XFL Week 4 Preview: Vegas Vipers @ D.C. Defenders

  • When: Sunday, Mar. 12 at 7 PM ET
  • Where: Audi Field, Washington, D.C.
  • How to watch: ESPN2/ESPN+


  • DC -6.0
  • O/U: 40.5
  • Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

Injury Report

Depth Charts

vipers defenders depth chart


The Vegas Vipers get their rematch just two weeks after they fell to the D.C. Defenders 18-6 at home. The meeting featured lots of rushing from both teams, slippery balls being fumbled left & right, and players tripping all over Cashman Field in the pouring Vegas rain. 

Lo and behold, these crummy conditions are once again expected to rock the XFL North contest, this time taking place in the nation’s capital. To make matters worse, kickoff temperature is forecasted at 38 degrees.

The matchup features two teams headed in different directions, with 30% of the season complete. For the Vipers, a loss would be detrimental for an already winless team with multiple heartbreaking losses on the season, including a tough loss last week against the Seattle Sea Dragons that saw the Vipers in control most of the second half. This insane 65-yard reception from Josh Gordon came as the game-winning touchdown in the dwindling minutes:

The Vipers also drew first blood in their week one & two games against the Arlington Renegades and Defenders, respectively, but couldn’t get wins from either. 

As for the Defenders, a win would keep their unbeaten bid alive & strong. They’re coming off a big win last week against the St. Louis Battlehawks behind an offense that tallied 34 points and 346 yards. The Defenders esteemed two-quarterback system ft. Jordan Ta’amu and D’Eriq King kept the St. Louis defense honest, with Ta’amu and King throwing a touchdown. 

Though it’s only been two weeks since the last time these teams saw each other, a good amount has changed since. Earlier this week, the Vipers traded their top offensive tackle Antonio Garcia. Ironically, the Defenders were on the receiving end of this trade as they gave up safety Joshua Allen in return. In a separate swap, D.C. traded away offensive tackle T.J. Storment who they selected with their first-round pick. 

Additionally, it was revealed on Friday that offensive coordinator Duane Taylor and the Vipers had parted ways. The move came after a solid showing from the Vipers offensively last week with Brett Hundley under center. However, internal issues were made apparent with the hot mic feature on XFL telecasts that caught Hundley complaining about the playcalling on multiple occasions. Vipers wide receivers coach Ray Sherman will reportedly be Taylor’s replacement.

Taylor, 71, brings almost 50 years of experience from the collegiate and professional levels. He’s spent most of his career as a receivers coach with short stints as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Green Bay Packers in the 1990s. 


Quarterback Brett Hundley is questionable for Vegas and has been limited all week in practice with a thigh injury. It looked like he found his groove last weekend against the Dragons with 224 passing yards & three total touchdowns in addition to his 66 rushing yards. If he doesn’t play, it’ll be Luis Perez for the Vipers, who started week one against the Renegades and showed flashes. Going into halftime, he had his team up 14-3 before a second-half breakdown saw Arlington outscore Vegas 19-6, yielding another brutal loss. In said game, Perez went 22 for 36 passing with 249 yards & three touchdowns, but a poor start against D.C. the following week resulted in his benching.

Though hasn’t looked like it through three weeks, the Vipers receiving core could easily be the best in the XFL. So far, headlined by Jeff Badet with 181 receiving yards & three touchdowns on 12 receptions this season, recognizable NFL names like Martavis Bryant and Geronimo Allison also reside on the Vipers. Both have racked up over 1,000 career receiving yards in the NFL, yet combined haven’t reached 100 yards in the XFL. So who knows? Maybe a change in playcalling will be just what these receivers need to provide a spark. Meanwhile, younger guys like Cinque Sweeting & Matthew Sexton have impressed & helped out in their roles. Surely stopping the passing attack, whether it be Hundley or Perez at signal-caller, will be a key to victory for the Defenders.

The Vipers defense was picked apart by June Jones’ Run-N-Shoot system just a week ago, with Dragons quarterback Ben DiNucci throwing for 377 yards, the most thrown in a single game in XFL history. Against the Defenders during week two, it was the ground game they struggled to defend as they let up 229 rushing yards. Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see what adjustments they’ve made over the week to stop a Defenders offense that has only improved since their last encounter.


D.C. has only gotten stronger as the weeks have gone by. Last week against the Battlehawks, quarterback Jordan Ta’amu put up his best numbers of the season with 196 passing yards and two touchdowns, while the running back duo, headlined by Abram Smith and Ryquell Armstead. ran for 105 yards. Lucky Jackson remained the top target through the air for the Defenders with 89 yards on four receptions. Receivers Josh Hammond and Chris Blair also made big catches for the Defenders and are aerial threats for the Vipers secondary to look out for. 

The offensive line continued to be shuffled over the week with the aforementioned trades that essentially exchanged one first-round pick offensive tackle for another. The Defenders also added offensive tackle Gunnar Vogel and released offensive guard Rod Taylor.

Defensively, D.C. continued as takeaway machines, forcing four turnovers last week. Kentrell Brice and Michael Joseph came down with interceptions, while two forced fumbles accounted for the rest of the Defenders takeaways. 

Meanwhile, the suspensions of Francis Bernard & Gabe Wright due to their involvement in last week’s scuffle with the Battlehawks hampers the Defenders front seven. On the season, Bernard has 13 tackles, including two for loss but will not be available again until week six.

Final Thoughts

If each team’s offensive performance from last week was an indicator of the offensive production we’ll see tonight, expect a high-scoring game. Then again, rain showers and almost-freezing temperatures may hinder game plans.

For you bettors: I’m no betting man, but I think the under may be the play here.

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