After the 2020 XFL season met a sharp end, thanks to the pandemic, the first XFL Championship since 2001 will take place tonight between the Arlington Renegades and DC Defenders.
The Arlington Renegades and DC Defenders will play in the 2023 XFL season’s title game on Saturday to close out the first completed season in the league’s history since 2001. The XFL, now in it’s third incarnation under the leadership of a consortium led by Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson, kicked off the 2023 season in February, one week after the conclusion of the NFL’s Super Bowl.
The Renegades lost four of their final five games before the postseason, finishing the regular season with a 4-6 record. However, despite being underdogs, they overcame the South Division champion Houston Roughnecks in the semi final, 26-11. The Defenders defeated the Seattle Sea Dragons, 37-21, as three point favourites in the semi final, after going 9-1 during the regular season and finishing with the best record in the league. During the regular season, the Defenders defeated the Renegades, 28–26.
The Defenders had a league-high seven players named to the All-XFL team. These players include quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, running back Abram Smith, wide receiver Lucky Jackson, guard Liam Fornadel, defensive lineman Davin Bellamy, defensive back Michael Joseph, and punter Daniel Whelan. On the other hand, only defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert from the Renegades made the list.
All season long, DC have been a potent offensive force. The squad has the most running touchdowns with 18 as well as 1490 yards rushing, another league best. They led the XFL in interceptions returned for touchdowns with four and are second in the league with 29 sacks, including one in their most recent game against Arlington. This season, DC has not trailed by more than nine points after three quarters.
The performance of Renegades QB, Luis Perez, who was great against the Roughnecks, throwing for 289 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, is obviously crucial for the Renegades. With seven interceptions, Perez is third in the league in terms of turnover rate. Therefore, if the Renegades are to have any chance of defeating the Defenders, another flawless performance is required.
Thoughts and Predictions
What the Bookmakers Say
Throughout the 2023 XFL season, betting odds have been a mainstay. Below are the latest betting odds for the game, correct as of Friday night, provided by BetMGM Sportsbook:
- Moneyline (ML): Renegades +220 (bet $100 to win $220) | Defenders -275 (bet $275 to win $100)
- Against the spread (ATS): Renegades +6.5 (-105) | Defenders -6.5 (-115)
- Over/Under (O/U): 47.5 (O: -115 | U: -105)
The bookmakers, therefore, have the DC Defenders to win.
The hosts of JEZ Sports podcast, Two Minute Warning, have predicted the games all season long and will close out the season with their final predictions for the XFL Championship game.
Matt Looks Back
So it all kicked off and we finally got an XFL to be proud of. Under the management and ownership of Dwayne Johnson and Danny Garcia, Week 1 wasn’t the best week for any team but we got a snapshot of what could be; something special for a spring league. We rolled into Weeks 2-5 with teams like DC, Arlington, Houston, Seattle and St Louis really firing on all cylinders and those five teams remained in the hunt until the bitter end, fighting it out to be the final four.
Lower win teams like Vegas, San Antonio and Orlando were all in the mix late in the season and I guess that’s the beauty of an 8 team league with 2 super competitive divisions. It all came down to Week 10 with a chance of the Brahmas sneaking in. Ultimately, this would not be the case with the four very strongest with the, perhaps XFL Champion-elect, DC Defenders (9-1) becoming Champions of the North, and the Arlington Renegades (4-6) shocking many by knocking off a decent team (who I coined the Oilers on Two Minute Warning throughout the season) in the Houston Roughnecks.
And so it comes down to this… May 13th, the Alamodome, the DC Defenders and their lemons, shields and beersnakes. Oh my! Joining them is the battle hardened underdog in this XFL 2023 Championship Game. It’s going to be a spectacle and I’m certain that it will be a rowdy one for the fans. Tune in, grab a beverage or three and witness the finale of what has been the best spring league; in my opinion, of course. I can’t wait for 2024, to see how the weaker teams fare and especially with over 20 players being invited to NFL camps this offseason. Another great partnership between the XFL and NFL.
My prediction for the finale is DC Defenders to win. SHIELDS UP!
As much as I like to disagree with my Two Minute Warning co-host, it’s going to be extremely hard to look past the DC Defenders in this one. The Arlington Renegades have had an up and down season, mostly down, but the same could be said for quarterback, Luis Perez, who seems to have found a home in Arlington after struggling mightily whilst under center for the Las Vegas Vipers.
Do the Renegades deserve this place in the final? Yes, they absolutely do. All professional football leagues, including the XFL, operate on a “what have you done for me lately?” basis. Despite their struggles, the Arlington Renegades picked up steam in the latter part of the season and defeated a Houston Roughnecks team that most considered to be a shoe-in for the title early. Might things have played out differently if the Renegades were forced into battle with North division runner up, the Seattle Sea Dragons? Possibly, but that’s not the playoff format we got.
This, however, is why I absolutely cannot look past the DC Defenders. From start to finish, excepting the anomoly of the Orlando Guardians loss, the Defenders have been in total control of every game this season. Jordan Ta’amu overcame early teething problems to lead his team to a 9-1 record. Add in the stout defense of the DC unit, as well as offensive standouts RB Abram Smith and WR Lucky Jackson, and you have a force to be reckoned with. Having the most raucous, beer snake weilding, lemon tossing fanbase in the your corner doesn’t hurt, either.
My prediction is the DC Defenders to win.
All signs and opinions point to an easy DC Defenders victory, then. But this is American Football and while this game takes place on Saturday, we all know that anything can happen on any given Sunday…
The 2023 XFL Championship game will kickoff tonight, Saturday May 13th, at 8pm ET/1am BST on ABC in the United States and on ESPN Player in the United Kingdom.
Do you think this will be a walkover for the DC Defenders? Could we see Perez and the Renegades pull the ultimate upset to close out the season? Share your thoughts and predictions with us in the comments below!