It’s Week 6, and the XFL is still producing thrills in unexpected spots. Week 5 was highlighted by the Houston Roughnecks falling from the unbeaten ranks in an upset courtesy of the Seattle Sea Dragons. The weekend’s “consolation bowl” between the winless Vegas Vipers and Orlando Guardians somehow turned into one of the more exciting offensive shows seen in springtime football for some time. The D.C. Defenders are 5-0 and are performing at close to the level of an NFL unit, however there’s a handful of XFL teams who can fight them.
D.C. does not boast anywhere near the passing stats of Houston, St. Louis, or Vegas for that matter. But the team’s dual-threat QBs are effective, especially when buoyed by an outstanding defense that’s perhaps the biggest key to the Defenders’ perfect half-season thus far. Aiden Smith of the Defenders is emerging as the priciest weekly DFS draft pick of any XFL tailback after scoring 4 TDs in 5 games. On Monday night, the battle of D.C.’s solid ground game against a vaunted defense will take center stage, when the Defenders meet the visiting Houston Roughnecks at Audi Field in a kickoff of XFL division leaders.
But first, here’s a look at the betting lines on the XFL’s other games this weekend.
Seattle Sea Dragons at Orlando Guardians (Saturday, March 25)
It’s too bad that Orlando is quickly becoming the league’s laughingstock, but then again, there are sad-sack teams in the major leagues too. There’s no reason to think the Guardians will fold up like the Bad News Bears, but last weekend’s scoring could still have been an anomaly for Orlando, as reflected in FanDuel’s (-8.5) point spread on Seattle.
QB Ben DiNucci’s turnover bug may be the best reason not to wager a wharf on the Seattle Sea Dragons. DiNucci probably won’t throw 3 interceptions against Orlando the way that he did against Houston in last Thursday’s ragged clash. In saying that, the Guardian rush defense proved last week to be as tepid as everything else for Saturday’s hosts, and there is always a natural tendency of coaches to dial back a QB’s attempts after a contest filled with INTs.
The prospect of the Sea Dragons winning a boring game with a run-heavy game plan against a bad home team calls into question FanDuel’s (-115) odds on Over (42.5) points, which leave a more generous payout number on the low side of the point-total market.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (42.5)
St. Louis Battlehawks at Vegas Vipers (Saturday, March 25)
A Texas nightcap between Arlington and San Antonio was the real dud of the XFL schedule in Week 5, not the Consolation Bowl between winless Orlando and Vegas. Memories of electric Saturday action were sufficient to sustain the league’s growing amount of pregame hype for another weekend, however, especially once Jordan Ta’amu’s unbeaten D.C. Defenders and the contending St. Louis Battlehawks waged a 28-20 barn-burner in St. Louis.
The sold-out event, attended by more than 30,000 St. Louisans, forced the Dome at America’s Center to open up the upper-deck seats for XFL ticket-buyers. But the historic crowd left disappointed as another STL comeback fell short. D.C. is among the few teams that can match St. Louis on the edges while bringing an even more dynamic offense to the forefront.
Could it be the first crisis moment of a franchise for the 3-2 Battlehawks? If the club needs a get-well opponent, it could be about to receive one in the Vegas Vipers. Luis Perez, the Vipers’ QB, has improved his rapport with a mostly no-name group of receivers in Sin City, though, prompting a tight (-3) point spread on the Battlehawks from FanDuel Sportsbook in a bout handicapped with the highest of point-total lines on the XFL week at O/U (44.5).
The Battlehawks have a better road record than a home record so far, meaning that the optics of large STL crowds shouldn’t play into predictions on the team for now. It’s more critical that Vegas, in midst of a poor season, won’t have significant crowd support on Saturday.
WagerBop’s Pick: Battlehawks ATS (-3)
San Antonio Brahmas at Arlington Renegades (Sunday, March 26)
Maybe it’s time to reconsider the angle of “rising” point-total lines on the XFL. FanDuel is offering bets on an extremely low-balled Sunday pigskin market of O/U (32.5) for a rapid-fire rematch of Arlington (-165) and San Antonio. It makes sense that bookmakers would react sharply to the “instant sample” contest that produced only 22 points last week. What’s more, users shouldn’t expect the O/U line to rise quickly, even if analysis proves it to be inaccurate, since Sunday’s early game may be disregarded by the gambling public.
Surely, as a wrestling fan as well as a performer, The Rock remembers when Jake “The Snake” Roberts was booked for a “Legends of Wrestling” pay-per-view, which seemed like a good idea at the time, until Roberts showed up for the months-later main event with a rotund stomach, an intoxicated demeanor, and little-or-no grappling skills. That’s how Week 6 must feel for the spring football league’s scheduling office, which may originally have thought it was creating a neat rivalry by booking San Antonio and Arlington into back-to-back bouts right in midseason. “It’ll be a home-and-home series with big headlines, just like in the NHL!” they probably beamed. It is regrettable that instead, modest Renegades and Brahmas rosters engaged in a sloppy turnover-fest which left nobody keen to see the rematch on Sunday.
Speculators expecting another dud from these clubs should consider that an instant rematch sets up each team to score more TDs relative to its level of performance than if the Brahmas and Renegades were each scheduled to play against other defense-oriented teams. In Week 6, coaches should be expected to turn Week 5’s game film into a litany of counter-motion looks and trick-play attempts against the same defenses. Arlington’s penchant for ball-hawking defense is bound to produce points off turnovers at some point in the near future.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (32.5)
Houston Roughnecks at D.C. Defenders (Monday, March 27)
Monday night’s XFL broadcast is most certainly the “main event” of Week 6. But we’ve already made enough TV wrestling references for one scroll, even on a blog covering The Rock’s handiwork. What else is a metaphor for Monday’s clash of front-runners?
What about good old college football? Saturday viewers are more than familiar with watching an “11 on 11” rushing team take on a powerhouse with an NFL-style offense, like past eras of the Clean Old-Fashioned Hate game between Georgia and Georgia Tech, or Georgia Southern vs North Dakota State back when GaSo played in the FCS. But considering that both Houston and D.C. (-2.5) can score touchdowns on the ground, it’s very important not to become preoccupied with one offense’s college-style running game in the contest.
Houston QB Brandon Silvers’ passing arm has the Roughnecks ranked 1st in XFL scoring and runner-up in total yards through half of a season. Sportsbooks are offering Houston at brave underdog odds of (+120) to knock off the spring league’s last remaining undefeated team. But the fact that D.C. is a favorite at all illustrates that a hostile environment, in addition to the Defenders’ pass rush and the ball control of QB Jordan Ta’amu’s unit, cannot help but persuade the Monday night odds-makers to offer 4-1 Houston as the ‘dog.
Sin City is once again putting its chips in the Over (41.5) (-115) when the number itself makes WagerBop think a low-score prediction is the heavy side of the coin. The D.C. Defenders are becoming the “poor man’s Baltimore Ravens” of the XFL, and how many critical Baltimore games have turned out with a score like “17-12” after a week of hype about Lamar Jackson taking on some other All-Star behind center. There’s nobody so explosive as Lamar taking the field on Monday – another solid reason to bet low-side.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (41.5)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.
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