Houston Roughnecks vs. San Antonio Brahmas | Week 7 Preview

Houston Roughnecks vs. San Antonio Brahmas | Week 7 Preview

The San Antonio Brahmas (4-2) travel to Rice Stadium on Sunday to take on the Houston Roughnecks (1-5). The Brahmas are coming off an 18-12 loss to the DC Defenders and will look to rebound against the struggling Roughnecks. Houston is coming off their second-straight double digit loss and are looking to turn things around at home this week. Despite their loss, San Antonio is still in the thick of the XFL conference playoff race currently holding the two seed. The Roughnecks are in last, alone with Memphis, and three back of Michigan with four games remaining for the USFL conference two seed. This still figures to be a tightly contested game even with the gap in record between these two squads.

Brahmas’ Offense vs. Roughnecks’ Defense

The San Antonio Brahmas offense has been good for the most part this season. They’ve scored 20+ in four of their six games and are fourth in the league, averaging 21.2 points per game. Quinten Dormady has stepped in at quarterback and been up and down after week one starter Chase Garbers was put on injured reserve with a wrist injury. In his three starts since stepping in for Garbers, the Brahmas are 2-1, but he’s already thrown five interceptions. San Antonio’s offense matches up well with Houston’s defense, but turnovers from the quarterback could give life to the Roughnecks and allow them to pull out the upset. Wide receiver Jontre Kirklin hasn’t had the best connection with his new quarterback since he’s stepped in for Garbers, but that has to change. Kirklin leads the league in receptions (37) and is fifth in receiving yards (333). Dormady has to be efficient and lean on Kirklin, as well as wide out Marquez Stevenson, and tight end Cody Latimer, but balance is key. Despite not starting off the season well running the ball, offensive coordinator AJ Smith’s offense now ranks third in the UFL in rushing. Running back Josh Lovett leads the league with 348 yards on the ground through six weeks, including 153 yards last week, and he’ll face a good Houston run defense.

The Houston Roughnecks’ defense has been the better of their two units this season, but they haven’t been perfect by any means. They rank in the top half of the league in most major categories and are fifth in scoring defense. The strength of this defense is in their ability to stop the run. They held their opponents to 40 yards or less on the ground in three of their six games this year. They’ll need that same formula to win at home on Sunday. The Roughnecks’ secondary has been opportunistic taking the ball away, but they’ve struggled at the worst times, especially third down penalties. The addition of cornerback Kiondre Thomas has helped, but we’ve seen far too much inconsistency. Thomas has a PFF of 67.3 to lead all defensive backs and had an interception in week four, which was also his debut. Fellow cornerbacks Corn Elder (62.3), Jimmy Moreland (59.6), and Colby Richardson (55.1) have had some struggles and that can’t happen against San Antonio’s playmakers. The Houston pass rush looked better last week against a beat up St. Louis offensive line and they’ll need to build upon that in week seven.

Roughnecks’ Offense vs. Brahmas’ Defense

I feel like I keep on repeating myself, but not much has changed with the Houston offense, even with the return of running back Mark Thompson. They still rank last in points per game and they’re second-to-last in rushing and total yards. They’ve only eclipsed the 50+ rushing yard mark twice this year and that’s resulted in quarterback Reid Sinnett dropping back a ton each week. He’s attempted at least 28 passes in every start this year and that isn’t what Houston wants to do. Sinnett does well as a game manager, but he doesn’t produce enough big plays with volume.

That’s in part due to his lack of protection from the offensive line, but he hasn’t proven to be a game-changer under center, either. Wide receiver Justin Hall (33-283-1) has been great but has struggled with drops the last two weeks. He’ll need to help in the quick game and should get at least ten targets in this game. Wide receiver Keke Chism (20-207-1) has been a solid piece on the outside, as well. Those two have helped Sinnett stay in the top five in passing yards (945), completion percentage (64.2), and QBR (83.5). All three need to have a big day, as well as a Mark Thompson breakout game.

The Brahmas’ defense has quietly been one of the best in the league this season. They’re third in scoring defense, only surrendering 16.5 points per game, and are at the top half of the league in virtually every major defensive category. They’ve been terrific against the pass with their coverage and pass rush in perfect harmony. They’re second-best in both sacks and passing yards allowed this season. The best part of their defense is the front seven. Four players from that unit have an overall defensive PFF grade of 80+ on the year: OLB Delontae Scott (88.4), LB Tavante Beckett (83.7), OLB Garrett Nelson (82.2), and OLB Wyatt Ray (81.7). They’ve all done very well against the run and pass and should be able to play with a lead and get after Sinnett. Their priority will be to shut down Thompson and force Sinnett to win with his arm, which he hasn’t shown this season. With season-long struggles from the Houston offensive line, I think San Antonio’s pass rush will have a big day, especially if Sinnett drops back 30+ times.

Final Thoughts

It’s more likely than not the Houston Roughnecks won’t be making the playoffs this season. The San Antonio Brahmas certainly should, barring a second-half collapse. However, don’t expect this to be a blowout by any means. I do believe that this is the Brahmas’ game to lose and if they play up to their standard, they’ll win. The best path to victory I see for the Roughnecks is forcing a couple Dormady turnovers and a step up in the ground game on offense. Spring football fans know what Mark Thompson is capable of, but his offensive line will need to play their best game of the season to help him out. My prediction is a defensive battle, with San Antonio finishing on top. Either way, it should be another great game in the UFL.

What are your thoughts on this upcoming matchup between the Houston Roughnecks and San Antonio Brahmas? Will we see an upset? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!