Previewing XFL Week Six: Keys To Victory

Previewing XFL Week Six: Keys To Victory

Folks, we’ve made it. Unlike 2020, XFL week six is officially happening, and we can’t wait. Four more games will be played this weekend, in what should be another entertaining slate of football.

Interestingly enough, we already have some playoff clinching scenarios. An Arlington win, and a San Antonio loss, paired with a Houston win, means that the Roughnecks clinch the playoffs.

Let’s take a look at each week six matchup, and what teams have to do to get a win.

Orlando Guardians (0-5) vs. Seattle Sea Dragons (3-2)

The Guardians have to find a way to win, at some point. Their season is seemingly over, despite it only being halfway done. Terrell Buckley has not been able to figure things out with himself, his coaching staff, or the team as a whole. It feels like every week, there’s constantly some sort of chaos going down within the Orlando organization.

Now, there is some hope. Quinten Dormady came back to the team, and performed exceptionally well against Vegas. He will be getting the start against Seattle on Saturday, which is great news. If Dormady can play at a high level like he did in the desert, this team will be in good shape.

Defensively, Orlando has to put pressure on Ben DiNucci. We’ve seen DiNucci make some poor decisions with the football so far this season. The Guardians have not played well defensively as of late, getting diced up by Luis Perez last week. If they can consistently make DiNucci uncomfortable, they will give themselves a genuine chance at winning their first game of the year.

Seattle: Be Consistent

The Seattle Sea Dragons have to find a way to play complete football for 60 minutes. This team is so talented, but can’t seem to execute as often as they should. A lot lies on the shoulders of Ben DiNucci. At times, he plays like the best quarterback in the league – but as we saw against Houston, uncalled for turnovers almost cost them the game.

If this offense can get rolling early, they should absolutely dominate Orlando. Josh Gordan, Jahcour Pearson, and Morgan Ellison have the potential to feast on the Guardians defense, who haven’t done an effective job for most of the season.

At the same time, Seattle just completely shut down Brandon Silvers and an elite Roughnecks offense. If they performed that well against Houston, there are no excuses to underperform in Orlando. As long as Tuzar Skipper, Jordan Evans, and Niko Lalos are eating, this could just be a cakewalk for the Sea Dragons on Saturday.

Vegas Vipers (1-4) vs. St. Louis Battlehawks (3-2)

By Gavin Semler

Coming into Week 6, this game is set to be season-defining for both sides, one way or another. Both teams find themselves in very different situations, but are nevertheless as desperate as can be for a win this Saturday.

The Battlehawks are coming off of their first homestand of the season, and to put it lightly, it hasn’t gone to plan. Despite convincingly defeating the Renegades in Week 4, the Battlehawks once again lost in humiliating fashion to the still undefeated DC Defenders, losing critical ground to them in the XFL North in the process.

In addition to falling behind the Defenders, the Battlehawks’ seemingly secure lead against the formerly 0-2 Seattle Sea Dragons has evaporated, with both teams now standing at 3-2. With St. Louis’ last-second victory against Seattle in Week 2, they still maintain their spot in second place. With five games left to play in the season, however, that “lead” is about as paper-thin as it gets. A win here for the Battlehawks is critical to maintain their edge on Seattle while keeping themselves in the hunt for the division title.

Vipers…Finally Striking?

That leaves the Vipers, the hosts for the matchup and the last team in the North. With how their season has been going, a lot of opposing fans probably forgot they even existed, while fans in Las Vegas likely wish they could do the same. The Vipers are dead last in the division and are struggling to stay afloat amidst their fierce competition.

The Vipers certainly aren’t out of the fight, however. Week 5’s matchup against the Orlando Guardians saw Las Vegas put together an offensive masterpiece, scoring 35 points to bring home their first win in franchise history. The Vipers have finally shown that they have what it takes to win games, but given how short the season is, it simply might be too little, too late. A win here is absolutely vital to keep the Vipers’ playoff ambitions alive.

Lackluster Las Vegas

Despite securing their first win last Saturday, the Vipers still raised huge red flags with their performance. Against an offense that had averaged just over 12 points per game in the first four weeks, the Vipers dropped a baffling 32 points against the hapless Guardians. Las Vegas has given up 30 points minimum in their last three matchups, and they’ll need to step it up big time to stay in playoff contention.

On the other hand, Luis Perez looked excellent against the Guardians, and he’s looked decent most of the season. He stands fourth in both passing yards and touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions. If the Vegas offense can start slithering along without getting buried by their defense, they should be in good shape.

Bruised Battlehawks

St. Louis finds itself coming off another disheartening loss—once again at the hands of the arch-rival DC Defenders. The Defenders were able to find holes in the Battlehawks defense and were able to capitalize heavily in the running game, scoring not one, but two rushing touchdowns over 60 yards. A big question heading into Week 6 is how St. Louis will be able to patch those holes going forward.

Penalties too played a big role in the Battlehawks’ Week 5 downfall, something noted by coach Anthony Becht during his post-game press conference. He owned the problem and acknowledged it succinctly and blunt: “We’ve got to be more disciplined…”

The offense remains stellar, with quarterback AJ McCarron tied for the league lead in touchdowns with 11. The issue persists, however, that the team is slow to score points out the gate and is forced to make up for lost time in the second half. This naturally isn’t a good formula to win games, and it’s critical for the Battlehawks to start putting up some early-game momentum in these next few weeks.

Both teams carry their hopes and aspirations into Cashman Field, ready to give their all. Whatever the result, this game will carry heavy implications heading into the final weeks of the XFL season.

Arlington Renegades (3-2) vs. San Antonio Brahmas (1-4)

We’ve got another Texas Showdown on tap this Sunday…or, in this case, another opportunity to see which offense is worse. After just playing last week, San Antonio and Arlington will face off again.

To be honest, this game will likely come down to which team can score more than two touchdowns, if either one can accomplish that. It’s been a rocky road offensively for both teams. Week five’s 12-10 finish was an example of just that, as neither Kyle Sloter or Jack Coan could find a way to generate yards for their respective units.

Unfortunately for San Antonio, QB Reid Sinnett is out for the season with a broken foot. Now, they did just sign QB Kurt Benkert, but odds are he won’t be ready to start against Arlington. Regardless of who starts, the Brahmas desperately need to adjust their offensive scheme. Nothing has been working, and the small bright spot from Sinnett is now gone.

If the Brahmas want to come away with a win, they have to continue to pressure Sloter like they did just one week ago. If they can generate turnovers that lead to points on the offensive end, that might just be the strategy that wins them the game.

Arlington: Win, And You’re In?

Oddly enough, the Renegades can borderline clinch an XFL playoff spot with a win at home against the Brahmas. A win pushes the team to 4-2, while San Antonio would drop to 1-5 which includes two losses against Arlington.

How can the Renegades win this one? Move the football. As simple as it sounds, it hasn’t been simple in the slightest for Bob Stoops’ squad. They did just add some firepower, signing All-USFL Wide Receiver Victor Bolden. Is that enough to spark something positive on offense? Who knows.

Jack Coan looked helpless against Arlington in the first matchup. As long as he gets the start, all Arlington needs to do is attack their offensive line often and early, to keep the Brahmas from getting into a rhythm.

DC Defenders (5-0) vs. Houston Roughnecks (4-1)

By Christian Paolantonio

In the first Monday night game of the 2023 season, the 5-0 DC Defenders will be hosting the 4-1 Houston Roughnecks at Audi Field in a classic showdown between two teams at the top of their respective division.

Last week Houston was handed their first loss of the season against the Sea Dragons on Thursday night football, it will be interesting to see if they suffer the same fate this week against DC in another primetime spot.

A loss this week for Houston would also crack the XFL South division wide open, especially with teams like San Antonio making aggressive moves to push to the top. As for DC, they will look to impose the same formula that has worked all season; Ground and pound on offense followed up by a playmaking defense.

Abram Smith’s Breakout

Last week, XFL fans league-wide were exposed to the phenomenal talent that Defenders RB Abram Smith possesses. In a game where his backfield mate Ryquell Armsetad was out with a calf injury, Smith was able to take full advantage of the expanded workload, finishing with 218 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

With Armstead’s status for Monday still unknown, it could be another major workload for Abram Smith. Which seems like a non-issue for him.

Kirklin Out for Season

Earlier this week, Evan Willsmore from XFL NewsHub reported that standout WR Jontre Kirklin was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a chest injury. Kirklin is a more than major loss for the Roughnecks, he has consistently been the engine for the Houston offense and his presence will be severely missed. Players like Deontay Burnett, Nick Holley, and Travell Harris will be expected to step up in his absence.

Best vs. Best

Prior to Houston’s loss last week, this game felt like it had a considerable amount of buzz compared to this week. Now even though this matchup will not be undefeated vs. undefeated, Houston lines up to be DC’s toughest matchup yet. AJ Smith and the Roughnecks offense present a quick, explosive style that the Defenders defense has not come across yet through the first five weeks. While the loss of Kirklin will be felt, Houston has players like Cedric Byrd and Sam Putman that can fill that role, the Defenders secondary will have their hands full.

Final Thoughts

XFL week six is shaping up to be one of the most interesting yet. There are so many possibilities, and unique scenarios that could come out of what happens this weekend.

It all begins on Saturday, at 1pm ET on ABC. The Orlando Guardians host the Seattle Sea Dragons, looking for their first win of the year.

Which XFL week six game are you most excited for? Which XFL team has the most to prove? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!