Ethan Hewett | March 7th, 2020
As the halfway mark of the XFL season approaches, fans are swarming to the stadiums to support their teams in the second-half charge to the playoffs. Two teams have emerged as favorites, while some have started to show just how good they can be. Where will these trends go this week? Let’s dig into this week’s set of games to find out.
All spreads and totals are according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Seattle Dragons (1-3) @ Houston Roughnecks (4-0)
Time: 2:00 PM EST
Spread: HOU -12.5
Seattle comes into this game in a must-win situation. While they aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs just yet, a loss here would start to seal the coffin for this Dragons team’s playoff hopes. B.J. Daniels looks to be the starter this week for the Dragons taking on a tough Roughnecks defense who have allowed the fewest points per game this season at 22.
Houston is the favorite in this one despite the injuries they have this week with both wide receivers Sammie Coates listed as out, and Kahlil Lewis listed as questionable. Defensive lineman Kony Ealy is also out this week with a shoulder injury. Houston still has P.J. Walker paired with a loaded receiving room highlighted by Cam Phillips and Nick Holley, who could be big targets this week for the Roughnecks. Matching this high powered offense against Seattle’s weak pass defense, this could be not very pleasant for the Dragons.
Straight up: Houston 30-21
Against the Spread: SEA +12.5
New York Guardians (2-2) @ Dallas Renegades (2-2)
Time: 5:00 PM EST
Spread: DAL -6.5
These two teams have had different journeys to their 2-2 records. New York started with a bang winning 23-3 but would drop two in a row before returning to Metlife Stadium and defending the home turf 17-14 in a week four match with the Los Angeles Wildcats. Dallas, on the other hand, started with a severe 15-9 loss against St. Louis, followed by two dominating road performances before falling to Houston 20-27 in the first Texas Throwdown. Dallas has yet to defend the home field and will look to do so this week.
It won’t be easy, Landry Jones went down with what appears to be a reaggravation of his original knee injury suffered during the preseason. However, Dallas does have an excellent running back duo in Lance Dunbar and Cameron Artis-Payne. They are going up against a Guardian run defense that allows an average of 113.5 yards per game.
Look for the Renegades to lean on these two backs this week with Phillip Nelson at quarterback. New York is trending to win this game, and unless they decide to go back to Matt McGloin this week, Luis Perez, who had a 69% completion percentage last week, could lead this team to its third win of the season.
Straight Up: New York 19-18
Against the Spread: NY +6.5
St. Louis Battlehawks (3-1) @ D.C. Defenders (2-2)
Time: 3:00 PM EST
Spread: DC +4
The Battlehawks are coming off a big two-game home win streak after taking down the Dragons last week 23-16. St. Louis finds themselves second in total yards per game (357.3) this week, mainly due to a bigtime run game from Matt Jones with Christine Michael on clean-up duty. The duo has accounted for 353 of the 606 total rushing yards for the Battlehawks with quarterback Jordan Ta’amu contributing 186 yards of his own on the ground. Good news for the Battlehawks as the Defenders just gave up 266 total rushing yards to the Tampa Bay Vipers last week where they lost 25-0.
It has been the tale of two halves for D.C. this season. In the first two weeks, this team looked like a championship contender with quarterback Cardale Jones looking like a potential MVP candidate. The past two weeks have been the complete opposite. The offense has only scored nine points, and Jones has thrown a total of five interceptions. On top of the offensive struggles, D.C. also has both of their starting corners listed as questionable this week in Elijah Campbell and Doran Grant.
If the Battlehawks defense can go into D.C. and continue to rattle opposing offenses, forcing them into mistakes, this game could get ugly quickly for the hometown Defenders team. A win for St. Louis on the road against a divisional opponent would help to solidify their top spot in the East Division.
Straight Up: St. Louis 28-19
Against the Spread: STL -4
Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3) @ Los Angeles Wildcats (1-3)
Time: 9:00 PM EST
Spread: LA -2
Tampa Bay finally secured their first win of the season in convincing fashion, taking down the Defenders 25-0. The Vipers were finally able to conquer their biggest enemy this season—the red zone. Coming into week four, the Vipers were 2/10 in the red zone but were 3/5 in last week’s contest leaving only one possession inside the 20 yard-line empty-handed (missed field goal).
The Vipers find themselves atop the league in yards allowed and yards gained per game. They are taking on a Wildcats defense that has allowed an average of 22 points per game (t-7th). Taylor Cornelius looked more comfortable in the offense. Still, now the question is whether the now healthy Aaron Murray will get the start or will the team stick with Cornelius?
Los Angeles has shown some life this season. Head coach Winston Moss has been everything we expected personality-wise, and he has a passionate football team out in LA. However, the defense needs to step up big time. Outside of a nine-point game against D.C., the Wildcats have allowed 25 or more points in two out of the other three games. Josh Johnson has continued to struggle in finding consistency, and the run game hasn’t been where it’s needed to be. Los Angeles could be on the verge of losing their second game at home this season.
Straight Up: Tampa Bay 27-22
Against the Spread: TB +2
Seattle +12.5 against Houston
Since their week one blowout of Los Angeles, Houston has not won a game by more than seven points. Houston also has only scored more than thirty points once since that week. Houston is favored to win this game, but given some of the injuries and also the trends we have seen this past couple of weeks, Seattle could keep this game closer than some might think. Seattle has only allowed more than 24 points once this season while consistently finding themselves in the mid to late teens in the final score.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images