At the halfway point of the inaugural Alliance of American Football season, a number of storylines are emerging.
Coach Steve Spurrier's Orlando Apollos (5-0) are surging as the Birmingham Iron (3-2), powered by running back Trent Richardson's knack for finding the end zone, fight to close the gap in the Eastern Conference.
San Antonio (3-2) and San Diego (3-2) are tied for the Western Conference lead, with the Commanders boasting one of the AAF's best quarterback-running back duos and Fleet energized by star running back Ja'Quan Gardner.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Hotshots (2-3) and Atlanta Legends (2-3) are on the outside looking in if the playoffs began today.
AAF games air on NFL Network, CBS Sports Network or TNT, with one game a week streaming on B/R Live.
Here are five games you won't want to miss in the second half of this AAF season:
Week 6: Birmingham Iron at San Diego Fleet
Sunday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network
Each of these two teams is battling for the lead in their respective conferences, and a game like this provides both a chance to help their causes and challenges them with as tough an opponent they could find outside of Orlando.
The Iron have the league leader in rushing touchdowns in Richardson and tackles in Beniquez Brown. The Fleet have the second-leading rusher in Gardner and a couple of the most prolific sackers in the AAF. Each team knows what it's like to dominate an opponent and win close.
Week 6: San Antonio Commanders at Atlanta Legends
Sunday, March 17 at 4 p.m. (EST) on CBS Sports Network
The Legends can't afford to drop much further behind the Apollos or allow the Iron to continue to hold on to second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Commanders need to play their way clear of the Fleet and Hotshots. A loss could jeopardize either side's shot at making the playoffs, which makes this meeting all the more critical—and who wouldn't want to see San Antonio quarterback Logan Woodside tossing darts to receiver Mekale McKay?
The Commanders have the league's leading rusher in Kenneth Farrow II, too. The Legends started the season off slow with a three-game losing streak but haven't lost since and are finding their stride.
Week 7: San Diego Fleet at Arizona Hotshots
Sunday, March 24 at 4 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
This could be a critical late-season matchup between two Western Conference foes. The Hotshots are on a three-game losing streak but could return to form and be the same team that started the season 2-0.
The Fleet have the offense to carry them to a conference title but need their defense to step up if they are going to make that kind of run.
Look for Hotshots quarterback John Wolford, running back Jhurell Pressley and receiver Rashad Ross to have big games. They're all in the top three for yards at their positions.
Week 8: Arizona Hotshots at San Antonio Commanders
Sunday, March 31 at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network
Much like the previous week, the Hotshots need a win in a game like this if they are going to contend for the Western Conference title or even just make the playoffs.
This late in the year, it would be hard for them to recover if they're in the same spot in Week 8 as they are ahead of Week 6.
For San Antonio, a win against Arizona could solidify its spot in the playoff picture and even deliver a conference title in what could be a close race against San Diego.
Arizona defensive back Erick Dargan is third in the league in tackles and could find himself running around the field chasing the receivers Woodside is throwing the ball to for the Commanders.
Week 10: Birmingham Iron at Orlando Apollos
Sunday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on CBS Sports Network
Will Orlando still be on a tear and have the Eastern Conference wrapped up? Will Birmingham have done enough to catch or even surpass the Apollos, maybe with the help of teams around the AAF? Time will tell.
The Iron just lost by 17 against the Apollos in Week 5 at home. So, the future looks brighter for the Apollos than the Iron. But Birmingham could have its issues worked out and be back to its winning ways by then, too.
The Iron started the year 3-0 for a reason and are capable of both scoring as many as 28 and shutting out their opponent.