- The Houston Roughnecks are 6.5-point home favorites over the Los Angeles Wildcats in their XFL season opener on Saturday
- Los Angeles won the championship in the lone season of the previous edition of the XFL in 2001
- The line opened at Houston -5.5 – get our pick and all the info you need to bet the game below
Are the Los Angeles Wildcats capable of a road strike against the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL season opener for both teams on Saturday?
Sportsbooks are laying odds against it.
The Roughnecks were 5.5-point favorites in the opening line on this game. The margin has since grown. Houston is now the -6.5 chalk.
Los Angeles Wildcats vs Houston Roughnecks Odds
|Los Angeles Wildcats||N/A||+6.5 (-105)||Over 51.0 (-110)|
|Houston Roughnecks||N/A||-6.5 (-110)||Under 51.0 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 7th.
Los Angeles and New York are the only cities to have franchises in the original XFL, and in this rebirth of the league. In the previous edition of the XFL in 2001, the Los Angeles Xtreme were league champions.
Roughnecks Swoon Over June
Veteran coach June Jones is in charge in Houston. He’s installed his patented run and shoot offense with the Roughnecks. It’s a system that relies on a mobile quarterback and quick, elusive receivers.
The run and shoot emphasizes plenty of motion and ad libs from receivers in terms of their routes as they adjust on the fly to the various defenses they’re facing.
Houston certainly appears to suit up some playmakers at the skill positions. Receiver Sammie Coates caught 21 catches for 435 yards and two touchdowns with the 2106 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Running back Andre Williams was fourth in the 2013 Heisman Trophy voting while at Boston College. He rushed for 721 yards and seven TDs in his 2014 rookie NFL campaign for the New York Giants.
RB De’Angelo Henderson scored TDs in 35 straight games in college at Coastal Carolina. He saw NFL duty with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.
QB Edge to Wildcats
Surprisingly, the Roughnecks are opting go with PJ Walker as their starting QB ahead of NFL veteran Connor Cook. Cook started a 2017 playoff game for the Oakland Raiders.
Walker’s only prior pro experience comes from a stint on the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, he’s never thrown a pass in a regular-season professional game. His last completion in a real game came in 2016 at college with Temple. Walker threw for more than 10,000 yards and 70 TDs with the Owls.
That could become a real concern in this game, since the run and shoot is predicated around effective QB play.
On the the other side of the field, the Wildcats go with NFL veteran Josh Johnson under center. He’s played 33 NFL games, including eight starts. Johnson started three games, including one victory, for the 2018 Washington Redskins.
He was a late training-camp cut of the Detroit Lions in 2019. The Lions desperately sought to sign Johnson during the season after starter Matthew Stafford was injured.
There is a concern with Johnson, however. He didn’t practice all week due to a thigh injury. If it turns out he can’t go, that would leave LA’s quarterbacking in the hands of the inexperienced duo of Jalan McClendon and Chad Kanoff.
LA Emphasizes Defense
The majority of the eight XFL franchises opted to put offensive minds in charge of their teams. LA is the exception to that rule.
The Wildcats are going with veteran NFL defensive coach Winston Moss. He served as assistant head coach and linebackers coach under Mike McCarthy for a dozen seasons with the Green Bay Packers. His proteges included Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk.
Widcats vs Roughnecks
|June Jones||Head Coach||Winston Moss|
|Josh Johnson||Quarterback||PJ Walker|
|Andre Williams||Running Back||Elijah Hood|
|Sammie Coates||Wide Receiver||4-6|
|Tre’ Williams||Linebacker||LeTroy Lewis|
|Devin Taylor||Defensive Line||Kony Ealy|
|Nick Novak||Kicker||Sergio Castillo|
Moss, defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson and defensive backs coach Otis Smith all own Super Bowl rings.
In early-season matchups, especially those involving newly-organized teams such as in this scenario, defense generally holds an edge over offense in preparedness. That’s one reason to lean toward the Wildcats in this game.
And if the offenses are sputtering, Wildcats kicker Nick Novak is an NFL vet who scored over 800 points.
Pick: Los Angeles Wildcats (+6.5)
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