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    XFL Week 5 Picks: Best Bets for Battlehawks vs. Defenders Includes Brian Hill, Abram Smith, and AJ McCarron

    What can we expect in Saturday's XFL battle between the St. Louis Battlehawks and DC Defenders? Here are the odds, picks, and predictions.

    If you’re looking for Week 5 XFL St. Louis Battlehawks vs. DC Defenders odds, picks, and predictions for this thrilling Saturday night matchup, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve analyzed each team’s highest-probability game scripts to assess the most likely outcomes, including which players are in line to thrive more than anticipated or fall short of expectations.

    Battlehawks vs. Defenders Week 5 Odds and Betting Lines

    The following odds and betting lines for the Battlehawks vs. Defenders are as of the evening of Thursday, March 16, and come from DraftKings Sportsbook. Clearly, they’re subject to change. That said, barring an unforeseen injury to a significant starter, we should assume that these lines will remain largely intact.

    • Point Spread: Battlehawks (+2)
    • Moneyline: Battlehawks (+110), Defenders (-130)
    • Over/Under: 42 (-110)

    Battlehawks vs. Defenders Picks and Predictions

    My Week 3 XFL point spread and moneyline picks went a combined 6-2, and in Week 4, they went 7-1. Once again, my over/unders disappointed. So just like last week, I want to be transparent about where I’m hitting and where I’m badly missing (so far).

    Week 5 is a heckuva week for the XFL. Unfortunately, it coincides with the excitement of March Madness. Fortunately, the XFL has been a destination for exciting, well-executed football. And if you like exciting, well-executed football, it doesn’t get much better than the Battlehawks vs. Defenders.

    In terms of win-loss records, these are two of the best three teams. They also happen to be in the same division. This could be a preview of a playoff matchup. It might also be a serious bump in the road for St. Louis if they lose. Or, it could be the potential start of a slide for the seemingly unbeatable Defenders if they lose.

    Let’s start with DC, which is somehow 4-0. I write “somehow” because they’re winning through superior running and defense. The Defenders are a throwback to a bygone era of football, when a bruising four-yard gain for a first down meant more than a chance for a 20-yard reception.

    Take the yards. Move the chains. Rinse and repeat.

    DC has three of the top five rushers in the league with respect to yards on the ground. Running backs Abram Smith and Ryquell Armstead form a terrific one-two punch. Additionally, starting QB Jordan Ta’amu has averaged 5.2 yards per carry on 36 attempts.

    Backup QB D’Eriq King has carried the ball 18 times, racking up four TDs in the process. No other XFL player has more than two rushing scores. Yeah, that’s something.

    MORE: 2023 XFL Standings | XFL TV Schedule

    When your four top rushers are combining for 38 carries per game — and when they’re getting the job done in the process — how are teams supposed to stop them?

    This is the challenge for the Battlehawks. Yet, it’s doable. Because as I wrote last week, when a team finally figures out how to slow DC on the ground, it could be trouble for the Defenders’ title hopes. Because Ta’amu isn’t (yet) a gifted passer. That’s why the team has been content to keep pounding the ball on the ground.

    For St. Louis to win, they’ll need to slow DC’s running game, forcing Ta’amu to sustain drives through the air. Easier said than done, especially for a team yielding the second-most rushing yards.

    However, these two teams faced off in Week 3. The Battlehawks lost by only six, and briefly led in the third quarter. How did they do it? By slowing down DC’s running game, limiting them to 136 yards on 39 carries (3.5 ypc).

    It could be argued that AJ McCarron’s first-quarter pick-six proved to be the difference. He threw two interceptions in this contest. We can credit DC’s defense while also respecting that McCarron has thrown only one pick in his three other outings.

    The Battlehawks have a top-notch RB in Brian Hill, as well as a formidable passing attack led by McCarron, Hakeem Butler, Darrius Shepherd, and Austin Proehl. Their prized draft pick, Marcell Ateman, is merely fifth on the team in receiving yards. That’s a testament to how talented this corps is (and, candidly, a reminder that NFL pedigrees don’t always translate into XFL success).

    And actually, aside from Proehl, those other five Battlehawks have all seen NFL action to varying degrees. This is an experienced core of playmakers playing at home against an undefeated team they nearly beat on the road.

    As brilliantly as the Defenders have played, St. Louis was one of my two preseason picks to win the championship. They remain one of my two favorites. They know what it takes to defeat DC. I believe they’ll get the job done.

    • Recommended Point-Spread Bet: Battlehawks (+2)
    • Recommended Moneyline Bet: Battlehawks (+110)
    • Over/Under: Over 42 (-110)

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