After picking up their biggest win of the season, the Arlington Renegades head into week nine with a chance to clinch a playoff spot against the DC Defenders.
Last week was not the prettiest performance from the Renegades, but they were able to knock the Orlando Guardians out of the playoff hunt with an 18-16 win on the road. Five turnovers created by the Arlington defense were the key to the victory moving them to 4-4 on the season. While new starting quarterback Luis Perez did not score a touchdown in his first start with the team, he also did not turn the ball over either.
The playoff picture is clear for Arlington as they either have to beat the DC Defenders or San Antonio needs to lose to the Orlando Guardians for them to be in the playoffs. Two straight wins from the Renegades and two straight losses by the Houston Roughnecks will secure a south division title for Arlington. Regardless of multiple scenarios, it’s playoff mode for the Renegades as their challenge this week is the best team in the XFL, the DC Defenders, who are currently 7-1 on the season.
Line: Defenders -8.5, O/U 41.5
Date/Location: Sunday, April 16th, 2023, at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
Kickoff Time: 12:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 75 degrees, Precipitation 10%, Humidity 59%, Wind 9 mph
Renegades Injury Report
The biggest name on this list is a linebacker and leading tackler Donald Payne who is out with an ankle injury. Renegades head coach Bob Stoops told the media Wednesday that Payne will be out for the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain. Payne was second in the XFL in tackles with 61 for the season as he was the heartbeat of the defense.
Another injury concern is linebacker Will Clarke who is dealing with a hamstring injury that has kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Clarke’s status for the game is unknown at this point. He’s coming off his best game of the season with two sacks, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in the win against Orlando. Losing him and Payne would be costly, especially with fellow linebackers Bunmi Rotimi (knee) and Isaiah Graham-Mobley (ankle) also dealing with injuries.
Renegades Recent Signing
To offset the piling injuries at linebacker, the Renegades signed linebacker Aaron Donkor on Thursday.
Donkor played in the NFL for a short time with the Seattle Seahawks after spending time in Germany first and then college football. He signed with the Houston Roughnecks in February and was with the team until March 27th when he was released from the team.
Renegades Depth Chart
The only noteworthy aspect of the depth chart to look at is at linebacker where Donald Payne is listed as a starter but will not be playing. His backup Isaiah Graham-Mobley was also on the injury report so if the two can’t play, it could be Colin Schooler starting for the Renegades at inside linebacker with Darnell Sankey.
With Will Clarke also being out of practice this week, it’s also interesting to see who would step in should Clarke not be able to play. It appears Ryan Mueller could be the next many up for Clarke at outside linebacker. Donkor could see himself in action as well if multiple linebackers are out this weekend as well.
Key Storylines for Renegades
Most of the concerns with Arlington this week are the number of injuries they have on their injury report. Five of the seven players in the report are from the defensive side of the ball. The hope is most of them can play on Sunday as it is a big game for the team. Four linebackers are listed on the injury report so even if half of them can’t play, it could be a tough game for Arlington to win.
The offense for Arlington seems like a good fit for quarterback Luis Perez so far, but they still struggle to get touchdowns instead of field goals. It appears that Victor Bolden is back this week as he is off the injury report which could mean more shots being taken down the field. With how good DC has been on offense, Perez must understand that the Renegades’ offense needs to get off to a fast start and produce more than 20 points to have a chance.
There’s no question right now the Defenders are the best team in the XFL and have proved it week after week. DC quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has been playing lights out over the last three weeks for the Defenders. Running back Abram Smith is the league’s leading rusher and is on his way to a potential MVP season. Receiver Chris Blair and Lucky Jackson are about as dangerous a duo as fans will see in the passing game. Not to mention their defense is among one the best in the XFL led by defensive back Michael Joseph.
Arlington has their toughest game of the season in a game that is all-important for the playoffs in the north and south division. It’s not going to be easy for them on both sides of the football. It all comes down to what the offense can do to score touchdowns consistently. The defense will already have their hands full with a dynamic offense like DC. It’s not the end of the world if Arlington loses this game, but if they win it, that’s the momentum they can carry for the rest of the season.
Prediction: DC Defenders 23, Arlington Renegades 16
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