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How the D.C. Defenders went from a Top Tier Team to a Bottom Tier Team

The D.C Defenders started the XFL season as one of the hottest teams in the entire league. They played in the first game of the 2020 XFL season, taking on the Seattle Dragons. The Defenders were the first team to score in the XFL by making a field goal and then scored the first ever special teams touchdown by blocking a punt. The Defenders had a big second half an ended up winning the game 31 to 19.

Cardale Jones played really well in his first meaningful football game in along time he finished with 16 completions on 26 attempts for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns. The team played well in its first game but showed some signs of struggles to come. We have seen with other teams a good ground game could be critical to winning. The Defenders only had 68 yards on the ground and averaged 2.5 yards/attempt. The Defenders also really struggled on third down, they successfully converted 5 of 15 third downs.

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The defense for the Defenders in the first week was really solid and came away with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery. They allowed less than 100 yards rush and less than 215 yards passing. Week 1 was a great team win and generated a lot of momentum for week 2.

In week 2 we saw the Defenders absolutely obliterate the New York Guardians 27 to 0. This was the game where Guardians quarterback Matt McGloin said heading into halftime said they needed to change the whole game plan at halftime.

The defense for the Defenders was huge again! They forced another 3 turnovers and held New York to less than 167 total yards! The offense for the Defenders also played pretty well. They had 372 total yards, 108 of those came on the ground, but still only averaged 3.9 yards/attempt. Cardale Jones completed 23 of 37 attempts for 264 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.

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At this point the Defenders were one of the hottest teams in the entire XFL. They were considered either the second or third best team in the whole league behind the Roughnecks and BattleHawks. Now you can see where Pride has them ranked in his latest power rankings.

Week 3 was going to be a tough week for the Defenders. They were traveling across the country to take on the L.A. Wildcats. This was a game I successfully took the Wildcats to upset the Defenders. However, I did not think the Defenders would get blown out.

The Wildcats won the game 39 to 9 and no one for the Defenders played well. The poor performances start with Cardale Jones, who completed 13 of 26 for 103 yards and 4 interceptions. That’s right, 4 interceptions. The Defenders averaged 1.9 yards per play. This was an impressive win by the Wildcats. This was the first time we saw this D.C. team have to face a tough team and play from behind and instead of fighting they rolled over.

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With week 4 approaching this D.C. team is yet again in a good position to win the football game. They are taking on the only remaining team without a win in the Tampa Bay Vipers. Should be an easy win, or at least a win right? Wrong. The Vipers came out and played like the (2-1) team not the (0-3) team.

How would Cardale Jones respond after losing in blowout fashion with 4 interceptions? Jones completed 9 of 22 attempts for 72 yards and 1 interception, against arguably the worst secondary in the league. This simply will never get it done. As the Defenders did in week 3 they only averaged 1.9 yards per play in week 4 and was held to 107 total yards. In week 3 they were 2 of 13 on third down and in week 4 they were 2 of 10 on third down.

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The Defenders have hit a massive wall. They now have proven they cannot win on the road. However, something they have been able to do is win at home. This week the D.C. Defenders welcome the St. Louis BattleHawks. Who are one of the hottest teams in the league and look like the favorite out of the East.

The key to D.C. winning this game is slowing down the powerful St. Louis offense, but more importantly the Defenders have to move the football down the field and score touchdowns. Field goals will not win them this game. The Defenders have shown that at home they can move the ball and score, they just now have to bring it on Sunday. If you ask me I still think this is a task the team will not be able to accomplish. The BattleHawks are playing so well right now it would almost take a perfect game from D.C. to win. I am not saying it is impossible, I am just saying I don’t think it will happen.

In week 6 the Defenders take on the Dallas Renegades, who will probably still be without starting quarterback Landry Jones, and the Defenders get to play them in D.C. so, I would predict a win there. That would put this team at 3-3 with a shot at making the playoffs still.

Over the last 4 games I think D.C. will split and end the year at 5-5, with a chance to make some noise by being the 2 seed in the East. If this team can get hot at the right time and find a way to win on the road they could be dangerous moving forward.

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Host/founder of the Time Skew podcast. I am dedicated to helping you get better at fantasy football and dominate your league!

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