- The Dallas Renegades are nine-point favorites over the St. Louis Battlehawks in Week 1 of the XFL season
- The DC Defenders are 7.5-point chalk against the Seattle Dragons
- Home teams are favored in three of four Week 1 games
For the first time since 2001, it’s Week 1 of the XFL season.
If your memory goes back that far, or if you’ve watched the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary on the first edition of the XFL, you know that Week 1 went pretty well for the league back then.
After that, not so much. The XFL folded following the end of that season.
WWE head honcho Vince McMahon was behind the first iteration, and he’s brought the XFL out of mothballs for 2020. Week 1 kicks off Saturday, Feb. 8th, just six days after Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl.
XFL Week 1 Odds
|Saturday, Feb. 8th, 2 pm
|Saturday, Feb. 8th, 5 pm
|Los Angeles Wildcats
|Sunday, Feb. 9th, 2 pm
|Tampa Bay Vipers
|New York Guardians
|Sunday, Feb. 9th, 5 pm
|St Louis Battlehawks
Odds taken Feb. 5th.
Guardians Of The Big Apple
The New York Guardians are the only XFL team getting points at home during Week 1. That seems like a gift. The Guardians could prove a sleeper in the XFL title chase.
Head coach Kevin Gilbride was the mastermind behind the play calling that led the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl victories over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Quarterback Matt McGloin started seven games for the Oakland Raiders. New York’s line is underwhelming on both sides of the ball, though.
3 days, 72 hours until kickoff mood.
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 5, 2020
Tampa Bay is getting much of the preseason hype but that looks to be misplaced hope. Coach Marc Trestman won three Grey Cups in the CFL but was a disaster in charge of the Chicago Bears. QB Aaron Murray threw for three TDs against seven picks with Atlanta of the AAF. And former Cleveland Browns wideout Antonio Callaway is already done for the season with a lower leg injury.
Pick: New York Guardians +2 (-110)
Will Renegades Keep Up Without Jones?
The first major drawing card of the XFL to be sidelined is Dallas Renegades QB Landry Jones. The former Pittsburgh Steeler went down with a knee injury suffered in training camp. He’s extremely questionable for Week 1.
Ex-Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops still has a deep roster. He’ll turn to Phillip Nelson, who started for the AAF San Diego Fleet, until Landry recovers.
Dallas coach Bob Stoops said QB Landry Jones is “progressing well,” but that the team will know more by the end of the week.
— Everything XFL (@Everything_XFL) February 4, 2020
They’ve got two ex-NFL running backs in Cameron Artis-Payne (Carolina) and Lance Dunbar (Dallas). Four of the Renegades’ five offensive lineman own NFL playing experience.
The St Louis Battlehawks should have a decent run game paced by Christine Michael and Matt Jones. Former Mississippi QB Jordan Ta’amu beat out ex-NFLer Taylor Heinicke as starting QB. That’s just one of many areas of concern on a team populated by question marks.
Pick: Dallas Renegades -9 (-110)
XFL Week 1 Upset Special
There’s a sense of familiarity in the Houston Roughnecks with former Houston Oilers assistant coach and Houston Gamblers USFL head coach June Jones serving as coach-GM. Already there’s been a surprise. PJ Walker beat out Connor Cook for the starting QB spot. It wasn’t that long ago when Cook started an NFL playoff game for the Raiders.
Defensively, the Roughnecks are led by defensive end Kony Ealy. In Super Bowl 50, he recorded three sacks for Carolina, tying the single-game record.
The Los Angeles Wildcats have a dominant defense, and in Josh Johnson, suit up the XFL’s best QB. The Detroit Lions desperately sought to lure Johnson back to the NFL when they lost Matthew Stafford to a season-ending injury last year.
In 2001, the Los Angeles Xtreme also suited up the XFL’s best QB in Tommy Maddox and won the title. Will history repeat itself?
Pick: Los Angeles Wildcats +5.5 (-110)
XFL Week 1 Best Bet
The DC Defenders took a quantum leap up from fifth betting choice to co-favorite in the XFL championship odds this week, and with good reason. This team is loaded.
QB Cardale Jones won a national championship at Ohio State. In DC, he’s working with head coach Pep Hamilton, who was Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts. Rashad Ross was the best receiver in the AAF and Jhurell Pressley was the ill-fated league’s leading rusher with 431 yards on 96 carries.
The Seattle Dragons, coached by Seattle Seahawks QB legend Jim Zorn, are full of indecision. Starting QB Brandon Silvers split time at the position for Memphis of the AAF with Johnny Manziel. Running back Kenneth Farrow, third in AAF rushing, might be the only one breathing fire for the Dragons.
Pick: DC Defenders -5.5 (-110)