The San Diego Fleet head to Memphis to face the Express on Saturday night. The Fleet come in after a dominating win against the San Antonio Commanders 31-11. The win moves the Fleet’s record to 2-1 and a tie for the western conference league with the Arizona Hotshots. Quarterback Philip Nelson threw two touchdown passes to lead the way.
Memphis Express fails to 0-3 after losing 21-17 to the Orlando Apollos last weekend. The Express made a quarterback change at halftime last week. Christian Hackenberg was benched for Zach Mettenberger in the 2nd half. Mettenberger completed 9 of 12 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
I think the Fleet have found their offensive identity over the last couple of weeks, which is running the football. Last week Ja’Quan Gardner got off to a slow start, so the Fleet gave the ball to Terrell Watson. Watson is a bruiser with a downhill running style. Later in the game, Gardner broke an 83-yard touchdown run. Gardner leads the AAF in rushing with 281 yards so far this season.
I feel the Fleet will stick to the game plan and will run the football and wear down the Express front seven. Memphis’s defense has been on the field a lot this year, due to poor quarterback play. So it would be smart for Martz to run the ball early and often. Running the ball early will open up the play-action passing game for Philip Nelson who was solid last week.
Defensively, the Fleet is outstanding so far this season giving up only 12.7 points per game. Shakir Soto leads the team in sacks with 2.5; as a unit, the Fleet front seven have 11 total sacks. The defensive front is excellent at putting pressure on the quarterback.
Mettenberger had an excellent 2nd half when he came in for relief. I think he will provide a little spark to the Memphis offense along with Zac Stacy. Stacy is second in the AAF with 188 rushing yards. The Express are deep at the running back position I look for them to try to run the ball often to help keep their defense stay fresh.
— Memphis Express (@aafexpress) February 25, 2019
The Fleet front seven must load up the box to stop the Memphis running attack. Doing that will force them to be one dimensional and pass the ball a lot. If forced to do the Fleet’s Defensive line can attack the quarterback.
I expect this game to be an old school slugfest like the old Titans and Ravens games in the early 2000s. The team that can slow the running game down and makes plays down the field in the passing game will pull this one out.