WEEK ONE PREDICTIONS
We have finally arrived. The XFL season kicks off tomorrow. No one has ever seen these XFL teams play a real game. But that’s not stopping us from making long term projections, drafting players for fantasy or forecasting this week’s opening games.
Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders
Saturday, 2 pm ET (ABC) Audi Field
Point spread: Defenders -8.0 (Ceasars)
How much stock can be put into home-field advantage in a new league? Last year in the AAF, all four home teams opened their seasons with victories. For whatever that’s worth.
The truth is that regardless of location, and there’s no denying that Audi Field should be an electric atmosphere, the Defenders on paper appear to be a better overall team than the Dragons. DC has one of the league’s most well-rounded rosters, particularly on offense with the likes of Cardale Jones, Donnell Pumphrey, Eli Rogers, Jhurell Pressley, Rashad Ross, and others. By comparison, Seattle has a largely unproven but promising cast of players led by Brandon Silvers. This looks like it will be an easy week one victory for DC. To quote the legendary Chris Berman, ‘that’s why they play the games’.
Seattle will go into this game with a chip on their shoulders. The oddsmakers have overwhelmingly picked them to be one of the worst teams in the league. The pressure will be on DC to perform well and live up to expectations. Seattle is playing with house money. The Dragons will surprise many, take an early lead and put up a fight but will fall short late.
Prediction: Defenders 27, Dragons 23
Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks
Saturday, 5 pm ET (Fox) TDECU Stadium
Point spread: Roughnecks -5.5 (Draft Kings)
Josh Johnson’s status for week one is in doubt. He hasn’t practiced all week due to a thigh injury. LA’s best chance at competing and contending falls on Johnson’s availability. It’s a less than ideal situation for Quarterbacks Chad Kanoff and Jalan McClendon to be splitting first-team reps heading into Houston.
Even if Johnson was healthy for this game. It’s tough to envision LA finding a way to stop Houston’s explosive passing attack led by Phillip Walker, Sammie Coates, Cam Phillips, Kahlil Lewis, and company. The Roughnecks have had a hidden advantage in the XFL’s decision to have a league-wide training camp in Houston. The Roughnecks have been home practicing at their facilities since December. They will be ready to play at full strength in week one at home.
Prediction: Roughnecks 31 Wildcats 20
Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians
Sunday, 2 pm ET (Fox) Metlife Stadium
Point spread: Vipers -2 (FanDuel)
The oddsmakers love Tampa to finish as one of the league’s best teams. The Vipers are the league’s lone road favorite in week one. This is a tough game to predict. Tampa’s strength is its offensive line. On paper, they have the league’s best unit led by the AAF’s top-rated offensive lineman Jordan McCray. The Vipers don’t have the sexiest skill position players, and losing Antonio Callaway doesn’t help, but top to bottom, they have a balanced roster and a really good coaching staff.
New York boasts a strong staff itself. It also has a very balanced roster on offense and defense. Not having DeAngelo Yancey and Tanner Gentry available in week one hurts. Matt McGloin and New York’s talented secondary should be up to the task but this strikes me as potentially one of the league’s lowest-scoring games of the weekend. Tampa ekes out the victory late.
Prediction: Vipers 19, Guardians 17
St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades
Sunday, 5 pm ET (ESPN) Globe Life Park
Point Spread: Renegades -9.5 (Ceasars)
There are reasons to have pause with both teams heading into this game. Jordan Ta’amu is making his first-ever pro football start on the road. The Renegades may be without Landry Jones, Lance Dunbar, and Jazz Ferguson.
However, Bob Stoops is a big game coach, and he has a history of having his teams ready to go right out the gate. Stoops and Defensive Coordinator Chris Woods will do enough to frustrate the rookie Ta’amu, and Hal Mumme will make the Air-Raid work with one of the league’s most talented and deepest offensive rosters. The scary thing is that Dallas will only get better after week one.
Prediction: Renegades 26, BattleHawks 16
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