The D.C. Defenders are 10-1 and have been the XFL's best team all season. The Arlington Renegades are below .500 and have allowed more points this year than they've scored. Yet with only one game remaining in the spring league, they're the final two teams left standing.
In a little under two weeks, they'll play for the 2023 XFL championship.
The Renegades and Defenders each cruised to victory in the XFL playoff semifinals over the weekend. Arlington got things started on Saturday with a major upset, shocking the Houston Roughnecks, 26-11. It was the same Roughnecks team they'd lost to twice during the regular season -- including by 16 just a week earlier -- as Houston entered as a 7.5-point favorite.
Then on Sunday, the Defenders looked like they may have a battle on their hands as they went to halftime tied 9-9 with the Seattle Sea Dragons, but it was all D.C. in the second half, as they pulled away with a big third quarter en route to winning 37-21.
Here's what to watch for in the XFL final -- and how to watch it -- as well as a look at each semifinal.
How to watch the XFL championship game
Teams: Arlington Renegades (5-6) vs. D.C. Defenders (10-1)
When: Saturday, May 13, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Alamodome in San Antonio
Defenders vs. Renegades: What to know
The good news for the Renegades is that even though they're only 5-6, they actually gave the Defenders a very rough go of it in Week 9, the only time the teams met, when D.C. struggled to pull out a 28-26 victory in overtime.
In that Week 9 game, Renegades quarterback Luis Perez -- who's had a wild ride in pro football, bouncing around from three NFL teams to the AAF, USFL and XFL, and even started this season on a different XFL team (the Vegas Vipers) -- threw for 355 yards, but couldn't stay hot in overtime. The Defenders got a solid performance from quarterback Jordan Ta'amu, who threw two touchdowns while completing 70% of his passes.
The Defenders sound nearly unbeatable given their record, but they entered the playoffs on their worst stretch of the season. After suffering their one-and-only loss in Week 7 against, of all teams, the Orlando Guardians -- it was the Guardians' only win of the season -- D.C. won its final three regular-season games by a combined four points.
The Renegades' playoff win was their best by far -- aside from that, half of their four regular-season wins came against the lowly Guardians, and their other two came against the Vegas Vipers (2-8) and San Antonio Brahmas (3-7).
Here's a look at the week-by-week results this season from each team in the championship game.
Week 1: Renegades 22, Vegas Vipers 20
Week 2: Houston Roughnecks 23, Renegades 14
Week 3: Renegades 10, Orlando Guardians 9
Week 4: St. Louis BattleHawks 24, Renegades 11
Week 5: Renegades 12, San Antonio Brahmas 10
Week 6: San Antonio Brahmas 15, Renegades 9
Week 7: Seattle Sea Dragons 24, Renegades 15
Week 8: Renegades 18, Orlando Guardians 16
Week 9: D.C. Defenders 28, Renegades 26, OTWeek 10: Houston Roughnecks 25, Renegades 9
Playoff semifinal: Renegades 26, Houston Roughnecks 11
Week 1: Defenders 22, Seattle Sea Dragons 18
Week 2: Defenders 18, Vegas Vipers 6
Week 3: Defenders 34, St. Louis BattleHawks 28
Week 4: Defenders 32, Vegas Vipers 18
Week 5: Defenders 28, St. Louis BattleHawks 20
Week 6: Defenders 37, Houston Roughnecks 26
Week 7: Orlando Guardians 37, Defenders 36
Week 8: Defenders 34, Seattle Sea Dragons 33
Week 9: Defenders 28, Arlington Renegades 26, OT
Week 10: Defenders 29, San Antonio Brahmas 28
Playoff semifinal: Defenders 37, Seattle Sea Dragons 21
Defenders players to know, semifinal takeaways
D.C. quarterback Jordan Ta'amu has been among the league's top players -- he finished third in the league in passing yards (1,894) with 14 TDs and 3 INTs in the regular season -- but he didn't get off to a strong start in the playoffs against the Sea Dragons. Ta'amu's two first-half interceptions were a big reason the Defenders were tied 9-9 at the half.
He bounced back to finish with 258 yards, however, and tossed two touchdowns in the second half. The Defenders' Abram Smith, the XFL's rushing leader by far in the regular season (791 yards with 7 TDs), also had a second-half TD. Fellow running back Cam'Ron Harris had two touchdowns. The Defenders' top two receivers this season were Lucky Jackson and Josh Hammond.
The playoff victory was D.C.'s third win of the season over the Sea Dragons. The Defenders are coached by Reggie Barlow, who played eight years in the NFL as a receiver for the Jaguars and Buccaneers.
Renegades players to know, semifinal takeaways
The Renegades, coached by former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, leaned on Perez to shock the Roughnecks in the semifinal. The Arlington QB threw for 194 yards and 3 TDs -- in the first half -- as Arlington took a 23-8 lead.
Perez was traded to the Renegades after playing the first five games with the Vipers, throwing for 901 yards with 8 TDs while with Vegas. Between the two teams, Perez threw for the fourth most yards in the league in the regular season -- just behind Ta'amu -- with 1,636. He had 9 TDs and 7 INTs.
JaVonta Payton had 4 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Renegades in receiving in the playoff win. On the ground Arlington is led by running back DeVeon Smith, who finished fourth in the league in rushing (365 yards, 7 TDs).