XFL Preview: Houston Roughnecks at Seattle Sea Dragons, Thursday March 16, 2023

Houston Roughnecks at Seattle Sea Dragon

  • Houston Roughnecks (4-0) at Seattle Sea Dragons (2-2)
  • Thursday, March 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Lumen Field, Seattle
  • Tickets: Ticketmaster & StubHub
  • Broadcaster: ESPN, ESPN+
  • Announcers: Lowell Galindo, Sam Acho, Eric Mac Lain, Taylor McGregor
  • Odds: Houston -3, O/U 41.5 (DraftKings)

We have reached week five of the XFL season, and recall that the previous XFL only made it this far. We should also recall that the Houston Roughnecks are still unbeaten as an XFL team. Will this be the week where their record is broken?

This is the first time the Roughnecks and the Sea Dragons are meeting this season, and the last time they will see each other outside of the playoffs.

Last week, Houston took a 20-0 lead over Orlando in the first quarter and never looked back, trouncing the Guardians 44-16. Quarterback Brandon Silvers completed 24 of 30 passes for 239 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Travell Harris caught three passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, Deontay Burnett had 3 receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown, and Jontre Kirklin catching 2 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. The Roughnecks defense was on point, putting pressure on Orlando’s pivots and registering four sacks with Trent Harris (1.5) leading the way.

Seattle is also coming off a win after beating San Antonio 15-6 at Lumen Field. Ben DiNucci completed 28 of 41 passes for 264 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Running back Morgan Ellison rushed for 69 yards on 18 attempts. The defense shut down the Brahmas, keeping them out of the end zone and shutting down their run.

What should we look for?

The Houston Roughnecks put on a show last week against Orlando, and even brought out a double-forward pass for a touchdown as a demonstration of their offensive dominance. Houston dominated in week 4, making a case for a status as the most lethal offense in the league. The Roughnecks are ahead in many offensive categories including scoring with an average of 30.5 points per game, and are second on offense with an average of 333.5 yards per game. This week, the Sea Dragons are tasked to shut them down. Based on what they did last week against San Antonio, they may be the team with the ability to do so. Seattle will have to pressure on Houston quarterback Brandon Silvers enough to throw off his rhythm. As well, the Roughnecks have not shown a prolific running game, so the Sea Dragons just need to concentrate on breaking up Seattle’s big play offense. If this game becomes an offensive battle, both teams have demonstrated a quick strike ability that may make for an exciting show.

On Seattle’s side of the ball, the Sea Dragon’s offense is top of the league in terms of yards per game, leading the league at 373. Seattle also boasts a lethal pass attack and has been more effective with their ground game. If the Sea Dragons can get their running game going, it will serve to extend drives and keep the Houston offense off the field. Of course, Seattle can do it on offense if the Roughnecks let them. However, Houston’s defense may have plenty to say about it. Watch for Houston to try to force Seattle quarterback Ben DiNucci into producing turnovers, something he has done in the past.

The Roughnecks head coach Wade Phillips is probably counting on the strength of his defense to shut down June Jones run-and-shoot offense. The Roughnecks pass rush has a league-leading 17 sacks, and they should be able to get to Ben DiNucci. DiNucci has thrown four interceptions and has fumbled three times, but his offensive line has done well to protect him allowing only four sacks so far. The Sea Dragons have offensive weapons of their own with wide receivers Josh Gordon and Jahcour Pearson ready for a big play downfield.


So far, Houston hasn’t given up more that 16 points in any game. It may be Seattle that expands this average, testing the league’s No. 1 defense. If the Sea Dragons can limit turnovers and get big plays with their offense they have a good chance to defeat the streaking Roughnecks. Otherwise, Houston has proven they can win on any given game day, and this one may proved to be no different.

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