XFL 2023 playoff photo: Sea Dragons earn final berth via tiebreak; here’s a look at both playoff semifinals

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By Webdesk

The XFL’s 40-game regular season — four games a week for 10 weeks — ended Sunday night, and it took all 40 to decide which team got the fourth and final playoff berth.

The Seattle Sea Dragons opened their game on Sunday night with the Vegas Vipers, knowing they had to at least win to tie the St. Louis Battlehawks’ 7-3 record. The Sea Dragons took the win, 28-9, as well as the final playoff berth, with the deciding factor amazingly coming down to fifth point in the XFL playoff tiebreaker list.

The Sea Dragons, who have gone 7-1 in their last eight after a 0-2 start, have had a rough week. Defensive lineman Chris Smith, who also played for five different teams in eight seasons in the NFL, passed away last Monday at the age of 31. Seattle wore Smith’s No. 42 on their helmets and had his jersey on the sidelines.

Seattle’s victory took out the Battlehawks, who got an absolute monster effort from AJ McCarron on Saturday (more on that below). First, let’s look at the playoff matchups.

XFL playoffs set


Arlington Renegades at Houston Roughnecks

Saturday, April 29, 7 p.m. ET


Seattle Sea Dragons at DC Defenders

Sunday, April 30, 3 p.m. ET


The championship match will feature the winners of those two matchups, and the match will kick off Saturday, May 13 at 3PM ET on ABC.

Here’s a look at the week 10 scores (check out the latest regular season standings in the XFL here).

St Louis Battlehawks 53, Orlando Guardians 28
DC Defenders 29, San Antonio Brahmas 28
Houston Roughnecks 25, Arlington Renegades 9
Seattle Sea Dragons 29, Vegas Vipers 9

Sea Dragons beat Vipers, beat Battlehawks out of the playoffs

Seattle led only 6-0 at halftime, perhaps feeling a little nervous in a must-win game. But after that they were all Sea Dragons. Seattle scored a touchdown on four straight drives from the end of the second quarter to the start of the fourth.

Sea Dragons quarterback Ben DiNucci threw for 339 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. Former NFL reception leader Josh Gordon led Seattle with nine catches for 115 yards. Juwan Green had five catches for 88 yards.

Two of Seattle’s three losses this season came against the DC Defenders – 22-18 in Week 1 and 34-33 in Week 8 – and they will now face each other for a third time in the playoffs.

McCarron sets XFL’s all-time TD record

AJ McCarron may not have been an NFL star, but he was an absolute beast in the XFL. The Battlehawks quarterback threw SIX touchdown passes on Saturday, going 28 of 35 for 420 yards. McCarron appears to be the front runner for XFL MVP. In a game with a playoff berth potentially on the line, St. Louis scored only 53 points.

Granted, it came against the Orlando Guardians, who have won one game all season – inexplicably inflicting the DC Defenders with their only defeat.

McCarron’s six TDs gave him 24 for the year. It’s the most an XFL quarterback has pitched in any of the league’s three seasons — the other two being the 2020 season, which was canceled after five games due to COVID-19, and the original in 2001, when Tommy Maddox turned 18. touchdown passes.

The question for McCarron: Can he return to the NFL? The Bengals’ fifth-round pick in 2014 — he also played briefly with four other teams, totaling 6 TD passes and 3 INTs in the NFL — would qualify.

Let’s see who’s inside

  • DC defenders
  • Seattle Sea Dragons
  • Houston Roughnecks
  • Arlington renegades

The owners of the XFL’s best record, DC (9-1), won another nail biter last weekend, beating the San Antonio Brahmas 29-28.

The Brahmas’ loss dropped them out of the playoffs, meaning the Arlington Renegades are in – despite a 4-6 record and more points than they scored after Sunday’s loss. Not only did the Renegades and Roughnecks play each team’s regular season finale on Sunday (the Roughnecks won 25-9), they’ll also play each other again next Saturday in the South Division Championship playoffs – just in case. You’d love to watch some football as the third and final day of the NFL Draft comes to a close.

A look at who’s out

  • Las Vegas vipers
  • Orlando Watchers
  • Saint Anthony Brahmas
  • Battle Hawks of St. Louis

The Vipers couldn’t play a spoiler against the Sea Dragons on Sunday night, but Vegas was more competitive during the second half of the season. Rod Woodson’s team convincingly recorded its second win of the season over the Brahmas in Week 7, then followed up that performance with narrow losses to St. Louis and Houston.

The Battlehawks led the league in attendance, showing that St. Louis certainly still wants a football team. Of their three losses this season, two came against the DC Defenders and one against the Sea Dragons.

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