After defeating the Houston Roughnecks to end their road stretch, the Battlehawks return to St. Louis to begin a three-game stretch to close out the season. St. Louis who now sit at 5-2, remain in second place of the North Division with the DC Defenders in 1st, and the Seattle Sea Dragons riding a 5-game winning streak, in hopes of taking advantage of a Battlehawks misstep. The Vegas Vipers who fresh off a victory against San Antonio, have recently been eliminated from playoff contention, despite the heroics of Jalan McClendon who made his 2023 debut in week 6.
Date/Location: Saturday, April 8th, 2023, at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri
Kickoff Time: 1:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: N/A
TV/Streaming: ESPN, ESPN+
Betting Odds per Draft Kings:
Spread: Battlehawks -7
Moneyline: +260 Vipers, -315 Battlehawks
The Vipers will be without their star receiver Jeff Badet this week, while having 12 players listed on the injury report. St. Louis has already ruled out Defensive Back Tim Harris, with Elorm Lumor still listed as questionable. MVP front runner, A.J. McCarron is also listed as questionable after injuries his shoulder in week 7, however per Coach Becht via Andy Carroll of “Scoops with Danny Mac”, should be a full “go”, by Saturday’s game. The Battlehawks have also not listed Defensive Lineman Tani Tupou on the injury report this week who last week missed the game due to injury.
Week 8 Depth Chart:
Keys to Game:
Road Warriors No More:
St. Louis had one of the more “Road Heavy” front loaded schedules in the XFL. The Battlehawks now have the luxury of remaining “home” for the final three weeks of the season, as they push through to the end of the season. St. Louis went 4-1 on the road this year and looks to rebound in the “Dome” in week 8, after losing to the Defenders in week 5. The Battlehawks have opened up even more seats in the 400-Level making an attendance of 40,000 extremely possible.
Playoff Mode Continues:
The Battlehawks control their own faith this weekend and could possibly clinch the playoffs in week 9. However, they’ll have to take care of business with Vegas before clinching is even a conversation. Becht has went the extra mile in ensuring his team doesn’t get complacent, listing the Vipers record as 7-0, on the pregame scouting reports. Becht has been adamant since the week 5 to DC, about how crucial the next 5 weeks would, be and has even stated that week 8 is “Championship Week”
Fool Me Once:
For back-to-back weeks St. Louis will have the luxury of not being “surprised” by the opposing teams Quarterback. After taking down Cole McDonald who may of had the “jump” on the Defenders in week 6, Defensive Coordinator Donnie Abraham, gets his 2nd consecutive week of playing against an “inexperienced” Quarterback. Jalan McClendon was a relative unknown coming into week 7, however does not have that luxury in week 8. With a full week of film and no surprises, look for the Battlehawks Defensive unit to bring McClendon back to earth after to a dynamic debut.
Both AJ McCarron and Darrius Shepherd could break some milestones in week 8. McCarron currently sits at 17 Passing Touchdowns, only needing 2 more to pass Tommy Maddox, from his time with the LA Xtreme in the 2001 iteration of the XFL. Darrius Shepherd who has been the league’s most dynamic and consistent Kickoff Return Specialist, could also break the threshold of 1,000 all-purpose yards this week. Shepherd currently sits at 969 All-Purpose Yards (629 Kick Return, 340 Receiving Yards) and could be the league’s first player to eclipse the milestone this season.
Look for AJ McCarron and his armada of offensive weapons to continue to their streak of Offensive success in week 8. The Battlehawks have scored at least 20 points in the past six weeks and rank second in the XFL with 23.3 points-per-game. The Vipers have allowed 25.0 points-per-game, this season ranking second in the XFL. With the Battlehawks one of the XFL’s more dominate offenses, couple with the motivation of a “championship” game at Home it appears that St. Louis appears to have the edge once again in week 8.
I expect some regression from Jalan McClendon this week especially with the absence of WR Jeff Badet. As stated the Battlehawks have the luxury of actually seeing recent film on the former Baylor QB, unlike the Brahmas who were going into their week 7 game essentially blind. With another week to prepare and get healthy look for McClendon to be constantly under duress, as the Battlehawks come away with another victory this week improving to 6-2 in a 29-12 Win in their return to St. Louis.
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