Birmingham Stallions vs. Houston Roughnecks | Week 8 Preview

Birmingham Stallions vs. Houston Roughnecks | Week 8 Preview

The Houston Roughnecks (1-6) have officially been eliminated from the playoffs, but they’ll head into Birmingham on Saturday night to take on the undefeated Stallions (7-0). Houston is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the San Antonio Brahmas. They managed to lose a home game that they led by nine with under three minutes remaining. Despite being +3 in turnover differential as well, a Ryan Santoso 51-yard field goal at the buzzer ended their slim playoff hopes. Birmingham is coming off a thrilling 30-26 home win over the St. Louis Battlehawks.

In a game that many billed as ‘Game of the Year’, the Stallions won again, just like they have for a full calendar year. The last time these two teams met was in week five at Rice Stadium and the Stallions controlled the game throughout, winning 32-9. Now let’s look at the second and final matchup between these two teams on opposite ends of the USFL conference.

Roughnecks’ Offense vs. Stallions’ Defense

The last time these two teams met, Houston was held scoreless in the second half and only totaled 36 yards rushing for the game. Not much has changed since then, the Roughnecks are still last in scoring (13.7 points per game) and rushing (60.6 yards per game), with that trend not appearing to change anytime soon. Their success in the passing game has been mediocre at best and they haven’t had enough explosive plays this season. In week five, quarterback Reid Sinnett went 27/38 (71%) for 203 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He played decently, but with a poor ground attack, Houston needs more out of their signal caller. Last weekend we saw week one starter Jarrett Guarantano get the nod at QB after returning from injury and we aren’t sure if he’ll get the start again this week. So far, he has been out of practice with a wrist injury sustained in the loss. If he’s good to go, Guarantano will need to use his legs as a weapon and try a couple of deep shots down field if they hope to pull off the upset. We’ll likely see Sinnett start again if Guarantano is out. Wide receiver Justin Hall had 11 catches for 93 yards in their last matchup and they’ll need a similar performance from him in this one.

The Stallions’ defense gave up a season-high 26 points last week to the Battlehawks in their win. Special teams’ gaffs gave St. Louis good field position on multiple occasions that didn’t help the defense but overall, the unit played another solid game. They picked off quarterback AJ McCarron, which is rare, and sacked him two times. They also got consistent pressure and forced him into a lot of checkdowns. Birmingham still leads the league in scoring defense only giving up 15 points per game, as well as rushing defense and total defense. Cornerback Mark Gilbert led the team with 11 tackles against Houston in week five and defensive end Jordan Thompson had a sack. Thompson played well again last week and should be a force against the Roughnecks’ struggling offensive line. The Stallions are second in sack this season and have NFL-level talent all across their defensive line. The one area of weakness for Birmingham’s defense is their beat-up secondary. They do matchup well with Houston’s receivers, but they may have to play a bit more coverage and let their front four do a lot of the work against the run.

Stallions’ Offense vs. Roughnecks’ Defense

Last week quarterback Adrian Martinez looked like the UFL MVP, yet again. He finished 21/33 for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 60 yards on the ground and was the best player on the field. In week five against Houston, he finished with 293 total yards and a touchdown. We should expect another big game from him this week. The Birmingham offense still leads the league in total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards.

Against the Roughnecks, they finished with 358 yards of offense and got a big game from tight end Jace Sternberger, as well as running backs Larry Rountree III and Ricky Person Jr. Wide receiver Deon Cain had a relatively quiet game in week five (three catches for 33 yards), but he is still a huge threat and fifth in the UFL in receiving yards with 371 yards. The Stallions lead the league in scoring at 28.7 points per game and will likely hit the 30+ point mark again in this one, despite Houston’s defense being one of the better units in the league.

The Houston Roughnecks are third in the league against the run, fourth against the pass and total yards allowed, and fifth in scoring defense. The rankings tell you that they’re in the middle of the pack on defense, but with more support from their offense, they would likely have even better numbers. Defensive end Chris Odom has been great for his second season in Houston with 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He had five tackles and 1.5 sacks last week and continues to improve as the season progresses. Safety Markel Roby (7 tackles, PBU last week) and cornerback Kiondre Thomas (4 tackles, PBU last week) have both been good as well, each with an interception on their resumes this year. With injuries all over the defense, including Thomas, players have continued to step up and the defense was good for 57 minutes last week. Despite giving up 12 points in the final three minutes against San Antonio, they only allowed 15 points in the game and that should win you a lot of football games. It isn’t easy to win when your offense doesn’t score a single touchdown. However, they gave up 32 points, 358 yards, and 6.6 yards per play in their previous matchup with the Stallions. They also couldn’t manage to force a single turnover. This is a bad matchup for Houston’s defense, that’s loaded with injuries.

Final Thoughts

The last time the Birmingham Stallions lost a game was in week five of 2023 against the Houston Gamblers. The Gamblers are now these same Houston Roughnecks and they’ll be looking to duplicate last seasons’ success against Birmingham. With the first matchup being a blowout, Houston will be looking to build on their mistakes and play a better game on both sides of the ball. However, I still expect a result similar to the 32-9 finish we saw in Houston. Birmingham’s roster is the best in spring football, and they should be 8-0 at the end of the night on Saturday.

What are your thoughts on this upcoming matchup between the Birmingham Stallions and Houston Roughnecks? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!