Coming off an 11-point comeback, the Arlington Renegades prepare for their week two matchup against their Texas Throwdown rivals Houston Roughnecks.
The last time these two teams played, it was one of the most memorable games of the 2020 XFL season. Despite former Renegades quarterback Landry Jones throwing three interceptions and getting injured, the Renegades drove down the field on the final drive of the game to set themselves up to tie or win the game. A Flynn Nagel bobbled ball inside the five-yard line fell into the arms of Houston for the Roughnecks to win 27-20.
Things are different this time around with both teams looking much different than they did back in 2020. Wade Phillips takes over a team who is coming off a dominating 33-12 win over the Orlando Guardians after recording seven sacks and three turnovers in the game. Not only do they have the best defense, but led by quarterback Brandon Silvers, Houston has the top-scoring offense in the young season.
Arlington had a tougher time winning in week one as three second half takeaways and two defensive touchdowns were the difference in a 22-20 win over the Vegas Vipers. Quarterback Drew Plitt made his first career professional start completing 76% of his passes in the win. Not to mention the underrated performance of kicker Taylor Russolino converting three field goals in a windy, cold environment made the difference in the game.
Line: Roughnecks -5, O/U 40
Date/Location: Sunday, February 26th at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas
Kickoff Time: 7:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: Cloudy, 69 F, Wind 17 mph, 36% chance of precipitation
TV/Streaming: ESPN2, ESPN+
Broadcast Team: Matt Barrie, Joey Galloway, Tiffany Blackman, Eric Mac Lain
Renegades Injury Report
The major concern for the Renegades heading into week two is in the secondary with Shakur Brown (ankle) and Cre’von LeBlanc (foot). While they are not considered starters, this leaves their depth at cornerback with a big question mark. Darren Evans and Jordan Miller are the other cornerbacks behind De’Vante Bausby and Josh Hawkins. Should both not be available for the game, that will be a problem, especially with Houston’s offense all about passing the football.
Starting linebacker Otaro Alaka (ankle) is another player to watch out for as he has participated in practice this week which could be another issue. Should he not be able to go, it would be Colin Schooler playing after recording a sack in the home opener for Arlington. The only other player on the list is starting left guard Jake Stetz (knee). He was a limited participant in practice on Thursday which could mean he might still be able to play. Brian Folkerts is the backup should Stetz not be available for the game.
Arlington Renegades Depth Chart
One change to note on the depth chart that shouldn’t come as a surprise is the move to put wide receiver Tyler Vaughns in the starting lineup over Rannell Hall. While Hall wasn’t listed on the injury report, he was placed on the reserve list this week as he has been dealing with a hip injury. Vaughns finished as the second-leading receiver for the team catching four passes for 38 yards.
While the changes have not been made to the special teams just yet, it is worth noting with Hall out, the team is rolling with Joe Powell as the punt returner and Adrian Killins as the kickoff returner. Both had decent success returning as Powell had a 23-yard return while Killins had a 31-yard return. Two other positions to watch with potential changes are left guard and inside linebacker depending on if the injured starters play.
Key Storylines for Renegades
Renegades quarterback Drew Plitt is in line to make his second start of the season after leading a win for Arlington last week. Plitt leads the league in completion percentage at 76% and threw for 172 yards. While he is searching for his first professional touchdown, Plitt showed good potential so facing up against the best defense in the XFL will be a good benchmark for where he is in his development.
The defense for Arlington was spectacular in the second half against Vegas as they didn’t allow a first down until the last drive of the game. Three second-half turnovers were the difference between a win and a loss. Two of those were interceptions returned for touchdowns which got the Renegades the win.
With the Roughnecks’ high-powered offense, it’ll be on the secondary to have a shutdown performance for four quarters instead of one half.
Fans now have a better idea of how each team is going to play in general. It appears these two teams are going to be the top two teams in the south division at the end of the season. Their defenses are stellar at getting to the quarterback and creating turnovers in big moments. The big difference between the two teams is the offenses and how Houston has a smoother process than Arlington does.
As we have seen in the XFL early, it’s all about who can protect the football better and who can establish a consistent running game. Both teams are solid at running the football but need to be careful with turnovers. Silvers and Plitt’s performance rating will depend on who has fewer turnovers. If one team runs for over 100 yards and wins the turnover battle, it’s safe to assume the number two will be added to their record.
Prediction: Houston Roughnecks 25, Arlington Renegades 20
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