Is there football this weekend? TV schedule, start times and game analysis

The XFL is scratching the itch of soccer fans far and wide. Here’s everything you need to know about today’s Week 5 XFL games, including kickoff times, channels, live streaming options and game analysis.

XFL Games Today: Is There Football This Weekend?

Through the first four weeks of the 2023 XFL season, some teams looked like title contenders and others looked like…well, not quite title contenders. Here’s where you can watch the action from this weekend, as well as some insights into what we can expect from each team.

St. Louis Battlehawks (3-1) vs. DC Defenders (4-0)

  • Date: Saturday, March 18
  • Starting time: 7 p.m. ET
  • Options for TV channels and live broadcasts: FX and ESPN+

An incredible matchup between two teams that could face each other again in the playoffs. But these are very different teams on both sides of the ball.

St. Louis mostly wins on the offensive side of the ball, generating buckets of yards from versatile RB Brian Hill, who has a 36-176-1 rushing line and a 13-101-1 receiving line. For context, most teams have running backs who struggle to maintain 3.2 yards per carry. Hill climbs high at 4.9.

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Through the air, the Battlehawks pound the defense through QB AJ McCarron and WRs Hakeem Butler, Darrius Shepherd and Austin Proehl. Preseason #1 prospect Marcel Ateman is the Battlehawks’ #5 offensive weapon. And hey, it works.

However, St. Louis’ defense is average at best, including a run defense that holds opponents to 3.7 yards per carry. That would be elite in the NFL. But in the XFL, that often won’t help you, especially against teams that move with vigor and energy.

And which team works with the greatest strength and energy? DC, of ​​course. They combine the No. 1 defense in the league with the No. 1 offense. Not a bad combination. In fact, three of the XFL’s top five players (in terms of yards) are defensive backs: QB Jordan Ta’amu and RBs Abram Smith and Ryquell Armstead.

If St. Louis can figure out how to slow down DC’s running game, advantage to St. Louis. If DC can figure out how to contain the Battlehawks air attack, advantage to the Defenders. And if both teams complete those goals. . . well then it’s going to be an awfully close game.

Vegas Vipers (0-4) vs. Orlando Guardians (0-4)

  • Date: Saturday, March 18
  • Starting time: 10 p.m. ET
  • Options for TV channels and live broadcasts: FX and ESPN+

If the Guardians and Brahmas win this weekend, then the Guardians will be one game away from a play-off spot. It’s hard to believe, especially considering how much they fought.

Last week I shared why underutilized WR Charleston Rambo was the key to this offense. Well, Rambo came up big and Orlando scored a season-high 16 points. But their opponent, the Houston Roughnecks, scored 44. Not good.

And that encapsulates why Orlando is winless. One of the bright spots for the Guardians is their running game, but negative game scripts have prevented RBs Jah-Maine Martin and Kelvin Taylor from taking over games. QB Paxton Lynch, meanwhile, remains a wait-and-see option for this franchise.

From a great distance I saw enough. Orlando is due for an upgrade in 2024, if not sooner. But the Guardians know what they’re doing, and Lynch offers enough dual-threat ability to give the team hope.

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The opposing Vipers are much better at 0-4 if that makes sense. They nearly won three games and played the 4-0 defenders pretty hard, all things considered.

Bouncing between QBs all season (Luis Perez, then Brett Hundley, then back to Perez…for now) didn’t help. There is very little rhythm in this offense with Rod Smith doing his best as a 1A RB and WR Jeff Badette posting monster numbers. In fact, Badet and WR Cinque Sweeting each accounted for six points in Vegas.

Yes, this is a most serious offense that needs another offense. Fortunately, they play the worst defense. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

San Antonio Brahmas (1-3) vs Arlington Renegades (2-2)

  • Date: Sunday, March 19
  • Starting time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Options for TV channels and live broadcasts: ESPN2 and ESPN+

A game with major playoff implications in the toughest southern division. These two teams will face each other twice in seven days. If San Antonio wins both, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for a postseason berth. And if Arlington wins both? Well, I’d be hard pressed to bet against them then.

But let’s put things into perspective. The Renegades were preseason favorites to win the title. Newly installed QB Kyle Sloter has numbers that look eerily similar to Drew Plitt, the guy he replaced. Slaughter should keep his job until/unless Arlington is mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Still, that shouldn’t give him or this franchise confidence.

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The Brahmas have a stout defense, giving up the second fewest points despite facing three of the top four offenses in the league. Yes, they are that good. . . of protection.

Their offense is another story. I’m beating a dead horse here, but I’ve written since Week 1 that Kalen Ballage is not the answer at running back. Neither does Jacques Patrick, though he at least brings a bit more to the table. Neither guy has broken through and I don’t believe they will anytime soon.

The Brahmas need to bring in someone else — someone who can help balance an offensive “attack” that is often limited through the air.

Arlington has the same problem, and they’ve begun to address it, turning more and more to No. 3 RB Kenneth Farrow, whose 3.4 yards per carry are unfortunately significantly higher than starter De’Veon Smith or early-season addition Keith Ford.

The best teams in this league have good or great running games. DC realized this in the draft when they selected Abram Smith No. 1 overall in the “offensive skills” section. Morgan Ellison of the Seattle Sea Dragons, Max Borghi of Houston and Brian Hill of St. Louis reinforce that point.

Whichever team—San Antonio or Arlington—fixes that flaw first, they’ll likely make the playoffs.

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