The 2018 NFL season is over but that doesn’t mean that football fans have to miss out on their gridiron fix. The first ever Alliance of American Football league, otherwise known as the AAF, is officially underway and it was a huge hit on the opening weekend.
In a nutshell, it is a slimmed down, up-tempo version of the NFL – the AAF is already attracting positive reviews across North America and beyond. The wait between the Super Bowl and the beginning of the next NFL regular season is long and tedious for football fans so spring action is welcomed by most.
Who is Competing?
Eight teams will do battle in the AAF’s inaugural campaign. The San Diego Fleet (+1400 to win the championship) opened the 2019 campaign at the San Antonio Commanders (+500) before the Atlanta Legends (+2000) travelled to the Orlando Apollos (+250). Meanwhile, the Birmingham Iron (+550) recorded the first shutout victory in AAF history in Week One – defeating the Memphis Express (+3300) 26-0 on home turf.
The season will take place over 10 weeks before the top four teams compete in the playoffs. The winners will advance to the Championship game in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 27th – which ties in perfectly with the 2019 NFL Draft. For football fans, the AAF is an absolute dream.
Main Differences Between AAF and NFL
It may sound strange to traditional football fans but the AAF has got rid of the kick-off. This is mainly down to player safety for also for the game as a spectacle. Once the coin toss is over, the game will begin – with one team starting from their own 25-yard line.
In an attempt to encourage faster competition, the play clock is just 35 seconds – a whole five seconds shorter than in the National Football League. Speeding up play should help to create an entertaining game for football novices and aficionados alike. Even more general fans with next to no football knowledge can enjoy the AAF.
Overtime Rule and Sky Judge are Interesting Additions
NFL fans criticized the overtime rule following the AFC Championship game this year and the AAF have a much fairer way of securing the win in overtime. Both teams have the ball once; starting at the opponent’s 1-yard line with first and goal.
Teams have to score a touchdown AND go for two points. There are no field goals and the game can end as a tie if level after the overtime period is complete. In short, it tests goal-line defense and red zone offense.
Finally, the AAF has a ninth official – the sky judge. They will sit in the press box and have the power to instantly overturn clear officiating errors. Using real-time technology, the sky judge can change decisions, such as pass interference inside of five minutes left in the final quarter.
Will the AAF Be Successful?
On paper, the AAF ticks all the right boxes to be a roaring success. Based on the opening weekend’s action, it was very well received – with fans applauding the speed, stamina and style of play. The AAF wanted a quicker, slimmed-down version of the National Football League, but in some ways, they have improved it.
Organizers have worked hard to ensure that the AAF doesn’t fall short in the same ways as the NFL. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the NFL follow suit at some stage with a shift in overtime rules and the introduction of a sky judge. Watch this space, we could see the AAF take centre stage on the US sports scene as the season goes on.