The 2023 XFL season is right around the corner, with kick-off a little over 48 hours away. For the San Antonio Brahmas, they ring in the return of professional football to San Antonio with a big game at the Alamodome.
The Brahmas welcome the St. Louis BattleHawks for the first week of the season. St. Louis returns to the XFL after finishing the 2020 season 3-2 before the league canceled the season.
Though the weather won’t play a factor in the game itself, fans traveling to the game should have no issues. Current weather forecasts call for mostly cloudy skies on Sunday with a high temperature of 76 degrees.
San Antonio Brahmas (0-0) vs. St. Louis BattleHawks (0-0)
Kickoff: Sunday, February 19, 2 PM CT
Where: The Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Betting Odds Per DraftKings
Spread: BattleHawks -2.5
Moneyline: BattleHawks -125, Brahmas +105
San Antonio Brahmas Depth Chart
St. Louis BattleHawks Depth Chart
Quarterbacks: This is a very intriguing quarterback matchup for Week 1. It’s a tale of polar opposites to some extent. On one hand, you have a promising 24-year-old in Jack Coan who had success in college but is only beginning his career. On the other, you have AJ McCarron, who won three National Championships at Alabama, was a Heisman Trophy finalist, and started an NFL playoff game.
McCarron has a chance to be the best quarterback in the league. Can Coan keep up with him this week? How will the Brahmas defense fare against the BattleHawks passing game? This matchup could be crucial when deciding this game.
Tight Ends: The tight end matchup in this game also features a story of polar opposites. Brahmas tight end Alize Mack has spent time around the NFL. A seventh-round pick in 2019, Mack caught on with a few practice squads. He was around the Kansas City Chiefs organization when they won the Super Bowl in 2019. Fun fact, San Antonio’s backup tight end Deon Yelder played in that postseason for the Chiefs.
On the other hand, Jovani Haskins entered the 2022 NFL Draft and didn’t hear his name called. He played two years at Rutgers, playing 22 games and scoring three touchdowns. This is his first shot in professional football, playing for one of the most popular franchises in the league. He is also being coached by a former tight end. Anthony Becht played 11 seasons in the NFL with five different teams, making the playoffs five times.
The tight end position can make a huge difference on offense. They often act as an extra lineman, providing increased protection during run and pass plays. But they can also make a big catch to move the ball down the field. It’ll be interesting to see if either of these two can break the game open for their team on Sunday.
Coaching: Perhaps the most important matchup on Sunday is the two coaching staffs. This game marks the head coaching debuts for both Becht and Brahmas head coach Hines Ward. The two have coaching experience outside of this, but this is our first look at them as the leaders of a team.
Both teams have put together a quality staff. The BattleHawks feature former NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski as offensive coordinator and former Illinois assistant Donnie Abraham as the defensive play-caller. Their wide receiver coach is Ricky Proehl, the father of BattleHawks pass catcher Austin Proehl. Running backs coach Art Valero has coaching experience dating back to 1981.
For San Antonio, we see former Edmonton Elks head coach Jaime Elizondo calling plays on offense. Longtime Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann occupies the role for the Brahmas this season. He was also the defensive coordinator for the New York Guardians in 2020. Former Tampa Bay Vipers quarterbacks coach Josh Neiswander will coach the signal callers for the Brahmas this season. And then there’s linebackers coach Joey Porter. Porter is a former two-time first team All-Pro in the NFL, and won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Porter coached Steelers linebackers from 2015 to 2018 as well.
Which one of these coaches will out think the other? Which one of these staffs will put their players in the best position to succeed? How does Becht and Ward’s experience as former players translate to their coaching? This may not be a matchup many key in on, but it will be a big one come Sunday afternoon.
San Antonio Brahmas vs. St. Louis BattleHawks Prediction
This game has all the makings of a good football game. Both teams will want to prove something on that field. The Brahmas want to prove they can be a force in the South Division. And the BattleHawks want to prove they can compete in this iteration of the XFL.
The atmosphere will be electric inside The Alamodome, and that’s not a pun about The Rock. These are two passionate fanbases clashing. Either way the game goes, the stadium will be rocking.
Ultimately, this game will be close. However, with the crowd in their favor and on the back of a strong performance from Jack Coan, expect the Brahmas to gut out a win on Sunday.
Prediction: San Antonio Brahmas 27, St. Louis BattleHawks 24
Featured Photo Credit: San Antonio Brahmas
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