As we reached the halfway point of the 2023 XFL regular season, and Week 5 will include another matchup with the league's Texas-based teams. When the Arlington Renegades (2-2) take on the San Antonio Brahmas (1-3), we'll see a matchup between two teams eagerly needing a victory.
Related: Week 5 Picks for Every XFL Game
Both teams are coming off of tough road losses in Week 4. San Antonio managed just six points in falling to Seattle while Arlington couldn't overcome St. Louis' dome-field advantage. Now both get a chance to turn things around in prime time and gain some momentum entering the second half of the schedule.
Arlington (2-2) at San Antonio (1-3)
Kickoff: Sunday, March 19 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Alamodome (San Antonio)
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Brahmas -3
Tickets: As low as $13 on SITickets.com*
Three Things to Watch
1. These teams have similar strengths...
Defense is a strength of both teams. Although San Antonio is only fifth in the XFL in total defense (281.8 ypg) and sixth against the run (88.0 ypg), the Brahmas have fared much better against the pass (193.8 ypg, third) and are second in scoring defense (16.8 ppg). This unit also has a knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage, leading the way in tackles for a loss (28) and ranking third in sacks (10) entering Week 5.
Individual standouts for San Antonio's D thus far include linebacker Jordan Williams, who is third in tackles with 29, and defensive linemen Mike Tverdov, Mike Scott, and Delontae Scott, who have registered two sacks apiece. The Brahmas' capabilities on defense were on full display last week when they held Seattle, one of the league's most productive offenses, to just 15 points.
Arlington also has made its own impression on defense. The Renegades entered Week 5 third in total defense (274.5 ypg) and have been particularly stingy against the run (73.0 ypg, second). The flip side is they are sixth in passing yards allowed per game (201.5) and also in the lower half in terms of scoring defense (19.0 ppg). Arlington has shown a knack for creating turnovers, recovering six fumbles and recording three interceptions, two of which have been returned for touchdowns.
Linebacker Donald Payne is second overall in tackles with 31 while defensive lineman Tomasi Lauliel and defensive back De'Vante Bausby each have a pick-six. Linebacker Willie Taylor is the team leader in sacks thus far with two of the team's eight total. Both defenses have needed to stand tall because of the consistent struggles on the other side of the ball.
2. ...and similar weaknesses
Simply put, moving the ball and finding the end zone has been a challenging assignment at times for both teams. San Antonio and Arlington rank second to last and last, respectively, in yards per game and are sixth and seventh in scoring. Brahmas quarterback Jack Coan is fifth in passing yards (625) and tied for fourth in touchdown passes (five), although the team ranked seventh in passing offense (142.2 ypg) after the conclusion of Week 4. Running back Kalen Ballage has had his moments but is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and has yet to find the end zone. Overall, San Antonio is sixth in rushing offense (79.5 ypg) with just two touchdowns on the ground in the first four games.
Arlington's issues under center are even more pronounced. Drew Plitt and Kyle Sloter have combined for 621 passing yards with more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (three). The duo also has been sacked a combined 11 times, which contributes to the Renegades owning the league's least productive passing offense (137.5 ypg). To compound things, Arlington also is dead last in rushing offense (59.8 ypg) with leading rusher De'Veon Smith averaging a mere 2.7 yards per carry. Offensive is an appropriate descriptor in this case, and not in a good way.
3. Opportunity to make up ground
Interstate bragging rights aside, Houston's surprising loss in Seattle on Thursday night has presented Arlington and San Antonio with a rare opportunity to make up ground in the XFL South standings. The Renegades can draw within a game of the Roughnecks with a win while the Brahmas would create a two-way tie for second with a victory on Sunday night. In actuality, a win would give San Antonio a slight advantage because it would be a head-to-head divisional win — but don't worry, these two teams will run it back next Sunday afternoon, this time in Arlington. Either way, both teams have to be somewhat encouraged by the fact that the Roughnecks are no longer undefeated.
The Brahmas lost their only home game thus far in their season opener against St. Louis. They gave up 15 points in the final 90 seconds of that game. The Renegades have yet to win on the road, but that could change on Sunday night. Arlington's defense is a little bit better, at least on paper, and that's how it will play out in the Alamodome too.
Prediction: Renegades 17, Brahmas 14
— Written by Gabe Salgado, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
*Price as of publication.