DC Defenders vs. Arlington Renegades | Week 10 Preview

DC Defenders vs. Arlington Renegades | Week 10 Preview

On the final day of the 2024 UFL regular season, the Arlington Renegades (2-7) head north for the conclusion of their season series with the DC Defenders (4-5) at Audi Field. Week 10 shuts the door on both of the season’s of these featured teams, as both have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Defenders won game one against Arlington earlier this season in week three, 29-28.

When the UFL schedule was initially released, this game was certainly highlighted on plenty of calendar’s across the league. Some expected this matchup would even have heavy playoff implications, but it was not the season the Arlington Renegades or DC Defenders expected to have after facing off in the XFL Championship in 2023.

Last week, the Renegades defeated a Manny Wilkins led St. Louis Battlehawks team, 36-22 at home.

Meanwhile, the Defenders also picked up the win against the Showboats in Memphis, 36-21.

Let’s dive into the quarterbacks, and evaluate how Sunday’s game between the Defenders and Renegades might play out.

Quarterback Play

Arlington Renegades

Arlington and DC finish off their second consecutive season in similar quarterback situations heading into the offseason.

The Renegades are led by Luis Perez, who is set to make his tenth start of the season for Arlington. Perez has been one of the top half quarterbacks in the league throughout the season, which should come to the surprise of nobody given his rich spring football background. Through nine games, Perez leads the UFL in passing, going 202/299 (67.6%) for 2,094 yards, with 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

This may be unpopular, but I believe if Arlington was a playoff team this season, Perez would be the clear-cut MVP favorite over Birmingham’s Adrian Martinez.

DC Defenders

Last week, Ta’amu accounted for 275 total yards, along with three touchdowns and two interceptions against the league’s worst defense. Ta’amu’s two interceptions added to his league-high with nine now on the season.

When comparing to Perez, the most staggering statistic that stands out is the turnovers and completion percentage. Perez has been the definition of efficient and his team has unfortunately fallen on the short end of the stick in plenty of games this year.

Standout Playmakers

The Renegades have plenty of weapons on offense that Defenders DC Gregg Williams must account for on Sunday.

Led by the UFL’s leader in touchdown receptions, tight end Sal Cannella, Arlington has no shortage of mouths to feed on the offensive side. The wide receivers room includes Tyler Vaughns, Deontay Burnett, and JP Payton who all rank top 20 in receiving this season. Payton has been ruled out for the final game, so expect to see a heavy dose of Isaiah Winstead this weekend.

Vaughns possesses the slim, lengthy build that teams have fallen in love with over the past ten years. Similar to NFL WR CeeDee Lamb, Vaughns uses his slenderness to his advantage by shielding off defensive backs in press and/or zone. Count on Vaughns being an issue for DC’s secondary. Burnett is the safety valve underneath for the majority of targets. Though do not count out Burnett’s ability to take the top off of a defense at any moment. JP Payton has been the recipient of most of Perez’s deep throws this season. Payton’s 16.5 YPR ranks top ten in the league (min. of 10 receptions).

On the ground, longtime spring football RB De’Veon Smith leads Arlington’s attack in the trenches. Smith is fifth in the UFL with 90 carries for 357 yards (4.0 YPC), and leads the Renegades running backs by a wide margin (51 carries).

DC Defenders

The Defenders wide receivers group had their best day of the season last week vs. Memphis, accounting for 222 of the team’s receiving yards (season-high). Keke Coutee led the way for DC, finishing with five receptions for 69 yards, and a touchdown on the ground.

Ty Scott is the man to watch this week. Scott’s first downs per route run rate (1D/RR) ranks second among all UFL players with a 0.1. Scott is tied with only one player, Arlington’s Tyler Vaughns.

The Defenders rushing attack has been woeful in comparison to last season with a healthy Abram Smith at running back. Without Smith, DC has yet to find a stable back to carry the load. Virginia State product, Darius Hagans, has emerged in the past two weeks as a potential candidate to lead the backfield down the line. His recent performance should earn him a fair share of carries this week.

Defensive Players To Watch

Both defenses rank in the bottom half of the league in nearly every category, with neither able to find their footing until too late in the season. Renegades safety Joe Powell has risen to the occasion as a midseason signing for Arlignton. Powell, in a short time, has earned himself a starting role on Bob Stoops’ defense with multiple turnover-worthy plays.

For DC, the player to watch on the defensive side this week is linebacker Anthony Hines who’s slowly earned himself a starting role in his second season with the Defenders. With Arlington giving up the least amount of sacks in the league, along with Perez’s ability to protect the ball, Hines will have an important job in managing his men on defense.

Injury Updates

The following image is the most recent injury report that has been made available to the media.

Final Thoughts

For two teams at the end of their season and out of playoff contention, this game feels like an evaluation for each coach and player stepping on that field Sunday.

If there was any time to try new things, it would be this week with players contracts set to expire after the season and uncertainty at plenty of positions for both teams. NFL opportunities will come for many players as well, some expected and unexpected.

As for a prediction, it’s hard to bet against the way Arlington is playing right now. Even though St. Louis was starting their backup QB, they have a very formidable roster around the QB position which is why they’re touted so highly. The Defenders are also coming off a win, but there were quite a few factors you could point to throughout the game that would have gotten them in trouble with any other team. With Arlington’s ability to protect the ball and provide an adequate ground game, they have the edge in my eyes over DC this week.

The DC Defenders will host the Arlington Renegades at 12pm ET this Sunday, on ABC.

Full Roster Breakdowns: DC, Arlington

What are your thoughts on this upcoming matchup between the Arlington Renegades and DC Defenders? Which UFL players do you expect will impress? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!