It has been a vastly different journey for the two teams that will face off in the championship game. The DC Defenders were undefeated for much of the season and really set themselves apart from the rest of the league. On the other hand, the Arlington Renegades were in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. However, after trading for Luis Perez and making him their starting quarterback, they have become the hottest team in the league.
Metrics that Matter
Yards per passing Attempt
Both quarterbacks will attack the defense down the field. Since taking over in Arlington, Luis Perez has averaged 7.9 yards per attempt, but Jordan Ta’amu has bested this mark with 8.2 yards per attempt, making him the league’s top performer in this category. It’s important to note that these figures are the top two in the league, so while we might think of Arlington as more of a ground-and-pound offense, they’ve actually been almost as explosive as the best offense in the league this season.
Pass Blocking Grade
If this game turns into a shootout, it’s important to note which pass-blocking unit is more likely to give their respective QB time in the pocket. The Arlington offensive line has performed poorly this season, resulting in the second-lowest pass-blocking grade of all XFL teams at 55.6. The Defenders’ offensive line, on the other hand, has been pretty good all season, currently grading out at 4th in the league with a grade of 68.7. It’s crucial to consider the impact of the offensive line, as it could determine whether or not the QBs have time to make plays downfield.-Run Defense Grade
Another disparity between the North and South champs is their run defense. Arlington has the top run-stuffing unit in the league, with a grade of 84.2, while DC struggles against the run, with a grade of 61.3, second to last in the league. Both offenses will likely try to test the opposing defense’s front, and this may work in Arlington’s favor.
Several weeks ago, in Week 9 of the season, I made a pick for the Arlington Renegades to win outright against DC. My primary rationale was how the teams matched up. The game went into overtime, and despite being outgained by Arlington, DC escaped with a victory. With more data on Arlington’s improvement since that game, it’s difficult not to feel even more confident in the Arlington side this time around. Arlington still boasts a tough defense that will make DC work for every yard, and the same running game that averaged over 4.5 yards per carry. On the other side of the ball, DC only averaged 2.5 yards per carry in that Week 9 matchup.
I haven’t been a big fan of DC’s aggressive boom or bust defensive approach, but I have to give credit where it’s due. In critical moments, the DC defense has been able to make timely stops and create turnovers. The question is whether they can slow down the explosive offense that Arlington has become. On the offensive side, DC has been the highest graded unit in my rankings. Their talented receiving corps has set them apart from the rest of the XFL, consistently creating big plays and scoring touchdowns.
Overall, I see both offenses having success. I do believe this will be a one-score game in which each team can win it late. Below is the prediction for the final score of the game made by a model that uses play-by-play data and roster information:
Prediction: DC Defenders 26, Arlington Renegades 21.
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