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XFL Week 9 Preview: Six Teams Fighting For Playoff Positioning, Odds, Predictions Against The Spread

The XFL 2023 regular season is almost over. As the league approaches a penultimate Week 9, six of eight XFL teams are fighting for playoff positioning with two weeks left to play.

XFL 2023 Week 9 Playoff Picture/Scenarios

Here are the myriad of playoff-clinching and elimination scenarios in play for Week 9 of the XFL season;

  • The D.C. Defenders can clinch a home playoff game in the North Championship with a victory over Arlington or a St. Louis loss against Seattle.
  • The Houston Roughnecks can clinch a home playoff game in the South Championship with a victory over Vegas or an Arlington loss to D.C.
  • The St. Louis Battlehawks can secure a playoff spot in the North by defeating Seattle.
  • The Arlington Renegades can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over D.C. or a San Antonio loss to Orlando.
  • The Seattle Sea Dragons will be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss to St. Louis.
  • The San Antonio Brahmas will be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss to Orlando or an Arlington victory over D.C.

The 7-1 D.C. Defenders and the 5-3 Houston Roughnecks clinched playoff berths in Week 8.

In Week 9, D.C. will look to secure home-field advantage in the North Divisional Championship game on Sunday, April 30th. Houston seeks to do the same for the South Divisional Championship game on Saturday, April 29th.

The path to the XFL Championship Game at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday, May 13th, could go through Audi Field and TDECU Stadium.

Four other XFL teams are fighting for two remaining playoff spots.

The 6-2 Battlehawks and 5-3 Seattle Sea Dragons clash this Sunday in a high-stakes game in St.Louis. Both teams want to stake their claim to a playoff spot in the North. The Battlehawks can clinch a playoff bid with a victory at home, and Seattle will be trying to stave off elimination.

A victory by the Dragons Sunday afternoon will complicate matters for the final post-season bid in the North. It will open the door for a potential strength of victory tie-breaker (combined record of opponents in wins) and a formula for a combined ranking system for points scored and allowed. (More on that madness momentarily).

A Seattle win over St. Louis will cause a split in their head-to-head regular season series. And as a result, the Battlehawks would finish the regular season with a 3-3 divisional record. A Dragons victory over STL and then against Vegas in week ten would also net Seattle a 3-3 divisional record.

In this scenario, assuming that St. Louis and Seattle both finish the season at 7-3. A series split between the two and an identical 3-3 divisional record will force tie-breakers #3, #4, and maybe #5 in the XFL rulebook.

The “combined ranking” tie-breaker will confuse many, including yours truly. It’s something that the NFL never uses because it’s further down the list of their tie-breakers for wildcard playoff entrants. It’s the seventh and eighth tie-breaker scenario for two clubs tied at the end of a regular season.

For all intents and purposes, it’s an in-case of emergency break glass tie-breaking scenario in the NFL. Followed only by the extremes of net points in games, net touchdowns, and finally, the old-fashioned fail-safe coin toss.

Here is a passage from the NFL rulebook about the best-combined ranking tie-breaker. I apologize in advance for any migraines incurred before and after reading this.

“To determine the best-combined ranking among teams in points scored and points allowed, add a team’s position in the two categories; the lowest score wins. For example, if Team A is first in points scored and second in points allowed, its combined ranking is “3.” If Team B is third in points scored and first in points allowed, its combined ranking is “4.” Team A then wins the tiebreaker. If two teams are tied for a position, both teams are awarded the ranking as if they held it solely. For example, if Team A and Team B are tied for first in points scored, each team is assigned a ranking of “1” in that category, and if Team C is third, its ranking will still be “3.”

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures |

The Simpler XFL South

In the Southern playoff race, the 4-4 Arlington Renegades can clinch a playoff spot with a victory in Week 9 or a loss by San Antonio against Orlando. However, the Renegades still have an outside shot of winning the South over Houston. But they need the Vegas Vipers to beat the Roughnecks on Saturday and then must defeat the Defenders Sunday at Audi Field to force a week ten showdown with Houston with a home playoff game hanging in the balance as a reward.

The San Antonio Brahmas need help to get into the playoffs. They can start by helping themselves by beating Orlando at home Saturday night. Hines Ward’s team can then root for the Defenders to defeat Arlington Sunday at Noon ET on ESPN. If those two results occur, San Antonio will still be alive for the postseason going into the final week of the regular season.

What happens in Week 9’s four XFL games will determine if anything is at stake when Week 10 arrives.

Week 9 XFL Predictions/Picks Against The Spread

It’s been a rough season for me picking against the spread and projecting point totals. With only two weeks left. I am running out of time to turn this futile franchise around. Unfortunately, unlike XFL teams last week, I won’t get overtime to try and change my fortunes.

After 32 games, I am 22-10, picking winners. However, I’m 15-17 against the spread and 17-15 in predicting the point total.

All odds courtesy of BetMGM

Saturday, April 15, Vegas Vipers (2-6) at Houston Roughnecks (5-3): TDECU Stadium, 12:30 PM ET/11:30 CT, on ABC

  • Point Spread: Roughnecks -6.5
  • Over/Under: 43.5
  • Weather Forecast: Scattered thunderstorms in the morning, clearing later in the afternoon, then partly cloudy late. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 87F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

After starting the season at 4-0. Wade Phillips’s team hasn’t been the same since. They snapped their three-game losing streak in Week 8 by the skin of their teeth, collapsing in the fourth quarter before edging out San Antonio 17-15 in overtime.

The Vegas Vipers were also involved in an OT shootout last weekend. However, Rod Woodson’s squad got the short end of the stick, losing 21-17. Thanks to two penalty calls in the extra session and two game-deciding fakes on special teams. A botched fake field goal attempt by Vegas and a glorious fake punt pass for a touchdown allowed by the Vipers.

Vegas has played better in recent weeks, thanks to one of the XFL’s biggest late-season surprises, QB Jalan McClendon. The Vipers also have one of the league’s hardest-hitting defenses and a great pass rush led by standout Pita Taumoepenu, who leads the league with four forced fumbles and is second in the XFL with 7.5 sacks.

Vegas hopes to get back 4.2 speedster Jeff Badet in their offensive lineup. But he’s not the only receiver banged up for the Vipers this weekend. Martavis Bryant and Matthew Sexton are dinged up as well heading into Saturday’s game.

Houston has also dealt with critical injuries to their top players. The Roughnecks still feel the effects of losing LSU’s Jontre Kirklin, who led the league all receivers with five touchdowns after four games before going down to a chest injury. The team has been without its best offensive tackle in Sage Doxtater and has seen top edge rushers Trent Harris and Tim Ward go in and out of its lineup.

It’s hard to trust Houston as a 6.5-point favorite right now. Even if they are at home on Saturday. The Roughnecks are struggling to recapture the mojo they had earlier this season. I think they’ll find a way to win in Week 9 and secure a home playoff game. But will probably scratch and claw to get that reward.

Prediction: Houston Roughnecks 23 Vegas Vipers 19

Saturday, April 15, Orlando Guardians (1-7) at San Antonio Brahmas (2-6): The Alamodome, 7 PM E.T./6 CT on ESPN2

  • Point Spread: Brahmas -1.5
  • Over/Under: 39.5

Usually, a late-season game pitting a one and two-win team against each other doesn’t have playoff ramifications. But this game does.

The 2-6 San Antonio Brahmas are still alive for the playoffs, and they can stay that way for another week if they beat 1-7 Orlando at home Saturday night. The Brahmas would need to couple a victory with a Renegades defeat to D.C. on Sunday.

The latter scenario seems possible. Because of San Antonio’s deficiencies on offense, the former is a crapshoot.

Will Hines Ward’s squad go to Option E this week at quarterback Paxton Lynch? If so, Lynch would be playing a revenge game against his former team Orlando on Saturday night. If not, It’s back to rookie Jack Coan, who, in his defense, hasn’t received loads of help. Last week, Coan was sacked six times by Houston.

What the Brahmas do have going for them is a fantastic defense and special teams, and it’s kept them in every game this season. Even last week, on the verge of being blown out, those two San Antonio units brought the Brahmas back to life and forced overtime.

In Week 7, XFL 2023 redemption story Quinten Dormady crashed back to earth.

A week after throwing for 328 yards with six scores in an upset victory against the Defenders. Dormady threw for over 300 yards again in Week 8; however, he turned the ball over five times. (2 interceptions, three fumbles).

Orlando has played much better in their last five games, and the Guardians have been involved in four games decided by one score during that stretch.

Because of that, this game is truly a toss-up.

San Antonio’s pass rush is low-key, one of the best in the XFL. SMU standout Delonte Scott (6.5 sacks in six games) has been unblockable this season. Conversely, the Guardians have allowed the most sacks (30). So you would assume that based on that, I would lean toward San Antonio at home.

But you can’t win if you can’t score enough. Orlando will when they are not turning the ball over to kill the Brahmas’ faint playoff hopes.

Prediction: Orlando Guardians 19 San Antonio Brahmas 16

Sunday, April 16, Arlington Renegades (4-4) at D.C. Defenders (7-1): Audi Field, Noon ET on ESPN

  • Point Spread: Defenders -8.5
  • Over/Under: 41.5
  • Weather Forecast: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 84F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph

The 7-1 D.C. Defenders, thanks to a thrilling 34-33 victory over Seattle in Week 7, are in the driver’s seat to get to an XFL Championship game.

The Defenders are back home at Audi Field in Week 8, looking to secure a home playoff game. The team has never lost in the District in their brief history (7-0) and expects its largest crowd ever on Sunday afternoon.

D.C. can secure a home game in the Northern Championship with a St. Louis loss later on Sunday, or they can take care of business by beating the Renegades first.

Reggie Barlow’s squad has evolved as the season has progressed.

Gregg Williams’s boom-or-bust aggressive defense has still made big plays, despite recently giving up quite a few of their own. The Defenders’ run game, led by league leader Abram Smith (720 yards, seven touchdowns), and the team’s dominant offensive line has remained a rock all season long.

However, the catalyst for the Defenders’ evolution is its passing attack, captained by a red-hot Jordan Ta’amu (777 yards, nine passing touchdowns to zero interceptions in his last three games) and the dynamic young receiving duo of Chris Blair (492) and Lucky Jackson (469), third and fourth in the XFL in receiving yards.

The Beer Snake is a three-headed monster now. You hope the Defenders don’t get big-headed after their most significant win of the season.

The Arlington Renegades got some stability at quarterback with the ever-solid Luis Perez joining them. Bob Stoops’s bunch is in a unique spot coming into week 8. They will know where they stand in the playoffs after Saturday’s XFL action.

That’s because a Brahmas loss on Saturday gets the Renegades in the playoffs. A Roughnecks loss opens the back door for Arlington to win the South division and net a home playoff game. However, Week 9 could just as easily end with Arlington still not clinching a postseason bid.

Beating D.C. in the District is an arduous task, made even more challenging now that the Renegades lost their best player, defensive leader Donald Payne at linebacker—that type of significant loss spells trouble for Arlington against the Defenders’ potent offense.

Prediction: D.C. Defenders 27 Arlington Renegades 18

Sunday, April 16, Seattle Sea Dragons (5-3) at St. Louis Battlehawks (6-2): The Dome In St. Louis, 3 PM ET/2 PM CT/Noon PT on ESPN

  • Point Spread: Battlehawks -1.5
  • Over/Under: 46

The biggest game of the entire XFL 2023 regular season closes out Week 9 as the St. Louis Battlehawks look to defend their turf and clinch their first-ever playoff berth at home against the desperate Seattle Sea Dragons.

The last time Seattle and St. Louis met was back in Week two. The Battlehawks rallied late to beat the Dragons in the closing seconds 20-18. A reoccurring theme all season long for Anthony Becht’s bunch.

Can the Hawks continue their magical flight to the playoffs?

The answer to that question will lie in whether or not A.J. McCarron can suit up and play after sitting out last week’s game due to a shoulder injury. Backup Nick Tiano battled valiantly last week to help St. Louis soar to another improbable victory. However, Tiano did so after fracturing his foot in the first half of that game. It wasn’t discovered until after the fact, and Tiano has since been placed on injured reserve.

As a result, that leaves STL with A.J. McCarron, who will be a game-time decision on Sunday afternoon. Backup Manny Wilkins and newly acquired Albany quarterback Vincent Testaverde Jr.

In a genuine full circle moment, Testaverde Jr.’s father Vinny once played with Battlehawks head coach Anthony Becht on the New York Jets. Now Becht will be coaching his son.

As great as that story is, if Testaverde Jr. is active this weekend. That’s bad news for the Battlehawks in their quest to secure a playoff berth. The talented but inexperienced Manny Wilkins would be called upon to save the day.

Seattle’s 2023 season comes down to Sunday. To quote the legendary Apollo Creed, “There is no tomorrow.” The Sea Dragons must best the Battlehawks in St. Louis on Sunday, or their hopes of a championship will burn out.

Ben DiNucci, who leads the league with 2,072 yards passing, holds the key to Seattle’s success in Week 9. If he can play an error-free game with one of the league’s top supporting casts on offense, including newest addition RB Phillip Lindsay, WR’s Jachour Pearson, Juwann Green, Blake Jackson, and Josh Gordon. The Dragons should exact revenge on the Battlehawks and win on Sunday.

I believe Seattle will be victorious on Sunday to force chaos in the final week of the XFL 2023 regular season because of uncertainty at QB for St. Louis and the Dragons’ desperation.

Prediction: Seattle Sea Dragons 28 St. Louis Battlehawks 24

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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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