XFL Week Five Preview: Keys To Victory

XFL Week Five Preview: Keys To Victory

XFL week five is right around the corner, which means that more predictions have to be made. It’s slated to be an excellent weekend of football, with a few exciting matchups on tap.

Believe it or not, we are already at the halfway point of the XFL’s regular season. Each game becomes increasingly important as the weeks go by, so let’s take a look at what is going down this weekend.

Seattle Sea Dragons (2-2) vs. Houston Roughnecks (4-0)

Which version of Seattle are we going to see tonight? The Sea Dragons feature some of the XFL’s best talent, but have failed to consistently put it together across the board so far. Sometimes, they will look unstoppable on offense, but not often enough.

This week, they will have a major test against a fierce Houston defense. Ben DiNucci cannot afford to make any untimely turnovers, otherwise Seattle can kiss their hopes of winning goodbye. DiNucci is such a talented quarterback. Paired up with the weapons in June Jones’ offense, Seattle should not stall out as much as they do at times.

The team would do themselves a service by leaning into Morgan Ellison, who has been the XFL’s best running back so far this season. He’s been outstanding on every level, rushing for over 100 yards in week three against Vegas. Getting Ellison going early will be vital to a win for Seattle.

June Jones will be facing off against his former pupil, AJ Smith. It’s going to be fun to watch which OC gets the best of their opponent tonight. The Sea Dragons’ defense is going to have to play flawless football in order for Seattle to get the win at home.

Houston: Stay On Track

All the Roughnecks need to accomplish tonight, is continuing to play the game they have for the last four weeks. This team is the most well-oiled machine in the XFL, led by excellent coaching and staff. Each player seamlessly fits into their respective roles, which is why Wade Phillips’ squad is playing top tier football.

Brandon Silvers returns to Seattle, his old franchise in 2020. He’s a new man in H-Town, putting up the best numbers as a passer in the XFL this season. If Smith continues his “spread ‘em and shred ‘em” style, Seattle is in for a long night. So far, Silvers has been nearly untouchable, getting the ball out of his hands very quickly.

Hopefully, Max Borghi will be available, as he was out with an injury last week. Houston will remain undefeated, as long as they get in DiNucci’s head. If they make him commit a couple of mistakes early on, it puts the Roughnecks at a mighty advantage.

St. Louis Battlehawks (3-1) vs. DC Defenders (4-0)

Will the Battlehawks earn revenge on DC? In a game circled on everyone’s calendar, the DC Defenders will visit St. Louis to take on the Battlehawks in the most highly anticipated matchup of the season at The Dome.

Bad Blood

Last time these two teams played in week three, the game ended in a lengthy brawl which resulted in multiple suspensions and fines for both teams (including Defenders LB Francis Bernard who is serving the tail end of a two-game suspension).

There may be a true rivalry brewing between these two teams in the North division.

Two-QB System Success

Throughout history in spring football, we have continuously seen teams try to implement a successful dual quarterback system. But most often they fail. It seems Fred Kaiss and the rest of the Defenders offensive staff have figured out the formula with Jordan Ta’amu and D’Eriq King.

Through the first few weeks, it was a hot topic around the league whether Ta’amu or King should be starting in DC. With DC now 4-0 and clicking on offense, those talks have lessened as it is clear that Ta’amu is the starter and King is the situational/red zone threat. King’s effectiveness in the red zone is a major part of the Defenders’ overall success this season.

Battlehawks Resolve

Perhaps more than any other team in the league, the St. Louis Battlehawks have shown guts through the first four weeks. After comeback wins in weeks one and two, the Battlehawks displayed to the rest of the XFL they can never be counted out.

QB AJ McCarron has been a crucial part of the late game success for St. Louis. Most likely attributed to his days with Nick Saban at Alabama, McCarron has a knack for leading his teams late in games and pulling them out of dire situations.

Hakeem Butler had 105 yards in week three against DC, and has shown to be a reliable safety valve for McCarron so far this season. Will be interesting to see if DC has someone like Kentrell Brice or Jamal Brooks matchup with Butler this week.

When two teams have such a short turnaround from their last matchup, it can be difficult to determine the line between under and over analyzing a game. When it comes to this one, a common theme to watch throughout will be how both teams start the game. Neither side has been a great first half team this season, will breaking that trend decide a winner?

Vegas Vipers (0-4) vs. Orlando Guardians (0-4)

Folks, it’s happening. The official tank bowl in the XFL is coming our way late on Saturday night. This game has potential to be one of the most interesting games in recent spring football history.

To be quite frank, both of these teams have been lackluster this season so far. Orlando, in particular, has been disastrous from top to bottom. Across the board, they haven’t shown much promise whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the Vipers have put together a couple of decent games, but don’t know how to close things out, leaving them winless. Rod Woodson moved to a new OC this past weekend, but it didn’t lead to much success. Brett Hundley and Luis Perez have performed decently well, but neither have been able to lead the team to a victory.

Defensively, Vegas has struggled mightily the last two weeks, giving up 30+ points in back-to-back games. This unit has to find a rhythm against Orlando. The Guardians have struggled to move the ball for four straight weeks. If Vegas can’t stop Orlando, it’s safe to say their season is over.

Quinton Flowers Time?

At this point, we’ve gone deep enough into the Orlando Guardians organization to know their issues. No need to beat a dead horse – at the end of the day, this team needs a revamp from top to bottom.

While Quinton Flowers currently sits at #2 on the depth chart, it would be a welcome sight to see him get the start. Flowers has showcased his talents in the XFL before, playing respectively well for the Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020.

His attributes could help fix at least some of Orlando’s problems. The Guardians offensive line play has been awful, and Lynch usually can’t get outside of the pocket. Flowers, with his athleticism, could certainly help add a dual threat to the backfield, which would alleviate a bit of the pressore on the offensive line.

Time is running out for Orlando. They’re 0-4. At the same time, Arlington is only 2-2, still clearly in reach for the playoff spot. Changes have to be made sooner than later, and Buckley would do his team a favor by at least seeing what Flowers is capable of.

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

Offensive changes are on the way for San Antonio. Jaime Elizondo is no longer the OC, as Hines Ward is making an adjustment due to his underperforming offense. Jack Coan has shown signs of life, but it hasn’t amounted to much in the XFL so far.

There certainly is a chance that we see Reid Sinnett take the field on Sunday night. Ward has been hinting at changes for a while, so we’ll have to wait and see. The Brahmas are going to have their work cut out for them, as Arlington boasts an incredible defense.

Can Kalen Ballage and Jacques Patrick get in a rhythm? It’s extremely important that both make an impact this Sunday. Their offense has been stuck in the gutter, because neither back has produced much as of late.

The way San Antonio will win this game, though, is through their defense. They’ve been playing fantastic football, and Arlington’s offense has been quite shoddy so far. If they keep the foot on the gas pedal, and pressure Sloter often, the Brahmas will be in good shape.

What Is Up With Arlington?

It’s been an ugly stretch for the Renegades, who have failed to score more than one offensive touchdown in three out of four weeks. This team has won solely because of their defense, which isn’t ideal.

Of course, playing smash mouth football is a great thing. The Renegades are a tough squad, and will have to bring that same level of intensity to San Antonio.

However, something needs to give offensively. Neither Kyle Sloter or Drew Plitt have brought stability to the team, which is not entirely their fault. Overall, Arlington’s game plan just feels weak and lackluster. If this team wants any shot of doing damage in the postseason, Bob Stoops has to get this offense to put up more than 10 points a game.

Final Thoughts

Week five in the XFL is certainly going to be one of the most entertaining yet. There’s a lot hanging in the balance as we approach the halfway point.

XFL Week Five begins tonight at 10:30pm ET on ESPN, with the Seattle Sea Dragons hosting the Houston Roughnecks.

Which XFL week five game are you most excited to watch? Which players will have the largest impact? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!