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After a successful opening weekend, the XFL moves onto Week 2 with some interesting matchups.
Here are the picks for this weekend's games.
Two defenses that dominated in Week 1 clash Saturday afternoon, with the Defenders laying a touchdown at home to New York. The Guardians put up the best defensive performance in Week 1, holding the Tampa Bay Vipers to just three points, while the Defenders' defense and special teams combined for two touchdowns in a 31-19 win over the Seattle Dragons.
The Defenders look to have the edge in overall talent and at quarterback, where Cardale Jones completed 62% of his passes for 235 yards and two scores in the opener. Meanwhile, New York's Matt McGloin connected on just over 50% of his attempts, although there were a couple of drops by Guardians receivers.
The Defenders beat a Seattle squad that many people believe is the worst in the XFL by 12 points last week, while New York was one of the biggest surprises with the way it dominated Tampa Bay. The Guardians should stay within a touchdown Saturday.
Pick: Guardians +7
There was no bigger disappointment in Week 1 than the Vipers, a team that was pegged by oddsmakers as one of the favorites to win the XFL title heading into this season. Quarterback Aaron Murray struggled, completing just 47% of his passes and throwing two interceptions in the 20-point loss.
The Dragons lost as 7-point 'dogs against the Defenders but Seattle played pretty well for a team with by far the longest odds to win the championship. Quarterback Brandon Silvers was inconsistent with three touchdowns and two interceptions, but the Dragons have some talent on offense. Receiver Austin Proehl averaged 17.6 yards per reception and scored twice, while the running game put up 4.6 yards per carry.
Murray has been ruled out for the game with a foot injury, opening the door for Quinton Flowers and Taylor Cornelius to both see time under center. Either way, Tampa Bay has done nothing to be a road favorite right now, and Seattle is expecting close to 30,000 people for its home opener. I like the Dragons to win outright.
Pick: Dragons +3
This is the toughest matchup to call because both teams played without their starting quarterbacks last week. Renegades signal-caller Landry Jones is still recovering from an offseason knee injury, while Josh Johnson missed the Wildcats' opener with a thigh ailment.
My lean here is to Dallas, because even though the Renegades lost their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks, they showed signs of being a good team. The Renegades led the XFL with 2.4 yards before contact per rush in Week 1 and their defense kept them in the game despite backup quarterback Philip Nelson averaging just five yards per attempt.
Jones will play on Sunday and Johnson is expected to return as well, making it one of the most intriguing matchups of the week. I still believe Dallas is a title contender with Jones, so I'm backing the Renegades to rebound on the road.
Pick: Renegades -3.5
Last week, I mentioned St. Louis was the most undervalued team heading into the season. The BattleHawks not only covered in Dallas, but they beat the Renegades outright 15-9. Even with the impressive performance, St. Louis still isn't getting much love from oddsmakers, as the team is an 8-point 'dog for the second straight week.
Houston pulled away from Los Angeles to win 37-17, thanks to 272 yards and four touchdown passes from quarterback P.J. Walker. However, the Wildcats trailed by just one point at the half with a signal-caller that had been on the roster for five days. Meanwhile, the BattleHawks rolled up 191 yards rushing and quarterback Jordan Ta'amu completed 74% of his passes in a balanced offensive attack.
Both of these teams looked good last week but the BattleHawks are still being undervalued. I'll keep betting on them until the oddsmakers adjust. Take the points in what could be the best game of the weekend.
Pick: BattleHawks +8
Thomas Casale is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. He's been following the sports betting industry for almost 30 years. A devoted fan of the wishbone offense, Thomas bets on all sports but specializes in college football, NFL, and college basketball. Find him on Twitter @TheTomCasale.