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XFL odds, picks, predictions for Week 1: Defenders, Renegades are early favorites

Sporting News logo Sporting News 2/8/2020 Jordan Heck
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Football fans won't have to wait too long for the sport to return as the XFL begins the week right after the Super Bowl.

MORE: Get the latest XFL odds & betting trends at Sports Insider

Although the XFL doesn't have the talent of the NFL, it does have a good group of players who should be able to keep things entertaining. Early betting odds to win the league are a three-way tie between the Dallas Renegades, D.C. Defenders and Tampa Bay Vipers at +350. Following them is a three-way tie for second with the Houston Roughnecks, L.A. Wildcats and St. Louis Battle Hawks at +700. The final two teams are the New York Guardians (+750) and Seattle Dragons (+900).

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Of course, at this point in the season there is a lot of unknown. Teams have released their rosters, but have not released official depth charts. We can take educated guesses, but it's hard to make predictions for a league you've never watched before. As the season goes on, we should get a clearer picture of which teams we expect to play well on a consistent basis. 

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All odds are courtesy of BetOnline.ag via Sports Insider.

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XFL odds, picks, predictions for Week 1

Seattle Dragons at D.C. Defenders

Spread: Defenders -7.5 (-110), Dragons +7.5 (-110)

The D.C. Defenders are the betting favorite here, and for good reason. For starters, they're at home this week, but they also have one of the most talented rosters in the league. Cardale Jones is an experienced quarterback and he has plenty of talent around him. His receiving corps include Rashad Ross (who was second in the AAF in receiving yards), Eli Rogers (who was on the Steelers roster just last season) and Simmie Cobbs (who made a number of great plays at Indiana). At running back, D.C. has Donnel Pumphrey (who has the third-most career rushing yards in NCAA history) and Jhurell Pressley (who led all AAF players in rushing yards).

On the other side, many are skeptical of the Seattle Dragons. Bet Online has their regular season win total at over/under 3.5, which is the lowest in the league. Their receiving corps offers a list of unproven players such as Kasen Williams, John Santiago, Sergio Bailey, Austin Proehl, Alonzo Moore, Dontez Byrd and Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds is a well-known name for his days as Navy's quarterback, but can he make the transition to receiver? At QB, Seattle will be starting Brandon Silvers who showed some promise in the AAF. Expect Seattle to rely on its ground game with running backs Kenneth Farrow, Trey Williams and Ja'Quan Gardner, all of whom had success in the AAF. We should also mention their defense which features defesinve backs Matt Elam, Shamarko Thomas and Rahim Moore.

Even if this was an away game, I'd have confidence in the Defenders winning. 

Prediction: Defenders 26, Dragons 8

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Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks

Spread: Roughnecks -5.5 (-110), Wildcats +5.5 (-110)

The Roughnecks are favored at home, and there's one key player when it comes to this matchup. Josh Johnson is a proven NFL veteran quarterback, but he's considered a game-time decision with a thigh injury. If inactive, the Wildcats will likely turn to Chad Kanoff at quarterback which would be a dramatic change. It's hard to trust the Wildcats entering their first XFL game with a backup quarterback on the road. Expect L.A. to rely on running back Elijah Hood with their quarterback situation.

Houston will be starting P.J. Walker at quarterback. He played college at Temple and played in all four preseason games for the Colts this past season. The Roughnecks feature Sammie Coates at wide receiver, who had success with the Steelers in 2016 when he finished with 435 yards and two touchdowns. Houston also has Andre Williams at RB, who won the 2013 Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back and was a Heisman finalist. Houston has a strong overall roster, and I see them winning their first XFL game at home.

Prediction: Roughnecks 18, Wildcats 6

Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians

Spread: Vipers -2.5 (-115), Guardians +2.5 (-105)

The Vipers are the only road betting favorite this week, making this game the closest spread. The Vipers are rolling with Aaron Murray at quarterback, which may work out for them. But Murray struggled with the Legends in the AAF, finishing with a 3-7 TD-INT ratio. He was third in the league in interceptions and tied for third in sacks taken despite not starting the whole season. But he has a talented group of players around him including Reece Horn, Tanner McEvoy, Seantavius Jones and Donteea Dye at receiver. The Vipers also have De'Veon Smith at running back who looked good in the AAF playing for the Orlando Apollos. One of the more interesting players on this team is Quinton Flowers who is listed on the roster as a QB/RB. It's possible Tampa Bay involves him in some trick plays to either take advantage of the double forward pass rule, or to come up with something for the point after touchdown scoring plays.

The Guardians will be led by Matt McGloin at quarterback and Mekale McKay at wide receiver. McKay earned the nickname "Big Play McKay" in the AAF as he averaged over 17 yards per reception for the San Antonio Commanders. The Guardians have some lesser-known names at running back including Tim Cook III, Justin Stockton, Darius Victor and Matthew Colburn II. The Guardians have the advantage of playing at home this week, but the Vipers have a potentially fun offense, even if Antonio Callaway is out with injury

Prediction: Vipers 22, Guardians 16

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St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades

Spread: Renegades -9 (-110), Battlehawks +9 (-110)

The BattleHawks are starting Jordan Ta'amu at quarterback, and he's the only QB of the XFL's first eight to not have any professional regular season experience. He played well at Ole Miss and is an interesting player to keep an eye on this season in the XFL. St. Louis has a pair of well-known running backs including Matt Jones (who had success on the Redskins) and Christine Michael (who was a former second-round NFL Draft pick). 

But the Renegades have one of the more talented overall rosters in the league, will be playing at home and have an experienced Bob Stoops coaching them. Stoops has a 190–48 overall record in college football, coaching Oklahoma from 1999-2016. Landry Jones will lead this team, although it's unclear if he'll start Week 1 as he deals with a lingering knee injury he suffered in early January. Receiver Jazz Ferguson is also dealing with an injury (hand) as he did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Despite the injuries, the Renegades should end up winning this one fairly easily.

Prediction: Renegades 26, Battlehawks 12 

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