Many of the teams in the XFL have already been able to establish an “identity” for themselves. One of those is the St. Louis BattleHawks, who have built their offensive attack around the ground game and remain faithful to it. They might just find themselves among the four teams in the post-season.
But it’s a little premature to talk about such things now. On the table is a game against the Seattle Dragons, and it’s likely they’ll have a very large and enthusiastic crowd to play in front of.
Game time is 5 PM ET on Saturday at The Dome at America’s Center. And while FOX televises it, BetAnySports customers can watch it and place wagers in real-time using the facilities of Sports Betting Ultra.
St. Louis has gotten out to a 2-1 record, and they appear to be one of those squads that is not going to be outclassed by any team in this league. They’ve been more than adequate on the defensive end, and they have the kind of ground attack that can allow them to chew up a lot of clock, as they did at the tail end of last week’s 29-9 victory over the New York Guardians, which made a lot of “under” bettors very happy.
Matt Jones has been the main cog in the backfield so far (224 yards), and he is dealing with some injury concerns, but head coach Jonathan Hayes and offensive coordinator Chuck Long have faith that they can get some meaningful contributions from Christine Michael, who had 44 yards on the ground last week and scored a touchdown. This is a team that has run the ball on 59.8% of its plays.
But one must remember that the BattleHawks don’t keep it on the ground because they are less than capable of throwing it. Jordan Ta’Amu has a sizzling 75.6% completion rate. He has very capable outlets in De’Mornay Pierson-El and L’Damian Washington. And he has about a quarter of St. Louis’ yardage on the ground. So don’t discount the possibility that as the season progresses, he could become part of the MVP conversation.
Here are the XFL odds on this game, as they come from the good people at BetAnySports:
St. Louis BattleHawks -11.5
Seattle Dragons +11.5
Over 38 points -110
Under 38 points -110
Long, who was a Heisman Trophy runner-up at Iowa, has coached in a much more wide-open attack before, as he has dealt with an Air Raid-type offense at Oklahoma and other locales. But he has done a good job bringing some discipline and structure to this system.
The BattleHawks (priced at +400 to win the league title at BetAnySports) have been a success off the field of play as well. They had a crowd of just under 30,000 for their home opener, highest in the XFL. They are the only team in the league that is not located in an NFL market, and it is clear that the fans were hungry for pro football to return. No team has more followers on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram then they do.
Seattle is another team that draws people, and in fact they have sold over 10,000 season tickets. So their fans are going to be vested in the team’s progress. They’re getting a little impatient with QB Brandon Silvers, who is only 53% accurate and averaging less than ten and a half yards per completion. Could an appearance by BJ Daniels (former Seahawks backup) be a possibility? That might add a dimension to the offense.
And St. Louis’ defense may leave something to exploit. The BattleHawks have allowed almost 70% completions (69.5%, to be exact) and just below five yards per rushing attempt. Seattle has three backs who have almost exactly the same numbers; the Dragons have the ability to run the ball and “shorten” the game. St. Louis can do the same, which might lead one to consider the “under.” But these numbers are being set so low that we don’t know how much value there is.
I’m wondering how much value there is with Seattle, but if both teams play somewhat conservatively, it might help the team that is getting all the points. Getting left tackle Isaiah Battle back doesn’t hurt, although it’s kind of a drag not having offensive coordinator Mike Riley (personal issues keeping him away). St. Louis has covered all three, but they’re being asked to do a little more than before. Slight lean to the visitor.
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