It’s back-against-the-wall time for the Seattle Dragons as they look to stop a three-game losing streak, and things aren’t going to get any easier for them this week. Seattle (1-3) will head on down to play the blazing hot Houston Roughnecks (4-0) at TDECU Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston.
There could be a potential quarterback controversy at hand for the Dragons after B.J. Daniels came in to replace Brandon Silvers and nearly led Seattle to a win last week. The Dragons ended up losing to the St. Louis BattleHawks, 23-16, but Daniels threw for 100 yards, one touchdown, and one interception and cut the team's deficit from 14 points to just seven in the second half. Quarterback run plays became more of an option with Daniels as he carried the ball seven times for 84 yards.
Getting off the field was an issue for the Seattle defense, with a very balanced St. Louis offense racked up 392 yards. They also had few answers for BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta'amu, who threw for 264 yards and a touchdown while completing 74 percent of his passes.
Houston went on the road and picked up another invaluable win away from home last Sunday. The Roughnecks defeated the Dallas Renegades, 27-20, in the first installment of a fun in-state rivalry. P.J. Walker had another solid outing by completing 25-of-41 passes for 239 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Beniquez Brown stepped up in a big way defensively with nine tackles, including two tackles for a loss, and a pass breakup. Edmond Robinson’s 12-yard strip-sack fumble return for a touchdown gave Houston enough breathing room to get out of Arlington with the victory.
Seattle at Houston
Kickoff: Saturday, Mar. 7 at 2 p.m. ET
Where: TDECU Stadium (Houston)
Spread: Roughnecks -12
Three Things to Watch
1. Seattle wide receivers vs. Houston secondary
This group needs to get back on track this week because they did not provide enough of a threat against the St. Louis secondary last week. Alonzo Moore was the leading the receiver with one catch for 57 yards, and no one caught more than two passes. Winning one-on-one battles this week will going to be important to create separation and give whoever is playing quarterback an opportunity to make some plays. Making plays against the Roughnecks secondary will be easier said than done, though, since that unit was outstanding against the Dallas passing attack. Houston had three interceptions and 10 pass breakups, led by Deatrick Nichols, who picked off two passes, and Ajene Harris who had four pass breakups by himself. The secondary also limited Donald Parham to six catches for 56 yards and a touchdown, which is a pretty good effort against a quality player like that. If the secondary can limit the explosive plays by the Dragons wide receivers, they’ll be in great shape on Saturday.
2. Houston offense
One of the more encouraging things about the last week’s win over the Renegades for Houston was their effectiveness throwing the football without needing to rely on Cam Phillips. Dallas kept Phillips in check with just one reception for nine yards. But Nick Holley stepped up with eight receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown, and Kahlil Lewis chipped in six receptions for 53 yards to offset the tough day for Phillips. Nine different players caught passes last week, which is how you want to be when operating a run-and-shoot offense. The offensive line did a good job of keeping Walker upright too, as they only allowed one sack against the Renegades defensive front, and they were able to keep drives alive with 6-of-13 successes on third downs. That allowed Houston to save keep their fresh which paid off for them as the game went along.
3. Seattle's quarterback situation
The case for B.J. Daniels is straight forward since he put points on the board and is a dual-threat quarterback who causes headaches for opposing defenses. Daniels' mobility also takes some pressure off of the offensive line, which is not the best at pass protection. Heading into Week 5, the Dragons sit three games behind Houston in the XFL West, so you might as well empty the tank so to speak and ride with Daniels the rest of the season. Head coach Jim Zorn and his staff have nothing to lose to everything to gain by keeping Daniels as the starter and leaving Brandon Silvers on the bench for the foreseeable future.
Houston head coach June Jones and his staff will have an interesting challenge this week from a motivational perspective. The Roughnecks are coming off of the big rivalry game win over Dallas and they have an early kickoff against a team they should clearly beat. It will be interesting to see how the first quarter unfolds for Houston this week. Seattle needs to come out, play loose, and empty the tank playbook-wise in order to pull off the upset. But in the end, the Roughnecks will end up pulling away from the Dragons and improve to 5-0 overall.
Prediction: Roughnecks 29, Dragons 18
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter@ScottWhittum.