It’s not often you get to try and decide what team’s will be better than others before any of the teams have played a snap. Much unless you found yourself being a big gambler on the Alliance of American Football from last year, a start-up Spring football league that played eight weeks and went defunct, then you’ve done this two years in a row…look at you go.
Truthfully, I don’t know if major sportsbook offered lines on the AAF last year, I’m sure some online-only offshore pay-with-a-Visa-gift-card kind of sites probably offered you a line or two on the Orlando Apollos, but this is a new ballgame. Also, I’m not going to Google it.
The XFL is going to embrace sports betting at the perfect time, the league has signed massive partnership deals with online titans in sports betting like Draft Kings and FanDuel. More and more U.S. States are voting to legalize sports wagering and building brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, take that Vegas.
But this week the XFL did something unprecedented, they announced that their broadcasts and broadcasters are going to feature the betting lines and over/under’s in-game and on-screen. Something 100% of college football fans wished college football started doing 20+ years ago. Hopefully sometime down the line the NCAA makes a ruling on this and names it the Brent Musburger Rule. Oh Brent, we always knew you had the over.
Anyways, you didn’t come here for my Saturday Night Live monologue on the XFL’s return so I’ll get right to the picks and my reasoning.
DC Defenders at home (-7.5) against the Seattle Dragons
In this game I’m laying the points. Most of the attention from preseason was positive for DC. They’re quarterback situation is easily the best in the league with former Buckeye Cardale Jones and backup Tyree Jackson. Those two are both talented enough to have a shot in NFL, and I think betting the quarterbacks will be a big part of betting the XFL this year. Seattle perhaps has the complete opposite situation, B.J. Daniels, Brandon Silvers and Joe Callahan battled for the starting job all training camp. The team cut Callahan who is now with the league’s ‘Team 9’ and head coach Jim Zorn gave the starting job to Silvers in week one.
My Pick: Defenders (-7.5) over the Dragons
Houston Roughnecks at home (-6) against the Los Angeles Wildcats
My rule for at least week one is going to be “bet the quarterback”, in addition, I’m betting on the fact that Wildcats QB Josh Johnson will go on Saturday. Johnson has missed some time with a thigh injury, but is officially listed as questionable for Saturday’s clash. The Wildcats have a below-average receiving core, and an underwhelming running back room. This team will go as far as Johnson takes them. I, for one, think Johnson is the most NFL-ready at the QB position in the league. Houston has a rocky quarterback room, Connor Cook was the guy many expected to get the starting job out of camp but head coach June Jones gave the week one nod to P.J. Walker. All-in-all I’m going to take the points and capitalize on the first XFL line I disagree with.
My Pick: Wildcats (+6) on the road against the Roughnecks
New York Guardians at home (+3) against the Tampa Bay Vipers
The very first home underdog in XFL history. What a momentous occasion. Truth is, I’m not sure that home field will be an advantage in week one, the Guardians play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey the home of the Jets and Giants. A massive stadium that I’d bet will be 50-per cent empty. In this game I’m putting faith in the more complete team, Tampa Bay. They have a quarterback in Aaron Murray that had an NFL-ceiling coming out of Georgia, and has an above-average receiving core to stretch the field with. On the other hand, the Guardians have Matt McGloin, another QB with NFL aspirations but will have to prove he’s a winner in the XFL before another opportunity arises. New York has an underwhelming receiving and running back core, which doesn’t help McGloin against the Vipers’ secondary.
My Pick: Vipers (-3) on the road over the Guardians
Dallas Renegades (-9.5) at home against the St. Louis BattleHawks
In sports betting, you don’t bet the teams, you bet the line. That’s really good advice I almost NEVER take. Here, the smart move would be to recognize that 9.5 points is a massive number in betting, and that might not be the best bet. But I’m throwing caution to the wind and doubling-down on my three-weeks of XFL expertise here and taking Dallas to cover the big spread. The Renegades have maybe the most complete team in the entire league. Landry Jones under center with Bob Stoops calling the plays. It’s a Boomer Sooner party in Dallas, Jeff Badet is also on the team but timelines don’t add up (he played at OU in 2017, Stoops left in 2016). But I really like what the Renegades have to offer on offense, I think they’ll score more points than any team in the XFL and that’s why I’m confident in them covering the 9.5 point spread. St. Louis has an intriguing prospect of a quarterback in Jordan Ta’Amu (Ole Miss) and perhaps the league’s best running back in Christine Michael, yes that Christine Michael, it’s hard to forget the rare “two-first-name” guy named Christine. But beyond Ta’Amu who is still a prospect among XFL-standards and Michael who will undoubtedly be a bell cow back and a top daily fantasy pick, they’re team lacks the depth to compete with Dallas.
My Pick: Renegades win big (-9.5) over the BattleHawks
What to Expect
I’m going to keep up with this column all season, I’ll start every week with my previous week’s record, and overall for the season. I’ll give some discourse from the previous week’s games and what I learned from the teams and their ability to play. I have no idea how the XFL’s extra point rules will effect overall betting lines. Touchdowns have the ability to end up as 6, 7, 8, or 9 points. That’s a huge swing at any time, and a garbage-time touchdown and 3-point PAT could be the difference in betting a line. Either way, it’s almost guaranteed that chaos will ensue multiple times this season.
As always, a special thanks to Draft Kings Sportsbook for the line this column will pick off of all season long.
Good luck this weekend.