The XFL season is nearing the halfway point this week as the landscape for the league really begins to come into shape. The Houston Roughnecks and DC Defenders are atop their respective divisions with 4-0 records, while the Vegas Vipers and Orlando Guardians are 0-4. One of the winless teams will earn their first victory this weekend when they meet in Vegas, while the Defenders and Roughnecks are both short favorites in highly competitive matchups.
Offenses continue to have more success each week, as teams gained a season-high 5.7 yards per play last weekend. The sportsbook is slowly pushing the totals out of the 30s as overs are steady 8-7-1 on the season. The Defenders and Roughnecks are not only perfect in the standings, but both teams have covered all four weeks for bettors. Favorites (9-5-2 ATS) — and especially home favorites (7-4 ATS) — were great bets. Can San Antonio and Vegas maintain the trend this week despite their combined 1-7 record?
Week 5 features some great matchups between teams of similar skill levels. This makes handicapping more difficult, but there are definitely betting angles we can exploit. Here are my best bets for the four games on the slate.
Houston Roughnecks (-3) at Seattle Sea Dragons (O/U 42.5)
Thursday Night Football arrives in Seattle in a battle of the league’s best offenses. Houston offensive coordinator AJ Smith’s Air-Raid offense is allowing the Roughnecks to score more than 30 points per game, while Seattle has torched opponents for 862 yards in its last two games. Defenses didn’t stop Seattle. The Sea Dragons just come to a halt, turning the ball over at record pace. Seattle QB Ben DiNucci only gave away the ball once in last week’s win over the Brahmas, but there’s plenty of reason to believe he’s about to fall off the cart hard. Wade Phillips has made a career out of making QBs uncomfortable. Houston’s defense leads the league in sacks (17) and forces more than two turnovers per game. It’s a stark contrast to a San Antonio defense last week that forced just three turnovers all year. Seattle is talented enough to create an upset if they play a clean game, but that’s not something I’m willing to bet on. However, I can’t allow three points for a team that leads the XFL in net yards per game (1.7), so I’ll pay the price to play the moneyline. The bet: Houston ML (-165)
DC Defenders (-2) at St. Louis Battlehawks (O/U 41.5)
The Defenders have been my kryptonite. I’ve wiped them out every week and knowing they’re 4-0 ATS, I don’t have to explain how it’s done. So, I understand if you don’t follow along while I do so a fifth time here. St. Louis is 3-1, with its only loss to DC in a 34-28 shootout in which it turned the ball over four times. The Battlehawks only have one turnover in the other three weeks, so I bet the turnover chance isn’t there for the Defenders defense this time around. St. Louis clearly has the biggest home court advantage in the XFL after packing 38,000 screaming fans into the dome for its home opener. The Week 3 game got really choppy at the end, and it was the genesis of the XFL’s first real rivalry. I’ll take the points with the house dog and bet the Battlehawks will get revenge. The bet: Saint-Louis +2
Orlando Guardians (+7) at Vegas Vipers (O/U 41.5)
The Vegas Vipers are much better than their 0-4 record suggests. However, I never score 7 points with an 0-4 team with the worst defense in the league. We ran into a similar situation in Week 3 when we conceded Orlando +9.5 against Arlington, and that game gives me the same vibes. Both teams edged past Arlington to within a point or two of victory. The Vipers have the best offense, but they gave up more than 230 rushing yards last week. QB Quinton Flowers is expected to make his first start for the Guardians. Facing another mobile QB is not what the doctor ordered. That’s way too many points. The bet: Orlando +7
Arlington Renegades (+2.5) at San Antonio Brahmas (O/U 36)
When Bob Stoops’ Renegades come into play, we know what to do. As bad as I looked to bet against DC, the Arlington fade was profitable enough to offset losses and more. Bettors should prepare for an old-school rock fight between two of the league’s most ineffective offenses, averaging 3.8 and 3.6 yards per play. The 36 total tells us all we need to know. The offensive futility is exacerbated by the conservative nature of both coaches, but at least San Antonio appears to be trying something different. The Brahmas failed to score a touchdown for the first time last week after cutting the playbook in half for QB Jack Coan. I think they’re likely to unplug Coan soon, which should lead to a spark on offense. San Antonio is the better team and looked much stronger against common opponents. It gave Houston its biggest scare of the season and edged Orlando by 18 points. I’ll take the short number with the home favorite. The bet: San Antonio -2.5.
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