San Antonio 15 San Diego 6
Orlando 40 Atlanta 6
Birmingham 26 Memphis 0
Arizona 38 Salt Lake 22
Looking back, this isn't really a surprise as bookmakers and bettors alike really had no clue as to what would happen on the opening weekend. The totals for Saturday's games opened at around 49-50 but both had been bet up to 54-55. Then with both of Saturday's games falling to the Under, Sunday's line movements were the opposite: As of Saturday night, the totals were available at 51-51, but both had been bet down to around 46-47 before kickoff.
The sides didn't move as much although bettors did seem to pile onto Orlando on Saturday, moving the line from -5 to -7. And, as per Scott Shelton, supervisor of The Mirage, "For reasons I don't know, Atlanta/Orlando had three times more handle than San Diego/San Antonio."
Even though bookmakers had no idea what to expect heading into opening weekend, they managed to get the favorites right as all four won outright and covered the spread relatively easily. All home teams were favored, so it could have been that oddsmakers were simply giving a significant edge to the team that did not have to travel. Regardless, they were right and it will be interesting to see how home-field advantage affects lines for Week 2.
Oddsmakers didn't have the same luck in trying to predict the totals. Most totals were set at around the 50 mark, but it was clear early on that Saturday's games would not get close to those numbers. The San Diego/San Antonio game went scoreless in the first quarter, while Orlando had managed a 3-0 lead after one. San Diego/San Antonio wound up with 21 total points while Atlanta/Orlando wound up reaching 46 as the Apollos piled on some points late in the blowout.
Seeing the offenses struggle had bettors piling on the Unders for Sunday and they were rewarded in the early game as Birmingham shut out Memphis 26-0. It looked to be more of the same early on in the late game as both teams struggled to move the ball, but once Arizona scored late in the first quarter, the points came fast and furious as the total reached 60 in Arizona's 38-22 win.
So the big question of the weekend was whether the rules would play to the Over or the Under for the totals. And, unfortunately, after Week 1 we really don't have an answer.
Make no mistake, the rules of this league are designed to generate offense. But, for the most part, the defenses stole the show over the weekend. Despite the rule that limits defenses to five pass rushers and prohibits most types of blitzing, there was pressure on the quarterbacks all weekend. This led to some huge hits, including one where San Diego QB Mike Bercovici almost got decapitated, and forced the quarterbacks into bad decisions, leading to nine total interceptions over the weekend. Most teams are going to be focusing on their offensive-line play throughout practices this week.
Like most football, good quarterback play resulted in points over the weekend. Arizona quarterback John Walford was the offensive MVP of the weekend, throwing for 275 yards and four touchdowns on 18-of-29 passing. Orlando quarterback Garrett Gilbert was a close runner up, throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-25 passing. On the opposite end of the stick, Memphis, San Diego, and Atlanta will all be going back to the drawing board at quarterback as they all made in-game quarterback changes to try and spark their offenses.
One thing the AAF has nailed is the pace of play. There are no kickoffs, no TV timeouts during the game, and the play clock is set at 35 seconds. This led to a very quick pace of play that kept viewers engaged and stopped them from changing channels between possessions. It also had the games ending at a very manageable 2.5 hours.
No lines have yet been released for Week 2 of the AAF but we're going to take a shot at guessing the lines.
Projected line: Birmingham -6, O/U 50
Projected line: Arizona -3, O/U 46
Projected line: San Antonio -1, O/U 47
Projected line: San Diego -3, O/U 44