St. Louis BattleHawks vs. DC Defenders XFL Odds, Betting Pick: St. Louis’ Rush Offense Should Thrive

St. Louis BattleHawks vs. DC Defenders XFL Odds, Betting Pick: St. Louis’ Rush Offense Should Thrive article feature image
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Credit: Scott Kane/XFL via Getty Images. Pictured: Christine Michael and Jordan Ta’amu

  • Updated betting odds for Sunday's BattleHawks vs. Defenders XFL game have St. Louis favored by 5.5 points with a total of 39.
  • The BattleHawks enter this game at 3-1, and are in first place in the East, one game ahead of the 2-2 Defenders.
  • Check out our betting breakdown below, complete with our projected odds, an injury report, analysis and a pick on the spread.

St. Louis BattleHawks at DC Defenders Odds

  • Spread: BattleHawks -5.5
  • Total: 38.5
  • Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET on Sunday
  • TV: FS1

Our staff previews Sunday’s game, complete with their projected spread and a pick.

BattleHawks vs. Defenders Injury Report

The BattleHawks have listed every player on their injury report as questionable except for running back Sherman Badie (knee), who was just added to the roster this week.

When it comes to their elite usage of the questionable tag, the BattleHawks are the New England Patriots of the XFL.

Running backs Matt Jones (knee) and Christine Michael (illness) both practiced fully on Friday and yet are still listed as questionable. For a solid month, Jones has been technically questionable after practicing on a limited basis early in the week. The BattleHawks are just managing his workload in practice and playing coy with his injury status. He’s fully expected to suit up.

On defense, the BattleHawks might be without starting perimeter cornerback Robert Nelson (illness), who missed practice on Friday but is officially questionable. Rotational cornerback Marquez White (illness) practiced fully on Friday and should play through his questionable tag.

The Defenders are healthy on offense, but they are dealing with issues in their secondary. Starting left corner Elijah Campbell (abdomen) missed Week 4 even though he was a limited practice participant last week. He’s shaping up to be another game-time decision, but he looks to be on the doubtful side of his questionable tag.

Rotational corner Doran Grant (hip) started at left corner last week in Campbell’s place — but he’s now dealing with an injury, as is starting right corner Desmond Lawrence (back). They’re both questionable after practicing limitedly on Friday.

There’s an outside chance the Defenders could be without their three top perimeter corners. — Matthew Freedman

Key Mismatch

BattleHawks Rush Offense vs. Defenders Rush Defense

This St. Louis team has a distinct advantage against a Defenders defense that has struggled mightily so far against the run.

Despite poor performances last week from running backs Matt Jones (15 carries, 20 yards) and Christine Michael (12 carries, 27 yards), the BattleHawks have one of the league’s best backfield duos.

And quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, though not a frequent runner, has had success when he’s left the pocket, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

As evidenced by their league-high 58.9% rush rate, the BattleHawks prefer to control the game via the run, and that’s where the Defenders are most vulnerable: They have the league’s second-worst run defense grade (60.3, per Pro Football Focus).

On top of that, they are dead last with a 31.4 PFF tackling grade. Just last week, the Defenders allowed 230 yards to Tampa Bay Vipers running backs De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick on 5.1 yards per carry.

The Defenders have issues all over the field, but their inability to stop the run is what will give them the most problems in this game. — Mike Vitanza

Our Projected Odds

You’ll find our experts’ consensus spread as well as Sean Koerner’s total below. Find their projections for every Week 5 game here.

  • Our Experts’ Consensus Spread: BattleHawks -3.6
  • Koerner’s Projected Total: 40.4

Pick

Mike Vitanza: St. Louis Battlehawks -4.5

St. Louis faces a Defenders team that has struggled on both sides of the ball over the last two weeks, averaging 4.5 points per game offensively while allowing 32 points per game to opponents. The BattleHawks have been one of the most complete teams in the league, controlling the game with the run on offense while also playing strong defense. Per PFF, they rank second overall in both offense (73.1) and defense (71.4), while DC ranks seventh on offense (60.0) and sixth on defense (64.8). DC’s run defense is particularly susceptible (60.3).

The BattleHawks’ preferred game plan is to run the ball and limit offensive plays for the opponent. They’ve had success doing just that so far this season. St. Louis running back Matt Jones had a poor Week 4, but he was averaging a healthy 4.3 yards per carry prior to last week and figures to get back on track against a run defense that was torched for over 230 yards last week. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu also has had success running the ball, tallying 5.1 yards per carry on 186 rushing yards.

Defensively, the BattleHawks should be able to force turnovers against a Defenders team that has committed six giveaways over the past two weeks. After a hot start, DC passer Cardale Jones has looked especially bad, and I expect that to continue against one of the league’s best defenses.

Even on the road, I like the BattleHawks up to -5.5.

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