — Memphis, Tennessee
TV: NFL Network | Live stream:fuboTV (Try for free)
The Arizona Hotshots couldn’t have asked for a better start to their season. A 38-22 win over the Salt Lake Stallions was solid. They played about as good as anyone could expect in the first game of the franchises history.
Hotshots Have High-Powered Offense
The Hotshots increased the tempo of their offense last week out of necessity. They were struggling a bit. Once they did, quarterback John Wolford got on a roll. He went 18-for-29 passing for 275 yards and four touchdowns. The performance awarded him The Alliance’s Offensive Player of the Week honor.
The Arizona offense rushed for 149 yards. They were led by running back Jhurell Pressley, who rushed for 64 yards on 18 carries to lead the backfield. Backup running back Justin Stockton had 46 yards on just seven carries. This comes to 6.6 yards per rush.
Arizona has to try to take what the Express gives them on offense. Game one showed that there are plenty of options on offense for Arizona, and they haven’t even used the whole playbook. That could be scary for the rest of the AAF. The Express defense held the Birmingham Iron to only 86 yards on the ground Sunday afternoon. They got torched through the air for 241 yards in the 26-0 loss.
Offensive line starters Brant Weiss, Josh Allen and Malcolm Bunche could be game-time decisions after missing practice time with leg injuries this week. The offense was fine last week when those guys missed snaps.
With Mike Singletary as head coach and, a NFL Hall-of-Famer on defense, Hotshots head coach Rick Neuheisel expects a physical Express team.
Hotshots Defense Looks for Stellar Play
It’s easy to look at the scoreboard and statistics and jump to conclusion. You see zero points and only 202 yards of total offense from the Express in their 26-0 loss at Birmingham last week and think that the Hotshots have a distinct advantage. That may not be the case.
The Hotshots forced three turnovers against Salt Lake. They still have improvements to make on defense. Salt Lake was 8 of 16 on third down. That was helped in part by three illegal defensive formations called against Arizona. That has to change.
The Hotshots have to show that they’ve corrected their mistakes in how to line up according to Alliance rules for defense. If they haven’t that will give a struggling Express offense more chances to right itself.
The penalties were definitely a point of emphasis is practice this week. The Hotshots need to get more consistent pressure on the quarterback after only getting one sack last week.
Arizona could face two quarterbacks in a game for the second time this season. Starter Christian Hackenberg has been ineffective. If he continues to be so expect him to give way to Zach Mettenberger.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
The Express are 0-1 on the season. RB Zac Stacy led the Express in rushing yards last week with 58. He is no stranger to big games as he had many in the NFL. LB DeMarquis Gates led the team in tackles with 11 and he forced two fumbles in his first professional game.
The Hotshots are 1-0 on the season. WR Rashad Ross is coming off a two-touchdown, 103-yard performance. LB Steven Johnson’s seven tackles and an interception led the Hotshots last week. If the Express focus on Ross, look for Wolford to seek out WR Richard Mullaney. He caught five balls last Sunday.
Vegas sees this as a mismatch. The line opened at -10 and is now at 16, the under opened at 49 and is now down to 45.5. Being at home should give Memphis a shot in the arm. The question is this, Is there any offense to be had? Remember in San Fran, Singletary‘s teams didn’t light up the scoreboard either. Arizona lit up the scoreboard in Week 1. For the Express to pull the upset, the Hotshots would have to totally collapse. I’ll give Memphis some points for being the home team. The Hotshots cover the 16 and the game should still go under the total.
Pick: Arizona -16, Under 45.5.
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AAF Week 3 Schedule
|Arizona at Salt Lake||Saturday, Feb. 23||3 p.m.||B/R Live|
|Memphis at Orlando||Saturday, Feb. 23||8 p.m.||NFL Network|
|Birmingham at Atlanta||Sunday, Feb. 24||4 p.m.||CBS Sports Network|
|San Antonio at San Diego||Sunday, Feb. 24||8 p.m.||NFL Network|