The XFL season approaches the halfway point this week as the landscape of the league is really starting to set into focus. The Houston Roughnecks and DC Defenders sit at the top of their respective divisions with 4-0 records, while the Vegas Vipers and Orlando Guardians remain 0-4. One of the winless teams will pick up its first win this weekend as they meet in Vegas, while the Defenders and Roughnecks are both short favorites in very competitive matchups.
Offenses continue to have more success each week, as teams gained a season-high 5.7 yards per play last weekend. Sportsbooks are slowly pushing totals out of the 30s as overs are a 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 specifically home favorites (7-4 ATS) — have been great bets. Will San Antonio and Vegas be able to carry the trend this week despite their combined 1-7 record?
Week 5 features some great matchups between teams in similar tiers. That makes the handicaps tougher, but there are certainly some betting angles we can exploit. Here are my best bets for all four games on the slate.
Houston Roughnecks (-3) at Seattle Sea Dragons (O/U 42.5)
Thursday night football comes to Seattle in a battle of the league's best offenses. Houston offensive coordinator A.J. Smith's Air-Raid attack has the Roughnecks scoring over 30 points per game, while Seattle has torched opponents for 862 yards over its last two games. Defenses haven't stopped Seattle. The Sea Dragons only stop themselves, turning the ball over at league-high rate. Seattle QB Ben DiNucci only gave the ball away once in last week's win over the Brahmas, but there are plenty of reasons to believe he is about to fall off the wagon hard. Wade Phillips made a career out of making QBs uncomfortable. Houston's defense leads the league in sacks (17) and forces over two turnovers per game. It's a stark contrast to a San Antonio defense last week that has only forced three turnovers all year. Seattle is talented enough to pull the upset if it plays a clean game, but that's not anything I am willing to bet on. However, I can't lay three points to a team that leads the XFL in net yards per play (1.7), so I will 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 have faded them every single week and knowing they are 4-0 ATS, I don't have to explain how that's going. So, I understand if you aren't tailing while I do it a fifth time here. St. Louis is 3-1, with its only loss coming at DC in a 34-28 shootout in which it turned over the ball four times. The Battlehawks only have one turnover in the other three weeks, so I am betting the turnover luck isn't there for the Defenders' defense this time around. St. Louis clearly has the XFL's most significant home-field advantage after packing 38,000 screaming fans in the dome for its home opener. The Week 3 game got really chippy at the end, and this is the genesis of the XFL's first true rivalry. I will take the points with the home dog and bet the Battlehawks get revenge. The bet: St. Louis +2
Orlando Guardians (+7) at Vegas Vipers (O/U 41.5)
The Vegas Vipers are much better than their 0-4 record indicates. However, I am never laying 7 points with a 0-4 team with the league's worst defense. We ran into a similar situation in Week 3 when we cashed Orlando +9.5 against Arlington, and this game gives me the same vibes. Both teams slightly outgained Arlington while coming within one or two points of pulling out the win. The Vipers have the better offense, but they allowed over 230 yards on the ground last week. QB Quinton Flowers is expected to make his first start for the Guardians. Facing another mobile QB isn't what the doctor ordered. This is way too many points. The bet: Orlando +7
Arlington Renegades (+2.5) at San Antonio Brahmas (O/U 36)
When Bob Stoops' Renegades take the field, we know what to do. As bad as I have looked for betting against DC, fading Arlington has been profitable enough to make up for the losses and then some. Bettors should prepare for an old-fashioned rock fight between two of the league's most inefficient offenses, averaging 3.8 and 3.6 yards per play. The total of 36 tells us all we need to know. The offensive futility is exacerbated by the conservative nature of both coaches, but at least San Antonio seems 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 they pull the plug on Coan soon, which should lead to a spark on offense. San Antonio is the better team and has looked much stronger against common opponents. It gave Houston its biggest scare of the season, and routed Orlando by 18 points. I will take the short number with the home favorite. The bet: San Antonio -2.5.