The final game of Week 7 could be an extremely exciting one, as former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was signed by the Memphis Express this week and could be under center Sunday night. The team has a talented group of quarterbacks, but is only 1-5 and looking for an opportunity to get back into the playoff hunt. They take on the Birmingham Iron, who won on a dramatic last-second field goal over the San Diego Fleet last Sunday night. Sunday, March 24, 2019, at 8:00 ET at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
These two teams met in Week 1 when the Birmingham Iron absolutely crushed the Memphis Express, 26-0.
Last Second Field Goal Gives Iron Victory, 32-29
The Birmingham Iron pulled off a dramatic last-second victory over the San Diego Fleet in what was arguably the best game of the season, 32-29. After San Diego took a 3-0 lead, Birmingham responded with two touchdown passes by quarterback Luis Perez to give them a 12-3. After giving themselves a 21-9 lead with a 23-yard field goal by Nick Novak and a 2-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson, San Diego would battle back to take the lead heading into the fourth quarter. Perez would come up big again, completing a 17-yard touchdown pass to L’Damian Washington and converting the two-point play to give them a six-point lead. San Diego would tie the score with a little under five minutes left in the game, but Novak would drill a 44-yard field goal with three seconds left in the contest to give Birmingham the victory.
Perez had his best performance of the season, completing 27 of 49 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns. Richardson had 16 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown, and Washington had a huge game, making four catches for 128 yards and two scores.
Perez looks to have turned his fortunes around he has completed 55.3% of his passes for 1160 yards. His three touchdown passes against San Diego were his first of the season. He threw two additional interceptions in that contest for six total this year. Richardson has struggled to be the offensive force that Birmingham thought he would be, gaining 227 yards on 91 attempts for a mediocre 2.5 yards per carry average. He has delivered near the end zone though, scoring nine touchdowns. Quinton Patton is the leading receiver with 25 catches for 305 yards.
The defense is led by Beniquez Brown who leads the team with 36 tackles and has two sacks. That leaves the team, as the Birmingham defense has only recorded eight sacks this season. Jamar Summers has three of the team’s seven interceptions the season.
Memphis Falls 22-9, Hopes to Change Fortunes with Manziel
The Memphis Express dropped to 1-5 after being dominated by the Salt Lake Stallions, 22-9. The loss was the second in a row for the team, as they hope their fortunes will change with the addition of the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Things did not go well from the start. Salt Lake would jump out to a 16-0 first quarter lead and would add a field goal to take a 19 point lead before Memphis would finally get on the board. Austin MacGinnis connected on a 31-yard field goal before Brandon Silvers threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to running back Zac Stacy to cut the deficit to 10. However, the Express would get no closer as they would fall by 13.
Silvers finished 23 of 37 for 242 yards and a touchdown. His leading receiver was Reece Horn who had eight catches for 129 yards, with Daniel Williams made seven catches for 70 yards, second-most on the day. The defense did not record a sack and was able to record just to quarterback hits. They did force two fumbles and record an interception.
Neither Silvers or Christian Hackenberg have been particularly impressive under center this season, as the two have combined for just 541 yards passing and one touchdown with four interceptions. It is no wonder that the team has reached out to Manziel hoping he can jumpstart this offense. Stacy has 304 yards and three touchdowns on 86 carries this season and Horn leads the team with 21 catches for 316 yards.
Gates is the team’s leading tackler with 39 and has two fumble recoveries. Overall, Memphis has 11 sacks and has recovered 10 fumbles to go along with four interceptions.
The Winner Prediction
Birmingham is favored by three in this contest, and that looks like a good bet. Memphis has yet to figure out their quarterback situation, and Manziel could very well get the start. However, even with his athleticism there are simply not enough playmakers here to be a difference. Meanwhile, the Iron show the Memphis is no match for them with a crushing early-season victory. Perez is coming off of his most impressive performance of the season, which should help to catapult him to bigger things. Birmingham will pull this game out.
The Pick: Birmingham Iron (-3.0) (-110)