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XFL Week 2: D.C. Defenders (1-0) @ Vegas Vipers (0-1) Preview/Prediction

Week 2 of the XFL 2023 season has arrived. The second of a four-game XFL slate sees the 1-0 D.C. Defenders travel to Sin City on Saturday Night to face the 0-1 Vegas Vipers at Cashman Field.

XFL 2023: Week 2: D.C. Defenders (1-0) @ Vegas Vipers (0-1)

Line:Vipers -3.5, O/U 36.5
Date/Location:Saturday, February 25th, Cashman FieldLas Vegas, Nevada.

Weather Forecast:
7 p.m. ET

Showers in the evening, Low 39F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

Broadcast Team:
FX/ESPN +/ESPN Deportes/TSN Plus/ESPN Player/Sport1+

John Schriffen, Tom Luginbill, Stormy Buonantony, Harry Douglas (Field Analyst)

D.C. Defenders Injury Report:

Defenders WR/RB/KR Pooka Williams (knee) makes his XFL debut after missing week one. RB Ryquell Armstead, who was limited earlier in the week with an ankle injury, will suit up. Starting Center Mike Maietti is out for 2-4 weeks and will be replaced in the lineup by Ty Clary. Defensive Linemen Fadol Brown is out with a hamstring injury.

Vegas Vipers Injury Report:

The most significant injury update coming out of Vegas is that the Vipers star edge rusher Vic Beasley is questionable and could be a game time decision. (concussion protocol).

Week 2 Depth Charts D.C. Defenders @ Vegas Vipers

Not very many if any changes from last week for either side.

XFL Week 2: Defenders @ Vipers Game Preview

The Defenders found a way to win in week one against Seattle even though they were outgained 333-177. Thanks to the combination of their rowdy Audi Field fans and Greg Williams’s defense forcing three turnovers. One on a pick-six, and the other a forced fumble at the goal line in the closing seconds.

The Vipers enters Week 2 feeling like they let victory slither away from them in week one. Vegas kept Arlington out of the end zone last Saturday, but two pick-sixes proved venomous as they fell short to the Renegades 22-20.

The XFL’s North division can’t be won in Week Two, however, by virtue of another thrilling St.Louis victory Thursday night. The pecking order is starting to take shape already. Vegas needs to avoid falling behind both the Battlehawks and Defenders by two games. On the flip side, D.C. would love to remain unbeaten when they go back to Audi Field and battle St. Louis for sole possession of the North in Week 3.

Vipers’ Offense Versus The Defenders’ Defense

The Vipers are rolling with quarterback Luis Perez again in week two. Despite arriving late from the Baltimore Ravens practice squad Brett Hundley is waiting in the wings. However, one has to wonder how long Perez’s leash will be on Saturday Night.

It was a mixed bag for the former Harlon Hill Trophy winner last weekend. Luis Perez threw for three scores and 249 yards in his Vipers debut. But it’s his mistakes that ultimately cost Vegas dearly.

Gregg Williams’s defense will be looking to cash in on any missteps by Perez. The same way they did against Ben DiNucci last week. The Defenders will be sending the house frequently, and that’s a common staple in a Gregg Williams defense. D.C. will be hoping Perez takes the bait again on Saturday.

Vegas offensive coordinator Duane Taylor likes to employ an up tempo style, and the Vipers have the weapons at wide receiver to make plays against D.C.’s ultra-aggressive defensive scheme. After all, despite the turnovers they forced a week ago, The Defenders did give up their fair share of pass yards (288) a week ago to Seattle.

Jeff Badet, Geronimo Allison, Matthew Sexton, Cinque Sweeting, and Martavis Bryant could all be in line for big plays. That’s if the Vipers can strike when the opportunities present themselves.

A week ago, Vegas had the worst ground game in the league. The Vipers running backs rushed for a paltry 17 yards on 12 carries. A repeat performance like that again will play directly into D.C.’s hands defensively. And with the forecast calling for potential showers, the ground game may become necessary as the game progresses.

Defenders’ Offense Versus The Vipers Defense

D.C.’s defensive effort in week one overshadowed their offense’s deficiencies. The Defenders had one of the worst offensive outputs of any team last week. They passed for under a hundred yards. And in today’s day and age of pro football. Those are unacceptable numbers.

D.C. wants to run the ball and be multi-faceted in their ground game. However, whether it be Jordan Ta’amu or the emerging D’Eriq King, the Defenders need to find a way to make some plays in their passing game. They have to keep Cris Dishman’s defense honest.

Because both of their quarterbacks are threats running the ball. Vegas’s front seven will have to stay disciplined countering run-pass option plays. Drew Plitt was Arlington’s most effective runner in week one, and he isn’t half the athlete of either D.C. quarterback.

The Vipers secondary was extremely impressive in week one. They completely erased the Renegades receiving corps. That’s not surprising. Considering the defensive back gurus, Vegas has on their staff in Rod Woodson, Cris Dishman, and Darren Perry. They may be unknowns right now but Vegas’s cornerback tandem of Adam Sparks (ULM) and Keylon Kennedy (Garden City/JSU) could be the league’s best duo on the outside.The 6’0 plus sized corners will look to play physical and jam the Defenders receivers.

Special Teams Matchup

In what figures to be a close game. This area could be the deciding factor.

The FCS’s most dangerous returner, rookie Jequez Ezzard had a quiet first game on offense. However, on special teams he came close to breaking a few long gains on kick and punt returns. A week ago, Arlington had some space to work with in their return game. That could bode well for D.C. and negatively for Vegas in this matchup.

On the flip side, an area of concern is at long snapper for the Defenders. Tight End Trae Barry has assumed that role. And while the team didn’t attempt any field goals. Barry had issues on two of his snaps to rookie punter Daniel Whelan. It something that bears watching, especially if it rains during the contest.

XFL Week 2: D.C. Defenders @ Vegas Vipers Prediction

Both these teams have good defenses and are imbalanced on offense.

I know it’s been only one week, and we are going off a very small sample size. But based on what we have seen, Vegas can pass but can’t run. D.C. can run, but can’t pass. Something has to give here.

If the weather holds up in Nevada, I favor the Vipers because they have a decidedly better passing attack. But if it starts raining, the game will play in D.C.’s hands because they are stacked with a good stable of runners at quarterback and running back.

This game could truly swing in either team’s direction. But I believe that D.C.’s victory in week one was fool’s gold. And that Vegas had no business losing their opening game. The Vipers will get their first win of the season on Saturday night.

Vegas Vipers 20 D.C. Defenders 15

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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