After a 2-0 start, St. Louis moves into week 6 coming off their 2nd loss of the season to the DC Defenders. The Battlehawks travel to Las Vegas to take on Luis Perez, and the Vegas Vipers fresh off the teams first victory vs the Orlando Guardians in week 5. St. Louis who is now on the road for the next two weeks, comes into Vegas in a must win situation as the Seattle Sea Dragons are hot on their tails after winning three games in a row, as both teams fight for 2nd place in the Northern Division.
Date/Location: Saturday, March 25th, 2023, at Cashman Field, Las Vegas Nevada
Kickoff Time: 7:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: Some clouds. Low near 40F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.
TV/Streaming: FX, ESPN+
Betting Odds per Draft Kings:
Spread: Battlehawks -3
Moneyline: +135 Vipers, -155 Battlehawks
St. Louis goes into week 6 by placing Safety Ben DeLuca on Injured Reserve. DeLuca whose been a versatile Defensive Back for Donnie Abraham’s Defense, has totaled 25 Tackles with 2 TFLs in 5 Games this season. The Battlehawks will also be without another Defensive Back Mike Hampton, who as of Thursday has been ruled out for Saturday’s game vs the Vipers.
Week 6 Depth Chart:
Keys to the Game:
Can St. Louis Rebound?
As stated after a dynamic 2-0 start St. Louis has gone 1-2 and suffered two crushing defeats to the DC Defenders. With Seattle hot on the Battlehawks tail, St. Louis goes into week 6 with a “playoff mindset”, as each game in a ten-game season has greater playoff implications, especially at the midway point. In his media conferences, Coach Becht has been extremely vocal in tying up the little things, and cleaning up the Battlehawks schemes overall. With the St. Louis suffering 10 penalties last week, and the Vipers Offense putting up 35 points, Coach Becht and his squad must get back on the winning track in hopes of maintaining 2nd place in the Northern Division.
Will the Battlehawks Defensive Backs be able to slow down Jeff Badet?
The combination of Luis Perez and Jeff Badet has been extremely dangerous for opposing defenses in 2023. Badet a veteran of the XFL 2.0 and USFL, has burst onto the scene in 2023, becoming one of the XFL’s most elite receivers earning mid-season All-XFL honors from XFL News Hub writer Mike Mitchell. With the Battlehawks going into week 6, without key contributors, Ben DeLuca and Mike Hampton, look for Defensive Backs Lukas Denis, Nate Meadors, and Elijah Hamilton to get tested against a Luis Perez whose thrown for 552 yards with 5 Touchdowns over the past two weeks.
Can the Battlehawks cash in on Darrius Shepherd’s Kick Returns?
Mike Mitchell’s Mid-Season All-XFL Kick Returner has been a game changer in giving the Battlehawks advantageous field position, however St. Louis hasn’t been able to score points from it. Last week Shepherd totaled 155 Kick Return Yards twice giving the Battlehawks starting field position in Defenders territory, however St. Louis was only able to come away with 3 points. If St. Louis wants to continue to contend moving forward in playoff contention, they need to be able to score touchdowns, and take advantage of Shepherds dynamic return ability.
St. Louis comes into Vegas needing a big rebound after a disappointing loss at home in front of the 35,000 plus people. The Battlehawks Defense has had issues “finishing” in the backfield as the front seven despite creating a decent amount of pressure has only totaled 5.0 sacks this year which is worst in the league. With Luis Perez not being the most mobile QB, St. Louis may be able to benefit as last week it seemed that Jordan Ta’amu was bobbing and weaving out of the arms of Battlehawks Defenders.
A.J. McCarron has been a top Quarterback in the XFL since week one. With the emergence of Wide Receiver Steven Mitchell, it appears that McCarron and the Battlehawks Offense have found another weapon at Bruce Gradkowski’s disposal. St. Louis also will have Jaryd Jones-Smith back after serving a two-game suspension. “JJ” as he’s known by fans and players is one of the team’s more experienced players, having stints in the NFL and AAF, now comes back in the midst of the Battlehawks playoff push.
While Vegas is riding a high after finding their first victory, I do think St. Louis is a tier above. With the motivation of a fresh loss, and the playoffs on the line, Coach Anthony Becht’s squad is motivated after an “intense” week of practice. I look for the Battlehawks to overwhelm the Vipers as they continue to chase the Defenders and create some distance against the Sea Dragons in the Norther Division.
St. Louis Battlehawks 25 Vegas Vipers 16
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