Week 3 of the 2020 XFLseason will continue on Sunday with one of the more anticipated games of the season. The St. Louis BattleHawks (1-1) will finally make their home debut against theNew York Guardians (1-1), who are playing their second straight road game.
Both teams are coming off losses from last week. The BattleHawks fell short against Houston last week despite outscoring the Roughnecks 18-7 in the second half. As for the Guardians, they fell flat in DC last week and suffered a 27-0 shutout.
Both teams need a win in order to keep pace with the undefeated Defenders (2-0) in the XFL East standings.
New York at St. Louis
Kickoff: Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: The Dome at America's Center (St. Louis, Mo.)
Spread: Battlehawks -10
Three Things to Watch
1. Dome Sweet Dome
For the first time since 2015, a professional football game will be played at the Dome in downtown St. Louis. And while this will be the home debut for the BattleHawks, the St. Louis fans have already taken notice of the team. The BattleHawks' opener at Dallas drew a local television rating of 7.4, while last week's close call in Houston drew a 6.0. But despite the decrease from Week 1 to Week 2, the BattleHawks drew a higher rating than the NHL's St. Louis Blues did in the same time slot last Sunday. The fans are certainly glad to have football back under the Arch.
And it'll be interesting to see what attendance looks like at the Dome come Sunday. The official capacity of the Dome at America's Center is 66,965. But only the first level of seating will be made available for BattleHawks games. Reports out of St. Louis this week say that those seats have already sold out and that the operators of the dome are considering whether or not to open more seats. If that first level is indeed sold out, then it would give the league a nice boost.
2. The Jordan Ta'amu show
The former Ole Miss signal-caller has already established himself as one of the XFL's top players over these last two weeks. He leads the XFL in pass completions (50), ranks second in passing yards (493), is tied for second in touchdown passes (4), and leads all QB's in both rushing yards (109) and total yards (602). Ta'amu has displayed poise, consistency, efficiency, accuracy, mobility, arm strength, and determination. Those are all qualities that the NFL looks for in quarterbacks.
In the season-opening win at Dallas, Ta'amu's efficiency kept the Renegades offense on the bench for most of the game, especially in the second half. In last week's loss at Houston, Ta'amu's never-say-die attitude almost led the BattleHawks to a comeback victory. The Guardians will have their hands full trying to defend Ta'amu. And backing him up will be a defense that has registered five sacks and 11 tackles for a loss, while holding their opponents to just seven second-half points.
3. Which version of the Guardians will we see?
That's the burning question, as we've seen two different versions of Kevin Gilbride's team after two weeks. In their home opener two weeks ago, the Guardians made short work of the Tampa Bay Vipers by holding them to just a field goal. But last week in DC, the Defenders held the Guardians scoreless and had their way with them from start to finish. Quarterback Matt McGloin (23-of-48, 224 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions) did just enough to win in Week 1 but was benched during Week 2. New York needs to find an identity and fast if they want to get back into the win column.
Even if the Guardians can put it together for Sunday, the BattleHawks have too much talent to contend with. And with a rowdy St. Louis crowd backing them up, the BattleHawks will send the fans home happy as they restore pro football in the Gateway to the West.
Prediction: BattleHawks 28, Guardians 17
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.