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XFL Week 8 Preview: Playoff Clinching Scenarios, Odds, Predictions, Picks Against The Spread

The XFL 2023 season is almost over. As the league approaches Week 8, all but one team is still alive in the race for the playoffs.

XFL 2023 Week 8 Playoff Picture/Scenarios

With three weeks remaining in the regular season. Seven XFL teams are vying for four playoff spots. Two postseason berths are up for grabs in each division.

Here are the myriad of playoff-clinching and elimination scenarios in play for Week 8;

  • The Houston Roughnecks can clinch a playoff berth by defeating the San Antonio Brahmas on Sunday.
  • The Houston Roughnecks can win the South division title and ensure a home playoff game with a loss by Arlington to Orlando on Saturday and a victory over San Antonio.
  • The D.C. Defenders can clinch a playoff berth by beating the Seattle Sea Dragons Sunday night.
  • The Defenders can win the North division title and ensure a home playoff game with a St. Louis loss to Vegas on Saturday and a victory over Seattle.
  • The Orlando Guardians can be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Arlington.

XFL Northern Divisional Playoff Race

In the North, three teams are duking it out for two spots.

The D.C. Defenders currently lead the division at 6-1. The St. Louis Battlehawks and Seattle Sea Dragons are only a game behind them at 5-2 each. When the smoke clears on the regular season, one of these legitimate championship-contending teams will be on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

The Defenders’ dual victories over St. Louis and their five divisional wins give them the edge in securing one of the final two playoff spots in the North.

Anything is possible after witnessing D.C. succumb to previously winless Orlando. Nevertheless, barring a complete collapse by Reggie Barlow’s squad. The Defenders are going to get into the playoffs. Whether or not they win the division is another matter.

The magic number for the Defenders clinching a playoff berth is seven wins.

In these final three weeks, because of head-to-head and divisional record tie-breakers, any victory by D.C., coupled with Seattle or St. Louis picking up a third loss, will net them a playoff spot. Neither the Dragons nor Battlehawks can surpass D.C. in the standings with a third defeat on their ledger.

As it currently stands, the Defenders and Battlehawks have a leg up in the North on the Dragons because of head-to-head victories over Seattle in the season’s opening two weeks. However, the Sea Dragons, winners of five straight, have a golden opportunity to even the odds and potentially soar past D.C., St. Louis, or maybe both.

That’s because Seattle plays D.C. in the highlight game of Week 8 Sunday night at Lumen Field. The Dragons will then fly to St. Louis in Week 9.

Because of a disadvantage in divisional tie-breakers, Jim Haslett’s team must exact revenge in back-to-back games against the Defenders and Battlehawks. Seattle can’t afford to lose.

A loss by the Sea Dragons Sunday night will ensure the Defenders a seventh win and a playoff spot. In that scenario, D.C. will have swept its season series with Seattle and locked in its postseason bid due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

An end to Seattle’s five-game win streak could also create a scenario in which St. Louis has the opportunity to create further distance from themselves and the Dragons.

The Battlehawks have a crucial game upcoming this Saturday afternoon at home against the Vegas Vipers. Anthony Becht’s St. Louis squad will look to care of business in the Battledome before they sit back and watch one of their two competing rivals lose on Sunday night.

The Northern playoff picture can clear up somewhat after Week 8 or become even foggier. Because there’s a scenario where the top three teams in the North could all be tied for first place by Sunday night. A Battlehawks triumph, coupled with a Sea Dragons victory over the Defenders, would place all three teams at 6-2 with two weeks left to play in the regular season.

XFL Southern Divisional Playoff Race

Look away, kids or any fans of the Defenders, Dragons, or Battlehawks. One of those Northern teams could be coping hard at season’s end when a Southern team that is likely under .500 steals a playoff bid over them.

The South playoff situation is ugly now and could become more bizarre after Week 8.

The limping Roughnecks, losers of three straight, stand atop the South at 4-3. Houston will likely net a playoff spot and the southern crown by default through attrition.

That’s because beneath Houston in the South standings are the 3-4 Arlington Renegades, 2-5 San Antonio Brahmas, and the suddenly rejuvenated 1-6 Orlando Guardians. Amazingly enough, one of these three teams is assured the second playoff spot in the South.

A Roughnecks victory on Sunday afternoon, improving themselves to 5-3 overall, thereby dropping San Antonio to 2-6, will, at the bare minimum, clinch Houston a playoff berth. However, if Arlington loses on Saturday, netting their third divisional loss, a Houston victory will not only cinch up a playoff spot but also a division title. Because in this scenario, the Roughnecks would have a two-game lead over the Renegades with an impenetrable 5-0 divisional record.

The Orlando Guardians’ final home game on Saturday versus Arlington has a ton of playoff implications. A Guardians victory not only keeps them alive in the playoff hunt but also gives San Antonio a safety net in case the Brahmas lose to Houston. However, in a season of nothingness, up until last week, Orlando is in an all-or-nothing situation in Week 8. They will be eliminated from postseason contention if they lose on Saturday.

Perhaps this is putting the cart way before the horse. And maybe Bob Stoops’s team can put an end to this madness by finishing strong. However, there is a scenario where a 3-7 team in the South can make the playoffs.

It seems far-fetched, but if the Renegades lose out to Orlando, D.C., and Houston, falling to 3-7. And the Brahmas repeat the same pattern, losing to the Roughnecks, Guardians, and Defenders in a different order. It will set the stage for a 3-6 Orlando team heading into the final week of the regular season looking to beat St. Louis and enter the playoffs at 4-6. If the Guardians don’t. There could be a tie at 3-7 for second place in the South. Further confusing matters would be if San Antonio lost their next two games but found a way to beat D.C. to get to 3-7.

In these scorched earth scenarios, head-to-head and divisional records would fly off the planet. A third strength of victory in all games tie-breaker (combined record of opponents in wins) would come into play. Or a fourth tie-breaker involving combined ranking among division teams in points scored and allowed could be the deciding factor.

Maybe this will all be a moot point by the end of this weekend. But that’s the fun in late-season games, going through potential scenarios, no matter how improbable or unpleasant they may be.

Week 8 XFL Predictions/Picks Against The Spread

After 28 games, I am 19-9, picking winners. However, I’m an exceedingly mediocre 14-14 against the spread and in predicting the point total.

My performance in making picks this season are second-place South team worthy, and I don’t deserve a spot in the postseason. But if Quinten Dormady can redeem himself and come out, the other side a winner, despite having a losing record. Maybe there’s hope for someone like me.

Saturday, April 8, Vegas Vipers (2-5) at St. Louis Battlehawks (5-2): The Battledome In St. Louis, 1 p.m. E.T./12 CT. on ESPN/ESPN+

  • Point Spread: Battlehawks -7.5
  • Over/Under: 46.5

Thanks to a surprising performance by first-time starting quarterback Jalan McClendon. The Vegas Vipers are coming off their best performance of the XFL season in last week’s 26-12 win over San Antonio. In his first pro start, Jalan McClendon completed 21-of-31 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 25 rushing yards.

Rod Woodson’s team might be eliminated from playoff contention in the North. But if the Vipers continue to get that level of QB play, they could end up spoiling someone else’s postseason hopes down the stretch.

St. Louis is in a pressurized position heading back home in Week 8. Any loss by them could jeopardize their playoff chances.

The Battlehawks have the league’s best quarterback in A.J. McCarron, and they hope the seasoned vet repeats what he did to Vegas two weeks ago in a dominating 29-6 victory, throwing for 236 yards and three touchdowns.

St. Louis’s pass protection versus Vegas’s terrific pass rush is the one matchup that could determine whether or not an upset could transpire. The Vipers are third in the league with sacks (18), and The Battlehawks have allowed the second most with 23. Vegas edge rusher Pita Taumoepenu has been on a tear lately; he is second in the XFL with 6.5 sacks. The NFL is calling, but before Taumoepenu answers, he has a few more games to wreck.

St. Louis is one of the most balanced teams in the XFL, peaking at the right time. Vegas might be game to put up a better fight than they did two weeks ago. But I think the Battlehawks take care of business at home.

Prediction: Battlehawks 26, Vipers 18

Saturday, April 8, Arlington Renegades (3-4) at Orlando Guardians (1-6): Camping World Stadium, 4 p.m. E.T. on ESPN/ESPN+

  • Point Spread: Guardians -1.5
  • Over/Under: 42.5
  • Weather Forecast: Mostly cloudy skies. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High near 90F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

I’m not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe. Or Will I?

Last week, the oddsmakers baited bettors by making one win Vegas a three-point favorite at home. The Vipers not only covered, but they won by 14 points. It was one of those moments in gambling where you tip your hat to the oddsmakers after losing your wallet.

Was last week just a fleeting moment of sunshine for Orlando, or the start of a trend? Can I trust Terrell Buckley and his troops?

Because on paper, I am surprised that the Guardians are only 1.5-point favorites at home. After all, earlier this season, they lost to the Renegades by only one point, a 10-9 game in Arlington. And Orlando is much better now than they were then.

Thanks to the red-hot Quinten Dormady, who threw for 328 yards and scored an obscene six touchdowns last week in stunning previously unbeaten D.C.

The Renegades have been in every game this season because of stout special teams and defense. And Arlington showed some improvement last week offensively, scoring two touchdowns on offense for the first time this season. Luis Perez provided Jon Hayes decides to stop playing musical chairs, should upgrade the Renegades at quarterback.

I am having trust issues on both sides when it comes to picking this game. I don’t think Arlington can score enough. And I worry that Orlando will be too relieved after last week’s emotional victory. But I will throw caution to the wind and bank on the Guardians.

Prediction: Guardians 22 Renegades 18

Sunday, April 9, Houston Roughnecks (4-3) at San Antonio Brahmas (2-5): The Alamodome, 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. C.T. on ABC

  • Point Spread: Roughnecks -5.
  • Over/Under: 40.5

The 2023 Roughnecks are making the 2020 version of the team roll around in their graves. Ok, maybe it’s not that bad for Houston. After all, they could be San Antonio. But after three straight losses to the top three teams in the XFL/North. The Roughnecks look like pretenders to the throne.

Injuries to several key players have certainly played a role in the Roughnecks’ current slide. The offense hasn’t been as explosive without Jontre Kirklin. And the defense, particularly the team’s pass rush, hasn’t been as elite as earlier this season.

Perhaps facing off with a San Antonio team coming off their worst defensive outing of the year against neophyte quarterback Jalan McClendon. And a badly banged-up Brahmas offensive line will help Houston regain their mojo.

San Antonio has been searching for answers on offense, particularly at quarterback, all season long. The Brahmas are back to square one with Jack Coan after both his replacements, Reid Sinnett, and Kurt Benkert, showed a spark before going down to injury.

I think Jim Herrmann’s defense will bounce back at home this week. But San Antonio doesn’t have enough firepower on offense to challenge Houston. Unless their defense and special teams produce touchdowns, as they have the last two weeks, it’s going to be a long Easter Sunday for the Brahmas.

Prediction: Roughnecks 22 Brahmas 12

Sunday, April 9, D.C. Defenders (6-1) at Seattle Sea Dragons (5-2): Lumen Field, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. P.T. on ESPN2

  • Point Spread: Sea Dragons -1.5
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Weather Forecast: Rain likely. Low 46F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall could be around half an inch.

The main event of Week 8 in the XFL. It’s the biggest and most crucial game of the regular season to this point.

The Defenders-Dragons Sunday night showdown in Seattle, between two of the league’s most well-put-together and talented teams in the XFL, has gotten even more interesting in the last week.

As the Sea Dragons have added NFL Pro Bowl, RB Phillip Lindsay. To counter that, the Defenders have brought hard-hitting veteran NFL safety D.J. Swearinger into their fold.

Beyond the mainstream cache of players like Josh Gordon and the new pickups. Sunday’s matchup pits the league’s leading passer Ben DiNucci versus the XFL’s top rushing attack, led by rushing leader Abram Smith. But other players are showing their NFL chops in this game. Jordan Ta’amu, Lucky Jackson, Chris Blair, Jahcour Pearson, and many other young stars have been shining bright for both teams.

Sunday’s game also features a unique coaching showdown. June Jones and his run-and-shoot offense are pitted against the take-no-prisoners style of Gregg Williams’s defense.

In week one, The Defenders edged out the Dragons 22-18 in the final seconds with a thrilling goal line stand at Audi Field. Despite struggling early on, D.C. found a way to turn lemons into lemonade. The Dragons still have a sour taste in how they squandered that game.

My initial inclination was to roll with Seattle for a sixth straight win and to hit the over, however, with the forecast calling for rain. I think it’s already been proven that D.C. is best built for that game style. Therefore, I am going under and betting on the Defenders to bounce back from last week’s heartbreaking defeat.

Prediction: Defenders 21 Dragons 20

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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