Defense Will be Front and Center with Fleet and Iron
Two of the better defenses in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) will be on display Sunday night. Fans will also see plenty of quarterback rotations for both sides. The Fleet are undefeated at home. Birmingham might have some new life with Keith Price at quarterback. The Fleet also got two defensive touchdowns a week ago. Lets See what this slobber-knocker has in store for us.
Birmingham Iron at San Diego Fleet
Date: Sunday, March 17 | Time: 8 p.m. ET | Line: Fleet -6 & O/U: 36.
Location: SDCCU Stadium — San Diego, California
TV: NFL Network | Live stream:fuboTV (Try for free)
Can Keith Price replicate the success he had coming off the bench against the Apollos in Week 5? Price’s legs were an asset. He used them to escape the pocket and keep plays alive with 234 yards passing at 8.1 yards per attempt. He Threw the first touchdown through the air for the Iron all season. He’s playing on the road for the first time against a San Diego defense that is excellent up front. They are best in the AAF vs. the run and overall solid. They had four takeaways and two defensive scores in Week 5. The Fleet are undefeated at home.
The Birmingham are looking to regain its footing in the Eastern Conference. They have had two consecutive losses to drop them right into the thick of the crowded playoff race. The Iron are now 3-2 and just one game ahead of surging Atlanta (2-3) for the second spot behind undefeated Orlando. The Iron have made a change at quarterback that they hope will spark a resurgence on offense.
The Fleet flirted with disaster last week against Salt Lake. They gave up a late 13-point lead only to walk off with a 27-25 victory on Donny Hageman’s 44-yard field goal with no time left. That kick was all that prevented the Fleet from being on their own two-game slide. The Fleet (3-2) can gain a control of the reigns in the Western Conference race with a victory. That will put them up one game on Arizona, who beat Orlando on Saturday to improve to 3-3.
This and that
Mike Bercovici made his first start since Week 1 last Saturday for the Fleet. The Start was against Salt Lake and it was a mixed bag for the former Arizona State star. Bercovici had 199 yards passing at halftime. That was the most yards for a Fleet QB for an entire game this season. After the half, he struggled to find a rhythm. With the team desperate for a big play in the final seconds, Bercovici hit Dontez Ford for a 45-yard gain. The play gave him 304 yards for the night.
The running game disappeared against the solid run defense of the Stallions last week. Since his back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 2 and 3, Ja’Quan Gardner only has a total of 12 yards on 18 carries the past two games combined. The Fleet should get a lift from the return of offensive lineman Damien Mama. He is an elite run-blocker who missed almost the entire second half in Week 4 and all of last week with an ankle injury.
The Fleet will need everyone playing well against a defense that has not allowed more than 12 points a game, but once. That was the Orlando Apollos this season.
The Iron’s offense may look completely different this week with Keith Price at quarterback. He replaced Luis Perez last week, and provided a much needed spark for the unit. Price has a strong arm to stretch the field. He can also make plays with his feet. That will be key with the Iron’s offensive line banged up and facing a solid defense.
Running back Trent Richardson will be a big part of the offensive attack. The former Alabama standout has rushed for eight touchdowns on the season. Tight end Wes Saxton Jr. emerged as a weapon against the Apollos last week. He caught three passes for 75 yards.
The Fleet defense had a rare letdown last week. It happened in the final five minutes against the Stallions, as they allowed a pair of touchdowns to give up a 24-11 lead. Linebacker A.J. Tarpley is expected back in the lineup this week, so the defense should return to its stingy ways. The Fleet already possess the best defensive line in The AAF, and with Tarpley and Frank Ginda, they make the Fleet formidable at middle linebacker. There’s Kameron Kelly on the back end as well. He had a three-interception game last week. Price will have his work cut out for him.
Key Players to Watch
Fleet players to watch
RB Bishop Sankey: The former Tennessee Titans running back made a cameo appearance in his season debut last week. He should see his role increase over the final five weeks of the season. Sankey might be the best pass-catching option in the backfield. That gives head coach Mike Martz another dimension in his offensive game-planning.
SS Ryan Moeller: This will be the first time since Week 3 that the front seven of the Fleet’s defense will be intact. Defensive end Damontre Moore missed Week 4 and A.J. Tarpley missed the past two weeks. Both will play Sunday night. That could be a field day for the secondary to feast on hurried, errant throws.
KR Ron Brooks: Brooks has the only punt return for a touchdown in The AAF. He had the TD in Week 4, and came close to taking one to the distance last week against the Stallions. Brooks has become a weapon as a returner. If the defense stays solid on third downs, he will get a lot of chances to break one.
Iron players to watch
RB Trent Richardson: The Iron running back has scored a rushing touchdown in each game this season. He leads The AAF with eight rushing touchdowns. Richardson has been unstoppable inside the 5-yard line.
LB Beniquez Brown: Brown has led the team in tackles in four of the five Iron games. He tied for the lead in the opener. Brown has 47 total tackles on the year.
P Colton Schmidt: Opposing teams haven’t had a lot of opportunities to make returns on the Iron. That is because the punter puts enough hang time on the ball so the coverage can be there. Schmidt is a real weapon on special teams.
Stats & Numbers
- .Fleet receiver Dontez Ford has 165 yards receiving in his past two games. He only totaled 88 yards over the first three.
- Last week’s combined 658 yards passing between the Fleet and Stallions is the most in an AAF game this season. The 745 total yards was second-most in a game.
- The Iron have forced 10 turnovers as a team. Eight of those coming on defense and two on special teams.
- Iron tight end Wes Saxton Jr. emerged as a weapon with 75 receiving yards against the Apollos last week.
Prediction: Fleet -6 and Over 36
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