The Dallas Renegades started this season as one of the favorites to capture the XFL championship. But after an inauspicious debut, they’ll have to regroup a little as they continue. Their problems don’t seem to be as glaring as those of the Los Angeles Wildcats, who have already made two major moves in disgust after their dismal season opener.
The Renegades and Wildcats will square off in a battle between 0-1 teams, and it takes place at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA (just outside of Los Angeles) at 3 PM ET on Sunday, televised on ABC. Reduced juice wil be available for BetAnySports customers, so they can avoid having to lay the customary -110 on football.
Both of these teams might be able to address certain problems by being able to play with their respective starting quarterbacks.
Landry Jones has gotten injured on the very first day of training camp. And he had only experienced very limited work with the offense as the opener approached. As it turned out, he was cleared to play, but sat out as the third-stringer for Dallas’ 15-9 loss to St. Louis. But he’s now had a full week of practice and is going to get the call. This works for the Renegades because he played in the system of Bob Stoops, who is his head coach now. Familiarity helps.
Philip Nelson had started in his place, and was not a stranger to the air Raid-type of attack, but he didn’t get the ball down the field in the game, averaging a slither less than five yards an attempt. Dallas had only 58 rushing yards and first downs were hard to come by, as they converted only one of ten chances on third down.
However, Nelson did complete 33 passes, so you wonder whether they could make a few more advances with Jones at the helm.
As we alluded to, their difficulties are nothing like Los Angeles is experiencing.
In the XFL betting odds posted on this game at BetAnySports, the Renegades are laying points on the road:
Dallas Renegades -4.5
Los Angeles Wildcats +4.5
Over 47.5 points -110
Under 47.5 points -110
You can bet there are a lot of problems lying beneath the surface in L.A. They were able to catch Houston’s offense malfunctioning last week, at least for a little while, but the Roughnecks blew right past them in the second half, turning a 14-6 Wildcat lead at the half into a 37-17 Houston win.
The Wildcats are one of the teams in the XFL that has leadership at the top with defensive background, and head coach Winston Moss, a former NFL linebacker and long-time assistant in Green Bay, who can best be classified as an “old-school” guy, was disgusted. “I’m going to find guys who want to play ball and hate losing as much as I do,” he said after the game.
Obviously that went for coaches as well. Moss fired his defensive coordinator, Pepper Johnson, best known as a linebacker for the New York Giants and assistant in New England. That this was done after the very first game was unusual. And perhaps even more unusual, given what the numbers told us.
Not that the Wildcats played well on defense, mind you, but it was not a complete disaster. They only gave up 315 yards, 3.1 yards a rushing attempt and 7.2 yards a pass, along with 30% on third down.
Where they really ran into trouble, however, was in pressuring P.J. Walker, who was “hit” only once and threw four touchdown passes.
But the Wildcats have turned around and traded their best pass rusher, Anthony Johnson, to the DC Defenders for safety Brandon Sylve. Johnson (no relation to Pepper) was the defensive captain, and couldn’t have been happier to make the cross-country trip to the nation’s capital, which appears to be a statement about the atmosphere around the team.
The quarterback situation did not help, as not enough offense was generated.
Chad Kanoff had a touchdown pass and ran for another, but he had only 5.5 yards an attempt and looked lost at times. He was pulled twice for Jalen McClendon, who lacks experience. Kanoff is out this week with a shoulder injury.
And so here’s where yet another “Johnson” enters the picture.
Of course, we’re talking about Josh Johnson, easily the most well-traveled of these XFL quarterbacks, and who was expected to be one of the league’s best. But he had a thigh injury that kept him out last week, and he is questionable here, with only limited practice time this week. If the Wildcats are down to McClendon as their #1 option, maybe their best route is to try establishing something on the ground.
And they may have some room, as Dallas allowed St. Louis 191 rushing yards last week. However, they will have to have something threatening in the air game to open things up.
It’s hard to imagine Josh Johnson not seeing some action here, as things could get desperate in a hurry with this franchise. But will he be in sync with his teammates? There’s a better chance of that happening with Jones, especially as L.A. is without starting corners Jaylen Dunlap and Harlan Miller. Moss will handle the defensive calls himself. But we just don’t like the “story” around the Wildcats right now, so we’ll lay the points.
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