The XFL accomplished what its new ownership set out to do: Finish a successful season. That didn't happen in 2020, when the XFL was canceled after Week 5 due to COVID-19, and it didn't return until this year. The 2023 XFL campaign will conclude this Saturday, as the Arlington Renegades take on the D.C. Defenders in the XFL Championship Game.
Not many saw the Renegades making the championship. They entered the playoffs with a 4-6 record, but rallied to win in the playoff semifinals with a 26-11 upset victory over Wade Phillips and the Houston Roughnecks, who finished first in the South Division in the regular season. Renegades quarterback Luis Perez was impressive, as he completed 19 of 27 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns -- two of which went to JaVonta Payton, who caught five passes for 121 yards.
The Defenders have been one of the most dominant teams in the league since Week 1, as XFL Coach of the Year Reggie Barlow led D.C. to a 9-1 record and North Division title. While quarterback Jordan Ta'amu was, the Defenders are known for their ground game and stingy Gregg Williams-led defense.
Below, we will break down how to watch the XFL Championship Game, and give our against-the-spread pick.
All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook
Arlington Renegades vs. D.C. Defenders (-6.5)
Date: Saturday, May 13 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)
Odds: Defenders -6.5 | O/U 48 (-110)
These two teams faced off less than a month ago, with the Defenders escaping with a 28-26 victory (De'Veon Smith rushed for 43 yards and two touchdowns. Arlington dropping 434 yards of total offense on the Defenders in D.C. was surprising. For the Defenders, the XFL's leading rusher in Abram Smith was held to just 27 rushing yards on 10 carries, while Ta'amu threw for 188 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.). It was a thrilling contest which required overtime, as the Renegades scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Perez passed for 335 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while
If the Defenders can't run the ball on Arlington, that's a bit worrisome. D.C. had the No. 1 rushing attack in the XFL with 1,408 total rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns in the regular season. No other team even reached 970 rushing yards.
Six points is a relatively large number for a championship game, and you have to wonder if Saturday's hypothetical game script could be similar to what happened the last time these two teams faced off: The Defenders acquire an early lead, but allow Perez and the Renegades to get back in the game late. Granted, I'm not sure D.C. will allow 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter again.
It's impressive what the Renegades have been able to pull off with their new quarterback (Perez began the season on the Vegas Vipers, but was traded to Arlington). They have earned the right to play in this game. But the Defenders have been one of the favorites to win the championship since the beginning. I would throw the Defenders moneyline into a parlay with your favorite picks from the NBA or NHL playoffs, but in speaking on the spread, I can't bring myself to take the points with the Renegades. I'm going to lay the points with the favorites, and create a beer snake of my own this weekend.
The pick: Defenders -6
Projected score: Defenders 30-22