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St. Louis Battlehawks Double-Digit Favorites Against One-Win Houston Roughnecks for Week 6

The St. Louis Battlehawks are streaking in like a missile into the season's final stretch, coming off a 45-12 win over the D.C. Defenders on the road. The 3-point margin of victory was the largest of the UFL season. 

This Saturday, St. Louis will return to The Dome to host the 1-4 Houston Roughnecks at 2 p.m. Every game from here on out is crucial for St. Louis’ playoff hopes, as only four of the eight teams qualify. St. Louis knows all too well that those spots can be decided by small tiebreakers. Last season, St. Louis was shut out of the XFL playoffs despite a 7-3 record because of a tiebreaker in point differential.

The Battlehawks and head coach Anthony Becht must avoid a trap game despite Houston's struggles. Next weekend, they’ll travel to Birmingham to take on the Stallions, the current favorite to win the league championship.

The Roughnecks felt the power of Birmingham last week, losing 32-9 to the Stallions. The brutal loss is not an outlier for Houston’s offense, averaging a league-low of 15.2 points per game. 

Houston had high hopes for its rushing offense led by Mark Thompson, a member of the 2023 All-USFL team and the league’s rushing touchdown leader. But after returning in Week 4 from a knee injury, Thompson has only rushed on 13 attempts for 45 yards over the past two games. The Roughnecks unsurprisingly rank dead last in the league in rushing yards with 257. 

Houston's quarterback is Reid Sinnett, who spent parts of four seasons in the NFL. Sinnett has been one of the bright spots for the Roughnecks' offense. He’s currently fourth in the league for passing yards (812) and fifth in touchdowns (4). 

His favorite target so far this year has been wide receiver Justin Hall. The Ball State product keeps your eyes busy and feeds your mind with constant entertainment. He’s only 5’8” but beats defenders in space with his shiftiness. The middle of St. Louis' defense could have their hands full Saturday.

The Houston defense is more in the middle of the pack, allowing the fifth most points per game (23.2). The Roughnecks have only created five turnovers so far this season but have the fourth-most sacks (9).

But this week, Houston will be dealing with a different beast than they’ve ever faced before — the Battlehawks are the highest-scoring offense in the league by 19 points. Last week, the St. Louis offense showed a chink in its armor, however. Dealing with multiple injuries, the 45 points scored by St. Louis were mostly thanks to the four turnovers created by the Battlehawks. For most of the game, the Battlehawks were as inactive in the nation’s capital as most politicians.

St. Louis sustained injuries to three different offensive linemen. Starting tackle Vadal Alexander and guard Juwann Bushell-Beatty remain out this week. But dynamic wide receiver and returner Darrius Shepherd will return this week. 

“It is definitely different,” St. Louis receiver Hakeem Butler said on the offense without Shepherd. “She is a silent assassin but he’s also like a coach on the field…You know if you get him the ball, he’s going to make plays.”

With last week being the outlier due to injuries, St. Louis has improved with each week. The ass protection for quarterback A.J. McCarron has not been great, and the injuries along the line do not help that. However, the veteran quarterback has been able to extend plays out of the pocket and lead the league with 10 passing touchdowns. 

The Battlehawks are listed as lopsided favorites for Saturday at -12.5 on DraftKings. The Roughnecks haven’t shown the ability to keep up with an offense with the power of St. Louis’. Additionally, the Roughnecks will be under the noise of likely over 30,000 fans dressed in blue gladiator gear at The Dome. Securing the win would make it the sixth straight win for St. Louis, building on their momentum.

Cover Image via: Greg Fiume/Getty Images/UFL

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