A phrase that is uttered far too often each year is “Texas football is back baby!” And while the Texas Longhorns finished at 8-5 and far from a national championship, Texas football is actually back this year in the form of the XFL. This Sunday the 3-0 Houston Roughnecks, as 2.5 point favorites, will travel to the 2-1 Dallas Renegades for the first of what we hope will be a long and storied rivalry series.
What Houston Roughneck’s quarterback P.J. Walker has done in the first three weeks of the XFL season so far has been almost incomparable. He has led the Roughnecks to an XFL best 3-0 while putting up 33 points a game. Walker has had 748 total passing yards, a 64-percent completion rate, 7.1 yards per attempt, 10 touchdown passes and only one interception. In fact, if he was his own team, he would lead the XFL in touchdowns:
This weekend, Walker will face his biggest task yet: the Dallas Renegades with the best defense in the league. The Renegades share the 2nd best record in the XFL with the D.C. Defenders and St. Louis Battlehawks and have proven they belong by letting up only 15 points per game (1st in the league) and leading the XFL in yards per game at 361. Cameron Artis-Payne has also been on a tear in the Renegades past two wins with 131 and 110 total yards. He wasn’t involved in the Renegades offense week 1 but by getting him into the lineup, the Renegades have scored 25 and 24 points respectively the last two weeks.
For as good as these teams have been, strangely enough, they have been at the bottom of the XFL when it comes to offensive 3rd down efficiency rate. For a game expected to be as close as tomorrow, 3rd down conversions that extend drives and keep the ball out of the other explosive offense from touching the ball could be the key to the game:
Cam Phillips has been the other star for the Houston Roughnecks. For the first three weeks his stat line has been extraordinary:
4 receptions, 67 yards, 1 touchdown
8 receptions, 63 yards, 3 touchdowns, XFL Player of the Week
8 receptions, 194 yards, 3 touchdowns, XFL Player of the Week
His 324 total receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns both lead the XFL. The Renegades have their own receiving star in Donal Parham who has 214 total yards, good for 4th in the league. It will be really intriguing to see which receiver is able to keep their hot streak going.
Overall, these are two well-balanced teams that both are early favorites to win the XFL championship. I will stay with the best player in the league and P.J. Walker as I pick the Roughnecks to win the in-state rivalry 24-21. To pass time before the game, I have provided a video for each team (one of them might be TikTok-related, I’m sorry)
Houston Roughnecks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz-hocjdne0
Dallas Renegades: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0zUYGrKyNE