Game Preview: D.C. Defenders at Arlington Renegades, Saturday April 13, 2024

  • D.C. Defenders (1-1) at Arlington Renegades (0-2)
  • Saturday, Apr. 13, at 1:00 PM ET (12:00 PM CT)
  • Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, Texas
  • Tickets: Ticketmaster and Stubhub
  • Broadcaster: ESPN
  • Announcers: Jorge Sedano (Play-by-Play), Kirk Morrison (Analyst), Eric Mac Lain (Field Analyst), Ian Fitzsimmons (Field Reporter)

Injury Report/Depth Chart


The D.C. Defenders travel to Arlington to face the Renegades in what will be a rematch of last year’s XFL Championship.

The Defenders enter the matchup with a 1-1 record after picking up their first win of the season over the Houston Roughnecks, 23-18. The game came down to the wire, with a Reid Sinnett-led drive that stalled out in the red zone, in part due to the Roughnecks essentially shooting themselves in the foot with penalties.

Meanwhile, the Renegades are coming off a tough loss, 27-24, to the St. Louis Battlehawks in a game that came down to a walk-off field goal. On one end, Arlington’s offensive unit, led by Luis Perez, looked smooth sailing after a somewhat shaky performance in week one against the Birmingham Stallions, but the Renegades’ defensive woes continued. 

This Arlington-D.C. matchup will be decided by which offense makes fewer mistakes and gets in a rhythm sooner, the same way the 2023 XFL Championship was determined, which saw 61 points totaled and 752 offensive yards garnered. In their win, the Renegades got out to an early 17-0 lead and won the turnover battle, committing just one turnover compared to three turnovers from the Defenders.


In their win over the Roughnecks, the Defenders looked much better in specific departments than they did in week one against the San Antonio Brahmas.

Jordan Ta’amu went 16-for-32 passing with 212 yards, two touchdown passes, and one interception. While not one of his best performances, it’s worth considering that Houston has one of the better defenses in the UFL, with a league-best defensive grade on PFF (82.7)

Cam’Ron Harris averaged 3.8 yards per carry on nine attempts while missing some of the game with injury, which is an improvement from his 2.6 yards per carry on eight tries in week one. However, D.C.’s rushing attack just hasn’t had the same flare it did last season with Abram Smith as the lead-back. This week’s game against the Renegades will provide an excellent opportunity for Harris to break out against an Arlington rush defense that has struggled thus far.

On the receiving end, newcomer Keke Coutee leads the Defenders in receptions (seven). However, he is out for Saturday’s contest with a groin injury. Without him, former North Carolina State receiver Kelvin Harmon and rookie Ty Scott appear to be next in line as Ta’amu’s top targets. Chris Rowland will also step up as slot receiver with Coutee out.

Defensively, D.C. held a Roughnecks’ offense that was missing its best player (2023 USFL Offensive Player of the Year Mark Thompson) to 18 points in its win. This was the second-lowest number of points allowed by a UFL team during week two. But overall, Houston’s offense has lacked star-power without Thompson and has had limited output over the past two weeks. 

If you want a true scope of how I predict Gregg Williams’ defensive unit will fare this week, look at its week one performance, where it let up a tied-for-league-most 27 points and 270 yards against San Antonio. You can even look at last year’s XFL championship against Arlington, where Luis Perez and the Renegades scored 35 points and racked up 396 total yards in their win over the Defenders. A lot of the key players from both teams are back for the 2024 season and this matchup.

While I think the Renegades will score a lot of points on Gregg Williams’ defense, which has been inconsistent in both the XFL and UFL, I expect the Defenders to match them. I think we are in for a shootout here.


The Renegades have allowed a UFL-high 140.5 rushing yards and 230.0 passing yards per game this season. Improvement on defense from the last two games will be essential as the year progresses if Arlington wants to make another championship run like they did in the XFL in 2023. 

Overall, the Renegades’ defensive line has struggled to prevent run blockers from getting to the second level, while the secondary has been inefficient in shutting down opposing passing attacks. There are definitely some playmakers like linebacker Donald Payne and cornerback Darren Evans, among others, but the Renegades’ defensive unit just hasn’t clicked as a whole.

Conversely, the Renegades have one of the better offenses in the UFL, as Arlington is graded as the best offensive team in the league via PFF (82.6). While the team ranks first in its passing/receiving attack, it has struggled in running the ball – ranked seventh league-wide in rushing on PFF (54.2).

The one-two punch of Renegades tailbacks, featuring De’Veon Smith and Leddie Brown, averaged 3.6 yards on 24 combined carries in last season’s XFL Championship against the Defenders. This season, however, they have struggled, averaging just 2.8 yards on 31 carries. As mentioned, this tailback group has succeeded in the past, and the Defenders’ rush defense has been middle-of-the-pack thus far. This could be the perfect opportunity for Arlington’s run game to get going. 

Meanwhile, “Spring Football King” Luis Perez is second league-wide in passing yardage (447 yards) and completion rate (70.2% on 40-for-57). If Perez can continue doing what he’s been doing as the signal-caller for the Renegades, and if the run game can be an effective complement to passing, Bob Stoops’ squad will be in a good spot from an offensive standpoint. 

Final Thoughts

I can’t give any betting tips regarding the spread or the outright winner because this game is too much of a toss-up. However, the over at 43.5 looks to have good value.

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