Date: Saturday, February 23 at 8 pm ET Live From Spectrum Stadium in Orlando.
Like the first Week 3 Saturday game, this matchup features an undefeated team taking on a winless team. The Orlando Apollos notched their second win of the young season last week in a shootout victory over San Antonio. While Orlando’s defense showed a bit of vulnerability, their offense was certainly clicking. Garrett Gilbert connected on 19 of his 28 pass attempts including a pair of touchdowns racking up 393 yards in the process.
The Arizona Hotshots gave Memphis every opportunity to win last week but the Express just couldn’t do it. Aside from spotting Memphis an 18-point lead, Arizona also turned the ball over a staggering five times. Memphis should have won that game but they really didn’t deserve to. Still, the Express has a couple of things going well.
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Memphis Needs To Run
Christian Hackenberg played better in Week 2 than in the previous week but it was nothing to write home about. He completed 14 of 25 passes but gained just 102 yards and he has yet to throw a touchdown pass this season. One of the things he did well was running the ball. Hackenberg scrambled for 39 yards on seven rush attempts and a couple of those were real heads-up plays.
Zac Stacy had a strong game carrying 19 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pair of passes. Memphis needs to use the run if they are going to have success in Week 3. Last week, Orlando gave up 175 rushing yards and a couple of them went for good yardage. Should the Express dig themselves into a deep hole and are forced to attack through the air then they are in trouble.
Apollos Potent Pass Attack
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert had another good outing in Week 2 going 19 for 28 with a pair of touchdown passes. His 393 passing yards propelled him to the top of the league in that department. He now has 620 passing yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. His 64.2% completion rate is also the best in the league. He has benefited from having receivers like Charles Johnson and Jalin Marshall. Johnson hauled in 7 of 10 passes for 192 yards while Marshall reeled in 3 of his four targets for 84 yards. Add in Chris Thompson who turned a pair of catches into 70 yards including a 54-yard reception and you have a pretty potent attack.
We shouldn’t expect Orlando to be one-dimensional. The Apollos have a good rushing attack that is in an excellent position to rack up significant yardage against a Memphis run defense that got gashed for over 200 yards in Week 2. This team can get the job done in many different ways.
It’s not surprising that the Apollos are the clear favorites in this game. They are superior in nearly every aspect. The bookmakers have set the spread at -15.5 which is a whole lotta points. Turnovers were the main reason why Memphis kept last week’s score close but don’t expect the home team to be so generous this week. It could get ugly out there.
The Pick: Orlando Apollos -15.5
The total is listed at 45.5. The Apollos have averaged 38.5 points per game and there isn’t anything that points to this game being any different. The question is how much Memphis will contribute to the total. Cross your fingers and hope they get at least 9 points.
The Pick: Over 45.5