Birmingham Iron-Memphis Express AAF Betting Guide: Are Iron Undervalued with Johnny Manziel Not Starting?
Courtesy of @AAFExpress/Twitter. Pictured: Johnny Manziel
Betting Odds: Birmingham Iron at Memphis Express
- Spread: Iron -3
- Over/Under: 36.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET on Sunday
- TV: NFL Network
Betting market: The Iron opened as 2.5-point favorites but have since increased to -3. The over/under has dropped to 36.5 points after opening at 37.
Week 6 Takeaways
Birmingham’s 32-29 Win Over San Diego
Keith Price was forced to exit last week’s game due to an injury, and Luis Perez never looked back. Perez completed 27-of-49 (55%) passes for 359 yards (7.3 Y/A) along with three touchdowns and two interceptions after failing to record a single score through the air in Weeks 1-5 combined.
Here’s what Iron head coach Tim Lewissaid after the game: “We did a really nice job on our vertical passing game … We’ve been talking about getting some explosive plays and finally we got some of them.”
It would be a surprise if Perez didn’t get the start on Sunday, but don’t expect his new-found leash to be that long.
The backfield remains in sole possession of Trent Richardson, while L’Damian Washington controlled the air with a massive performance (4 receptions-128 yards-2 TD). Still, Washington (10 targets), Quinton Patton (15) and T-Rich (12) were plenty involved in the pass game.
Memphis’ 22-9 Loss to Salt Lake
The Express signed the league’s best new quarterback Johnny Manziel last weekend after placing Zach Mettenberger on IR, but don’t expect the artist formerly known as Johnny Football to see too much of the field on Sunday.
Here’s what head coach Mike Singletary said: “We just have to see how it goes, but Brandon Silvers is definitely the starting quarterback … We’ll see how Johnny progresses, but we’re very confident in Brandon.”
It’s tough to blame Singletary, as Silvers played fairly well in relief last week by completing 23-of-37 (62%) passes for 242 yards (6.5 Y/A) with a touchdown and zero interceptions.
Zac Stacy continued to lead the backfield, also joining Reece Horn (10), Daniel Williams (11) and Alton Howard (5) as the only receivers with more than five targets with six of his own.
Which team is healthier? Birmingham
The Iron aren’t too healthy, as backup running back Brandon Ross (groin) and receiver Tobias Palmer (illness) each failed to practice Thursday. The good news is that Week 1 starting receiver Amba Etta-Tawo isn’t listed on the injury report and is tentatively expected to return this week.
Birmingham also has a few banged up offensive linemen and defensive backs, but they’re tentatively expected to suit up after getting in limited practices on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Memphis is reeling after losing Mettenberger for the foreseeable future.
The Express also have a multitude of players who failed to suit up for practice on Thursday, including starting receivers Alton Howard (dental) and Reece Horn (lower leg) along with center Demetrius Rhaney (shoulder), defensive tackle Montori Hughes (knee) and cornerback Justin Martin (head). Wide receiver Dontez Byrd (ankle) also isn’t exactly 100% after practicing in a limited fashion all week.
Key matchup: Birmingham’s Run Offense vs. Memphis’ Front Seven
The Iron boast the league’s worst rushing attack in terms of yards per carry (2.91), but are set up reasonably well against a Memphis defense that has allowed 4.42 yards per rush — the fourth-highest mark in the league.
Perez has demonstrated the ability to make accurate throws downfield, but his limited mobility makes the Iron offense too predictable when their rushing attack can’t get started.
T-Rich’s ability to thrive as a receiver has been noteworthy …
… but his ability to consistently pick up yards has held back Birmingham from truly joining the league’s elite teams.
The Iron’s defense has routinely demonstrated the ability to put their team in a position to win, and even something close to resembling a competent rush offense would go a long ways toward helping their volatile situation under center.
DFS edge: Underpriced Birmingham WRs
It’s unclear how big of a role former starting receiver Amba Etta-Tawo will have in what could be his first game since Week 1. He wasn’t listed on the injury report to start the week and is this week’s equivalent to Week 6 Richard Mullaney: A potential starting receiver who is only min-priced because of a long layoff.
Quinton Patton is also much too cheap as the WR9 considering his 7.4 targets per game trail only Charles Johnson (8.5).
Even Tobias Palmer offers dark horse value assuming he suits up, as he’s just $3,500 a week after playing 76% of Birmingham’s offensive snaps.
Helping matters for everyone involved is a pristine matchup against a Memphis secondary that has allowed the second-most yards per attempt in the AAF.
Bet to watch: Birmingham -3
This line seems way too low against a team that just lost its starting quarterback and could be getting a public bump due to their decision to sign Johnny Football.
The Iron easily boast the better defense, while also possessing the ability to blow this game open if Perez and Co. can repeat their Week 6 performance.