The stage is set. The D.C. Defenders and Arlington Renegades will meet in the inaugural XFL Championship Game, a matchup featuring the league’s highest and lowest-scoring teams. Kickoff is set for Saturday (8 p.m., ET) at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Ahead of the big game, let’s break down the XFL Championship odds.
D.C. Defenders vs Arlington Renegades
D.C. Defenders: Top of the Class
The Defenders continued their dominance of the Sea Dragons, beating Seattle 37-21 for the third time this season to reach the XFL final. Jordan Ta’amu rebounded from two first-half interceptions to throw for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and Cam’Ron Harris ran for a pair of scores.
D.C. has been the league’s best team all season, and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. The Defenders (10-1) are averaging a league-best 30.4 points per game. They’ve scored 30 or more points six times.
The Defenders have won four in a row since Orlando handed them their only loss, 37-36 in Week 7. Arlington nearly picked off the Defenders as well, before losing 28-26 in Week 9. The Renegades forced overtime after trailing 26-9 to start the fourth quarter.
D.C. has a punishing run game, led by Abram Smith. The former Baylor star — the first skill player selected in the 2023 XFL Draft — ran for league-best 791 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns during the regular season. He then rushed for another score in the North Division Championship.
Ta’amu was named the XFL Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 1,894 yards and 14 touchdowns. He threw the fewest interceptions (three) among quarterbacks with at least 112 passing attempts. He also ran for 298 yards, second among quarterbacks behind Seattle’s Ben DiNucci (305).
Last season, Ta’amu played for the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL and threw for a league-best 2,014 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Arlington Renegades: Overlooked No More
The Renegades (5-6) upset the Houston Roughnecks 26-11 in the South Division Championship, setting up a date with D.C. Luis Perez threw for 194 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. JaVonta Payton had five catches for 121 yards and two scores. Arlington, a 6.5-point underdog according to XFL odds, led 23-8 at halftime.
Arlington is the XFL’s lowest-scoring team, averaging just 15.6 points per game. It scored 10 or fewer points three times and was one of four 2023 XFL teams with a negative point differential (-48).
With Perez coming off a clutch performance against Houston, the Renegades are not to be overlooked. Perez was selected by the Vegas Vipers in the XFL Draft. Ironically, his first start came against Arlington, in which he threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, as Arlington won 22-20 in Week 1.
On March 28, Perez was traded to the Renegades in exchange for linebacker Ryan Mueller. He finished fourth in the XFL in passing with 1,636 yards.
De’Veon Smith led Arlington with 365 rushing yards (3.2 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. Tight end Sal Cannella was Perez’s favorite target, catching a team-high 42 passes for 415 yards.
Handicapping the XFL Final
The Defenders are listed as a 6.5-point favorite in the latest XFL Championship odds. They are also -255 on the moneyline, compared to +215 for Arlington. The over/under is set at 46.5, 7.5 points under the combined total from their matchup in Week 9.
D.C. is the XFL’s best team, and it shows in the standings. While Arlington has already pulled off one big upset this postseason, it’ll have its hands full trying for another. Over their current four-game win streak, the Defenders are averaging a robust 32 points.
Can Arlington, which hasn’t scored more than 26 points all season, keep pace with D.C? Or will Saturday be a coronation of the Defenders?
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