Entering Week 8 of the XFL season, the 6-1 D.C. Defenders can punch their ticket to the postseason with a victory Sunday night on ESPN2 in Seattle against the red-hot 5-2 Sea Dragons.
XFL Week 8: D.C. Defenders Playoff Scenarios
There’s a scenario this weekend where the Defenders can clinch the North Division title and a home playoff game Sunday, April 30th, at Audi Field. That’s if the Vegas Vipers upset the 5-2 Battlehawks Saturday afternoon, and D.C. then beats Seattle for a second time this season on Sunday.
The magic number for the Defenders clinching a playoff berth is seven wins, and D.C. is in that position because of its five victories within the North division.
As a result, in these final three weeks of the regular season, any victory by D.C., coupled with Seattle or St. Louis picking up a third loss, will net them a playoff spot. A single loss by both, with a Defenders seventh win, secures the Northern crown. Because neither the Dragons nor Battlehawks can surpass D.C. in the standings with a third defeat on their ledger if the Defenders net a seventh victory.
However, the Defenders are coming off their first loss of the season. A heartbreaking last-second 37-36 defeat to previously winless Orlando.
Another D.C. loss, this time to Seattle in Week 8, could complicate matters greatly in the North. Especially if a Dragons victory is paired with St. Louis holding serve at home. The combined outcomes would see all three top Northern teams tied at 6-2 in first place with only two weeks remaining in the season.
The stakes are very high in Week 8 for Reggie Barlow’s squad.
XFL Week 8 Preview: 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.
Team Depth Charts
D.C. Defenders @ Seattle Sea Dragons Injury Report
Defenders DB Anthoula Kelly is out this week with a hamstring injury. Other than that, D.C. is relatively healthy going into Sunday night.
Dragons LB Jordan Evans also has a hamstring injury. He will be out of action.
XFL Week 8: D.C. Defenders @ Seattle Sea Dragons Game Preview
The main event of Week 8 in the XFL. It’s the most significant 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, as reported first at XFLNewshub, 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 high-profile pickups. Sunday’s matchup pits the league’s leading passer Ben DiNucci versus the XFL’s top rushing attack, led by rush leader Abram Smith. But other players will be 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.
Firstly, even though Dragons QB Ben Dinucci leads the XFL in passing yards (1,771), his propensity for turning the ball over (9 interceptions, five fumbles), especially in the red zone, will prove costly against a team like D.C.
Secondly, Seattle’s defense has struggled the last two weeks defending the run. Injuries in their front seven haven’t helped. But the Dragons allowed 162 yards rushing two weeks ago to Orlando. (7.2 yards per rush, two touchdowns). And last week, Seattle gave up 124 yards rushing, at five yards per carry, to the Renegades.
That trend is alarming, especially when facing the league’s top rushing attack and the XFL’s leading rusher, Abram Smith (651 yards, six touchdowns).
Lastly, the thing that favors the Defenders over the Dragons on Easter Sunday is Mother Nature. The forecast calls for heavy and steady rain. That type of weather is a negative for Seattle’s wide-open passing attack and a positive for D.C.’s smashmouth style.
Although the red-hot Jordan Ta’amu and the Defenders’ dynamic young receiving duo of Lucky Jackson and Chris Blair have helped unlock the team’s passing game to compliment their diverse ground attack. Anyone who has followed D.C.’s games this season knows that bad weather favors their style of play because of a talented and stout young offensive line, two mobile quarterbacks, and a deep backfield.
For all these reasons, I like the Defenders to bounce back after Week 7 and come out on top of Seattle Sunday night.
Prediction: Defenders 21 Dragons 20
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