After starting the season winning two of their first three games, the Arlington Renegades face their toughest challenge of the season going on the road against the St. Louis Battlehawks.
The Renegades went through a defensive battle last Sunday after defeating the Orlando Guardians 10-9 to improve their record to 2-1 on the season. Arlington’s offense struggled with just 178 total yards while the defense provided two turnovers in the win. Kyle Sloter played well in his first start of the season completing 78 percent of his passes and one touchdown.
As for St. Louis, their luck of winning close games came to an end as they lost to the DC Defenders 34-28 for their first loss of the season. Turnovers killed the Battlehawks as they had four in the game with three coming from quarterback A.J. McCarron. Despite that, McCarron still threw for 262 yards and four touchdowns in the loss.
Line: St. Louis -4, O/U 36.5
Date/Location: Sunday, March 12th, 2023, at The Dome at America’s Center
Kickoff Time: 4:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: N/A
TV/Streaming: ESPN2, ESPN+
Renegades Injury Report
The big story that came out this week was the loss of cornerback Josh Hawkins who tore his ACL in the win against Orlando he was placed on the reserve list. This was the third defensive back this season that was placed on the reserve list. Arlington will have to dig deep in their secondary to add more depth to the cornerback position.
Injuries to the defense continue to be an issue for the team as the team had two linebackers that have not practiced this week. Otaro Alaka and Edmond Robinson were not participants in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices. Alaka is dealing with an ankle injury while Robinson is dealing with a thigh injury. The team did not have Alaka out on the field last week as it looks like it might be trending to a third straight game being out. Robinson was inactive for the first game against the Vegas Vipers.
Renegades Depth Chart
All eyes are on the secondary for the depth chart as well as it appears Shakur Brown will be stepping in as Hawkins’ replacement as the starter at cornerback. Darren Evans and Jordan Miller will be the backups as the team hopes to keep those players healthy. Joe Powell will make another start at safety in place of Jamal Carter who is on the reserve list. Newly signed Jamar Johnson fills in as his backup.
The offense appears to be intact where it was last week. Something to keep an eye on is receiver Caleb Vander Esch is backing up Tyler Vaughns so there is a chance we see him get more playing time. At running back, Kenneth Farrow will remain as the third back behind De’Veon Smith and Adrian Killins but could see a more evenly amount of carries between the three backs as they look for consistency running the ball.
Key Storylines for Renegades
The offense needs to have a big week as they have failed to hit over 250 yards in a game this season. They are currently 7th in points per game (15.3), last in rushing yards per game (63.3), last in passing yards per game (119.7), and last in total yards per game (183). These are worrisome stats for a team that is above .500 to begin the season.
Quarterback Kyle Sloter makes his second start of the season after playing efficiently and not turning the ball over last week. With Sloter now in a rhythm, it’ll be on co-offensive coordinator Jon Hayes to open up the offense and move the ball vertically down the field. Fans will have to see if he sticks with being conservative and stay with the run or move to more passing as they did in the fourth quarter of the Guardians’ game.
Arlington’s defense has been plagued with injuries, but it hasn’t stopped them from being the second-best unit behind the Houston Roughnecks. In particular, the linebackers and secondary have seen the most hits taken. What has helped the team is that they are so deep at both positions, and they have plenty of players who have stepped up.
Players to watch this week are Shakur Brown at cornerback and Darnell Sankey at linebacker. Sankey had a huge game for Arlington last week as fans are seeing glimpses of his high-level play from when he was in the CFL. Brown fills in for Hawkins who will have some tough battles with the Battlehawks’ deep receiving core.
One specific reason this is going to be the most challenging game of the season for Arlington is the home crowd of St. Louis they are going to have to deal with. It appears there’s easily going to be over 30,000 fans in the stands which would make it the largest crowd since the league was revived in 2020. No team has had to deal with that crowd noise all season so it’s going to be a struggle for Arlington.
The key to the game is the Renegades must get off to a fast start to the game which is something they have not done through the first three games of the season with six total points in the first quarter. If the offense stalls out it have, they’ll have to lean on the defense to create turnovers and give the offense a good field position. The good news is St. Louis had four turnovers last week, so Arlington has the ability to do so.
Arlington’s biggest problem on the field is how good McCarron has been this season as that passing game is among the best in the league. Key injuries to the secondary for the Renegades could end up hurting them moving forward. If the Renegades allow over 20 points with how the offense has been operating, this game will not end up well for Arlington.
Prediction: St. Louis Battlehawks 21, Arlington Renegades 13
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