St Louis BattleHawks vs Houston Roughnecks: XFL Game Preview

President Brian Michael Cooper of the Houston Roughnecks presenting the game ball prior to kickoff. Photo by Angel Rick Leal

by Angel Rick Leal

Game Info
St. Louis BattleHawks vs Houston Roughnecks
Sunday February 16 – 5 p.m. CST
TV: FS1
TDECU Stadium – Houston, Texas

Records Before Game
St. Louis BattleHawks ( 1-0 )
Houston Roughnecks (1-0 )

The Houston Roughnecks and St. Louis BattleHawks both pulled off victories in their first week but in very different fashion. PJ Walker and the Roughnecks made a statement with a barrage of offense against the Wildcats. Walker finished the game with 4 touchdowns, and the Roughnecks scored a league-high 37 points. On the other end of the spectrum, the BattleHawks held the Renegades to only 9 points. They should also continue to prioritize the run game after rushing for 191 yards last Sunday.  The BattleHawks had league-leading marks in Week 1 with 42 carries and 191 yards rushing thanks primarily to a workmanlike performance from running back Matt Jones (21-85-0 rushing) and an electric performance by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu (9-77-0).  With their steadfast rushing attack, the BattleHawks seized a 15-9 win over the heavily favored Dallas Renegades, and if they are to have a similar result in Week 2, they’ll once again need to execute in the running game to keep the explosive Roughnecks offense on the sideline.  

Prediction

The BattleHawks were the only road team to win in Week 1, edging the Renegades 15-9 as 9.5-point underdogs, and St. Louis is being undervalued once again here.  The BattleHawks didn’t blow out bulbs on the scoreboard offensively, but they led the league in rushing yardage (191) and third-down conversion rate (50%). And when they took to the air, Ta’amu was efficient, connecting on 20-of-27 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also rattled off 77 yards on the ground on nine carries.  Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker is getting all the buzz, but don’t sleep on Ta’amu, whose 108.4 passer rating was even better than the 106.4 figure posted by Walker.

On defense, St. Louis turned in an impressive showing, limiting Dallas to just 4.5 yards per play and 1-of-10 on third down. The Renegades were without starting quarterback Landry Jones, but they were still implied by Vegas odds to score more than 30 points and win handily, only to be thwarted by the Hawks defense. Walker will be a tougher test, but his playmakers benefited from nine missed tackles in their 37-17 romp of the Los Angeles Wildcats, while the BattleHawks missed just three tackles in their win over Dallas — the fewest in the league by a country mile.  I believe St. Louis can go toe to toe with Houston. The BattleHawks were the only squad to earn a higher overall PFF team grade than the Roughnecks in Week 1, and they’re also the only team in the league that received a higher mark than Houston on offense.

Final Score

St. Louis BattleHawks – 14

Houston Roughnecks – 17