20 Mar

Defenders hand Battlehawks first loss of season; favorites shine

Week 2 of the XFL couldn’t live up to Week 1’s excitement. Thursday night’s matchup between the St. Louis Battlehawks and Seattle Sea Dragons was certainly entertaining, but if you missed the other three games, well, you didn’t miss much.

Here are my takeaways through two weeks: One, it’s wild how A.J. McCarron goes from Zach Wilson to Tom Brady in the second half of games, and equally just as wild that his Battlehawks are 2-0. Credit to them for coming up big late two weeks in a row. They are like the XFL’s Minnesota Vikings or something. Two, the D.C. Defenders may actually be the best team in the league. With Gregg Williams’ defense and a solid rushing attack, they are one of three undefeated squads entering Week 3.

If the best XFL team is not the Defenders, then it’s definitely the Houston Roughnecks. Quarterback Brandon Silvers threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns last week in a nine-point win over the Arlington Renegades. You have to love that 75-year-old Wade Phillips is still out there doing his thing. Finally, the Orlando Guardians are absolutely terrible. We’ll talk about them more down below.

After going 4-0 ATS in Week 1, I went 1-3 ATS in Week 2. Let’s see what happens this week.

ATS record: 5-3
Straight up record: 5-3

XFL Favorites ATS: 4-4

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Seattle Sea Dragons (-3) at Vegas Vipers
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (FX/ESPN+)

I guess we have to start with what I believe is the most unpredictable game of the week. The Sea Dragons probably should be 2-0, but they have blown second-half leads in each of their first two games. Believe it or not, the Vipers have blown second-half leads in their first two games as well. Which team will show up in the fourth quarter this week? That’s the question.

The other reason this game feels unpredictable is because the Vipers may be making a quarterback switch. Brett Hundley replaced Luis Perez last week, and he completed 11 of 18 passes for 98 yards. He also rushed five times for 24 yards. Ben DiNucci and the Sea Dragons are the best 0-2 team in the league, so I’m going to lay the points. Would rather not bet this game, though.

The pick: Sea Dragons -3
Projected score: Sea Dragons 15-10

St. Louis Battlehawks at D.C. Defenders (-2.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FX/ESPN+)

I’m a Defenders “fan,” but they surprised me last week. Despite the Week 1 victory, their offensive performance gave me pause. Without that raucous home-field advantage, I wondered how would they fare all the way across the country in Vegas. Well, D.C. was outscored 6-0 in the first half, but then went on an 18-0 run in the final two quarters. Jordan Ta’amu threw for just 93 yards on 23 passing attempts, but the Defenders rushed for a whopping 229 yards and two touchdowns.

The Battlehawks have started the season off with two game-winning drives, but I think the X factor in this week’s matchup is that the Defenders are playing in D.C. Give me the Defenders to remain perfect in a battle of unbeatens.

The pick: Defenders -2.5
Projected score: Defenders 20-15

Orlando Guardians at Arlington Renegades (-8)
Sunday, 4 p.m. ET (FX/ESPN+)

My unfortunate mistake last week was trusting the Guardians to cover a spread. They have now lost both games by at least 18 points, and frustrations appear to be mounting. Eight points is clearly the biggest number we’ve seen this year in the XFL, but I’m not brave enough to trust Orlando. Take Arlington everything, and throw that ML in a parlay, too.

Terrell Buckely did not hold back 😳@XFL2023 | @XFLGuardians pic.twitter.com/q3ABgdfONh

— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 26, 2023
The pick: Renegades -8
Projected score: Renegades 24-14

San Antonio Brahmas at Houston Roughnecks (-4.5)
Sunday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The Roughnecks have won both of their first two games by at least nine points. We all know they are good, but personally, I’m still trying to get a feel on the Brahmas. In Week 1 vs. the Battlehawks, they had an epic collapse that’s worthy of its own documentary. In Week 2, they blew out the worst team in the league — although they didn’t really take control until the second half. Jack Coan completed 16 of 24 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns against the lowly Guardians. I think we will learn more about him in this week’s matchup.

I’m going to lean to the favorites here, but I don’t love the number. San Antonio is 1-1 ATS and Houston is 2-0, but I’m probably more comfortable putting the Roughnecks in a ML parlay. (Renegades ML + Roughnecks ML = -120).

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