DC Defenders Matt Elam

XFL Week 6 Betting Preview: Dallas Renegades at D.C. Defenders

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By Jereme Jones March 13, 2020 0 Comment
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XFL teams have dealt with the inadequate quarterback play, but no two teams have worse quarterback situations than the Dallas Renegades and DC Defenders.

Dallas at DC (-4)

Sunday, March 15, 4 pm, FS1

How important is the quarterback position when it comes to winning football games? Most experts agree that it is the most critical position on the field and has the most significant impact when it comes to winning and losing. Both Dallas and DC are working hard to prove those experts wrong this season. The two teams have combined for five wins, while their quarterbacks have combined for 17 interceptions. Yet, after this week, one of these teams will still be sitting in a playoff position in the XFL.

The injury in week four to Landry Jones has put the Renegades in a tight spot. Dallas is a talented team with plenty of playmakers on offense, but Phillip Nelson has shown no ability to plush the ball down the field in his two starts. Without that threat, players like Donald Parham and Flynn Nagel are limited in the impact they can have on the offense. Given Nelson’s shortcomings, it makes no sense that Dallas seemed to abandon the run game last week. The outstanding duo of Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar combined for only eight carries against New York.

Perhaps that is why offensive coordinator Hal Mumme was removed, and offensive line coach Jeff Jagodzinski elevated to the position. Jagodzinski and running back coach Bobby Blizzard will share play-calling duties. Their first goal must be to get their backs more touches this week. The Renegades also need to find another receiving threat behind Parham and Nagel. Perhaps former CFL player Armanti Edwards can fill that role if he is healthy this week.

Can Renegades’ defense secure a win?

With the unknowns on offense, it will be crucial for the Renegades’ defense to be at their best this week. So far this year, it has been a group that has not played up to its potential. Dallas currently ranks 4th in the XFL in points allowed (20.4) and 5th in total yards allowed (321), rushing yards allowed (113), and passing yards allowed (208). Despite having good individual players like linebackers Tegray Scales and Greer Martini and defensive backs Josh Hawkins and Derron Smith. One area where the defense needs to improve is making big plays. Dallas has only had six sacks and three interceptions this season. If the defense could create some turnovers and give the offense some short fields, it would make things much easier for Nelson.

Based on last week’s game plan, Dallas might not have many opportunities to make plays against the pass. That’s because the Defenders only threw 16 times last week. Dealing with their quarterback issues, DC ran the ball 41 times for 229 yards against St. Louis. Jhurell Pressley was the bell cow of the offense, rushing for 107 yards on 15 carries. The team also gained 53 yards on three runs by wide receivers. That was more yards than all their receivers combined produced in the passing game, as DC only threw for 39 yards.

Who will start for the DC Defenders at quarterback?

To fix the passing game, DC must decide which quarterback they want behind center. Starter Cardale Jones has been benched three weeks in a row. Last week, Jones was pulled in the first quarter after throwing an interception. Back-up Tyree Jackson was efficient, 9 of 14, and threw a touchdown in relief. He was also effective in the run game. He had 32 yards on seven carries, including some critical third-down conversion runs in the fourth quarter. Jackson gives the Defenders the ability to run zone read, but it looks like Jones may still be the starter heading into this weekend.

Much like Dallas, it will be necessary for the DC defense to carry the team again this week. Overall, the Defenders have been good in most areas this season. They are 3rd in the XFL in points allowed (17.8) and 2nd in passing yards allowed (182.8). The question each week is which DC defense will show up? Will it be the group that shut down St. Louis and shut out New York? Or will it be the group that gave up 39 points to Los Angeles and 25 points to Tampa Bay?

Whichever group shows up on Sunday, they must improve on stopping the run; DC is currently 7th in the XFL against the run, giving up 132.6 yards per game. Maybe DC will get lucky, and Dallas will ignore the run game again this week? If not, it could be even more important for the defensive line to pin their ears back in passing situations. The Defenders are at their best when the defensive line gets after the quarterback. Last week against St. Louis, DC sacked Jordan Ta’amu four times and pressured him nine times. If they can do that this week against an already struggling Dallas offense, they can take a lot of stress off their offense.

There are a lot of questions for the Dallas offense that we won’t know the answers to until Sunday. Will Nelson remain the quarterback, or will Eric Dungey or Brogan Roback get an opportunity to play? How will the play-calling change with Jagodzinski and Blizzard? Can the Renegades find a way to get Artis-Payne and Dunbar more carries against a weak DC run defense? When you add those questions to the ones in DC, like who will be the quarterback, you realize quickly that this is a game where there are a lot of things we just don’t know.

In games like this, you have to look for what you do know. And the only sure thing in this game is that DC is a much better team at home. The Defenders are 3-0 at Audi Field and have won those games by an average of 16 points. Perhaps it’s the fans, maybe it’s the DC Beer Snake, but something seems to affect opposing teams when they come to play the Defenders. Given the home-field advantage, and the fact the Defenders have a slightly better defense and more consistent run game, take the Defenders and give the four points.

Our Pick: DC (-4)

XFLOutsider’s 2020 Season Record

Straight Up: 11-5

Against the Spread: 11-5

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