For the second straight week, the Arlington Renegades will face off against the Houston Roughnecks. This time, it’s for a spot in the XFL Championship game.
The Arlington Renegades’ regular season concluded with a 25-9 loss to the Houston Roughnecks Sunday as they finished their season with a 4-6 record and second in the division. Arlington got some help from the DC Defenders after beating the San Antonio Brahmas 29-28 Saturday to secure a playoff spot for the Renegades. Last week’s game was a mixed bag of key players being out to protect their health and a game that didn’t have a lot of meaning to it.
This week’s game is a whole new story as a championship spot is on the line. Houston completed their season with a 7-3 record and winner of the south division in the regular season. All that doesn’t matter anymore as everyone’s record is back to 0-0 with two wins getting you a title.
Line: Roughnecks -6.5, O/U 41.5
Date/Location: Saturday, April 29th, 2023, at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas
Kickoff Time: 6:00 PM CST
Weather Forecast: 68 Degrees, Sunny, Precipitation 20%, Humidity 63%, Wind 21 mph
Renegades Injury Report
Wide receiver Victor Bolden has not been able to stay healthy for most of the season for Arlington so he will be out once again for the team with a shoulder/groin injury. Bolden has only played two games for the Renegades in the regular season recording three catches for 40 yards along with one kickoff return for 26 yards.
Arlington Renegades head coach Bob Stoops told the media Wednesday that linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley will not be available to play Saturday. Graham-Mobley has been dealing with a shoulder injury as well that he suffered in the Houston game. He has recorded 12 tackles and one fumble recovery for the team this season. The linebacker position continues to lose key players after the losses of Donald Payne and Edmond Robinson.
Other notable injuries include running back Leddie Brown (knee) and defensive back Javaris Davis (groin). Coach Stoops told the media Wednesday that he expected Brown to be good to go and the injury report indeed has him listed as probable. Davis is coming in as questionable as he is dealing with a groin injury so it may be a game-time decision before we know if Davis can play or not.
Renegades Depth Chart
The Bolden injury will see LuJuan Winningham step up once again as he will rotate with Tyler Vaughns and JaVonta Payton as the outside receivers on the team. Arlington will be happy to have De’Veon Smith back as the starter at running back after receiving a rest day on Sunday against Houston. This should help Brown with taking carries off him as he is banged up going into the game. An interesting note to make is Kelly Bryant is listed as Luis Perez’s backup at quarterback with Kevin Anderson as the third string. Bryant has been used in the last two weeks in special packages that include read options for the back or Bryant to run.
With Graham-Mobley out for the game, Darnell Sankey and Colin Schooler will start as the inside linebackers. Newly signed linebacker Aaron Donkor will be the backup for them going into the game. One good name to see on there is safety Jamal Carter who is back for the playoffs after being out most of the season with an injury. Carter was originally the starter at safety alongside Will Hill before getting hurt. Joe Powell has stepped in nicely as one of the top players in the XFL in interceptions.
Key Storylines for Renegades
Coach Stoops has been speaking about it since Sunday, the team has struggled on short yards situations. On Sunday against Houston, Arlington had trouble trying to score from the one-yard line having to settle for a field goal. With a high-powered offense in Houston, touchdowns are necessary to stay in the game. The return of Smith should help, but this Renegades offense must step up and be able to convert third and shorts and fourth and shorts. If they can’t get the tough two to three yards, losing this game is a real possibility.
Arlington’s front seven has a major challenge on their hands with stopping Houston’s newfound love for running the football. Over the last four games, Houston is averaging 122.25 rushing yards and has rushed for over 130 yards as a team in three of the last four games. Arlington allowed 196 yards on the ground which is a season-high for the unit. Getting Will Clarke back at linebacker is huge, but this team must be ready to stop not only the running backs but mobile quarterback Cole McDonald as well.
It has been a roller coaster ride of a season for Arlington with injuries on defense and inconsistency on offense. The good news is this team is in much better shape than the beginning of the season thanks to quarterback Luis Perez joining the team. Expectations for Arlington are low after finishing the regular season with a losing record. Houston is a heavy favorite to win the game and eliminate the Renegades from the playoffs.
The number one question this week is, “How do the Renegades upset the Roughnecks?” Simply put, to convert short yards situations, receivers must come up with big plays and avoid drops, hold Houston to under 100 yards rushing, and win the time of possessions. Turnovers are bound to happen, but bouncing back with touchdowns will help with that. In the biggest game of the season, fans expect to see “Big Game Bob” come up with the greatest coaching performance of his professional coaching career.
Prediction: Houston Roughnecks 26, Arlington Renegades 20
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