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- AAF Week 2 Preview: Arizona Hotshots vs Memphis Express - February 13, 2019
- Memphis Express AAF Week 1 Grades And Analysis - February 12, 2019
- Memphis Express VS Birmingham Iron AAF Week 1 Game Preview - February 6, 2019
After a less than inspiring loss in week 1 on the road, the Memphis Express look to try to bounce back in their home opener in week 2 of the Alliance of American Football’s first season. Coming back from a shutout the loss, the Express will both try to win at home and get their first points of the season in week 2.
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The Week 2 game will be broadcast on the NFL Network at 8:00 PM Eastern Time on Saturday the 16th live from Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The week 2 opponent is not going to be any easier than the Iron, in fact, most observers believe this is a tougher opponent overall. This opponent is the Arizona Hotshots (1-0). Ironically, both will be lead by quarterbacks who spent recent time on the New York Jets roster of the NFL.
The Hotshots are coming fresh off a home win against the Salt Lake City Stallions in which QB John Wolford tossed 4 touchdown passes and completed 18 of 29 for 275 yards with 0 int. These numbers earned him the honor of being the first AAF player of the week award in the league history. The 38 points scored by the Hotshots was a far cry from the 0 scored by the Express on the road. It will be interesting to see if the Arizona team will handle being on the road in a much different conditions with forecasts showing Memphis will only be around 40 degrees at the start of the game with rain possible. It will be far different from the warm desert weather they enjoyed in Arizona or the San Antonio dome they played their pre-season game in.
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Arizona Hotshots vs Memphis Express: Keys to the game:
John Wolford vs Express Defense:
Wolford will likely be asked to do the heavy lifting this week for Arizona as Memphis showed to be very stout against the run last week allowing under 3 yards a carry. Arizona likely cannot expect to get the balanced production from the running game against this Express front seven, who will even be more charged up for the home opener. Rashad Ross will figure to be a large part again of the Arizona offensive plans, as the receiver had over 100 yards and 2 TD in the first week. It will be important for the Express to avoid the penalty bug and get as much pressure on Wolford as possible to stay in the game. The Express Secondary must also avoid the big play with Arizona hitting on multiple over 30 yard pass plays.
Can Christian Hackenberg bounce back vs Hotshots secondary?:
The Arizona defense was good, but hurt themselves with multiple 15 yard penalties vs Salt Lake city. They showed some vulnerability in the red zone, allowing 2 TD passes. However, they held Salt Lake to under 5 yards per catch and only 3.03 yards per rush with no rushes over 9 yards. Salt Lake city came in boasting a reputation of being a big time running team and were handled with relative ease. Hackenberg will need a big bounce back effort to have any chance of staying close as the run game led by Zac Stacy may not find itself effective enough against this particular opponent.
The Hotshots versus the weather:
With the game being at night and rain and cool temperatures being forecast, it may put a damper on the aerial attack and cause Arizona to slow down their offense a bit. If this becomes a run based game, low scoring affair the game may even out some. If the forecast does hold can Memphis take advantage against a team that may not be as suited for the poor conditions?
The Arizona Hotshots have not scored less than 36 points between game 1 and their pre-season game. However, they have not played a game in poor conditions or cold yet and this may cause them to play a bit differently than they have shown before. The Memphis team may be a bit more suited for the elements, but are clearly not as explosive as Arizona. It is also asking a lot to believe Hackenberg can come close to Wolfords performance even if he does play better given the starkness of their results so far. Both teams also appear to be very stout against the run and neither should expect to have great run numbers. It will likely come down to the big plays in this one and at this point can Hackenberg be someone that will get more big plays? It seems difficult to believe this will be the case, but it may be the only chance at an upset or even being in the game late against a potentially high scoring Hotshot team.