Fifty percent of the XFL 2023 regular season is in the books. Only one team remains undefeated at the midway point. The 5-0 D.C. Defenders. However, that might change on Monday night at Audi Field. If it does, the Houston Roughnecks could become the first team to clinch a playoff berth in XFL 2023.
XFL Playoff Spots At Stake
Four playoff spots are up for grabs as all eight XFL teams get ready to enter the home stretch of the season.
Two playoff spots are up in the air in a competitive North division. However, the South postseason picture can become much clearer after Week 6.
The first playoff-clinching scenario in the XFL season is in play if the 3-2 Arlington Renegades defeat the 1-4 San Antonio Brahmas at home Sunday afternoon on ABC. As a result, Wade Phillips’s Roughnecks squad would have a chance to punch their ticket to the postseason, provided they can best Reggie Barlow’s Defenders’ Monday night on ESPN2.
In that scenario, the Roughnecks at 5-1 would have all divisional tie-breakers over San Antonio at 1-5 and Orlando, with four weeks left to play.
An Arlington victory over the Brahmas for the second consecutive week would strengten the Renegades’ chances of securing a playoff spot in the South. Bob Stoops’s bunch would have a nearly insurmountable lead in the standings after sweeping San Antonio head-to-head.
The two Northern teams chasing the undefeated Defenders are the dually 3-2 Seattle Sea Dragons and St. Louis Battlehawks. Both teams are on the road this Saturday, playing classic trap games.
The Seattle Sea Dragons will be in Orlando Saturday afternoon on ABC to face off with the winless Guardians. Jim Haslett’s team can not afford any slip-ups. Simply because St. Louis currently holds the edge over Seattle with a head-to-head triumph in Week 2. The Dragons can shift the pressure to the Hawks by taking care of business against Terrell Buckley’s troops.
The Battlehawks won’t have the benefit of being at home in front of 30,000-plus fans this week. St. Louis is back on the road against a Vegas Vipers team, who notched their first victory of the season last week. Despite their 1-4 record, Rod Woodson’s squad has been competitive in every game, and Vegas is dangerous because of an explosive passing attack. No matter what happens Saturday afternoon, Seattle will be rooting for Anthony Becht’s St.Louis team to falter later that night.
XFL Week 6 Predictions/Picks Against The Spread
After 20 games, I am 15-5 picking winners. However, I’m only 11-9 against the spread. And an exceedingly mediocre 10-10 determining the over/under.
In week 6, I will try to redeem my good name as Quinten Dormady did in Week 5.
- All odds courtesy of BetMGM
Saturday, March 25, Seattle Sea Dragons (3-2) at Orlando Guardians (0-5): Camping World Stadium, 1 p.m. ET on ABC
- Point Spread: Seattle –8.5
- Over/Under: 42.5
- Weather forecast: Partly cloudy skies. High 92F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.
Seattle has won three straight games after starting the season with two soul-crushing last-second losses. The Dragons have breathed new fire into their campaign. But it can quickly be extinguished this Saturday by a desperate 0-5 Guardians team.
Even though I’ve projected Orlando to go winless on the season, at some point, they could win. It’s not impossible. After all, the Guardians’ came close to achieving their unknown in a 35-32 loss to Vegas last week.
The key for Seattle is avoiding being the team that does the honors for the Guardians. Let it be someone else. Because if they do fall to Orlando, the Dragons might eliminate themselves from a potential playoff spot in the North.
On paper, Seattle has no business losing to Orlando.
Seattle’s defense under Ron Zook is coming off its best performance of the season against previously unbeaten Houston. The Dragons’ special teams, coordinated by Ty Knott, blocked two punts last week. And the offense, led by the enigmatic Ben DiNucci, is on pace to lead the league in yardage.
Conversely, Orlando has surrendered the most points in the league. (152). And have allowed the most sacks by opposing teams (21). On top of that, the Guardians lead the XFL with 48 penalties—all the earmarkings of a winless team. Seattle might not have to be on their A-game to beat Orlando.
The problem, however, is that Jim Haslett’s team, specifically the quarterback, has shown a propensity for beating themselves. Although DiNucci leads the league in pass yardage (1,328), he has committed twelve turnovers. Seven interceptions and five fumbles in as many games. Compounding the issue is that his mistakes have come at the most inopportune times.
If Guardians QB Quinten Dormady can repeat the stellar effort, he had a week ago. (22/25, 256 yards, 2 Tds, 0 interceptions) Because of a very underrated pass-catching corps, Orlando has a chance to make a game of things. Seattle must erase all hope early and play an error-free game to avoid the unthinkable. I believe they will.
Prediction: Seattle Sea Dragons 34 Orlando Guardians 23
Saturday, March 25, St. Louis Battlehawks (3-2) at Vegas Vipers (1-4): Cashman Field, 7 p.m. ET on FX/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Battlehawks -3
- Over/Under: 44.5
- Weather Forecast: Generally fair. Low 41F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
The Battlehawks are in a more challenging spot than their matchup on paper this weekend suggests. For two primary reasons.
Firstly, St. Louis is coming off an emotional letdown after being outclassed by D.C. in their building. Secondly, the team won’t have the energy they have fed off of the previous two weeks in front of over 70,000 combined fans.
Anthony Becht’s team will be tested this week against a 1-4 Vegas team with nothing to lose and everything to gain. The Vipers play the Battlehawks twice in the next three weeks. And although Vegas’s playoff odds are incredibly slim, they practically need to run the table in the final five games. Rod Woodson’s crew has a chance to keep themselves alive, at least for another week.
Vegas has the ammunition on offense, particularly in their passing game, to stand toe to toe with A.J. McCarron and St. Louis’s well-balanced offense.
The Vipers’ quarterbacks have 18 completions of 20 yards or more, which is the most in the XFL. The team’s 7.5 yards per attempt are also tops in the league. QB Luis Perez is coming off his best performance of the year, throwing for nearly three hundred yards and three touchdowns. Jeff Badet, the 4.2 speedster has been on fire, leading the league in touchdown receptions with five.
Vegas isn’t built to do what D.C. did against STL last week, rushing for over 200 yards. But they have already proven that they can hang with every team this season, and I think they will do that and shock the Battlehawks on Saturday night.
Prediction: Vegas Vipers 30 St. Louis Battlehawks 29
Sunday, March 26, San Antonio Brahmas (1-4) at Arlington Renegades (3-2): Choctaw Stadium, 3 p.m. ET, ABC
- Point Spread: Renegades -3
- Over/Under: 32.5
- Weather Forecast: Sunny. High 78F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
Sunday’s Week 5 rematch between the Brahmas and Renegades is an elimination game. Arlington sweeping the regular season series with San Antonio, will practically secure themselves a playoff spot while eliminating San Antonio from the picture.
Despite having entirely different records. The dueling Texas teams, the Brahmas and Renegades, mirror each other in many ways. Both Arlington and San Antonio have elite defenses and special teams units. However, their offenses have been anemic all season long. As evidenced by last week’s 12-10 tally in the Alamodome.
To remedy their most pressing weakness, Arlington and San Antonio went out this week and made significant additions to their roster. The Renegades, who’ve been desperately searching for answers on offense, have signed first-team All-USFL WR and championship game MVP Victor Bolden Jr. The Oregon State standout, who led the USFL in total yards, was recently released by the Denver Broncos after ending the NFL season on their practice squad with a futures contract.
The Brahmas lost Week 5 starting QB Reid Sinnett to a season-ending injury last week. So San Antonio countered that by trading with Houston for the rights to veteran NFL QB Kurt Benkert. Hines Ward’s squad also welcomes back two of their best playmakers off the injured list in WR Landon Akers and jack-of-all-trades Calvin Turner.
It remains to be seen if the Renegades and Brahmas will be able to debut their new stars under the bright lights this Sunday on ABC. Perhaps that could shift what is expected to be a low-scoring struggle that only defensive and special teams enthusiasts will appreciate.
Unless there’s a dramatic change, it’s challenging not to envision the same script as last week. Arlington will beat their Texas rival San Antonio, and by doing so, will set another state team, Houston, up for a win, and you’re in the playoffs scenario Monday night.
Prediction: Arlington Renegades 16 San Antonio Brahmas 12
Monday, March 27, Houston Roughnecks (4-1) at D.C. Defenders (5-0): Audi Field, 7 p.m. ET ESPN2/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Defenders -2.5
- Over/Under: 42
- Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy skies. Low 42F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
Monday night’s Week 6 main event between the Houston Roughnecks and D.C. Defenders could be an XFL championship game preview. When Saturday, May 13th, arrives, these two teams could be squaring off for league supremacy again.
After nine straight victories to start their XFL history, the Houston Roughnecks were finally defeated last week. It was fitting that their 2020 head coach June Jones had a hand in dealing his old team its first loss.
However, another prominent unbeaten record remains unblemished in the XFL. The Defenders have never lost a game at Audi Field. D.C. and the Beer Snake (6-0) have yet to taste defeat in the District.
Despite their matching top team status in the XFL. And even though both teams deploy different styled but stout defenses. Reggie Barlow and Wade Phillips’s team are polar opposites in almost every way possible, especially on offense.
The Defenders don’t mind going an entire game without throwing the football. They’ve attempted the fewest passes in the league (109). D.C. has rushed for a ridiculous 870 yards in five games. They have four of the league’s top seven rushers on the season. Led by Baylor standout Abram Smith (432 yards), who is coming off a video game like performance in Week 5. The rookie rushed for 218 yards and three scores on 9.5 yards per attempt against St. Louis.
On the other side of the coin, The Roughnecks’ first, second, third, fourth, and fifth preference is to throw the football. Not surprisingly, they are tied with the run-and-shoot spearheaded Sea Dragons for the fewest rushing attempts in the XFL. (106).
This is the ultimate matchup of contrast. Monday night will come down to which team forces the other to play their style. If Houston drags D.C. into a shootout, they will win this contest. If the Defenders get an early lead, the Roughnecks will be in rough territory.
For the latter reason, I am going with D.C. at home to stay unbeaten. Slowing down the action is the perfect recipe against a team with an elite passing attack and pass rush. The Defenders’ ability to run the ball and control the clock will negate the Roughnecks’ pass rush and keep Houston’s offense off the field.
Prediction: D.C. Defenders 23 Houston Roughnecks 20
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