The D.C. Defenders enter Week 7 still undefeated, standing alone at the top of the XFL mountain. Another victory by Reggie Barlow’s squad this Saturday over the winless Guardians in Orlando will likely net them the league’s first playoff berth. No team in the league is shining brighter than the Defenders, and everyone is taking notice. D.C. and its leader are justifiably receiving their flowers.
XFL North Playoff Picture
Despite being 6-0, with only four weeks left in the regular season, the Defenders have not clinched a playoff berth yet in the North Division. However, with a 5-0 divisional record, a season sweep over 4-2 St. Louis, and a head-to-head victory over 4-2 Seattle. The playoffs seem like a foregone conclusion for D.C.
After trouncing the Battlehawks in St. Louis and the Roughnecks in the never beaten confines of Audi Field. Week 7 presents a unique challenge for the Defenders. The team is riding an all-time high but needs to avoid the lowest of letdowns in Orlando.
Week 7 XFL: Saturday, April 1st, D.C. Defenders (6-0) at Orlando Guardians (0-6): Camping World Stadium, 6 p.m. E.T. on ESPN
- Point Spread: Defenders -9.5
- Over/Under: Over 45.5 points
- Weather Forecast: High 80, Low around 70F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph.
Week 7 D.C. Defenders Depth Chart/Injury Report
The Defenders are relatively healthy coming into Week 7. With the exception of WR/KR Jequez Ezzard, who will miss Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury. Chris Blair and Brandon Smith could see more snaps alongside Josh Hammond and the red-hot Lucky Jackson, who is coming off his best career game, a five-catch, 136-yard receiving effort in Week 6.
Ezzard is D.C.’s primary kick and punt returner. Recent acquisition RB/WR Raymond Calais, RB Ryquell Armstead, and K.J. Sails could see some action returning kicks in Ezzard’s stead.
Week 7 XFL: D.C. Defenders @ Orlando Guardians Game Preview
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you. When the work you put in is realized. Let yourself feel the pride, But always stay humble and kind.Tim McGraw – Humble And Kind
Reggie Barlow’s D.C. Defenders must exercise some humility after six straight victories to begin their campaign. That’s because they are facing a team in the 0-6 Orlando Guardians, who will be easy to take lightly.
On paper, in every respect, this is a mismatch. From the coaching staff right down to the players. The Defenders are head and shoulders above the Guardians.
On offense, D.C. is starting to add another dimension to their attack with the evolution of their passing game. Offensive coordinator Fred Kaiss is taking advantage of opposing teams over committing to stop the run by throwing the ball down the field against single coverage.
You can’t blame teams for selling out to stop a Defenders’ ground attack that has rushed for 986 yards and 12 touchdowns in six games. League-leading rusher Abram Smith, Ryquell Armstead, and the dynamic running QB tandem of Jordan Ta’amu and D’Eriq King make it challenging for defenses not to concentrate all their efforts on slowing them down.
What’s been most overlooked and impressive about D.C. is their offensive line. Kyle Murphy, D’Marcus Hayes, Liam Ryan, Liam Fornadel, and Mike Maietti have done a fantastic job upfront. In the run-and-pass game. The unit has allowed only six sacks on the season. The Guardians are second to last in the league with ten sacks on defense. The combination of those two stats spells trouble for Orlando.
Another mismatch statistically will be on the opposite side of the ball.
Greg Williams’s Defenders defense has forced 15 turnovers, produced 19 sacks, and scored three touchdowns. The Guardians’ offense has allowed a league-high 23 sacks. A recipe for disaster against D.C.’s ultra-aggressive defensive scheme.
Orlando QB Quinten Dormady has played well enough and given the Guardians a chance. However, he’s in for a tough challenge against D.C.’s creative and confusing defensive looks. Offensive coordinator Shane Matthews needs to stay committed to a ground attack, which showed great promise last weekend, rushing for 162 yards, to keep the Defenders’ defense honest.
To their credit, and despite their demoralizing record. Terrell Buckley’s troops have played hard the last few weeks. In fact, three of their previous four losses have been one-score games.
The Guardians are a desperate bunch right now, starving for a victory. So the Defenders need to be on guard and expect Orlando’s best.
Ultimately, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Orlando pulls off the biggest upset of the entire XFL season. They might put up a fight at home. But the Defenders are in a different weight class.
Prediction: D.C. Defenders 32 Orlando Guardians 16
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