It’s finally here. The Tampa Bay Vipers will host one of the best teams in the XFL when the Houston Roughnecks invade Raymond James to take on the Vipers in their home opener.
The Roughnecks bring the number offense in the league to Tampa averaging 32 points a game behind the play of quarterback PJ Walker.
Walker is proving to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league as has thrown seven touchdown passes and just one interception.
Walker has used three main receivers to tear up opposing defenses led by Cam Phillips who leads the Roughnecks with 12 catches for 130 yards and four touchdowns.
Kahlil Lewis has nine catches for 95 yards, and Nick Holley has seven catches for 91 yards.
The Vipers bring the top rated defense in the league into the game and it should be an intriguing matchup as the number one offense goes up against the number one defense.
The Vipers are giving up an average of 136 yards a game passing and the Roughnecks are averaging 217 yards a game through the air.
The Vipers offensively are 0/6 inside the red zone this season and for the Vipers to start moving up the standings they have to get points in the red zone and get better quarterback play.
Aaron Murray will miss his second straight game with a foot injury, which means that Taylor Cornelius will get the start again for the Vipers.
There will be a lot of fans that want to see Quinton Flowers start, But in the chances he has been given, he has not been impressive.
Part of the offensive issues plaguing this Vipers team is the fact that coach Marc Trestman will not stay with a quarterback long enough to get into any kind of rhythm.
Trestman was constantly going back and forth with Cornelius and Flowers in the Seattle game and as a result no quarterback ever looked like they were able to get into any kind of rhythm.
With the Vipers at 0-2, a loss to Houston would seriously damage their chances of earning a playoff spot.
You never want to say the third game of the season is a must win, but this is as close to a must win as you can get.
Trestman knows that the offense has to get better and start scoring some points, “We’re going to work each day to try to execute better and get things right, so when we get down there we can finish drives. We know we have an exciting offense. We haven’t taken advantage of that as a football team.”
The Vipers are the only team in the league with two backs to run for over 100 yards. De’Veon Smith with 125 yards and Jacques Patrick with 105 yards.
Tight end Nick Truesdall will miss the game with an injury in addition to quarterback Aaron Murray. Houston’s leading receiver Cam Phillips did not practice this week and is expected to miss the game.
This will be a hard game for the Vipers to win based on what we have seen from this offense so far this season.
The Vipers should get a bit of energy from the home crowd, but it won’t be enough to get them the win.
Houston wins in a close one 24-22.