#XtraFootballSzn Continues With Week 5 of the XFL!
Updated: Mar 20
Bracket busted? Fret not, just come back to football! With Week 5 of the XFL already in progress, we've got a recap and three previews ready for you with all the action, picks, and predictions as we reach the halfway point in the 2023 Regular Season! First, let's check out how our crew surveys the field in the Post Week 4 Power Rankings:
Week 5 Recap- Sea Dragons 21, Roughnecks 14
Recap by Sam Basel
Ben DiNucci...inaugural XFL MVP? It may be a stretch halfway through, but should the Sea Dragons extend their 3-game tear, we may have to place him towards the top on the XFL QB tier list. DiNucci threw for 209 yards on Thursday Night against the then-undefeated Houston Roughnecks, and despite only throwing 1 touchdown, his persistence in getting the ball down field, both through the air and with 33 rushing yards, proved to be a major key to victory. Going 10-0 is a big feat for any football team at any level, so it makes sense that Houston's run has come to an end, but the team which it ended against and the manner in which it happened is pretty remarkable. With a Battlehawks loss today, the Sea Dragons could put themselves in prime position for a second half playoff push.
Saturday at 7 PM-DC Defenders vs. St. Louis Battlehawks
Preview by James Mas
It’s suddenly Week 5 of the XFL season, and we have another matchup between two powerhouse franchises. The DC Defenders are coming off their 4th consecutive win to start the year, while the St. Louis Battlehawks sit right behind them at 3-1. These two teams have already met once before already this season, with the Defenders coming out on top by a score of 34-28. As the Battlehawks look to avenge their Week 3 loss, the Defenders look to maintain their early season momentum and solidify their status as the best team in the XFL.
Last week, the Defenders completely blew out the Vipers 32-18. We all knew this one would be lopsided, but the Defenders showed up prepared and took care of business. Jordan Ta’amu slowly but surely found his stride, completing a season high 74% of his passes. DC also continues to use QB D’Eriq King in small packages, completing 100% of his passes and throwing for a score against Vegas. While Abram Smith tries to find the same success he had earlier on in the season, Ta’amu also helped the team out with his legs, rushing 9 times for 89 yards. The Defenders are absolutely rolling, and look to keep that going heading into Week 5.
The Battlehawks are also coming off a pretty convincing victory, handling the Arlington Renegades last week by a score of 24-11. AJ McCarron continues to shine, throwing for 214 yards and 2 scores. Brian Hill also established himself on the ground last week, rushing 18 times for 89 yards and a score. St. Louis has an elite offense running through a veteran quarterback, so it’s going to be tough for DC to stop this unit twice.
Keys to the Game - Defenders:
Stop McCarron - McCarron is an obvious threat against any defense. The veteran signal caller hasn’t faltered at all this season, all while putting up MVP numbers. If the Defenders can eliminate his attack through the air, they should be well on their way to a 5th victory.
Lean on a New RB1 - Abram Smith might not be the answer going forward. Whether the answer lies with Ryquel Armstead or another running back, Smith has laid too many eggs in a row to be considered RB1.
Force Turnovers - The Battlehawks are relatively safe with the ball. Creating turnovers on the defensive side of the ball, especially from AJ McCarron, the Defenders can set themselves up nicely for another win.
Keys to the Game - Battlehawks:
Pressure Ta’amu - While Ta’amu is trending in the right direction, he’s still rather shaky when it comes to being pressured in the pocket. If St. Louis can rattle him early on in the game, his completion percentage will inevitably falter, slowing down the Defenders offense.
Mix it up with Hill - Brian Hill had an impressive game last week. His running ability might be able to alleviate some of the pressure that McCarron feels throwing the ball so much every week. A more balanced offense will confuse DC and hopefully catch them flat footed.
Throw it to Darius Shepherd - Darius Shepherd put up an impressive stat line last week, catching the ball 8 times for 91 yards and a TD. McCarron seems to be comfortable throwing the ball Shepherd’s way, so why stop?
Prediction: It’s tough to beat a team twice in a season; that much we know from the NFL. However, I think this Defenders team is different. I see them taking it to the Battlehawks once again, in a high scoring game of 36-30.
Moneylines: DC(-130)|STL(+110) Spreads: DC(-2)|STL(+2) Over/Under: 42.5
Saturday at 10 PM-Orlando Guardians vs. Vegas Vipers
Preview by Jordan Laube
Somethings gotta give; one team will emerge with their first win of the season.
Although both teams haven’t been able to win, one team has had a much tougher road than the other.
Guardians Top Week 4 Performers
Terrance Plummer – Linebacker: Terrance had a really solid game, regardless of his defense getting torched. He tallied 6 tackle, 5 of which were stops, and allowed just 3 catches for 12 yards. He anchored a horrible team defensive performance and was the lone bright spot.
Paxton Lynch – Quarterback: Paxton has gotten better and better with each game. He completed 60% of his passes for 267 and 2 TDs, and added 3 big time throws to his stat sheet. If his receiver didn’t combine for 5 drops, he would’ve had a near 80% completion rate.
Guardians Key Factors
The offense needs to clean up mistakes. 8 drops in the past two weeks is not going to win you ball games, especially when Paxton is playing well.
The defense has looked lost early on, but played a fiery Roughneck offense twice already.
If they can clean up some coverages and get after the QB, they should be fine. Get this running game going, they’ve been horrible establishing the line of scrimmage all season.
Vipers Top Week 4 Performers
Luis Perez – Quarterback: Luis struggled early in the season, but seemed to find his stride this past game. He hit nearly 72% of his passes for 283 yards and 2 TDs. He did have an INT, but backed it up with 2 big time throws.
Cinque Sweeting – Wide Receiver: Sweeting had a solid game this past week, totaling 3
receptions on 6 targets for 65 yards and 2 TDs. He didn’t get many opportunities, but made the most out of them by recording 4.06 yards per route ran.
Vipers Key Factors
This offensive line needs to lock in, they allowed 13 pressures on 43 pass plays (30.23% pressure rate) this past week and haven’t helped the run game at all this season.
Luis needs to keep improving and get more accurate on his deep ball. He went 2 of 6 last week and is 4 of 10 on the season on passes 20+ yards downfield.
Moneyline: ORL: (+280) | LV: (-340)
Spread: ORL: +7.5 (-110) | LV: -7.5 (-110)
Total: 41.5 - Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)
I think this game is going to be low scoring and incredibly close throughout. I also think QB play will be a big determinant for who comes out on top. At the end, Orlando will prevail and get their first dub of the season. Orlando will cover the spread, and give me the under to go with it.
Both teams have struggled heavily to start this season, and both teams have had a tough road. On paper, the Vipers have had the tougher schedule, but played well against good teams. While Orlando has sputtered out as well, but I think they edge out the Vipers with a final score of 22-18.
Sunday at 9 PM-Arlington Renegades vs. San Antonio Brahmas
Preview by Sam Basel
A matchup between two mediocre teams that could actually have some big playoff implications, the Renegades head to the Alamodome to take on the Brahmas in another Lone Star matchup. With two pretty mediocre squads on both sides of the ball, we may just see a game that makes a case for the implementation of an XFL Wild Card. Drastic? Maybe, but if a team under .500 makes the XFL playoffs in their first season under this new incarnation, it might not be the best look.
As for the game ahead, Arlington must try and limit mistakes on offense. Combining for only 621 passing yards on the season, Renegades QBs Kyle Sloter and Drew Plitt have not been able to get their team over the hump on several occasions, combining for 5 interceptions through the first 4 weeks of the season. San Antonio's Jack Coan has been solid for 5th in the league in passing yards, but the weapons around him have not really let him take advantage of his skillset.
Looks for a defensive one here as both teams try to flaunt their impressive secondary units. Look for San Antonio's Jordan Williams and Arlington's Donald Payne to lead the way in getting some big stops for their teams. In Tondo's place, I'll take the Brahmas in this one 17-13.
ML: DAL +3 (-110)|SAN -3 (-110)
Spread: DAL (+130)|SAN (-150)
Total: 35.5- Over (-105)|Under (-115)