The XFL has started to hit its stride and today, two of the league’s most supported teams, the Seattle Dragons and St. Louis BattleHawks head to The Dome at America’s Center, for the latters’ second home game of the season (5pm ET Saturday on Fox).
One of the key metrics people have their eyes on regarding viability for the XFL is on the attendance numbers as well as the TV ratings. So far, both have been pretty good with the XFL ratings currently sitting around the same mark as regular NBA games get that are played during the same timeslot. The ratings have declined from the 3.1 million average that the league opened with but it’s not time to hit the panic button.
While TV ratings seem to be dipping, live attendance is rising week by week. In week two, the Dragons, who play their games in the same stadium as the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, became the first team in the league to top 20,000 fans at a game. In week two, Seattle topped 20,000 for a second consecutive time but were joined in the 20,000+ club by the St. Louis BattleHawks, who brought professional football back to the city for the first time since 2015, when the then-St. Louis Rams moved to Los Angeles.
We have learned a lot from the XFL in these first weeks, like not to underestimate how much football has been missed in America’s heartland. The St. Louis faithful, much of whom likely grew up going to games or taking their kids to the Dome, returned en masse.
Hosting the New York Guardians, in a game that the BattleHawks won 29-9, there was a reported attendance of 29,554, surpassing the Dragons’ mark from the week prior of 29,172. Entering week four, that mark stands as the top in the XFL and it’s unlikely to be matched by any team other than the BattleHawks themselves. Capacity for football in the Dome is listed at just over 67,200 and 40,000 at half capacity. Now, that’s not to say the BattleHawks or any XFL team will likely get anywhere close to even 40,000 fans in this inaugural year, the BattleHawks could well top 30,000 as soon as this week. Football is back in St. Louis and the fans have welcomed their BattleHawks with open arms.
Team Profile: St. Louis BattleHawks
Home field advantage aside, the BattleHawks have slowly been rising up the power rankings, following strong performances. St. Louis is 2-1 with their lone loss coming to the Houston Roughnecks, the league’s only undefeated team being led by the MVP front runner, PJ Walker. The BattleHawks struck first in terms of getting into the endzone in their contest, but it was short-lived. St. Louis never got within less than three points for the rest of the game but credit to the BattleHawks for keeping it competitive in just a four-point loss.
Part of the reason why the BattleHawks have been competitive for the entirety of the season is due to Jordan Ta’amu. A product of Hawaii, Ta’amu played his college football at the legendary Ole Miss. Good but not great, Ta’amu never quite made his way to the NFL, a trait that has him in good company with much of his XFL counterparts. Perhaps unlike some of those guys, Ta’amu looks like someone who is a lot more of a veteran than his 22-years and minimal professional experience would suggest.
Thanks to Ta’amu and a defense that is the only one in the XFL East to have a positive touchdown differential (9 touchdowns vs just five touchdowns surrendered which is the fewest of any team in the whole league), the BattleHawks defeated the New York Guardians in week three. Despite being the underdogs in week one, they managed to upset the Dallas Renegades, who are just 1-2 after opening the season as the United States’ online bookies’ favorites to win the XFL title. That’s why you play the games.
Ta’amu ranks as the second best QB in the league right now, behind only Walker in terms of QB rating and total yards. The XFL’s most accurate passer, Ta’amu leads the league in competition percentage with 75 percent. He has also emerged as a mobile threat and actually has the most rushing yards of any QB and fifth most rushing yards overall in the league with 123 on 20 carries. Ta’amu has been a versatile quarterback and it is no surprise that St. Louis has had the success they have when looking at just how good he has been. In addition to Ta’amu, the BattleHawks are the XFL’s top rushing units with running back Matt Jones the league’s only rusher over 200 yards on this young season.
Team Profile: Seattle Dragons
It was a tough start to the season for Seattle as they dropped their opener against the DC Defenders, who emerged early as one of the top XFL teams. That pecking order has since shifted a bit but even still, DC was a better team that day and the Dragons struggled as a result. The following week, Seattle grabbed its first win against the Tampa Bay Vipers in front of what was at the time, an XFL-best crowd of 29, 172 at CenturyLink Field. Last week, despite leading against the favored Renegades, the Dragons plummeted in the second half of the game being unable to get on the scoreboard and allowing Dallas to score 18 unanswered points.
The Dragons have certainly had their struggles this year as Brandon Silvers hasn’t quite looked comfortable yet under center. The Troy football product, Silvers’ season can best be described as up-and-down. He ranks fifth among XFL quarterbacks in rating and has thrown six touchdowns and four interceptions, the second highest such mark in the league.
Silvers needs to work on his accuracy because down the field waiting to catch passes are Seattle’s duo of Austin Proehl (12 receptions for 162 yards and three touchdowns) and Keenan Reynolds (9 receptions for 129 yards). Both Proehl and Reynolds have been great for the Dragons but their numbers could be even better if Silvers continues to improve and develop chemistry with his downfield weapons.
Our Betting Preview’s Seattle Dragons vs St. Louis BattleHawks Predictions & Picks Conclusion
We mentioned earlier that the BattleHawks have the East’s only positive touchdown differential. Well, by contrast, the Dragons have the West’s only negative one. That’s not exactly the formula for a promising outcome this weekend for Seattle.
Back home in St. Louis, it’s going to be tough for anyone to beat the BattleHawks there this year, even if the Hawks and Roughnecks have a rematch. These are the Seattle Dragons vs St. Louis BattleHawks predictions for this XFL Saturday game preview:
- The BattleHawks are favored by a whopping 11.5 points with the sportsbooks on the spread, which is the highest such mark of the week, but we’re going with them to cover that spread anyway. Bet Louis -11.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes, Intertops or BetOnline.
- A defensive-minded team, look for the under 38 total points @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes or Intertops.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.