XFL Championship Game: Preview and Pick

For the first time in over twenty years, there will be an XFL championship game. This weekend pits the underdog Arlington Renegades against the powerhouse DC Defenders. Here is what to expect from the game:

Jordan Ta’amu connects across the middle of the field. Photo by: David Taylor

Arlington Renegades (5-6) vs. DC Defenders (10-1)

Time/Date/TV: Saturday, May 13, 8pm ET

Location: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX

Line: DC -6 O/U 46.5

In the first and only other matchup between these two teams, DC narrowly edged Arlington 28-26 in overtime. Newly acquired quarterback Luis Perez shined for the Renegades, going 31-for-41 for 335 yards and a touchdown. Arlington dominated the game statistically, racking up over 400 yards of offense. The Renegades made very few mistakes, but the one big mistake turned out to be a game-changer. In the third quarter, Perez was picked off by DJ Swearinger who returned the interception for a touchdown. The pick-six was the only second-half points DC scored until overtime.

DC went with both quarterbacks against Arlington the first time. Starter Jordan Ta’amu went 14-for-20 for 188 yards and a touchdown, while backup QB D’Eriq King went 6-for-9 for 76 yards and a score. Both quarterbacks threw drive-killing interceptions in the second half, however. The running game was also less than spectacular, as the Defenders ran for only 50 yards in the game. This was very uncharacteristic of the number-one rushing offense in the XFL. Defensively, the Defenders game up 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter.

Abram Smith looks for breathing room. Photo by: David Taylor

Keys to the Game:

DC’s Defense

If DC is going to be XFL champions, then the defenders must pressure the quarterback. Perez was sacked twice in the first meeting but often had plenty of time to deliver to his receivers. The Defenders also struggled against the TE position, giving up 7 receptions for 92 yards to Sal Cannella. DC also gave up 113 yards rushing. DC’s defense needs to clamp down like it did against the Sea Dragons in the XFL North Championship game. If the Defenders’ blitz can get home against Arlington, then the Defenders will be XFL champions.

Arlington’s Offensive Execution

Very few people picked the Renegades to be in this game. Arlington struggled all season with finding the end zone. That all changed against Houston, as the Renegades quickly put up twenty points. In the previous weekend, Arlington had to settle for field goals. In the XFL South Championship game, the Renegades converted scoring opportunities into touchdowns. If Arlington can repeat this feat on Saturday, an XFL championship is there for the taking.

DC Defense roughs up Luis Perez Photo by: David Taylor

The Pick:

Arlington certainly has the location advantage, given that the game is in San Antonio. DC, however, has had two weeks to study the game tape and try to correct the defensive mistakes that were made in the Week 9 matchup. This will be a close game, likely decided by who wins the turnover battle. Expect a trick play or two as well (double forward pass, anyone?).

DC Defenders 29, Arlington Renegades 22

David Taylor can be found on Twitter @DavidTaylorXFL

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