Week 5 of the XFL season is upon us which marks the halfway point of the second iteration of the XFL, in all of its glory. While the play has been solid and there are certainly a few players who stand out as sure to compete for NFL roster spots come summer, the league has struggled to find consistent quarterback play or bonafide stars.
The futures market for the 2020 XFL Championship remains as fluid as the league itself. After starting out 2-0, the DC Defenders (+400) have now fallen flat in consecutive weeks, scoring just 9 points over the last two weeks while former MVP front-runner Cardale Jones has been one of the worst quarterback performers in the league. The new co-favorite St. Louis BattleHawks (+350) have turned in back to back strong weeks, beating the Guardians and Dragons by a combined 27 points in front of one of the best home-field advantages in the league. Lead by MVP favorite PJ Walker, the Houston Roughnecks (+175) remains the team to beat in the XFL.
Let’s take a look at my favorite play in week 5.
New York Guardians at Dallas Renegades (+8, O/U 37), 5:00 PM EST (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
The Landry Jones era in Dallas could very well be over just as it was getting started as the former Oklahoma Sooner and Pittsburgh Steeler suffered a knee injury which will likely end his season. For Jones, a similar injury kept him out of most of XFL training camp, and while he’s optimistic about a return, the Renegades will likely be left to make do without the 4th ranked QB in the league who threw for 788 yards and five touchdowns on the season prior to Sunday, despite missing week 1.
With Jones on the sideline, the Renegades will likely hand the ball to former Eastern Carolina quarterback Philip Nelson who has thrown for 229 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception and amassed a 77 rating through his game and half of XFL play. With limited ability at quarterback, the Renegades will be forced to rely on running back Cameron Artis-Payne who ranks 4th in the league in rushing with 216 yards, which should prove a challenge in a pass-happy XFL East.
On the other side of this matchup, the New York Guardians have been quietly humming along with two quality wins over the Wildcats and Vipers who have turned out to be two of the more solid teams in this young league. At the quarterback position, former NCAA Division II champion Luis Perez has seemingly become the head man having improved in each of his two appearances under center for the Guardians. While he hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard, throwing for 189 yards on 31 attempts to go with two touchdowns, Perez has limited turnovers (zero) which is something head coach Kevin Gilbride rightfully puts a lot of stock in.
As the offense has been adequate at best, the Guardian’s defense continues to keep them in games and their front seven are some of the nastiest in the league. Three of the league’s top five sack collectors are on this Guardian’s defense, with Cavon Walker, Jarrell Owens, and Wes Sutton each racking up two or more sacks on the season.
Even though the last we saw of a healthy Jones was him throwing for three interceptions in the first quarter on Sunday, I still think his impact will be felt immediately by a Renegades team that is already hanging on for dear life for a playoff spot as the season prepares for its home stretch. In New York, the Guardians by all indications have found their guy in Perez and the team rallied behind him in last week’s 17-14 defeat over a surging Wildcats team. I like the Guardians to get back on track and take advantage of a sinking DC Defenders team in a now wide-open XFL East.