D.C. Defenders face surging Arlington Renegades in 1st XFL title game in 20 years

The XFL will be hosting their championship in San Antonio, Texas Saturday, May 13.

The D.C. Defenders will look to continue their dominance and finish off the season against the late rising Arlington Renegades.

After one lone season in 2001, the XFL would be brought back in 2020. Prior to the worldwide pandemic, the league was making a decent living as it gave football fans something to watch during the NFL offseason. Sadly, the season would never reach its climactic finish as COVID-19 would cause the league to suspend its operations after their Week 5 games.

Now that most of the dust from the pandemic has settled, the XFL is back and will be presenting their second championship game since their inaugural season 22 years ago.

Looking into the game, there’s a lot of reasons why the D.C.  Defenders are favored to win the matchup by six points. Led by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, the Defenders have had the best offense since day 1; and their 9-1 regular season record has shown that.

XFL DC Defenders Jordan Ta'amu's quarterback ratings have dropped.

D.C. Defenders QB Jordan Ta’amu #10

In the regular season, Ta’amu was third in the league for passing yards (1,894) and passing touchdowns (14). His most important stat, however, came in the interception category. He had the lowest thrown from any starting quarterback, throwing only three.

While Ta’amu got the job done for the Defenders through the air, their real strength came in their domination on the ground. Team and league leading rusher, Abram Smith showed all season why he was the #1 pick in the XFL Draft.

Smith ran for 791 yards and seven touchdowns off of 158 carries during the regular season. To put into perspective on how dominant Smith has been this season, he led the league with his 791 rushing yards. The next closest to him was Jacques Patrick with 443 yards in second place.

On the other side of the field, we have the surprise entrant Arlington Renegades fighting for their chance to raise the championship trophy. After sneaking into the playoffs through the weak South Division with a 4-6 record, the Renegades dominated in the semifinals with a 26-11 victory over the Houston Roughnecks.

Arlington is led at the helm by quarterback Luis Perez. While he only played eight games in the regular season after arriving from the Vegas Vipers, he still found himself slotted in fourth for passing yards in the league with 1,636 while throwing nine passing touchdowns.

Arlington Renegades QB Luis Perez #12 getting set to throw

Perez played lights out during the semifinal game as he was 19/27 with 289 passing yards and three scores through the air. He also kept the ball out of the defense hands as he threw zero interceptions, something he struggled with in the regular season, throwing seven.

The key for the Renegades if they expect to beat the Defenders is to continue to ignite the electric connection between Perez and receiver JaVonta Payton. After a relatively quiet regular season, Payton would pick a great time to have his best game of the year. He would end the semifinal game with five receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

While the Defenders have looked tough to beat all season, the Renegades shows last week they have what it takes to win in big games. This Saturday will Arlington pull off the unlikely upset or will D.C. prove why they were the team to beat in the XFL since Week 1?

Noah Costantino is a student and football player at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. Fueled by his love for the game he looks to continue his knowledge of football at an international level. He is majoring in Communications with a