Three years after the XFL shut down their operations, they return to the field for the first game of the XFL 3.0 season as the Vegas Vipers face off against the Arlington Renegades.
This is the first time the teams are ever meeting each other as when the Vipers were in Tampa Bay in 2020, these two teams never got to play each other. Vegas has head coach Rod Woodson leading them onto the field for his first game as a head coach on any level. Renegades head coach Bob Stoops is the only coach returning as head coach for his second season after going 2-3 back in 2020.
Line: Renegades -2.5, O/U 37.5
Date/Location: Saturday, February 18, 2023, Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, TX
Kickoff Time: 3:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: Cloudy, 55F, Wind 11 mph, 40% Humidity
Broadcast Team: Tom Hart, Greg McElroy, Cole Cubelic, Katie George
Team Depth Charts
The obvious most notable position to look at is quarterback which has Luis Perez starting instead of Brett Hundley. It’s been known the price the league had to reportedly pay Hundley to bring him into the league, but this is about familiarity with the offense and Perez has been with the team longer. Hundley could eventually be the starter, but Perez makes more sense to start. Perez has proven to be a game manager who takes care of the ball while getting the offense moving.
One interesting note comes at the Will linebacker position with Pita Taumoepenu and Max Roberts still fighting for the starting job. It’s the only position on the roster that has the “or” in between the names. That will be a position to watch as they both will be rotating in and out of the position throughout the game.
Fans have an idea of who the starting quarterback will be, but it is noting that the team has not named either Drew Plitt or Kyle Sloter as the starter going into the game. From how the XFL’s official blogs and articles have been written, it certainly feels like Plitt will be the starter on Saturday. This would be a surprise due to Sloter’s prior experience, but Plitt’s athletic ability reminds some of a younger version of Jordan Ta’amu.
The running back position has not been determined yet as it is between Keith Ford and De’Veon Smith. This might be a different situation from the quarterback position as Ford and Smith will be splitting carries throughout the season so there may never be a set starter there. Both will be impactful backs who will grind out three-to-four-yard carries.
Vipers Receivers Vs. Renegades Secondary
Vegas might have the best-receiving core in the XFL and it all starts with their top draft pick Martavis Bryant who brings in a wealth of experience and success from the NFL. Another receiver who found success in the NFL is Geronimo Allison who was just recently brought in to play as he should be an impactful player. Former Renegades receiver Jeff Badet is also back and looks to start at the slot as he was one of the top receivers for the Renegades back in 2020.
Another veteran-heavy group comes with the Renegades’ secondary and all starts with Will Hill at safety. Hill will be accompanied by Jamal Carter at safety as they should make for a good duo. At cornerback, 2020 Renegades corner Josh Hawkins returns to the team and the lineup with De’Vante Bausby lining up opposite of him.
This might be the best matchup of the season as both units are older and have plenty of NFL and XFL experience. All eyes are on Bryant for Arlington so it’ll be interesting to see if Bausby or Hawkins will have the responsibility of covering him the whole game. Whoever ends up being the nickel corner for Arlington will have to cover Badet which could be the difference in who wins this battle.
Vipers Front Seven Vs. Renegades Offensive Line
The highlight of the Vipers’ defense is Vic Beasley as he comes in as one of the top defensive players in the XFL. Beasley at one point led the NFL in sacks in the 2016 season with 15.5. That’s how dominant he has been. Arlington’s challenge will be trying to block him off the edge to protect their quarterback as well as provide running leans for the backs.
The Renegades have two of the top offensive linemen in the XFL led by Garrett McGhin and Cameron Hunt as they proved in the USFL to be hard to get past. One position on the offensive line to watch out for will be at left tackle and how George Moore will block the quarterback’s blind side. Moore will most likely have to block Beasley and make sure he doesn’t cause too many quarterback pressures.
Just because of the sheer respect the Renegades are going to have for Beasley, it’s going to be a challenge for Arlington as they will have to double-team him with extra blockers. It might end up changing how the Renegades run their offense as they want to be more spread out. What Vegas should know is that Arlington has one of the best offensive lines in the league so if anyone is up for the challenge, it’s the Renegades.
This game comes down to possibly the best passing attack (Vegas) in the XFL versus the best passing defense (Arlington) in the league squaring off. Not a lot is known about these teams as there are some positions that have not even determined starters yet. All we know is that coach Woodson will have this defense ready to play and coach Stoops will have his team firing on all cylinders.
It’s the most important game of the year for the league as this is the first impression fans and casual football viewers will be getting. The one thing coaches want to see is a clean game with minimum turnovers and penalties. Should this game be tight and competitive with little to no mistakes, this could be the launching point for the league to start earning popularity and consistent viewership.
Prediction: Arlington Renegades 22, Vegas Vipers 18
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