For the second consecutive year, football bettors have a post-Super Bowl outlet for getting some action in. The newest iteration of the XFL will roll out its four Week 3 games this weekend. The XFL is embracing sports betting on its games and is openly discussing point spreads and over/under totals on its broadcasts. There’s also a solid number of states and sportsbooks making lines available each week.
Naturally, handicapping a new league’s first season of games is an exercise in uncertainty to a large degree. However, XFL rosters do have plenty of former AAF and NFL names scattered through them. Many of the key skill-position players also had decorated college careers. Consequently, there’s a solid amount of history to go on with some of the more impactful pieces on each squad.
We’re offering a betting take on each game throughout the league’s 10-week regular season and two-week postseason. We’ve also assigned a confidence rating on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) to each pick as an additional tool.
ATS Season to Date: 7-1 (.875)
Houston Roughnecks at Tampa Bay Vipers — Saturday, Feb. 22, 2 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -6.5 (-105)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -6.5 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -6.5 (-110)
- Fox Bet Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -6.5 (-105)
It was far from easy, but the Roughnecks were able to remain undefeated in Week 2 with a hard-fought 28-24 win over the BattleHawks. It’s a completely opposite picture for the Vipers. Tampa Bay not only fell to 0-2 with a 17-9 loss to the Dragons, but there have been serious rumblings all week about a potential mutiny against head coach Marc Trestman.
The Roughnecks weren’t quite as prolific on offense in their aforementioned victory over St. Louis. However, what QB P.J. Walker didn’t accumulate in passing yardage he mostly made up for it with efficiency. Walker racked up three touchdown passes on a modest 170 passing yards. Houston’s air attack will face a tough test on paper against the Vipers’ secondary, however. Despite the 0-2 mark, Tampa Bay has allowed just 196.0 passing yards per contest. RB James Butler — he of the three total TDs through two games — will take a crack at a run defense that’s yielded just over 80 yards per game across the first pair of contests.
On the Vipers’ side, the offense, Trestman’s coaching domain, will certainly be under scrutiny this week. Any success they have will have to come without their season-opening starting QB, however. Aaron Murray will miss a second consecutive game with a foot injury. That will put Taylor Cornelius in the spotlight again after a two-interception performance versus Seattle. The versatile Quinton Flowers should also rotate in as needed. Whoever is under center will have a tall order in front of them. Houston has totaled four sacks through two games and is averaging 9.5 QB hits per contest. Trestman may therefore opt to lean heavily on the capable running back duo of Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith, who each rank within the top five in rushing yards through two games.
The Vipers will be difficult to figure out this week. Given reports out of Tampa Bay, it wouldn’t be completely out of the question for the team to tank, if the acrimony with Trestman is as bad as has been relayed. This game will mark the Vipers’ home opener, but ultimately, I see the aggressive Houston offense and defense combining to enable a cover.
The Pick: Roughnecks -6.5 (Confidence 9/10)
Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons — Saturday, Feb. 22, 5 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Renegades -4 (-110)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Renegades -4.5 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: Renegades -4.5 (-110)
- Fox Bet Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Renegades -4.5 (-110)
The Renegades had the benefit of having their top quarterback available in Week 2, and it resulted in their first victory of the season. Landry Jones, considered one of the likely top signal-callers in the XFL coming into the season, threw for 305 yards in a 25-18 win over the Wildcats. The Dragons also broke the ice with a 17-9 win against the visiting Vipers. Their XFL-record home crowd of 29,000-plus certainly helped propel them to victory.
Jones will likely continue to build up his rapport with his impressive array of receivers this coming week. He may have a busy day ahead of him as well. The Dragons are allowing just 0.1 yards before contact per rush attempt, the top mark in the XFL as per Pro Football Focus. Therefore, Cameron Artis-Payne, who starred in Week 2 with a pair of TDs, could find that success hard to replicate. The going against Seattle’s secondary may be a bit smoother, especially with the bevy of receivers and tight ends at Jones’ disposal in coordinator Hal Mumme’s Air Raid attack.
On the Dragons’ side, their quarterback will be looking to significantly improve his Week 2 effort. Brandon Silvers managed to throw for under 100 yards and complete just 39 percent of his passes. But, with a 68-yard touchdown toss to Keenan Reynolds constituting a significant chunk of Silvers’ yardage, Seattle pulled out the narrow victory. Silvers will face a Renegades defense that’s yielded a solid 188.5 passing yards per contest through two weeks, so on paper, it won’t be a cakewalk for the young signal-caller in terms of managing drastic improvement. The Dragons’ well-rounded run game could be another story. The capable trio of Trey Williams, Kenneth Farrow and Ja’Quan Gardner have all enjoyed varying levels of success early and will match up against a Dallas defense that yielded 124.0 rushing yards per game over the first two weeks.
CenturyLink Field lived up to its reputation of affording excellent home-field advantage in Week 2. There’s no reason to believe we won’t see an encore against the Renegades. Dallas’ offense should test Seattle, and Jones’ NFL experience should help offset some of the difficulties of playing on the road. However, just as was the case in Week 2, I see the Dragons coming through as home underdogs.
The Pick: Dragons +4.5 (Confidence: 8.5/10)
New York Guardians at St. Louis BattleHawks — Sunday, Feb. 23, 3 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -10 (-110)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -10 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -10 (-110)
- Fox Bet Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -10.5 (+105)
The BattleHawks have gone from the doghouse to the penthouse in the eyes of oddsmakers after checking in as heavy underdogs over their first two games. Ironically, it was a narrow but well-played 28-24 loss to the Roughnecks in Week 2 that helped get them there. The Guardians’ putrid performance against the Defenders also plays a role in the line. New York’s offense — and QB Matt McGloin in particular — unraveled in a 27-0 throttling at the hands of DC.
Outside of the Vipers, the Guardians arguably have the most questions to answer in Week 3. New York finished with just 137 total yards and five first downs in their lopsided loss to DC. A matchup against the BattleHawks in their home opener in football-starved St. Louis may not be the best recipe for a turnaround, either. The ‘Hawks did give up 28 points to the high-powered Roughnecks offense last week, but they held star QB P.J. Walker to 170 passing yards. A week prior, in the opener. St. Louis limited the Renegades’ Air Raid attack to only nine points while sacking fill-in QB Philip Nelson four times. The BattleHawks have also been excellent versus the run, allowing a stingy 68 rushing yards per contest.
As mentioned earlier, the BattleHawks put forth a valiant effort against the Roughnecks in defeat and likely came out of that game with a healthy dose of confidence. After all, St. Louis outscored Houston by an 18-7 margin in the second half, nearly pulling off the comeback from a 21-6 halftime deficit. Jordan Ta’amu has been right up there with DC’s Cardale Jones and the Roughnecks’ P.J. Walker as the best quarterback in the league through two weeks. The dual-threat Ole Miss product faces a Guardians defense that’s been tough to figure out. New York has given up plenty of yards in both of its games. However, they did an excellent job keeping the Vipers out of the end zone in Week 1. That was clearly far from the case last week. The mobile Ta’amu is capable of giving New York as difficult a time as the Defenders’ Jones did.
New York did nothing to earn the respect of oddsmakers and the betting public in Week 2 and it’s reflected clearly in the line. Nevertheless, a 10-10.5-point spread is a steep one, even for a capable BattleHawks team. While I strongly lean toward a St. Louis win in their first game at home, I see the Guardians sliding in under the big number with a bit of a resurgent performance.
The Pick: Guardians +10.5 (Confidence: 8.5/10)
DC Defenders at Los Angeles Wildcats — Sunday, Feb. 23, 6 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -8.5 (-110)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -8.5 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -8.5 (-110)
- Fox Bet Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -7.5 (-137)
As just alluded to, the Defenders decimated the Guardians by a 27-0 score in Week 2. Cardale Jones generated his second impressive effort in as many games, while DC’s defense put on a performance befitting of the final score. Over on the west coast, the Wildcats looked appreciably better than in a Week 1 debacle against the Roughnecks that cost defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson his job. They dropped a 25-18 decision to the Renegades that saw veteran QB Josh Johnson put in an uneven performance in his XFL debut.
Through two games, there doesn’t appear to be a team capable of slowing down DC. Not only has Jones commanded the offense with precision, but his supporting cast has been excellent. Having a pair of NFL veteran receivers in Eli Rogers and Rashad Ross certainly doesn’t hurt. The addition of DeAndre Thompkins in Week 2 after he missed the opener with a foot injury only strengthened the already potent offense. The Defenders also have a capable 1-2 punch in the backfield in the form of Jhurell Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey. Both the air and ground attacks will be set up for success versus a Wild cats unit allowing 277.5 passing yards and 102.0 rushing yards per contest.
Much like the Renegades, the Wildcats will be hoping for improved chemistry between their veteran quarterback and his receivers after Johnson missed the opener with a thigh injury. The good news in the defeat to the Renegades was that WR Nelson Spruce, the leading wideout in the league Week 1, showed excellent rapport with Johnson. The running game remains a work in progress for Los Angeles, however. RBs Elijah Hood and Larry Rose have battled some inefficiency behind an offensive line that hasn’t opened up many holes thus far. The Defenders won’t be easy targets through either the ground or air. DC comes in allowing just 139.5 passing yards and 84.0 rushing yards per contest through the first two games.
The Defenders’ status as strong, cross-country road favorites speaks to how well they’ve played through their first two games. DC may have some challenges versus what will arguably be the most potent offense they’ve faced yet. Nevertheless, given the Defenders’ talent on both sides, I lean toward them doing just enough to secure the cover.
The Pick: Defenders -7.5 (Confidence: 8.5/10)
Article written Friday afternoon, odds subject to change.