The final week of the XFL 2023 regular season has arrived. Heading into Week 10, The XFL’s final four slate of games all have playoff ramifications.
XFL Week 10 Playoff Scenarios
Four XFL teams are fighting for the league’s final two playoff spots this weekend. And because of a unique NFL borrowed combined ranking scoring tie-breaker, each game could affect which Northern XFL team gains entry into the postseason. More on that head-splitting madness momentarily.
Let’s start with the South for a simpler part of the playoff equation.
XFL South Playoff Picture
- The San Antonio Brahmas will clinch a playoff berth with a victory over the D.C. Defenders Saturday at home AND an Arlington Renegades loss at the Houston Roughnecks on Sunday afternoon.
- The Arlington Renegades clinch a berth in the South Championship game with a loss by San Antonio OR a victory over the Houston Roughnecks in Week 10.
If Arlington and San Antonio are tied in the standings after Week 10, they will have split their head-to-head season series and have equal divisional wins (3). So the next tiebreaker would be Strength of Victory, the combined record of opponents in wins. As a result, a Brahmas victory over the Defenders this weekend would get them into the postseason.
Notwithstanding that, Bob Stoops’s Renegades have the easiest path of the four eligible teams seeking entry into the XFL playoffs. That’s because by the time they take the field on Sunday. The 8-1 D.C. Defenders may have already taken care of business for them by beating the Brahmas Saturday in San Antonio.
A unique layer to the Roughnecks-Renegades matchup in Week 10 is that not only could the two Texas teams meet the following weekend in the playoffs again. But Houston, with nothing in play, could treat the game as an exhibition game, which would help Arlington’s cause if they need to win to get into the postseason.
For that matter, if Arlington watches San Antonio lose on Saturday, they would also have very little to play for and could take the same play-it-safe tactic as Houston.
However, like Arlington, Hines Ward’s Brahmas team will also face a team this weekend that will treat week ten as an exhibition-like contest.
Like the Houston Roughnecks, the D.C. Defenders have already sewn up their division and a home playoff game.
Because of their respective records, 8-1 vs. 3-6, Saturday’s D.C.-San Antonio game looks like a mismatch. But there’s no guarantee that the Defenders will play their best this weekend. Furthermore, even if D.C. goes all out, they have already lost a road game this year to a team that appeared to be inferior, the one-win Orlando Guardians.
So the seemingly impossible is more possible than one would think. Welcome to Week 10 of the XFL.
XFL North Playoff Picture
The Seattle Sea Dragons’ victory over the Battlehawks last weekend in St.Louis has introduced some chaos into the final weekend of the XFL Regular Season. (Cue Heath Ledger’s Joker) Where the final playoff spot and a trip to the North Championship game could be decided by tiebreaker #4 or #5 in the XFL rule book.
Let’s get the easy part of this potential math-solving problem out of the way first.
The Seattle Sea Dragons and St. Louis Battlehawks are 6-3. They have split their head-to-head season series against one another.
The next tie-breaker is the divisional record.
The Battlehawks have finished their regular season slate of games in that category at 3-3. Seattle is presently 2-3 in the North but plays divisional opponent Vegas on Sunday night.
A Dragons loss in the XFL regular season finale against the Vegas Vipers Sunday at home will ensure St. Louis a playoff spot even if the Battlehawks lose to Orlando at home on Saturday afternoon.
Therefore, Seattle must win their final game, no matter what happens in St. Louis.
What makes week ten in the XFL even more intriguing is that winning might not be enough for both teams.
How they win and what happens around them in the rest of the league’s games will determine whether the Dragons or Battlehawks make the playoffs if both teams end up at 7-3.
Here’s why and where things get tricky.
A 7-3 tie between St. Louis and Seattle, with both teams having matching divisional records, would lead to a combined ranking of points scored and allowed in all games tie-breakers.
Tie-breaker #4 is among divisional teams. (one through four). Tie-breaker #5 would be amongst all-league teams, one through eight.
Where you are ranked overall in points scored and allowed in these scenarios will determine if you make the playoffs.
- Seattle is second in points scored amongst Northern divisional teams (215). 1st in points allowed (168)
- St. Louis is third in points scored amongst North divisional teams (196). 2nd in points allowed (174)
- Seattle’s combined ranking is 3 (2+1=3) for points scored and allowed. St. Louis’s combined ranking is fifth (3+2=5).
Instead of going deep down the rabbit hole to figure this all out by delving into where both teams currently rank in a potential tiebreaker #5 scenario, including all eight teams in the rankings process. You can rest your weary heads. After all, the final matchup of the XFL regular season takes place one hour after the third game of the weekend concludes.
As a result, the complicated puzzle will be crystal clear. ESPN and the league should have the math ready for the exact scoring scenario that needs to take place between Seattle and Vegas on Sunday night IF St. Louis has already won.
The league’s television partner, the teams, and even fans have painstakingly tried all week to figure out how this thing works and all the potential scenarios for this weekend.
Kudos to Matty Fresh (definitely his real name) from ‘Springball Boulevard’ for diving in deep on the subject to try and get people up to speed on these unique tie-breakers. If you want to get your nerd on, you can check out Mr. Fresh’s most recent YouTube show, which delves deeply into all the scenarios.
XFL Week 10 Previews/Predictions Against The Spread
For the regular season, I am 25-11 in picking winners, 18-18 in picking point totals, and an embarrassingly bad 16-20 against the spread. Suffice it to say that if there were a combined ranking tie-breaker for these three categories. I would have no chance of qualifying for anything positive.
On a more positive note, in the nobody cares but me department. My two XFL fantasy teams, ’99 Problems But A Mitch Kidd Ain’t One’ and ‘Up Plitt’s Creek Without A Passer,’ have reached their respective league championship games on altfantasysports.com. My teams have overcome and survived the midseason loss of megastar WR Jontre Kirklin. Here’s hoping that late-season pickup Phillip Lindsay can help bring me the title that ‘Walker Texas Roughneck’ and ‘Team Ten’ were denied three years ago.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program, incorrectly predicting winners against the spread and the over/under.
I will use the combined rankings formula as we go along to calculate what will be needed in Week 10’s final game. Just trust that my math is better than my picks against the spread.
All odds courtesy of BetMGM
Saturday, April 22, Orlando Guardians (1-7) at St. Louis Battlehawks (6-3): The Dome In St. Louis, 12 Noon ET/11:30 CT, on ESPN
- Point Spread: Battlehawks -8.5
- Moneyline: Guardians +280, Battlehawks -375
- Over/Under: 47.5
Because of an uphill battle to make the playoffs, the St. Louis Battlehawks must save their best for last in their final home game. Anthony Becht’s bunch must deliver their most complete performance of the season. On offense, special teams, and most importantly, on defense. They need to limit Orlando’s scoring as much as possible to win out on tiebreakers.
Otherwise, the Battlehawks will hope for a wing and prayer in Seattle on Sunday.
St. Louis faces an Orlando team with nothing to lose on Saturday afternoon. The one-win Guardians have been reasonably competitive in the second half of the XFL season. Six of their last seven games have been decided by one score, and five were decided by fewer than three points.
St. Louis’s offense has slowed down considerably in the last two weeks. The A.J. McCarron injury and Nick Tiano’s season-ending ailment have shined a negative light on the Battlehawks’ offensive line issues. St. Louis is facing an opponent that has also had the same problems. The Guardians have allowed a league-high 33 sacks, and the Battlehawks have allowed 29.
To their credit, Terrell Buckley’s Orlando squad has not quit all season long. The Guardians will come to play. However, the Battlehawks will have added motivation at home and need to get back on track, and I believe they will on Saturday. St. Louis will end their regular season on a positive note, and how positively it becomes will depend on what happens Sunday in Seattle.
Prediction: St. Louis Battlehawks 33 Orlando Guardians 16
Saturday, April 22, D.C. Defenders (8-1) at San Antonio Brahmas (3-6): The Alamodome In San Antonio, 3 PM ET, on ABC
- Point Spread: Defenders -3
- Moneyline: Defenders -155, Brahmas +130
- Over/Under: 41.5
The fact that an 8-1 team like D.C. is only a three-point favorite over a 3-6 San Antonio team on the road is very telling.
The reason is that the Defenders have everything locked up with very little to play for. In contrast, the San Antonio Brahmas are playing for their playoff lives Saturday at home, and it’s do-or-die time for Hines Ward’s squad.
Because of a limited inactive list in the XFL, six players out of 51, even if the Defenders’ top starters dress on Saturday, there’s a question about how much they will play with nothing tangible at stake.
Despite being 3-6, The Brahmas have been involved in only one game this season, where they’ve lost by more than one score. A significant reason for that is their stellar special teams and defense, and the latter has held opposing offenses to 17 or fewer points six times this season.
When the XFL season ends, don’t be shocked if the Brahmas have several players from both those units sign onto NFL teams. Edge rusher Delontae Scott, the defense’s highest-graded player by Pro Football Focus, has 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in seven games. San Antonio is third in the league in sacks (23) but first in tackles for loss (61).
Even if the Defenders were going all out in this game. I still believe that San Antonio would put up a fight because of their elite defense and special teams. Brahmas rookie quarterback Jack Coan has to hold up his end of the bargain and play as well as he did a week ago, throwing for over 300 yards and a score.
The Defenders’ pass defense has shown flaws the last few weeks, and there will be opportunities for San Antonio to capitalize. However, they are a hard team to trust. I will take D.C. to squeak by the Brahmas and end their playoff hopes—full strength or not.
Prediction: D.C. Defenders 21 San Antonio Brahmas 19
Sunday, April 23, Houston Roughnecks (6-3) at Arlington Renegades (4-5): Choctaw Stadium In Arlington, 3 PM ET, on ESPN
- Point Spread: Renegades -1
- Moneyline: Renegades -115, Roughnecks -105
- Over/Under: 42.5
- Weather Forecast: Overcast with rain showers at times. High 58F. Winds ENE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
This is by far the most challenging game to predict. Because both teams might have nothing to play for on Sunday.
Arlington’s side of the coin, in particular, is an all-or-nothing proposition.
By Saturday evening, the Renegades will know the meaning of this game. If the D.C. Defenders defeat the Brahmas. The Renegades will clinch a spot in the South Championship game, meaning they will see the Roughnecks again six days later at TDECU stadium in Houston.
Arlington has been trying to find their mojo all season long, particularly on offense. Thanks to Luis Perez, who is coming off a 335-yard passing performance in an overtime shootout with the Defenders. The Renegades might have finally found it. If San Antonio wins on Saturday, Bob Stoops’s team will need Perez to play at a high level again to get into the postseason.
Houston is trying to build their mojo back up for the postseason. They have won two straight games after losing three straight to the North’s top teams.
Unbeknownst to both South teams, Arlington and Houston, even if their game Sunday has no playoff stakes attached for them. The game has meaning for the two teams fighting for one playoff spot in the North. The game’s final score could help or hurt the Northern teams depending on where they fall in the combined rankings.
Setting that mysterious element aside. And without the knowledge of whether Arlington will need this game. I will pick the Renegades to even up their record at 5-5 before they meet the Roughnecks again next week with a championship game bid at stake.
Prediction: Arlington Renegades 22 Houston Roughnecks 20
Sunday, April 23, Vegas Vipers (2-7) at Seattle Sea Dragons (6-3): Lumen Field, 7 PM ET, 4 PM PT on ESPN2
- Point Spread: Sea Dragons -8.5
- Moneyline: Vipers +310, Sea Dragons -400
- Over/Under: 47
- Weather Forecast: Rain showers early with overcast skies later in the day. High 54F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
If my first three predictions on XFL games in Week 10 are correct. To get into the playoffs on a tiebreaker, Seattle will need to win on Sunday night and prevent Vegas from scoring more than 25 points.
This is the type of scenario we will hear John Schriffen and the ultra-great former XFL world champion Tom Luginbill talk about during the ESPN2 broadcast. Stretching the soup with bland material on the sidelines provided by a designated reporter during the broadcast won’t be needed to spruce things up under these circumstances.
There are so many unique possibilities that would defy regular football logic. For example, if Vegas is trailing by one touchdown late, but all they need is a field goal to knock Seattle out of the playoffs. They could settle for three in the final seconds to spitefully kill the Dragons’ playoff chances.
The rainy forecast in Seattle might also play a factor and aid the Sea Dragons’ cause in limiting Vegas’s point total.
Jalan McClendon has been a revelation so far for the Vegas Vipers. It hasn’t been reflected in the team’s win column, but McLendon, in three games, has completed 67 percent of his passes, thrown for 672 yards, and five touchdowns to zero interceptions. He has also rushed for 128 yards. The 6’4 dual-threat gunslinger gives Rod Woodson’s team a puncher’s chance of knocking Seattle out of the playoffs.
The Dragons have all the key ingredients to be the best team in the league. They have a high-flying offense loaded with exceptional talent. Among them are the league’s leading passer Ben DiNucci (2,596 total yards 19tds), RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Josh Gordon, and emerging star/league-leading receiver Jachour Pearson.
The Dragons’ special teams, led by coach Ty Knott, who also coaches the team’s receivers, have been the best in the league. And Ron Zook has led a solid defense all season long. All these aspects will need to be at their best on Sunday night.
Based on their talent roster, experienced coaching staff, and personnel staff. The Seattle Sea Dragons were my pick to win it all before the season started. And the truth is that they are good enough to hoist an XFL championship trophy. But to have a chance of accomplishing that, Seattle needs to come through in the biggest moment of their season.
One delicate factor to address in this game is the tragic loss of Sea Dragons and NFL veteran DE Chris Smith. At only 31 years old, he passed away suddenly earlier this week. Sometimes a heartbreaking event such as this will galvanize a team to pull together and win one for their departed family member. But it also can be challenging to focus on football when the bittersweet game of life stops you cold in your tracks.
I think the Sea Dragons will seize their moment on Sunday night in Seattle and punch their ticket into the postseason. The final score will matter.
Prediction: Seattle Sea Dragons 29 Vegas Vipers 19
The drama created by the unique tie-breaker scenario in XFL 2023 may not match one of my all-time favorite season-ending moments in 1999 when the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers engaged in trying to outscore one another for a playoff spot while playing two separate games simultaneously. But it should be fun nonetheless. “We need more points” could become “We need to limit their points.”
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