Game Preview: XFL Conference Championship, San Antonio Brahmas at St. Louis Battlehawks, Sunday June 9, 2024

  • XFL Conference Championship, San Antonio Brahmas (7-3) at St. Louis Battlehawks (7-3)
  • Sunday June 9, 2024 at 6:00 PM CT (7:00 PM ET)
  • The Dome at America’s Center, St. Louis, MO
  • Tickets: Ticketmaster and Stubhub
  • Network: FOX (Streaming)
  • Announcers: Curt Menefee (Play-by-Play), Joel Klatt (Analyst), Devin Gardner (Sideline Reporter)
  • Odds: St. Louis -3, O/U 44 (DraftKings)

The St. Louis Battlehawks and San Antonio Brahmas, the top two teams in the United Football League’s XFL Conference, will meet for the second straight week, but this time a trip to the UFL Championship game will be at stake. Last week, in their final game of the UFL regular season, St. Louis beat San Antonio, 13-12, at The Dome at America’s Center. The victory secured first place in the conference and guaranteed the Battlehawks a home match this week.

This will be the third meeting in 2024 between St. Louis and San Antonio. St. Louis won the first two meetings, in San Antonio, 31-24, and in St. Louis, 13-12. In the 2023 XFL, the two teams met once, with St. Louis winning 18-15 in the Alamodome.

The Battlehawks were happy to get home field advantage for this game, considering how their fans would fill The Dome and produce a roaring bonus for St. Louis. In their 2024 home opener on April 6, a crowd of 40,317 attended The Dome at America’s Center to witness a 27-24 victory against the Arlington Renegades. The mark set the record for a modern professional spring football game, topping the 38,310 fans St. Louis drew for its 2023 home opener on March 12, 2023. Will they set a new record with this game?

What do we know?

As a result of the Battlehawks’ 13-12 victory over San Antonio last week, which gave them home-field advantage for this game, quarterback A.J. McCarron is in a position to add to his trophy case. Throughout the season, McCarron threw for 1,582 yards and 15 touchdowns against only four interceptions, completing 64.3% of his passes (164/255).

McCarron had a lot of help on offense from his St. Louis teammates. Running back Jacob Saylors had 461 yards and eight touchdowns, which was the most in the UFL. Wide receiver Hakeem Butler had 45 receptions for 652 yards and five scores, which was the most in the league. Willie Harvey set a new league record with 78 tackles and four sacks.

The Brahmas were in a similar position to Michigan last week; a field goal in the final seconds would have won the game. However, St. Louis beat San Antonio when kicker Ryan Santoso missed the target. You can count on the Brahmas’ defense to do the heavy lifting in this game, as they have given up 153 points and 12 touchdowns, which is eight less than the next-best team in the league.

Brahmas pivot Chase Garbers, who is nursing a wrist injury, started the game and completed 5 passes on 11 attempts for 40 yards, with one interception. Garbers also had three rushes for five yards before being replaced by backup quarterback Quinten Dormady, who completed 15 passes on 27 attempts for 188 yards and a touchdown. This week, Garbers continues to be limited in practice due to a wrist injury, according to league-issued injury reports.

Wide receiver Jontre Kirklin added to his league lead in receptions with another seven catches against St. Louis. Kirklin now leads the UFL with 56 receptions. His 127 receiving yards against the Battlehawks were his second 100-yard receiving game of the season. Brahmas running back Morgan Ellison saw another increased workload with the absence of John Lovett and Anthony McFarland Jr. Ellison rushed 11 times for 43 yards and scored a touchdown.

On defense, Brahmas linebacker Tavante Beckett and standout safety Jordan Mosley both recorded 75 tackles apiece; Beckett also had nine tackles for loss. The Brahmas’ offense relies on wide receiver Jontre Kirklin, running back John Lovett, and quarterback Quinten Dormady. Kirklin has 56 receptions for 614 yards and three touchdowns, Lovett has 422 yards and five more touchdowns, and Dormady has 1,206 yards and six touchdown passes in seven games.

San Antonio held St. Louis, which ranked first in the UFL in scoring offense with 13 points and just 199 yards of total offense, while picking up seven tackles for loss and three sacks.

This week’s game features a St. Louis team that boasts the top-scoring offense in the conference against a San Antonio defense that allowed the fewest points of any team in the UFL during the regular season. The Battlehawks averaged 26.0 points per game, including six games with 26 points or more. The Brahmas, meanwhile, allowed more than 19 points once, but it was to St. Louis in a 31-24 Week 3 loss.

The St. Louis defense limited opponents to 259.8 yards per game, slightly more than San Antonio’s 256.7 yards per game allowed. However, the Battlehawks held the Brahmas to 12 points in Week 10, which tied San Antonio’s lowest output of the season along with an 18-12 loss in Week 6 at the D.C. Defenders.

The Battlehawks have scored a conference-high 30 touchdowns and made a league-high 19- of 21 field goal attempts. San Antonio has managed 24 touchdowns and is 12-of-18 in field goal tries. St. Louis has also scored nine 2-point conversions and five 1-point conversions. The Brahmas have converted eight 1-point attempts, one 2-point attempt, and one 3-point try.

What should we expect?

We should expect both of these teams to come out of their tunnels with tremendous vigor. Each team has the right to believe they will win this game, and it will take the whole sixty minutes to prove who is the best on the day.

The roar of the St. Louis home crowd has hampered visiting teams in the past, but the Brahmas should be pros at dealing with crowd noise by now. Their game plan will be to use a silent count at times and score early to quell the boisterous fans.

The oddsmakers have predicted St. Louis to win this game by three points, which is a relatively small margin. These two teams are quite equally matched, and it will depend on which coaching staff has the best game plan for the day. I would not wager on this game, as it is a toss-up. Flip a coin, and that may be your winner.

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