Thirty percent of the XFL 2023 regular season has been completed as the league takes one step closer to the midway point of it’s calendar.
XFL Week 4 Storylines
In Week 4, two undefeated teams atop their respective divisions, Houston and D.C., can create further distance from the pack by beating two winless teams. Orlando and Vegas.
The other side of the league will see dueling 1-2 teams square off in Seattle and San Antonio. The winner of that contest will move to .500 and keep themselves afloat in their divisional and playoff races.
The weekend’s marquee matchup pits two 2-1 teams, the Battlehawks and Renegades, in what should be a supercharged environment in St. Louis.
XFL Undefeated Streaks At Stake
The 3-0 Houston Roughnecks still have never lost a game in the XFL. They are now 8-0 in their brief history. The Roughnecks can extend that winning streak to nine this Saturday night in Orlando against the winless Guardians.
The 3-0 D.C. Defenders are now 5-0 all-time at Audi Field. The Beer Snake has never tasted defeat at home, and the Defenders can keep that streak going by sweeping their regular season series in the District against the 0-3 Vegas Vipers.
The St. Louis Battlehawks haven’t played at home yet this season. But that changes on Sunday afternoon when they finally host their first game of 2023.
It’s a tiny sample; however, like D.C., and Houston, the Battlehawks have also never lost a game at home. They were 2-0 in the Dome three years ago.
There’s been a lot of comedic fodder on social media based on the idea of “scripts” in pro football. Thanks to former NFL RB Arian Foster’s tongue-in-cheek appearance broaching the subject on Barstool Sports earlier this year.
In the XFL, if the 2023 season is scripted, you would think Houston stays never beaten this weekend; D.C. will be too much for the snake-bitten Vipers to handle. And that St. Louis will have a triumphant and joyous return home. I mean, that’s the way the story should go, right?
But perhaps we are due for a script change or two or maybe three in Week four of the XFL season.
Orlando, Vegas, and Arlington have a chance to introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order, and turn everything into chaos.
XFL Week 4 Predictions
The good, bad, and ugly of my predictions last week. I went 4-0 straight up. Against the spread, I was only 2-2. And in the over/under category, I was an abysmal 0-4.
For the season, after three weeks, I am 8-4 straight up and 6-6 equally against the spread and the over/under. If you are banking on me to help you snatch some extra cash. I have no excuses, and I apologize. I could make up some far-fetched story about how Quinten Dormady gave away my best plays. But that’s only something a lousy teammate looking to save a roster spot for themselves would do.
I will try my best to be a better teammate in Week 4.
Houston Roughnecks (3-0) at Orlando Guardians (0-3), Saturday, March 11, Camping World Stadium, 7 pm ET/6 pm CT, FX/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Roughnecks –8.5
- Over/Under: 37.5
- Weather: Clear skies. Low 57F. Light Wind.
In an eight-team league, divisional teams can see each other twice in a short span because it’s only a ten-game regular season. That’s precisely what we’re seeing in Week 4 of the XFL. The Roughnecks and Guardians square off for a second time in four games.
The first meeting with Houston and Orlando in Week 1 exposed many of the Guardians’ flaws as the Roughnecks rolled right over them 33-12.
Even though Orlando is coming off their most competitive effort of the season, a 10-9 loss in Arlington. Very little evidence suggests that Week 4 won’t produce the same result as Week 1.
This is Houston’s first game away from TDECU this season. Wade Phillips’s crew is beginning a three-week stretch of road games. They can open their season 4-0, but more importantly, within the South Division. The odds-on favorite to play for an XFL championship can better their chances of doing so by stacking another divisional victory.
Can Terrell Buckley’s staff take the lessons they learned from their week one loss to Houston and apply them favorably in this rematch? Based on the early returns of this season. I am betting that they won’t.
The Roughnecks have to avoid taking the Guardians lightly and going into cruise control like they did last week in the second half against San Antonio.
When encountering a hopeless team like Orlando, Houston must immediately erase any hope.
On paper, this is a mismatch all around. The Roughnecks are better than Orlando in every single team aspect.
Prediction: Houston Roughnecks 26 Orlando Guardians 13
San Antonio Brahmas (1-2) at Seattle Sea Dragons (1-2), Saturday, March 11, Lumen Field, 10 pm ET/7 pm PT, FX/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Dragons –4.5
- Over/Under: 40.5
- Weather: Partly cloudy. Low 34F. Light Wind.
San Antonio and Seattle want to win and keep pace in their respective divisions.
This game is especially important to the Dragons. Because they can’t afford to fall back even further behind D.C. and St. Louis, with only two playoff spots available in the North. Plus, Seattle has already lost to both those teams ahead of them.
The Brahmas have some room for error because they have Arlington within their sights in the South. After Saturday night’s non-divisional game, San Antonio will play the Renegades in back-to-back weeks. Those meetings starting with a showdown at the Alamodome could determine who makes the playoffs.
On paper, this Dragons-Brahmas matchup is unique. Both teams play contrasting styles. Hines Ward’s San Antonio squad wants to play smashmouth football. But the Brahmas haven’t taken the bull by the horns in that desired aspect yet.
Shortening the game might be San Antonio’s best mode of attack against Seattle. Playing a game of keep away could serve the Brahmas well because, with rookie quarterback Jack Coan at the controls, they are not equipped to get into a shootout with June Jones’s offense.
San Antonio’s defense is in for quite the challenge on Saturday night, dealing with Ben DiNucci, Josh Gordon, and 4.2 speedster Jahcour Pearson. On top of that, RB Morgan Ellison, who is questionable for Saturday’s affair with a knee injury, is coming off a breakout performance on the ground. If Ellison suits up, the Brahmas could be in for a lot of trouble containing the Dragons’ offense.
San Antonio was in a rough spot last week at Houston, and they are in the same boat this week in Seattle. The Dragons should soar to another victory.
Prediction: Seattle Sea Dragons 25 San Antonio Brahmas 16
Arlington Renegades (2-1) at St. Louis Battlehawks (2-1), Sunday, March 12, The Dome, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT, ESPN2/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Battlehawks –3.5
- Over/Under: 36.5
To paraphrase XFL Co-Owner The Rock’s famous catchphrase, “Finally, the Battlehawks have come back to St. Louis!”
It’s the moment that not only Battlehawks fans have longed for, but also shared with the avid supporters of the XFL. People have wanted to see this happen for a long time.
The Arlington Renegades have drawn the short straw, having to be the team that faces the Battlehawks in their three years and counting return to St. Louis.
However, it can be argued that there will be a lot of pressure on the Battlehawks to win in front of their home crowd. Bob Stoops’s bunch enters spoiler mode in Week 4. It’s a role that opposing teams crave in sports, silencing and spoiling an enemy crowd’s party in their building.
A week ago, the Battlehawks faced off with and got the short end of the stick against their former quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. Sunday’s game represents another reunion with familiar Battlehawk faces. This time, former STL head coach Jonathan Hayes and defensive coordinator Jay Hayes are on the opposing sideline looking to beat their former team.
A good number of former 2020 Battlehawks on the Renegades squad extend beyond the Hayes brothers. But ultimately, this game will come down to whether or not Arlington’s struggling offense can raise their level of play to match St. Louis. Kyle Sloter and his Renegade receivers need to start having success throwing the ball down the field.
The Renegades’ stellar defense should be up to the task of slowing down the Battlehawks’ formidable offense. But the emotion and energy of the St. Louis crowd will be too much for Arlington to overcome.
Prediction: St. Louis Battlehawks 20 Arlington Renegades 14
Vegas Vipers (0-3) at D.C. Defenders (3-0), Sunday, March 12, Audi Field, 7 pm ET/4 pm PT, ESPN2/ESPN+
- Point Spread: Defenders –6
- Over/Under: 41.5
- Weather: Partly cloudy. Chance of rain. Low 32F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.
On the surface, this looks like an easy play. 0-3 team on the road against a surging 3-0 team in a challenging venue. On top of that, these teams met two weeks ago, and D.C. outslugged Vegas by two scores.
The Defenders took a big step forward last week—Particuarly in their passing attack. Reggie Barlow, Gregg Williams, and the entire D.C. staff have done a great job putting their players in a position to succeed. There’s no doubt that because of their diversified rushing attack and aggressive defense, the Defenders are legitimate XFL champion material.
However, Vegas is not nearly as bad as their winless record indicates.
The Vipers have led all three of their games in the second half and then faltered late. Rod Woodson’s team hasn’t had a lot of lady luck on their side. But at some point, the worm, or in this case, the snake, has to turn in their favor.
It’s now or never for the Vipers. Falling to 0-4 and 0-3 within their division would be venomous.
The key to Vegas having a shot to pull off the upset in Beer Snake land is the health of Brett Hundley. The veteran pro who had three scores and nearly three hundred yards of offense last week is nursing a thigh injury, and he has been limited all week in practice. But if he can go, I give a desperate, lives on the line, Vegas team good odds of keeping this game closer than the oddsmakers project. And I wouldn’t rule out an outright upset and victory by the Vipers this Sunday night.
Prediction: D.C. Defenders 19 Vegas Vipers 18
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