I believe the XFL is here to stay, and betting on it is the main reason why. If there is football on TV and spreads being offered, people are going to bet, and watch. With the one caveat being the product on the field has to at least a few plays per game that remind you of NFL talent level. So far, we’ve had just enough of that, and the product should continue to improve. Here are XFL Week 4 picks against the spread along with a quick recap of last week’s action.
XFL Week 3 Recap
In last week’s picks we went 1-0-1:
- The L.A. Wildcats hit as 8.5-point underdogs winning outright in blowout fashion 39-9 over the DC Guardians.
- The Tampa bay Vipers gave away their cover and ended up pushing on the +7 losing to the Houston Roughnecks 34-27. Hopefully, you got one of the +7.5 lines floating around, I did not.
- Luckily, the Seattle Dragons never reached +6 so that game was a no bet as they lost 24-12 to the Houston Renegades.
- The fourth game of the week that we did not bet was the St. Louis BattleHawks who blew out the New York Guardians 29-9 as 10-point favorites.
XFL Week 4
Los Angeles Wildcats -7 at New York Guardians, O/U 39
2:00 pm Eastern – ABC
The Wildcats blowout over the Defenders was the surprise of Week 3, and luckily, we profited. But has the market overcorrected here listing the Wildcats as high as -8.5? This game opened at -7, but even that number seems a bit high. But then you consider just how bad the Guardians have looked through three weeks and it becomes easy to imagine another Wildcats blowout.
L.A. QB Josh Johnson missed the first week of the season, leads the league with both 7.8 yards per attempt, and a 76.9 PFF passing grade. To be fair, those numbers are through just two games, but he came into this league as the most experienced NFL QB, and he never truly got his chance to shine in the NFL.
The Pick: The Guardians are just so anemic on offense that I don’t think they can keep up in this game. The range of spreads available varies from book to book, so shop around for a -7.
Seattle Dragons at St. Louis BattleHawks -12, O/U 38.5
5:00 pm Eastern – FOX
Another potential overreaction to last week is the BattleHawks laying 12 points hosting Seattle. St. Louis, like Seattle, is believed to have a better than average home-field advantage in the XFL, but that advantage is still worth only 2 points at most. So, this spread is suggesting that St. Louis is 10-points better than Seattle on a neutral field, which doesn’t seem right.
Seattle was at home the last two weeks, so going from their friendly confines to St. Louis has to be factored in. Seattle also has arguably the worst quarterback in the league in Brandon Silvers, but he is coming off one of his better games going 21-34 for 204 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT.
Going into last week, Seattle looked to have played one of the toughest schedules, but the Defenders took a step back in Week 3 and the Vipers continued to look terrible, despite their preseason hype.
Strength of Schedule
Here’s the Seattle Dragons schedule so far with opponents’ odds to win the championship:
- @DC Defenders +300 (Lost 19-31)
- Tampa Bay Vipers +1600 (Won 17-9)
- Dallas Renegades +550 (Lost 24-12)
And here’s the BattleHawks schedule:
- @Dallas Renegades +550 (Won 15-9)
- @Houston Roughnecks +200 (Lost 24-28)
- New York Guardians +1200 (Won 29-9)
Seattle’s only win came against what could be the worst in the league against the Vipers. Both teams also have a common opponent in the Dallas Renegades. Seattle was leading at halftime in their game but ended up losing the spread by a wide margin. St. Louis was able to run all over Dallas, and then traveled to potentially the best team in the league in Houston and nearly won that game as well. After a 29-9 beatdown hosting the Guardians, it’s not hard to see why the BattleHawks are laying double digits in this game.
The Pick: This total is already so low at 38.5 but I think the best play in this game is to take the UNDER. Seattle is averaging just over 13 points per game this year, and the BattleHawks clearly have an above average defense. And on offense, St. Louis is more than happy running the ball and going home with a victory. I really want no part of the spread either way, but I’d look to play on St. Louis live if they’re giving up less than 10 points.
Houston Roughnecks -2 at Dallas Renegades, O/U 50
4:00 pm Eastern – FS1
If you tune into one XFL game this weekend, Houston at Dallas is the one you want to watch. The Houston Roughnecks are arguably the best team in the league and have the shortest odds to win it all at +200. Dallas, though, was without QB Landry Jones in their week one loss to St. Louis.
Jones was a little rusty in his Week 2 debut throwing two interceptions. But he completed 28-34 for 305 yards and 7.6 yards per attempt with a TD, so it was a positive first game for him overall. Last week, Jones was again strong with his completion percentage, going 30-41 for 274 and 3 TD to 2 INT in a 24-12 win at Seattle.
For Houston, their offense is led by the XFL’s top QB through three weeks, P.J. Walker. Walker has thrown for the most yards in the league at 748 yards (although Landry Jones has Walker beat on a per-game basis, 289.5 to 249.3). More importantly, Walker has a pristine 10 TD to 1 INT ratio and a quality 7.12 yards per attempt. Jones has a much more pedestrian 4 TD to 4 INT ratio, but is averaging 7.15 yards per attempt.
Who has the better defense?
The edge on quarterback goes to Houston, although it may be closer than the stats would indicate. The question that should decide this game’s outcome is who has the better defense.
Houston has two of the top five tacklers in the league in linebacker DeMarquis Gates and safety Cody Brown. Gates also has a sack and a pick, while Brown also has an interception. Houston also has two players tying for the league lead in sacks at two with linebackers LaTroy lewis and Carl Bradford.
While Dallas hasn’t had the individual success of Houston on defense, their defense is allowing 15 points per game while Houston is allowing 22.7.
The Pick: If I could get +3 with Dallas, I’d be willing to bet this game, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. It’s too hard to tell which of these defenses is the stronger unit, and while Houston probably has an edge on offense, I’m not sure that’s enough to be laying multiple points on the road to a team that looks similarly talented. The total is also high enough that I don’t want to play the over, but I’m also not running to play the under with two quality quarterbacks facing off.
DC Defenders -2.5 at Tampa Bay Vipers
7:00 pm Eastern – ESPN2
Just as I was coming around to Cardale Jones and talked up his deep ball accuracy last week, he goes and shits his pants in Week 3. But since we were betting against him it was beautiful to watch. And now, I think it’s time to get back on the Cardale hype train, at least for one week.
The Tampa Bay defense looks awful and could be the worst in the league. They have just one pick, and three sacks in three games and have allowed 74 points on the season, good for almost 25 a game. Considering the totals on these games have mostly been beaten down into the lower 40’s, no defense should be allowing that many points per game.
On offense, the Vipers could be getting Aaron Murray back at quarterback. But he was so bad in week one that I’m not sure if that’s good news or bad news for Tampa Bay.
DC looked to have a quality defense heading into Week 3, but they allowed 6.5 yards per play to the LA Wildcats as Josh Johnson torched the Defenders secondary. Going up against a much less talented quarterback, I believe the Defenders can get some of their swagger back on defense.
The Pick: I’m betting on a DC bounce back in this one. While it’s not as nice at the +1 opener, I think there’s still value at -2.5. I wouldn’t bet this game if it gets to -3.5 and at -3 it would be just a lean. But overall, DC appears to be the better team on both sides of the ball. The Vipers have a terrible defense, and while DC took a step back last week, the offense turning the ball over five times continually put the defense in bad positions. Cardale Jones couldn’t have looked worse last week, but I believe he’ll have a much better game against this Tampa Bay team that looks perpetually lost on the field.
XFL Week 4 Picks
- LA Wildcats -7 over NY Guardians
- Seattle Dragons at St. Louis BattleHawks UNDER 38.5
- Dallas Renegades if it gets to +3
- DC Defenders -2.5 at Tampa Bay Vipers
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