One of the most interesting games on the schedule this week features two intriguing teams looking to surpass the .500 mark. The Dallas Renegades will host the New York Guardians (both are 2-2) in a game that could start to sort out the playoff picture.
The Guardians broke a two-game losing streak by topping the Los Angeles Wildcats at home last week, while the Renegades became the latest team to fall to the undefeated Houston Roughnecks. New York needed a late-game field goal to defeat the Wildcats, while Dallas was only seven points shy of forcing the Roughnecks into overtime.
New York at Dallas
Kickoff: Saturday, March 7 at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Globe Life Park in Arlington (Arlington, Texas)
Spread: Renegades -7.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Does Luis Perez get another start at quarterback?
Matt McGloin is back at practice this week after missing last week's game with a chest injury. But does Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride really want to bench Perez's hot hand? His performance (18-of-26, 150 yards, TD) against Los Angeles was the best performance that New York has had under center since the season opener against Tampa. I don't see why Gilbride would pull the plug now. The Renegades have had their struggles against the pass, giving up around 203 yards per game through the air (fifth in XFL). If Perez can have another efficient outing, that will increase the Guardians' chances of winning.
2. Philip Nelson gets another chance
Landry Jones will be out for at least the next two weeks due to a nagging knee injury that caused him to miss the season opener against St. Louis. Nelson got the start in the opener and finished the game against Houston last week after Jones aggravated the injury on a quarterback sneak. He's completed 34-of-45 pass attempts this year for 229 yards and an interception. The Renegades only scored nine points in their loss to the BattleHawks with Nelson at the helm, and he fumbled on the Renegades' final drive last week, which was recovered by the Roughnecks and allowed them to run out the clock.
It will take Nelson's best effort of the season to get Dallas back in the win column. The best way to make Nelson's start easier will be to lean on his running back tandem of Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar. Artis-Payne ranks fourth in the league in rushing yards (216) and third in yards per attempt (5.2), while adding 98 receiving yards for good measure. Dunbar has been effective with his opportunities as well (140 rushing yards, 136 receiving yards).
3. The most interesting statistic is...
That the Guardians are winless on the road (0-2) while the Renegades, in turn, have yet to win a game at home (0-2). The Guardians have been outscored 56-9 away from MetLife Stadium and have also committed four turnovers on the road. As for the Renegades, visitors to Globe Life Park have outscored them 42-29 and have limited Bob Stoops' team to just two touchdowns on their home field. Something will have to give this weekend since there are no ties in the XFL.
Perez keeps the Guardians competitive with his accuracy and efficiency. But the Renegades will lean on their ground game, take advantage of New York's run defense (122.5 ypg allowed, sixth in XFL), and win a close one for their first victory on home soil.
Prediction: Renegades 20, Guardians 17
— Gabe Salgado 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's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.