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 4 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: 8-4 (.667)
Los Angeles Wildcats at New York Guardians — Saturday, Feb. 29, 2 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Wildcats -8 (-110)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Wildcats -8 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: Wildcats -8 (-110)
- Fox Bet Point Spread/Odds: Wildcats -7.5 (-118)
The Wildcats validated coach Winston Moss’ post-Week 2 assertion that his squad was on the verge of a breakout with a 39-9 rout of the previously undefeated Defenders. Los Angeles thoroughly controlled the game on both sides of the ball, lending credence to the notion their once-broken defense is now fixed. Meanwhile, the Guardians continued heading in the opposite direction with a 29-9 throttling at the hands of the St. Louis BattleHawks. New York literally can’t seem to win for losing — QB Matt McGloin displayed plenty of improvement in the first half after an in-game benching in Week 2 and then promptly suffered a thorax injury that will also keep him out this week.
The Wildcats played so well on both sides of the ball in that Week 3 win that they legitimately looked like a completely different team than the one that took the field to start the season. A big part of that reason was the play of veteran QB Josh Johnson, who wasn’t available for that Week 1 contest because of a thigh injury. After a solid Week 2 debut performance that featured two touchdown passes, Johnson was positively in command in Week 3 while throwing for 278 yards and a trio of scores. Johnson won’t have top target Nelson Spruce in Week 4 because of a knee injury. However, the rapport he displayed with the debuting Tre McBride (5-109-2) in Week 3 bodes well for L.A.’s chances of keeping the offense humming. Then, the Wildcats’ increasingly opportunistic defense may be licking its collective chops this week. Los Angeles has made an abundance of impact plays for two straight games and now faces a mistake-prone Guardians offense.
Speaking of that embattled New York offense, it will make do with Luis Perez and Marquise Williams this week due to McGloin’s injury. The duo combined for 178 passing yards in relief of McGloin last week. The running back duo of Tim Cook and Darius Victor generated 100 rushing yards on 19 carries as well and have been one of the few bright spots over the last two games. If Perez and/or Williams can keep the aggressive Wildcats defense honest this week, Cook and Victor could find some running lanes to help keep the chains moving. They could have just the right matchup. Los Angeles has allowed a whopping 354 yards on the ground over the last two games and could therefore make for an appealing target.
I thought we’d see a better effort from the Guardians last week, and although they did move the ball well up and down the field, their failure to cash in on a couple of opportunities prevented them from sliding in under a double-digit spread. I can see New York playing reasonably well again this week. However, the spread is a smaller one this time around. The fact the Wildcats are missing Spruce and that they’re traveling across the country does make me less confident in this pick than that of other games. However, I still lean toward a Wildcats cover.
The Pick: Wildcats -7.5 (Confidence 7.5/10)
Seattle Dragons at St. Louis BattleHawks — Saturday, Feb. 29, 5 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -11.5 (-110)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -11.5 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -11.5 (-110)
- Fox Bet Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: BattleHawks -11.5 (-110)
The Dragons have been one of the tougher teams in the XFL to figure out through three weeks. Seattle put up an admirable fight through three quarters against the improving Dallas Renegades in Week 3 before succumbing by a 24-12 score. QB Brandon Silvers did bounce back from a mostly abysmal performance in Week 2, but the Dragons’ previously tough run defense ceded too much to Dallas’ ground game duo of Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar. For their part, the BattleHawks continued to cement their reputation as one of the surprises of the league through the first three weeks. They showed resilience by rebounding from a tough Week 2 loss to the Roughnecks with a dominating 29-9 win over the Guardians that featured particularly strong play from the running game and defense.
Dragons head coach Jim Zorn continued to show a preference for leaning heavily on his three-headed backfield of Trey Williams, Kenneth Farrow and Ja’Quan Gardner in Week 3 by affording them a combined 22 carries. Both Williams and Gardner averaged over four yards per carry, while Farrow scored a receiving touchdown. Nevertheless, it was still a double-digit loss for Seattle, underscoring that Zorn will likely need more from Silvers this week despite the latter’s solid 204-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Renegades last week. The matchup against an improving BattleHawks’ secondary won’t be easy, however. St. Louis has racked up eight sacks and a pair of picks in the first three games.
One of the most impressive aspects of the BattleHawks’ victory over the Guardians was that they proved capable of a comfortable win with minimal contributions from promising QB Jordan Ta’amu. The Ole Miss product only totaled 119 passing yards on 18 attempts. Coach Jonathan Hayes fed his productive backfield duo of Matt Jones and Christine Michael 28 times. They parlayed that opportunity into 139 yards and two touchdowns. Jones is dealing with an ongoing knee issue. However, if he plays through it as he did last week, he and Michael could certainly do their part to keep the offense balanced against a Seattle unit that’s looking more beatable on the ground after a strong start.
The Dragons are especially big underdogs in this spot, and I’m not convinced the disparity between the two teams is enough to warrant it. Seattle has had its moments on offense and has shown an ability to get after the quarterback as well. I expect this to actually be a fairly high-scoring contest that’s a lot more competitive than the oddsmakers expect. Therefore, I see the Dragons losing by 11 or fewer.
The Pick: Dragons +11.5 (Confidence: 8.5/10)
Houston Roughnecks at Dallas Renegades — Sunday, March 1, 4 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -2.5 (-110)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -2 (-109)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -2.5 (-110)
- Fox Bet Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Roughnecks -1.5 (-118)
The Roughnecks put another notch in their belt in Week 3 to remain the XFL’s only undefeated team, but it wasn’t easy. Houston hit the road and squeaked out a 34-27 win over the Tampa Bay Vipers that featured plenty of offense from both teams. The Roughnecks’ defense continues to give up yardage and points, but the P.J. Walker-helmed offense is able to still keep the team a step ahead. Then, the Renegades came alive late in a 24-12 win over the Seattle Dragons. QB Landry Jones continued to get further acclimated after missing the opener, leading a comeback and finishing with 274 yards and three touchdowns.
Walker’s connection with Cam Phillips is now undeniably the most prolific in the league following Phillips’ 8-194-3 line in the Week 3 win. The breakout star now has an XFL-leading seven receiving touchdowns. However, he will enter the weekend with a big health-related question mark after missing practice Thursday due to an ankle issue. A Phillips absence would naturally affect Houston’s offensive machine, although the multitude of pass catchers in coach June Jones’ Run and Shoot offense still provide Walker with plenty of targets. Additionally, a potential Phillips absence could lead to a bigger role for RB James Butler, who’s already shown very well (three total TDs, 5.7 yards per carry) in limited opportunity.
This game will feature the intriguing clash of the Roughnecks’ Run and Shoot with the Renegades’ Air Raid attack. Dallas’ offense may not be humming at quite the same clip as Houston’s, but it seems to be hitting its stride. Jones has now racked up 579 yards and four touchdown passes while showing excellent rapport with TE Donald Parham and RB Lance Dunbar in particular. The duo combined for 14 receptions, 157 yards and two touchdowns (Parham) in Week 3. Jones has also thrown four interceptions, but some have come on tipped passes. He could be primed for his best outing yet Sunday against a Houston defense that’s allowed 250 passing yards per contest over the last two games.
This is widely expected to be the best game of the week and with good reason. All the ingredients — high-octane offenses, in-state rivalry, two capable passing attacks — are there. Ultimately, I see Dallas’ home-field advantage and what should be a raucous environment helping them to either a very narrow loss or outright upset, especially if Phillips sits for the Roughnecks.
The Pick: Renegades +2.5 (Confidence: 8.5/10)
DC Defenders at Tampa Bay Vipers — Sunday, March 1, 7 pm ET
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -2.5 (-115)
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -2.5 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -2.5 (-110)
- Fox Bet Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Defenders -2.5 (-110)
It’s likely bound to happen at least once to every winning team this season, and it was the Defenders’ turn in Week 3. DC absolutely laid an egg in a cross-country trip to Los Angeles, falling to the previously winless Wildcats by a 39-9 score. QB Cardale Jones concerningly threw four interceptions and was eventually benched for the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the winless Vipers actually looked markedly better in their third loss of the season. Tampa Bay managed to take the Houston Roughnecks to the limit before falling by a 34-27 score at home. The quarterback duo of Taylor Cornelius and Quinton Flowers operated the offense, but with the latter now having left the team for personal reasons this past week, it’s the returning Aaron Murray (foot) who’ll reportedly work in tandem with Cornelius.
The good news for the Defenders heading into this Week 4 matchup is two-fold: One, they still naturally possess plenty of talent with which to bust out of their doldrums. Two, they’re playing a Vipers team that still hasn’t been able to put it together for all four quarters. And, an additional factor in their favor is the fact DC will remain in the same time zone this week, which could help lead to a much better overall performance. Jones will particularly be itching to put last week’s performance behind him. Facing a Tampa Bay secondary that allowed 306 yards and three touchdowns to the Roughnecks’ P.J. Walker could certainly be the cure for what ails him.
The Vipers have seeming been mired in controversy since Week 1. The tumult continued this past week when Flowers reportedly left the team due to dissatisfaction with his role. As alluded to earlier, that leaves Cornelius in a starting role with Murray available to rotate in. The upheaval could result in a lack of continuity on offense, playing right into the hands of what had been an opportunistic Defenders defense prior to last week. Tampa Bay does have a strong RB tandem of De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick to complement the passing game. However, DC has notably gotten tougher against the run with each passing week and is allowing just 74.7 rushing yards per contest through three weeks.
The Vipers are highly unlikely to go winless this season. However, I don’t quite see this as the week they notch their first victory. I expect a much more effective performance from the Defenders after last week’s debacle and DC’s defense redeeming itself as well against a Tampa Bay offense that has had to adapt to too many changes at quarterback from week to week. Even in what I envision as a fairly competitive matchup, I see the Defenders being at least a field goal better.
The Pick: Defenders -2.5 (Confidence: 9/10)
Article written Friday afternoon, odds subject to change.