- Two XFL matchups are scheduled for this Sunday, kicking off at 2 p.m. EST and 5 p.m. EST, respectively.
- Nobody is sure what to expect from the first slate of games, and uncertainty translates to favorable odds.
- Based on roster construction and coaching hires, these games might feature interesting contrasts in style.
TAMPA BAY, Fla. – After an 18-year hiatus, Vince McMahon’s XFL is back and set to kick off the 2020 season this weekend.
Two games will be played on Sunday, and the early season uncertainty surrounding an upstart league presents a golden opportunity for XFL bettors to make some money.
Tampa Bay Vipers -2.5 (-110) at New York Guardians
The first Sunday matchup of the XFL season will be played at MetLife Stadium and will be broadcast on FOX at 2 p.m. EST.
This is expected to be the most tightly contested matchup in week one, with the line currently under a field goal. Tampa Bay is considered one of the favorites to win the league at +400, while New York’s odds stand at +700.
Tampa Bay will be coached by former Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman, while New York will be coached by Kevin Gilbride, who won two Super Bowls as the offensive coordinator for the Giants.
Tampa’s roster is filled with former blue-chip Florida players and will be quarterbacked by former Chiefs backup Aaron Murray. Trestman has surrounded Murray with long, possession receivers, which should pair well with Murray’s mastery of the fade route.
Gilbride appears to have constructed his roster with dominance along the offensive and defensive lines as his main priority, but the team sacrificed a lot of top-end skill position talent as a result.
The secondary in particular could present a matchup nightmare on Sunday, as the Guardians have only three defensive backs that stand at least six feet tall. They will need to consistently pressure Murray in order to win, but the defensive line has the size and talent to do so.
The matchup looks like an intriguing chess match between speed and strength, and a relatively even line of 2.5 points is favorable to bettors with strong views on smashmouth football.
St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades -9.5 (-110)
The final matchup of the weekend will be broadcast on ESPN from Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas at 5 p.m. EST.
The Renegades are the favorite to win the league with most sportsbooks. Their current Bovada championship odds are +350. The BattleHawks’ odds are slightly more modest at +650.
The spread on this game is the largest of the XFL’s first four games. Most of the excitement for the Renegades seems to be focused on their coach, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, who won 10 Big 12 titles and a national championship in 2000 during his 18 years coaching in Norman.
Stoops also made waves when he hired Hal Mumme as his offensive coordinator. Mumme was the original architect of the Air Raid offense, and his coaching tree includes Mike Leach, Lincoln Riley, Kliff Kingsbury, and Art Briles.
The Renegades will be quarterbacked by former Pittsburgh Steelers backup Landry Jones, who played for Stoops at Oklahoma from 2008 to 2012.
St. Louis has not garnered the same enthusiasm. BattleHawks head coach Jonathan Hayes has no significant head coaching or coordinating experience, and is best remembered for his 15 years as the Cincinnati Bengals’ tight ends coach.
The team’s roster features many high-upside players, so there could be some value in betting on them to outperform expectations.
The BattleHawks top three running backs—Matt Jones, Keith Ford, and Christine Michael—were all extremely productive college runners, and their secondary features length and aggressiveness reminiscent of the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom”.
These two rosters probably aren’t 9.5 points apart, so bettors should make their pick based on their confidence in the coaching tandem of Stoops and Mumme.