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St. Louis Battlehawks Host Struggling Memphis Showboats in Week 4

The St. Louis Battlehawks are returning home to the 1-2 Memphis Showboats at ‘The Dome this weekend.’ The Showboats are coming off a 33-14 loss to the Birmingham Stallions and have the second-lowest scoring offense in the league. The Battlehawks (2-1) are coming off a 31-24 win over the San Antonio Brahmas and have the second-highest-scoring offense.

Last week’s win over San Antonio showed signs that St. Louis had unlocked a new layer of offense. Their playmakers include former NFL players Darrius Shepherd, Marcell Ateman, and Hakeem Butler, and NFL veteran A.J. McCarron quarterbacks them. But in the first two weeks, the St. Louis offense was inconsistent and was held back by some slow starts.

But things seemingly came together for the Battlehawks against the Brahmas. It makes sense that the unit would take some time to find its groove in this league. Even though the Battlehawks’ offense has plenty of continuity, a month-long training camp was the only off-season experience the team had together ahead of the season opener.  

The offense's success is mainly due to the run game's unexpected 100-yard performances from Mataeo Durant in Week 2 and Jacob Saylors in Week 3. The offense only rushed for 66 yards in Week 1, causing it to struggle to find rhythm in the 18-16 loss to the Michigan Panthers. 

The receiving corps has been a carousel of different players stepping up each. Last week, Butler had his best performance of the season, catching six passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. In the first two weeks, Marcell Ateman and Darrius Shepherd had impressive performances, with Ateman scoring 114 yards in Week 1. Both Ateman and Butler are in the top 10 in the league for receiving yards.

The St. Louis defense has also struggled to play consistently. Pass rushers Pita Taumoepenu and Travis Feeney, along with defensive backs Qwynterio Cole and Lavert Hill, have all shown flashes of elite play. Still, the group has yet to show a dominant performance. Taumoepenu’s status for Saturday’s game is unknown, as he has a right ankle injury. He did not participate in Tuesday’s practice and was limited Wednesday.

But the Battlehawks’ defense will have some catchable prey this week with the Showboats. Memphis’ offense has already been struggling and now is dealing with significant injuries. Starting running back Darius Victor has been dealing with a right ankle injury for the past two weeks and only took two carries last week. Quarterback Case Cookus is the team’s leading rusher with just 75 yards. Starting receiver Daewood Davis has also been limited this week with a hamstring injury. Memphis’ leading receiver is tight end Sage Suratt with just 114 yards.

While the Showboats offense has struggled to get much wind in its sails, the defense has been more reliable, at least in the run game. Memphis currently has the second-best rush defense but the worst pass defense in the league. Stallions quarterback Adrian Martinez threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns against the struggling secondary last week. There should be plenty of opportunities for big plays this week for McCarron and the Battlehawks offense.

The Battlehawks are currently set as seven-point favorites on DraftKings. A Battlehawks win would be a significant win at the beginning of the middle stretch of the season. Next week, they’ll face the D.C. Defenders for a critical matchup in the XFL division. St. Louis can’t allow this to become a trap game that could snowball for the rest of the season. 

Cover Image via Getty Images - Brien Aho

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