The Alliance of American Football debuts this weekend and the new league offers some new football betting options for those looking to extend their gridiron action farther into the winter and spring.
The AAF features eight teams playing a 10-game season with one week of playoffs before a championship game in Las Vegas. The league has altered a few rules (including no kickoffs), but is promising to bring traditional football to fans beyond the Super Bowl. With MGM on board as an official sports betting partner and casinos setting lines for the action, here’s a look at the Week 1 odds, matchups, and everything you need to catch all the action.
Atlanta Legends at Orlando Apollos
Saturday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m. (EST) – CBS
Line: Orlando -4
Coaches: Kevin Coyle (Atlanta), Steve Spurrier (Orlando)
Players to Watch:
- Atlanta – Matt Simms, son of NFL legend Phil Simms, gets the start with Aaron Murray playing backup. Simms brings NFL experience with the Jets, Bills, and Falcons. RB Denard Robinson adds NFL experience (Jaguars) from the backfield.
- Orlando – Former University of Texas QB Garrett Gilbert leads the charge. He has a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Patriots’ practice squad in 2014. Look for plenty of passing in the Spurrier offense.
San Diego Fleet at San Antonio Commanders
Saturday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m. (EST) – CBS
Line: San Antonio -3.5
Coaches: Mike Martz (San Diego), Mike Riley (San Antonio)
Players to Watch:
- San Diego – Former Arizona State QB Mike Bercovici brings NFL experience (Chargers, Cardinals), and former Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar should be a passing option.
- San Antonio – Look for former Cowboys backup QB Dustin Vaughan to take command. Former University of Houston Cougar QB Greg Ward Jr. provides some speed and playmaking at WR.
Memphis Express at Birmingham Iron
Sunday, Feb. 10, 4 p.m. (EST) – CBS Sports Net
Line: Birmingham -2.5
Coaches: Mike Singletary (Memphis), Tim Lewis (Birmingham)
Players to Watch:
- Memphis – Former New York Jets second-round pick Christian Hackenberg leads the offense as QB with Zac Stacy providing experience at RB. Stacy spent three years as a Tennessee Titan.
- Birmingham – Former Alabama RB Trent Richardson hopes to make a comeback in the Alliance after flaming out with the Browns and Colts. QB Luis Perez was one of the best players in Division II in 2017, leading Texas A&M-Commerce to a national championship.
Salt Lake Stallions at Arizona Hotshots
Sunday, Feb. 10, 8 p.m. (EST) – NFL Network
Line: Arizona -4.5
Coaches: Dennis Erickson (Salt Lake), Rick Neuheisel (Arizona)
Players to Watch:
- Salt Lake – Former Liberty QB Josh Woodrum leads the passing attack and bettors may remember former Vikings RB Matt Asiata, who had some decent work in five NFL seasons. Erickson describes the defensive front as a strength for the team.
- Arizona – Former Oklahoma and Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight brings plenty of skill passing and rushing. At WR, Josh Huff was a third-round pick for the Eagles in 2014. Inconsistent as pass catcher, he showed his explosiveness in kickoff returns for TDs of 107 and 98 yards and will now try to harness that at wideout.
Certainly betting on games with completely brand new teams isn’t easy, but no doubt many will be hoping to make those matchups a little more interesting as they take in the action. Things should shake out a bit more after Week 1 and offer bettors a bit more information on making those wagers in Week 2.
Looking for betting picks on each of these games? Be sure to visit PlayPicks.com for a deeper dive into each of these games from a wagering perspective.
Lead imavia via AAF
The meaningless 3-pointer that seals a backdoor cover as a game expires makes for a bad-yet-entertaining beat.
But the meaningless 3-pointer made to cover the spread — a shot that should not have counted to begin with — is just brutal.
Such an occurrence happened not once, but TWICE this week: A player getting up an attempt that would not influence the outcome of the game, the final horn blaring throughout the arena well before the ball leaves that player’s hands, allowing his team to still lose but by a slimmer margin.
Neither shot was reviewed… because the team leading still won. Understand, though, that the NCAA has long opposed legalized sports betting, citing the industry’s potential impact on the “integrity” of college basketball games. Seems like it has its own integrity issues.
And the NCAA is at least (emphasis on “least”) addressing said issue:
During the NCAA tournament, officials "will review all shots made at the buzzer, as necessary, in the interest of accuracy of score and team and player statistics and even if the outcome of the game isn’t riding on the officials’ call."
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) February 7, 2019
Post-buzzer shots in question
On Monday, No. 17 Iowa State avoided an upset to visiting Oklahoma, holding on for a 75-74 win.
The Cyclones, though, came in as 3-point favorites at many sportsbooks. And it appeared as if Iowa State would leave the arena as four-point winners. Cyclone covers for the win, right?
— BettorIQ (@BettorIQ) February 5, 2019
Yeah, well, that running 3-pointer arguably should not have counted, as video evidence indicated that the shot did not get off before the buzzer.
Then there was Wednesday’s matchup of Big East teams Creighton and Villanova.
Villanova -9 bettors just got HOSED.
— B/R Betting (@br_betting) February 7, 2019
With less than 3 seconds to play, Creighton’s Kaleb Joseph crossed midcourt and made his way into the lane. He pulls up for a floater and buries the shot. But even the play-by-play was skeptical:
“Joseph does not get the shot off. That does not count. Does it count? (Referee) Roger Ayers says it’s good.” Then, after a moment of stunned silence. “That’s an interesting call there at the buzzer.”
Villanova entered as a 9-point favorite at many sportsbooks, and the Wildcats led by that margin when Joseph went up for the shot. His “made” attempt gave Creighton the cover with a 66-59 loss.
NCAA officials will review ALL shots
As ESPN’s David Purdum noted, the NCAA will ask referees to “review all shots made at the buzzer.” That includes made field goals that become “One Shining Moment” fodder and, theoretically, those that trim a 27-point loss into a 24-point loss.
This request comes “in the interest of accuracy of score and team and player statistics and even if the outcome of the game isn’t riding on the officials’ call.”
Said shots may result in a buzzer-beating win. Or they might affect the outcome for point spread or over/under total. Perhaps neither. Either way, the NCAA said, officials need to review every single time.
Here is a reading of the NCAA instant replay rule:
“Officials shall use such available equipment in the following situations: a. When there is a reading of zeroes (or should have been zeroes on the clock) on the game clock at the end of any period, after making a call on the playing court, and when necessary to determine the outcome of the game in the following situations: 1. Determine whether a try for field goal entering the basket was released before the reading of zeroes on the game clock. When it is determined that the try for goal was successful, the official is permitted to put the exact time back on the game clock as to when the ball passed through the net.”
So, in theory, these frequent replays should always occur. Although one could argue that determining “the outcome of the game” is up for interpretation.
Funny, though, how an organization so adamantly against legalized sports betting has come around to the ways of the force.
It took just eight months for the repeal of PASPA to affect a league’s behavior. https://t.co/kT1bOXQVdh
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) February 7, 2019
NCAA urging should already be happening
Funny enough, the NCAA has at least (emphasis on “least”) embraced the advent of regulated sports betting.
Last summer, the association announced it would explore the ins and outs of the industry while “examining the long-term impact” of sports betting. To do so, the NCAA pieced together an “internal team of subject matter experts” that would explore “how best to protect game integrity, monitor betting activity, manage sports data and expand educational efforts.”
There’s that “integrity” again.
The NCAA specifically said that referees will review ALL shots occurring around the final horn during the NCAA tournament. That’s nice, especially considering how much sports betting action will take place during March Madness.
But even to REACH the Big Dance, teams across the country will have their seasonlong resumes under the microscope of the tournament selection committee. Bubble teams, especially, will have their performances against opponents examined. Who did they play? How did they do? By how much did they win or lose?
Every point matters during the regular season. ESPECIALLY for bubble teams. Maybe the NCAA will discover its own rule and put it to proper use next year.