UFL 2024: Five things to watch for in Week 10

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by Eric Williams | FOXSports.com

UFL 2024: Five things to watch for in Week 10

The battle for home-field advantage in the XFL title game takes place Saturday (4 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app) when the St. Louis Battlehawks (6-3) host the San Antonio Brahmas (7-2) at The Dome at America’s Center.


St. Louis won the earlier matchup between the two teams — a 31-24 victory on the road — in Week 3.


A win for the Battlehawks means they would secure another home game next week and a decided advantage in St. Louis, where the Battlehawks have drawn an average of over 34,000 fans per game — easily the most in the league.


However, the Battlehawks will have to recover from an upset to the Arlington Renegades (2-7) on the road in Week 9.


"The biggest way to judge a football team and what they’re about is how they respond," St. Louis head coach Anthony Becht said. "I’ll give credit to our players because every time we’ve had our backs to the wall, we’ve responded. So, the challenge is on them, and I expect a much better product this week."

Saturday's second game will be an USFL title game preview between the Birmingham Stallions (8-1) and the Michigan Panthers (7-2) at Protective Stadium (2 p.m. ET).


In Sunday's doubleheader, the DC Defenders (4-5) host the Renegades (noon ET), while the Houston Roughnecks (1-8) and Memphis Showboats (1-8) battle each other at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium (7 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app) for the No. 1 overall selection in next year’s draft.


Here are five things to watch for during the final week of the UFL regular season.


1. Will AJ McCarron start at QB for the Battlehawks?


McCarron has not played the past two weeks because of an ankle injury he suffered in a Week 7 loss to Birmingham. "He has a significant ankle injury that we’re trying to get better," Becht told reporters this week. "There are things a quarterback has to do to be able to function properly. He wants to be out there. I have to make the right decision on how to go about it."


McCarron, who's currently listed as the starter on the team’s depth chart, was a limited participant in practice all week and is officially questionable for Week 10. The Battlehawks averaged 28.4 points per contest with McCarron as the starter and 24 points with backup Manny Wilkins at the helm.


Meanwhile, the Brahmas have more clarity at the quarterback position. With Quinten Dormady limited in practice due to a shoulder injury, Chase Garbers is set to get his first start since going on IR in Week 3 with a wrist injury.


Garbers returned to action last week, taking over for Dormady after two possessions — and a shoulder injury — to help lead the Brahmas to a stunning win over the then-undefeated Stallions.


2. Panthers are resting key players for postseason


Michigan’s No. 1 receiver Marcus Simms (hamstring) and top running back Matt Colburn (forearm) have been ruled out of Saturday’s game, along with safety Corrion Ballard (hamstring) and defensive end Kenny Willekes (ankle).


For Birmingham, outside linebacker DeMarquis Gates will not play due to a foot injury. Birmingham head coach Skip Holtz also confirmed this week that defensive coordinator John Chavis returned home to deal with a health issue and has been replaced by defensive backs coach Corey Chamblin.

The Brahmas will also be shorthanded. Electric running back Anthony McFarland has been ruled out due to a right shoulder injury, and John Lovett, who leads all running backs in total yards this season, is doubtful with a chest injury.


San Antonio tight end Cody Latimer was placed on IR with a knee injury after an illegal hit by Birmingham safety Kenny Robinson on the opening drive of last week's game. Robinson received a personal foul penalty on the play.


Arlington receiver JaVonta Peyton was also placed on IR due to injury. Birmingham released kicker Ramiz Ahmed and brought back Chris Blewitt now that he’s healthy.


3. Stallions QB Adrian Martinez remains frontrunner for UFL MVP


Holtz found another dynamic QB to follow in the footsteps of last year’s USFL MVP Alex McGough in Martinez.


The Kansas State product not only leads the league in rushing with 487 yards, but he’s also third in passing yards (1,587) and tied for second in touchdown passes (15), while completing nearly 60% of his passes.


Martinez is the main reason Birmingham’s offense is humming heading into the postseason, and he should get an opportunity to show that he can compete at the highest level in the NFL once the UFL season is over.

4. Who takes home the first overall draft pick: Roughnecks or Showboats?


Daryl Johnson, the UFL's head of football operations, isn’t a fan of giving things away. To create more competition between these last-place finishers, the UFL made the final regular-season game a winner-take-all for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2025 UFL Draft. The USFL did something similar two seasons ago, with Michigan earning the No. 1 pick after a victory over the now defunct Pittsburgh Maulers in the final game of the 2022 season.


QB Josh Love will get his first start for Memphis. The last time he started was for the Panthers in Week 9 of the USFL last season.


5. Stat of the week


St. Louis do-everything receiver and return man Darrius Shepherd leads the UFL in all-purpose yards per contest with an average of 152.6.


Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him at @eric_d_williams.

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