After a three-year hiatus, the third installment of the XFL will kick off this weekend, with two games on Saturday and two on Sunday. The XFL will be looking to build off the momentum it had in 2020 before the league folded during the COVID-19 pandemic. All eight XFL teams will play at their home stadiums during the regular season, which is slightly different from the USFL. In its first season, the USFL played all its regular season games in Birmingham, Alabama.
With XFL having their teams playing in their respective cities, it could make things more interesting for bettors who might place a wager this season. Week 1 begins on Saturday afternoon with the Vegas Vipers taking on the Arlington Renegades at 3:00 p.m. ET, and it will end Sunday night with the Seattle Sea Dragons flying to D.C. to take on the Defenders. The Renegades are the betting favorite (+430) on FanDuel Sportsbook to win the XFL championship.
Before we lay out our picks, something to remember when betting on these games is that it’s Week 1, and we don’t know how these teams will play when the whistle is blown. In Week 1 of the USFL season, we saw the favorites go 3-1 against the spread and 3-1 straight up on the moneyline. Furthermore, the point total went UNDER in three of the four games. The average point total set for those contests was 42.2.
It will be interesting to see if those trends hold up in the first week of XFL action. Here are our predictions on how Week 1 could shake out:
XFL Week 1 picks, predictions
All odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook
Vegas Vipers at Arlington Renegades
Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET, ABC
- Spread: Renegades -3.5
- Moneyline: Vipers +135, Renegades -160
- Over/Under: 34.5
Week 1 gets underway with a fun matchup in Arlington between Bob Stoops’ Renegades and Rod Woodson’s Vipers. Arlington comes into this matchup as the favorite, which is shocking as it looks like Drew Plitt will get the start over Kyle Sloter. In Dallas’ unofficial Week 1 depth chart, the QB1 spot is listed as Plitt or Sloter, so do not be surprised if we see both guys on Saturday afternoon.
We saw the two-QB system work in the USFL last season with the Generals, but neither Plitt nor Sloter are dual-threat quarterbacks. Defensively, the Renegades have a lot of playmakers at all three levels, including T.J. Barnes, Donald Payne, Josh Hawkins, De’Vante Bausby, Will Hill, and Joe Powell, who could make life tough on Vipers’ starter Luis Perez. Nevertheless, we like Vegas to cover the spread in this spot and pull off the upset, as they have a veteran under center in Perez, who has played in the XFL, USFL, and AAF. He also has a nice set of weapons to get the ball to, such as Martavis Bryant, Jeff Badet, and Geronimo Allison, who offer different skill sets at the wide receiver spot. This should be a fun game to kick off the new season.
Pick: Vipers 21, Renegades 15
Orlando Guardians at Houston Roughnecks
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/FX
- Spread: Roughnecks -3.5
- Moneyline: Guardians +155, Roughnecks -180
- Over/Under: 35.5
Unlike the first game to kick off Week 1, the nightcap on Saturday between the Roughnecks and Guardians could go either way. Former NFL and USFL QB Paxton Lynch is listed as Orlando’s starter, but we could see Deondre Francois also get some playing time. The last time we saw Lynch in action, he did not look impressive with the Michigan Panthers in the USFL last summer. Orlando also lacks skill-position playmakers outside of wide receiver Charleston Rambo, who had a nice college career at Oklahoma and Miami (FL).
As for the Roughnecks, we like them to cover this number, as they will have vet Brandon Silvers under center, who played in the XFL in 2020 with Seattle. Silvers also has a nice core of playmakers (Max Borghi, Nick Holley, Deontay Burnett, Cedric Byrd, and Garrett Owens). Head coach Wade Phillips will look to set the tone right away and has a defense with stellar linebackers that will make game-changing plays.
Pick: Roughnecks 24, Guardians 10
St. Louis Battlehawks at San Antonio Brahmas
Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET, ABC
- Spread: Battlehawks -3.5
- Moneyline: Battlehawks -160, Brahmas +125
- Over/Under: 36.5
Anthony Becht’s Battlehawks take on Hines Ward’s Brahmas in San Antonio to kick off Sunday’s action. The Battlehawks have the third-best odds to win the XFL title (+500), thanks in part to having NFL veteran AJ McCarron under center. McCarron has one of the better wide receiver units in the league with Marcell Ateman, Darrius Shepherd, Hakeem Butler, and Austin Proehl. Shepherd played well in the USFL last season with the Generals, recording 27 receptions for 323 yards and a touchdown. The Battlehawks should put up numbers in their hybrid West Coast system.
However, don’t sleep on the Brahmas, who named Jack Coan as their starting QB earlier this week. Coach Ward liked what he saw from the former Notre Dame quarterback during training camp. “Day-to-day, Jack was just a little bit more consistent as far as his play, as far as executing the plays,” said Ward to KENS 5 news. “We just wanted to go with the more consistent player at this time.” Coan will have a solid running game to lean on with Kalen Ballage and Jacques Patrick, who can run in between the tackles. The Battlehawks should win this game, but the Brahmas should be able to keep it close.
Pick: Battlehawks 21, Brahmas 18
Seattle Sea Dragons at DC Defenders
Sunday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Spread: Dragons -1.5
- Moneyline: Sea Dragons -135, Defenders +115
- Over/Under: 35.5
Seattle is led by head coach Jim Haslett, who will be rolling with former Cowboys QB Ben DiNucci as the starter. DiNucci has a strong running game led by RB Brenden Knox, who was a beast at Marshall. Over his three-year career with the Thundering Herd, Knox ran for 2,852 yards and 27 touchdowns. If the Dragons can get their running game going against D.C., offensive coordinator June Jones will have no fear in airing the ball out with Josh Gordon and Jordan Veasy.
However, Washington’s offense should be able to compete with the Dragons, as they will have Jordan Ta’amu under center. Ta’amu played in the XFL in 2020 with the Battlehawks and recently played in the USFL with the Tampa Bay Bandits. The Defenders’ skill position group is loaded (Abram Smith, Jaquez Ezzard, and Pooka Williams Jr.), so there will be plenty of points in this contest, but the Defenders should be able to sneak away with a win at home.
Pick: Washington 27, Seattle 21