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Lone Star Battle: Brahmas Seek to Exploit Roughnecks

San Antonio Brahmas
© Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Brahmas continue their march to the UFL Playoffs as coach Wade Phillips faces his former team for the first time. Phillips led the Houston Roughnecks to a 7-3 record and the XFL playoffs last season but will now patrol the opposing sidelines for the Brahmas. Will the Roughnecks keep their slim playoff hopes alive or will the Brahmas secure their fifth victory of the year? Let’s dive in and make a prediction at the end.

What Is at Stake?

With the 18-12 loss to the DC Defenders last week, the Brahmas' playoff odds are at stake in this game. The Brahmas, at 4-2, currently hold a one-game lead over the 3-3 Defenders for the second and final playoff spot in the XFL Conference. The Defenders have a tough home against against the Michigan Panthers, who are also 4-2, so there is a good opportunity for the Brahmas to extend their playoff spot lead to two games by the end of Sunday.

While the Roughnecks (1-5) are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in the USFL conference, the final nail could be driven into their coffin this weekend. The Roughnecks will need to win their four remaining games, and the Panthers would need to lose their remaining four, for Houston to make the playoffs. Yes, Llyod Christmas, I'm saying there is a chance but if you think that is going to occur you fall somewhere between dumb and dumber.

Key Players for the Brahmas

  • Quinten Dormady, QB:  Since replacing injured starter Chase Garbers in Week 4, Dormady's performance has progressively worsened. He threw for 269 yards in his first game, 164 yards in the second and only 79 yards in last week's loss to the Defenders. In the same period, he has recorded 3 passing touchdowns and 5 interceptions, highlighting ball security issues. Dormady needs to improve his performance, or fans will be calling for a change at quarterback. One potential alternative is Jayden de Laura, who was recently signed and was set to play at Texas State this year until controversy forced him to leave.

  • John Lovett, RB: Lovett leads the UFL in rushing with 348 yards on 74 carries, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and is second in scoring. In the past two games, he rushed for 248 yards, including a 2024 UFL single-game record of 153 yards against the Defenders. If quarterback play remains inconsistent, the Brahmas will need to lean on Lovett for 20-25 carries to secure a win.

Key Players for the Roughnecks

  • Mark Thompson, RB: Thompson had 46 rushing yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the St. Louis Battlehawks. Thompson has been working his way back from a knee sprain suffered in practice in March and saw his heaviest workload of the season last week with 13 carries. According to UFL Board , coach C.J. Johnson views Thompson as a scoring weapon, saying, "When we get down in the red zone, we've got to give him the ball."

  • Donald Rutledge Jr., DB: Rutledge leads the team with 32 tackles, including seven in last week's loss to the Battlehawks. If the Brahmas continue to struggle with their passing game, the Roughnecks will need to lean on their rushing defense, which ranks third in the league, to prevent the Brahmas from reaching 200 rushing yards as they did last week. Roughnecks defensive coordinator Chris Wilson is likely to focus heavily on stopping the run and Rutledge will be a key factor in executing this strategy successfully.


Lovett rushes for more than 100 yards for the second consecutive week and Dormady does just enough in the passing game for the Brahmas to improve to 5-2 and maintain control of their playoff hopes.

Final score: San Antonio Brahmas 23, Houston Roughnecks 18.

Broadcast Information

  • Date/Time: Sunday, May 12, 3 p.m. EST

  • Location: Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas

  • TV: ESPN

  • Radio: ESPN Xtra on SiriusXM

Betting Information

  • Betting Spread: Brahmas -3

  • Betting Over/Under: 40

  • Betting Money Line: Brahmas -166, Roughnecks +140

Note: Betting information is provided per DraftKings.


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