We’re now into week three of the XFL season and the Tampa Bay Vipers (0-2) finally get to play a home game as they await the arrival of the Houston Roughnecks (2-0).
Tampa, FL — The time has finally come. After 7,000+ miles of travel, the Tampa Bay Vipers finally get a home game as they host the Houston Roughnecks at Raymond James Stadium.
That might be the only good news for the Vipers heading into week three, however. The team will be without starting quarterback Aaron Murray for the second straight game. They will also be without tight end starting Nick Truesdell.
Not ideal for a team that has yet to score an offensive touchdown this season.
Don't @ us, we know what we need to do this week. pic.twitter.com/hu5dUaqv1c
— Tampa Bay Vipers (@XFLVipers) February 19, 2020
Last week at Seattle, Taylor Cornelius drew the start with Aaron Murray sidelined due to an ankle injury. Cornelius completed 16/27 passes (59%) for 154 yards and two interceptions. He was spelled by Quinton Flowers throughout the game. Flowers went 3/7 passing the ball (43%) for 18 yards. He also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. He committed two delay of games, although one was declined due to another penalty.
This week, it appears the rotation will continue. Although head coach Marc Trestman said he won’t officially announce a starter before game time.
Numbers don’t lie
But they can be misleading. The Vipers own the third ranked offense in the XFL. Yet, they haven’t scored an offensive touchdown. They own the number two rushing attack in the XFL led by De’Veon Smith – who is second in the league in rushing with 125 yards. Jacques Patrick is not to be forgotten, as he’s fifth in rushing with 105 yards. Smith and Patrick are the only running back duo with 100+ yards each.
It’s unsure whether or not newly acquired S.J. Green will suit up this week. Although with Truesdell being ruled out, it may get him on the field sooner rather that later.
The Vipers defense has been outstanding so far this season. They are number one in total defense as they prepare to take on the number one scoring offense. I’m looking forward to see what defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville has up his sleeve this week to try and slow down the Roughnecks’ offense.
Meeting the Roughnecks
The Roughnecks are led by quarterback P.J. Walker. If you’ve been paying any attention to the XFL you already know who Walker is. After two weeks, Walker has been the star of the league. He’s thrown for 449 yards, completing 61 percent of his passes while adding seven touchdowns. Those seven touchdowns leads the league. The Roughnecks are first in scoring offense while being fifth in total offense, though.
In last week’s matchup against the St. Louis Battlehawks, wide receiver Cam Phillips hauled in eight receptions for 63 yards. Three of those receptions went for touchdowns. Phillips is third in the league in receiving yards and he leads the league in receiving touchdowns. In addition to Phillips, the Roughnecks also have receivers Kahlil Lewis and Sammie Coates. They spent their second and third round picks in the skill position phase on Lewis and Coates. This passing attack is deep and will be a tough test on the Vipers’ defense.
On defense, linebacker Beniquez Brown and safety Cody Brown lead the team in tackles with 15 and 13, respectively. Outside linebacker, LaTroy Lewis is tied for first in the XFL with two sacks. The Roughnecks also have former second round NFL selection, Kony Ealy.
What Vegas thinks
After two straight weeks of being road favorites, the Vipers (+6.5) are now home dogs. The total for the game is set at 45, the highest of the four games in week three.
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