The Battlehawks host their division rival the DC Defenders for another battle of the top spot in the Northern Division. After rebounding in week 4, against an anemic Renegades offense, the Battlehawks set their sights on week 5, as they welcome their 2020 Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, back to “The Dome”, but this time donning Defender Red.
With tempers high from week 3, that resulted in several suspensions and fines, coupled with questionable officiating, that has hopefully been rectified, St. Louis is primed to show the XFL, that they are kings of the North moving forward in the 2023 season.
Date/Location: Saturday, March 18th, 2023, at The Dome at America’s Center
Kickoff Time: 7:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: N/A
TV/Streaming: FX, ESPN+
Betting Odds per Draft Kings:
Spread: Defenders -2
Moneyline: -130 Defenders, +110 Battlehawks
Going into week 5, the Battlehawks look extremely healthy with Brian Hill and Travis Feeny off the injury report, and all three players listed above full participants going into Friday. For the Defenders they are poised to have DT Gabe Wright who was suspended for his part in the STL brawl at Audi Field in week 4. They will still be without MLB Francis Bernard, TE Ethan Wolf, and possibly RB Ryquell Armstead who hasn’t participated in practice this week.
Week 5 Depth Chart:
Keys To the Game:
Battlehawks Offensive Line:
With Jaryd Jones-Smith out for his 2nd straight game due to suspension Eric Magwood gets the nod at Left Tackle, after the Offensive Line in week 4 allowed zero sacks and put up over 100 rushing yards. The Battlehawks offensive line, gave up four sacks in week 3, and have another daunting task against an exotic Gregg Williams Defense. The Defenders go into week 5, 2nd in the XFL in sacks with 12, and will be chomping at the bit to create havoc against the Battlehawks Offensive Line that has underperformed at times.
Familiar Faces Return to the Dome:
The Battlehawks welcome back, Defenders QB Jordan Ta’amu and Offensive Lineman Bruno Reagan back to St. Louis. Both players spent the 2020 season with the Battlehawks, and then reunited in 2022 with the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits. After a slow start Ta’amu has improved in the passing game over the past two weeks finally getting his completion percentage over 50% for the season four weeks in to the 2023 season. Now that Ta’amu has begun to settle in as a passer, the Defenders have been able to get the football to dynamic pass catchers to Lucky Jackson and Chris Blair, with Ta’amu also leading the league’s most dynamic rushing attacks.
For most the season the Battlehawks have done a great job of limiting turnovers, however suffered 4 turnovers in week 3 against the Defenders. With ball hawking Defensive Back Michael Joseph among the XFL’s elite, coupled with Davin Bellamy’s dynamic pass rushing ability, A.J. McCarron and company will have to pay extra attention in ball security this week, in an effort to not play from behind as they’ve done the majority of the season.
Closing Thoughts and Prediction:
With another week healthy of Brian Hill, coupled with the emergence of Darrius Shepherd, it appears Quarterback A.J. McCarron as long as he protects football, could welcome the Defenders with an “upset” victory at home. DC, who has never lost to St. Louis in their XFL history remains the only undefeated team in the XFL after Houston’s loss to the Sea Dragons Thursday night.
With the Sea Dragons victory this game means even more to St. Louis as a loss not only puts them two games back from first place in the Northern Division but also allows Seattle to be locked up in second place as both teams would be tied with a 3-2 record.
I think one of the key catalysts in this game as mentioned is St. Louis Local, Brian Hill. Hill’s production in the passing game, coupled by his tough rushing ability has paid off dividends for the Battlehawks, as he’s projected to go over 700 all-purpose yards despite missing a game.
While colleague Mike Mitchell projects the Battlehawks to lose in week 5, I don’t believe the Defenders players other than Ta’amu and Reagan understand the electrifying environment that happens when the Battlehawks play at “The Dome”. With the Northern Division on the line, I believe the Battlehawks win a “shootout” with the Defenders, defeating DC in week 5.
St.Louis Battlehawks 32 DC Defenders 26
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