St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Seattle Sea Dragons XFL Preview

St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Seattle Sea Dragons Week Nine Preview

This might be the most important game in recent XFL history. The St. Louis Battlehawks host the Seattle Sea Dragons this Sunday afternoon, with major playoff implications to follow.

Currently, the Battlehawks sit at 6-2, holding the 2nd seed in the North Division. Meanwhile, the Sea Dragons’ five game XFL winning streak was snapped last week, so they now are positioned right under their rivals at 5-3.

When these two teams met in week two, it was a hard-fought battle. The game went back and forth, with both squads trading momentum throughout its entirety. Ultimately, Donny Hageman was the hero as he knocked through the game winner for Anthony Becht.

Everything is on the line for Seattle on Sunday. If they lose, they will officially miss the postseason. However, if the Sea Dragons can top St. Louis at The Dome, it gives them an opportunity to secure the final playoff berth in week ten.

Let’s take a look at the key matchups in this showdown, and what each team has to do to ensure a victory.

Quarterback Play

Good news for KaKaw Nation: AJ McCarron is back. After missing week eight with a shoulder injury, he will return to the starting lineup. Nick Tiano played decently well in his place, but there is no replacing McCarron.

He’s played such an integral role in St. Louis’ success this season, and will give the Battlehawks the best chance of clinching the playoffs this weekend. His leadership, poise, and determination in Becht’s system has been exactly why this team finds a way to win week in and week out.

Now, something to consider is: can AJ return to form after suffering an injury like this? We’ve seen this story in spring football before (i.e. Kyle Sloter) where a QB deals with injuries, and struggles to play at a high level since they aren’t at 100%.

On the other hand, can Ben DiNucci limit his red zone turnovers? Gucci DiNucci has been an outstanding QB this season, don’t get me wrong. He was the first quarterback to reach 2,000 passing yards this season.

However, his ill-advised decisions in crucial moments have cost Seattle at times. If he can simply avoid the unnecessary throws to the other team, it puts his own unit in a position to pull off a road upset.

Standout Playmakers

Both these teams are absolutely loaded on the offensive end. It’s pretty crazy, if we’re being honest. Seattle added RB Phillip Lindsay last week, who made a quick impact against DC. With another week of practice under his belt, Jim Haslett will have to hope that Lindsay can smoothly find his stride in June Jones’ system.

Josh Gordon vs. Hakeem Butler. Jahcour Pearson vs. Darrius Shepherd. Brian Hill vs. Phillip Lindsay. Does it get any better than this? Not really. If the stars align just right, we should see some major fireworks on both ends of the football.

Hakeem Butler has come through time and time again for St. Louis this season. Does he have one more in him? Butler is the go-to guy, especially on deep balls and/or red zone targets. Seattle will have their work cut out for them in trying to contain this monster.

On the other hand, the Battlehawks secondary is missing some depth, and will have to attempt to guard some of the XFL speediest receivers in Pearson, Jordan Veasy, and Blake Jackson. June Jones’ spread ‘em and shred ‘em scheme should be in full effect on Sunday.

Defense: Turnover Factor

This game could very well come down to which defense comes up with a clutch turnover. St. Louis should be ready to jump on any ball thrown by DiNucci – especially if it’s in the red zone.

At the same time, generating pressure is going to play a massive role. Guys like Travis Feeney, Carson Wells, and LaCale London have been doing it week in and week out for the Battlehawks. This is an excellent test for them, and an opportunity to push St. Louis to the playoffs if they can cause DiNucci to slip up.

Seattle’s front seven has been powerful this season. Tuzar Skipper, in particular, has been extremely underrated. In fact, his efforts in week two nearly won the Sea Dragons that game against the Battlehawks, and I’d expect him to do the same this week.

AJ is coming off an injury. Whenever a quarterback is hurt, it takes a bit of time to find his footing, no matter who it is. Ron Zook might want to dial up some blitzes early and often, to make McCarron feel that intensity. Knock him off his rocker a bit, make him uncomfortable.

It’s going to be a daunting task for Seattle to slow down the St. Louis Battlehawks in their home city – but if any defense can do it, it’s this one.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, this XFL matchup is bound to be incredibly entertaining. After such an exciting game between DC and Seattle in week eight, one can only imagine how intense this one will get at The Dome.

Jim Haslett and Anthony Becht have both been two of the best coaches in the XFL this season. Becht got the best of Haslett seven weeks ago…can Haslett get revenge this time around? Folks, grab your popcorn. It’s about to be a show.

Week nine of the XFL will conclude with the St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Seattle Sea Dragons, which kicks off at 3pm ET this Sunday on ESPN.

What are your predictions for this game between the Seattle Sea Dragons and St. Louis Battlehawks? Which XFL players will make the most impact? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!