XFL betting, odds: Here's what you need to know ahead of the spring football league's return

XFL betting, odds: Here's what you need to know ahead of the spring football league's return

If you think there isn't any football to bet on this weekend, think again. Whatever the Rock is cooking for the third installment of the XFL is admittedly a far cry from the National Football League, but every weekend with football on the TV is a good one in my book.

Spring football is here to stay, at least for 2023, with the XFL season kicking off this weekend and carrying us until May. The XFL, not to be confused with the USFL (which re-launched last spring and returns in April), will feature some familiar NFL faces on the field and the sidelines. As you will see by the list below, there is a strong NFL influence from ex-players and coaches.

Here are the XFL's eight head coaches:

  • Arlington Renegades - Bob Stoops

  • DC Defenders - Reggie Barlow

  • Houston Roughnecks - Wade Phillips

  • Orlando Guardians - Terrell Buckley

  • San Antonio Brahmas - Hines Ward

  • Seattle Sea Dragons - Jim Haslett

  • St. Louis Battlehawks - Anthony Becht

  • Vegas Vipers - Rod Woodson

The quarterback is the most critical position on the field, especially in these secondary leagues. How much you should let it impact your wagers is up for debate (I will have more on that later), but it's a good starting point when targeting teams for early success. So here are each team's starting quarterbacks for Week 1.

  • Arlington Renegades - Drew Plitt

  • DC Defenders - Jordan Ta'amu

  • Houston Roughnecks - Cole McDonald (unconfirmed)

  • Orlando Guardians - Paxton Lynch

  • San Antonio Brahmas - Jack Coan

  • Seattle Sea Dragons - Ben DiNucci

  • St. Louis Battlehawks - A.J. McCarron

  • Vegas Vipers - Luis Perez

What you should know before wagering on the XFL:

Let's start with the rules. There is some fun stuff baked into the rulebook regarding double-forward passes and overtime, but the most important rules revolve around the game's pace (think totals). Scoring always seems challenging in spring football, especially the first few weeks, due to the lack of cohesion. So here are the rules I highlighted because of how they will impact scoring for bettors targeting totals.

If you are betting totals, pay attention.

Kickoff returns set the offense up for success. The XFL kickoff returns are unique as both teams line up five yards away from each other at the receiving team's 30- and 35-yard lines. It resulted in only a 3% touchback rate in 2020, so starting field position will be solid.

We don't kick extra points around here. Instead, the XFL gives coaches three options after a touchdown. A run or pass from the 2-yard line (1 point), 5-yard line (2 points), or 10-yard line (3 points). In 2020, teams opted for two 49% of the time compared to going for one just 41%. As the season progressed, more teams went for three.

The running clock. There is a 35-second play clock, but more importantly, the clock runs on incompletions and out-of-bounds plays outside the last two minutes of each half. Therefore, fewer plays equate to fewer opportunities to score.

Some additional betting tips to keep in mind

Home-field advantage versus travel advantage. A major win for the fans is that XFL teams will play in their home cities in front of screaming fans. Home-field advantage will be a legitimate factor, especially for indoor teams like San Antonio and St. Louis. However, all eight teams are based in Arlington where they practice during the week before flying out to the home cities for games. So while there is a home-field advantage, the travel aspect of it is non-existent. Does this provide a slight advantage to the Arlington Renegades? They are the only team that doesn't have to leave the hub for its home games, but their opponent each week isn't traveling either. It's something for bettors to think about.

NFL experience doesn't always translate to success. The market usually overvalues NFL experience in these leagues, especially at quarterback. Most bettors want to gravitate toward familiar names, but I've had a lot of prior success fading the guys like Christian Hackenberg, Zach Mettenberger or Landry Jones. As a result, I put more stock in the QB's experience in these leagues, the offensive system and the coaching staff's previous success. It's a quick ramp-up, unlike an NFL training camp, so don't fall into the trap of thinking a player's cup of coffee as a camp arm is enough to cash your bet this weekend.

Best Bet: Seattle Sea Dragons +1.5 at DC Defenders

I can't get out of here without giving you guys a winner. I will have a video with my best bets for Saturday's action to kick off the season, but here is one for Sunday.

The Houston Roughnecks were the class of the XFL in 2020, mainly because of June Jones' explosive offense. This time around, he brings his version of the Run-and-Shoot to Seattle as offensive coordinator. The Sea Dragons' starting QB Ben DiNucci should have no problems picking up Jones' scheme quickly. With playmakers like Josh Gordon and T.J. Hammond, Seattle's offense should have early success, putting pressure on DC to keep pace.

The Defenders defense looks solid, but the offense sounds like it will be more efficient than explosive. That can be problematic if they fall behind early in the season's opening week. Despite having some talented pieces like QB Jordan Ta'amu and former Baylor Bear running back Abram Smith, I don't think DC can make enough big plays to hold off the Dragons. I'm betting that June Jones' offense continues its XFL success.