XFL Playoff Picture
Only one XFL team remains unbeaten as the league enters its homestretch toward the playoffs. The 6-0 D.C. Defenders.
However, because of a very competitive Northern division. The Defenders haven’t clinched a playoff berth yet. They likely will, eventually, and it could come this weekend, as D.C. takes on the XFL’s only winless team, the 0-6 Guardians, this Saturday evening in Orlando.
A 7th win by D.C. will secure a playoff spot. An eventual eight victory will wrap up the Northern division.
Kings Of The XFL North
With four weeks left to play in the regular season. The Defenders are up two games in the win column over the dually 4-2 St. Louis Battlehawks and Seattle Sea Dragons. But because of divisional and head-to-head tie-breakers. D.C.’s lead in the standings is actually three games.
The Defenders sport a 5-0 divisional record; they swept St. Louis in their season series and hold a head-to-head victory over Seattle. D.C. will play the Dragons again in Week 8. But even if Reggie Barlow’s squad were to falter in Seattle. All the tie-breakers favor D.C. because the Battlehawks and Dragons play each other in Week 9. A third loss by either team and a seventh win by the Defenders will clinch a playoff berth.
Seattle and St. Louis have very little margin for error. With only two teams in the North qualifying for the playoffs, one of them will miss the postseason. Barring a Defenders collapse.
It’s scoreboard-watching time in the XFL from here on forward. The Battlehawks will be rooting on the Arlington Renegades this Friday night, and the Dragons will be Roughnecks fans this Sunday afternoon.
The Dirty XFL South
The South picture has gotten murkier over the last couple of weeks.
Houston is still the odds-on favorite to win the division. But after two losses, they have fallen to 4-2, with a struggling Arlington only one game behind them at 3-3. A third team has entered the equation, thanks to the Renegades giving new life to the 2-4 San Antonio Brahmas last week.
By default and because of a favorable schedule on paper down the stretch. The Roughnecks will likely get over this rough patch of their season, and their 4-0 divisional record favors them heavily in all tie-breaker scenarios.
Pick your poison. The Brahmas or Renegades will enter the playoffs, and if either one does so with a 4-6 or 5-5 record, it will infuriate the third-place finishing team in the North to no end.
XFL Week 7 Predictions/Picks Against The Spread
After 24 games, I am 17-7 picking winners. However, I’m only 12-12 against the spread. And an exceedingly mediocre 13-11 determining the over/under.
My performance in making picks this season are second-place South team worthy, and I don’t deserve a spot in the postseason. But hey, there are still four weeks left for redemption.
- All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Friday, March 31, Seattle Sea Dragons (4-2) at Arlington Renegades (3-3): Choctaw Stadium, 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. C.T. on FX/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Sea Dragons -4.5
- Over/Under: 37.5 points
- Weather Forecast: Mostly clear. Low 51F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph.
Week 7’s opening XFL game on Friday night features two uniquely different teams.
The Seattle Sea Dragons, winners of four straight, have one of the league’s top passing attacks. Quarterback Ben Dinucci leads the league with 1,505 yards. However, he has turned the ball over thirteen times in six games. (8 interceptions, five fumbles).
DiNucci’s missteps, particularly in the red zone, have kept the Dragons from being a top-scoring team. And ultimately, what it’s done is keep opposing teams in games with Seattle.
The Dragons’ defense and elite special teams coordinated by coach Ty Knott have flown under the radar. The combination of those two units has prevented Seattle from losing more games.
The same could be said for Arlington. If not for their top-notch defensive and special teams play. The Renegades wouldn’t be 3-3. They have been competitive in every game this season, despite having the XFL’s most anemic offense, scoring only 78 points, of which two touchdowns resulted from defensive scores.
Bob Stoops’s squad has no answers offensively. Arlington released quarterback Kyle Sloter this week. Rookie Drew Plitt, who showed faint promise last weekend in the Renegades QB rotation, has struggled heavily with his decision-making.
To counter their ongoing deficiencies, the team traded with Vegas for spring league vet Luis Perez. But on Friday, because of the short week, it appears that Kevin Anderson could be the first signal-caller called out of the Arlington bullpen.
Longtime NFL player and assistant coach Jonathan Hayes has flopped in his role as a first-time play-caller. As a result, It’s challenging to see a scenario where the Renegades, all of a sudden, magically turn things around offensively. If Seattle can avoid mistakes from their QB. They should be able to secure a fifth straight victory with ease.
Prediction: Seattle Sea Dragons 22 Arlington Renegades 13
Saturday, April 1st, San Antonio Brahmas (2-4) at Vegas Vipers (1-5): Cashman Field, 3 p.m. E.T./12 P.T. on ESPN2/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Vipers -3
- Over/Under: 39.5
- Weather Forecast: Mostly sunny. High around 75F. Winds ESE at 10 to 15 mph.
Is there such a thing as a trap game for a 2-4 team? That’s what the oddsmakers see here, favoring the 1-5 Vegas Vipers at home over the San Antonio Brahmas.
Fittingly enough, the spread reads like April Fool’s joke. But perhaps betting on a 2-4 team with severe scoring issues is fool’s gold.
It’s not often that a game featuring two teams with sub-500. records has playoff implications. But this one does.
The Brahmas will be watching Friday’s Arlington game closely. If the Renegades lose, it opens the door for Hines Ward’s team to take control of the second spot in the South.
This odd matchup gets odder by the moment.
The Vegas Vipers looking for a spark, are turning to NC State’s Jalan McLendon as their starting quarterback in favor of veteran Brett Hundley. Just days after trading away Luis Perez. Rod Woodson is reaching for any solution he can muster in his team’s final home game.
McLendon has never started a game in his pro career, and he finally gets that chance on Saturday. But he’s inherited the task of facing the XFL’s top pass defense in San Antonio, who have only allowed 179 yards per contest.
The Brahmas also enter this game on offense with a unique quarterback situation. Kurt Benkert, signed off the street last week, figures to get more reign over the offense. He paired with starter Jawon Pass a week ago.
Vegas’s defense has allowed a lot of pass yards in the last two weeks. (539) And if there ever was a game where the Brahmas could show some improvement throwing the football. This would be it.
Two former Steeler greats, Hines Ward and Rod Woodson, have been involved in plenty of ugly low-scoring games in their playing past. This feels like another one.
Prediction: San Antonio Brahmas 18 Las Vegas Vipers 16
Saturday, April 1st, D.C. Defenders (6-0) at Orlando Guardians (0-6): Camping World Stadium, 6 p.m. E.T. on ESPN
- Point Spread: Defenders -9.5
- Over/Under: Over 45.5 points
- Weather Forecast: High 80, Low around 70F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph.
The tough sell is making a case for Orlando to keep things competitive against a dominant D.C. team, let alone finding a way to win their first game of the year.
For the sake of argument, humor me for a moment.
Firstly, The Defenders are playing this game on short rest after trouncing Houston on Monday. Secondly, Reggie Barlow’s team is riding an emotional high, and it will be tough for them to match that energy away from Audi Field against an inferior opponent. Overlooking Orlando and taking them lightly would be a natural mindset for D.C.
Furthermore, three of the Guardians’ last four losses have been by one score.
Despite being heavily flawed in many vital areas, they have hung tough every week. And lastly, upsets happen constantly in pro leagues, and the sun has to shine at some point on Orlando. Even it’s if it’s just for one day. Terrell Buckley’s troops are a desperate bunch facing a team that has to be overconfident.
The problem with the fantasy of Orlando pulling off the biggest upset of the XFL season is reality.
The real-world facts are that the Guardians can’t hang with the Defenders. It’s a bad matchup for Orlando on both sides of the ball.
Particuarly for their offense against D.C. The Guardians have allowed 23 sacks this season, and they are facing an aggressive big play, Gregg Williams defense that has forced 15 turnovers, produced 19 sacks, and has scored three touchdowns this season.
Reggie Barlow’s mantra for his team is “staying humble and kind.” For that reason, I feel they’ll have the right approach to playing this game and maybe will show kindness late by calling off the dogs against a vastly inferior opponent.
Prediction: D.C. Defenders 32 Orlando Guardians 16
Sunday, April 2nd, St. Louis Battlehawks (4-2) Houston Roughnecks (4-2): TDECU Stadium, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. C.T. on ESPN
- Point Spread: Roughnecks -3
- Over/Under: Over 43.5 points
- Weather Forecast: Scattered showers. High 77F. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Week 7’s top matchup sees two of the league’s best passing offenses square off as the Houston Roughnecks try to halt a two-game losing streak at home against the St. Louis Battlehawks.
The Roughnecks’ offense, coordinated by A.J. Smith, lead the league in true passing yards (1,560) over Seattle (1,511). When eliminating yardage lost due to sacks.
The Battlehawks have the league’s most efficient quarterback, A.J. McCarron. The former Alabama standout leads the league in passing touchdowns (15) and completion percentage (67%).
St. Louis boasts the most balanced offense in the league, averaging 23 points per contest while generating 91 rushing yards and 203 passing yards per game.
This could be an XFL championship preview on May 13th. The problem is that there are no guarantees that St. Louis will make the playoffs in the North. A division that has flexed its strength over South leader Houston. The Roughnecks have fallen hard to D.C. and Seattle in consecutive weeks.
Wade Phillips’s group could fall again versus a St. Louis team that has only lost twice this year, both times to the undefeated Defenders.
As crazy as it seems, there is talk of Houston potentially going to Cole McDonald over season-long starter Brandon Silvers (1,300 yards passing, 11 touchdowns). McDonald had a starring turn in backup duty against D.C. on Monday night. (231 yards, two touchdowns).
A complete shift to a new QB1 may not come this week. However, the situation bears watching if Houston loses their third straight game.
Both St. Louis and Houston are in must-win situations. But the Battlehawks’ urgency seems more immediate than the Roughnecks. Houston can lose on Sunday and still sleepwalk into a Southern title., and Anthony Becht’s bunch is in more of a do-or-die situation.
Therefore, I think St. Louis tops Houston before they return home to the Battledome to play three consecutive games to end the regular season.
Prediction: St. Louis Battlehawks 26 Houston Roughnecks 25
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