St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Houston Roughnecks | Week 6 Preview

St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Houston Roughnecks | Week 6 Preview

The Houston Roughnecks (1-4) will travel to St. Louis and take on the Battlehawks (4-1) in a hostile environment on Saturday afternoon. This is a matchup between two teams that are trending in opposite directions at a critical point of the season. The Battlehawks are coming off their fourth straight win and it was their most impressive of the season. St. Louis went into DC and handed the Defenders their first ever home loss.

Not only that, but it was a 45-12 thrashing in a true rivalry game. For the Roughnecks, they’re coming off a tough 32-9 loss to the Birmingham Stallions at home and their only win of the year came against the winless Arlington Renegades. Houston is a 12.5 point underdog in this one and they’ll need to overcome a lot if they want to steal a win on Saturday.

Roughnecks’ Offense vs. Battlehawks’ Defense

The Roughnecks’ offense continues to struggle in 2024 despite the return of star running back Mark Thompson in week four. Since his return, he’s only totaled 61 yards and a touchdown for them. They’re averaging a league-worst 15.2 points per game and have the league’s worst run game, as well. Houston is also last in rushing attempts, yards, yards per carry, and rushing first downs. That’s led to a lot being on quarterback Reid Sinnett’s shoulders. He’s played well but hasn’t done enough to carry a lesser supporting cast. Still, Sinnett is in the top five in several categories including completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt, passing touchdowns, and QBR. He’ll need more help from his offensive line and skill position players on Saturday if they hope to take down the Battlehawks. That won’t be an easy task going up against a highly underrated defense.

The Battlehawks quietly lead the league in yards allowed, pass defense, and interceptions despite a slow start at the beginning of the season. One major piece of that is the fantastic play of linebacker Mike Rose. Rose missed two games this year, yet he still has totaled 19 tackles and two interceptions. He always seems to be in the right place and is around the ball constantly. Reigning XFL Defensive Player of the Year Pita Taumoepenu leads the team with four sacks from his defensive end position and has picked up right where he left off last season. This defense has also improved against the run and ranks third in the UFL in that department, so I expect the Roughnecks’ ground-game woes to continue. Going up against this Houston offensive line, the St. Louis pass rush should have a big impact on Sinnett and the entire offense.

Battlehawks’ Offense vs. Roughnecks’ Defense

Before the season started, I think a lot of us would’ve been excited to see these two units face off. The Battlehawks have held up their end of the bargain, though. They lead the league in scoring, averaging 30.2 points per game and are second in the league in total yards. Quarterback AJ McCarron is the front-runner for MVP at the moment and he’s been fantastic yet again for St. Louis. He has 10 touchdowns to just one interception and has thrown for 1,049 yards with a 68.5 completion percentage. He’s supported by a great run game, spearheaded by running back Jacob Saylors. Saylors has 224 yards and two touchdowns while serving as a great compliment to McCarron. Along with so many weapons on the outside, Houston’s defense is likely in for a long day. It’s going to be extremely difficult to stop the run while simultaneously shutting down great wide receivers like Hakeem Butler (25-344-3), Marcell Ateman (15-206-3), and Jahcour Pearson (13-112-1).

Many expected the Houston Roughnecks’ defense to be one of the best units in the league this season. Due to a multitude of reasons, that has not been the case. Defensive tackle Toby Johnson has been out with a knee injury and is expected to miss this week’s game as well. Defensive tackle Olive Sagapolu is out for the season with a bicep injury and defensive end Carlo Kemp recently retired. They’ve also had multiple players, including linebacker Reuben Foster, playing through injuries which has led to some bad stretches of defense. They’ve been the worst in the league affecting the quarterback with just nine sacks and haven’t been good against the run either, after starting off well in that regard. They’re giving up 25 points per game over their last three games and are also banged up in the secondary. Their best path to victory is trying to stop the run and make the Battlehawks one-dimensional. Even then, St. Louis’ weapons will likely have a big day against the backend of the defense.

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen some crazy things happen in spring football, especially in the UFL, but there’s a reason the Battlehawks are favored by 12.5 points. St. Louis is clearly the better team and is at home, where they typically play even better. Houston got their elusive first win two weeks ago, but at the midway point of the year, their season is nearing life-support. I expect a highly motivated Houston team, but I still believe that the Battlehawks will win this one by double-digits. We’ll find out on Saturday afternoon.

Full Roster Breakdowns: Houston, St. Louis

What are your thoughts on this matchup between the Houston Roughnecks and St. Louis Battlehawks? Will it be a blowout? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!