This game feels like a prequel to the rematch coming in the XFL championship game. It doesn’t seem like anyone in the South Division is on par with Houston, while in the North, DC does have teams capable of beating them, but they should still be considered a favorite. The line in this game hasn’t budged. It opened with DC favored by 2.5 points, but all season, spreads in Roughneck games have moved in favor of Houston. Not so far this week, however. DC has also seen spreads move in its favor as of late. It will be interesting to see which direction this game moves as we approach kickoff. In the totals market for this game, which opened at 42 points, it has crept up to 43 in some spots. I’m pointing this betting line out in particular so that if we do get a rematch, we can circle back and compare.
Offensive Unit Rankings
In past write-ups, I have given complete team power rankings without a ton of reference to actual offensive and defensive unit rankings. This week, however, we will focus on the offenses.
The Sea Dragons’ attack ranks first in yards per play this season at 5.8. What’s more impressive is who they did it against. The only thing holding them back is how careless they have been with the ball, as they are number one in turnovers by a wide margin. It’s scary to think about what Seattle can do if they play a clean game.
Are you surprised? Maybe you shouldn’t be. The defense is terrible, but we will get to that next week. The offense has moved the ball in every game, ranking second in yards per play behind Seattle. Not only that, but they have done it against decent opposition. The only non-quality defense they have faced was last week in Orlando, which they dominated. In addition to YPP, Luis Perez is leading the league in Yards per Attempt. Vegas is an interesting underdog going forward.
Houston barely edged out STL for the third-best offense. It may seem crazy to have Houston behind Vegas, but to that, I say, “did you watch them in Seattle?” Houston is a big-play offense, but they are not the greatest on third down. Their defense has been the more dominant unit this season. Houston has also benefited from playing a weak strength of schedule on defense, something that my numbers factor in. The performances against non-Orlando defenses look like this: 4.2 yards per play against Arlington (23 points scored), 5.5 yards per play against San Antonio (22 points scored), 4 yards per play vs Seattle (14 points scored). With that being said, the roughneck offense is still an explosive unit that attempts passes further down field than any other offense in the XFL, they boast an ADOT (average depth of target) of almost 10 Yards per attempt.
STL has played the most difficult strength of opposing defenses so far. They have played the top four, plus DC twice. The yards per play numbers don’t look great for them, but I just explained why that is. Also, STL has benefited from the best quarterback play in the league thus far, according to Pro Football Focus 76.9 (out of 100) Passing Grade. So, in review, they have the best QB, and the schedule only gets easier.
DC has an explosive running game that shouldn’t be overlooked. Like Houston however, they haven’t played the best defenses in the league. STL twice and Vegas twice, Houston should offer a better test.
Another team that has a tough strength of schedule. They looked good last week and may be a totally different offense with the QB/coordinator change.
Saw a spark last week with the QB change, then the injury. I am not optimistic about their chances to turn this thing around on offense.
They’ve looked better each week and now with the addition of Victor Bolden (ALL USFL WR), they have a realistic shot at becoming competent on Offense.
If you’re looking for a big underdog to bet on, Orlando is once again a tempting option. They’ve rewarded us handsomely in the past, and with Seattle’s tendency to allow opponents to hang around, there’s potential for another upset here. Seattle’s propensity for going for three instead of two could also introduce some extra volatility to the game, which I’m willing to embrace.
Bet: ORL +9.5
STL v LV
This game has the makings of a high-scoring affair, but unfortunately, the over has already been heavily bet up, leaving little value there. Instead, we’ll focus on the spread. St. Louis has had some trouble protecting McCarron at times, and with Vegas boasting a formidable pass rush and the advantage of playing at home, I’m leaning towards the underdog here.
Bet: LV +3
ARL v SA
San Antonio seemed poised to take control of their last game until an unfortunate injury derailed their momentum. With a projected total of just 32 points, I’m not interested in laying points here. It’s possible that this game could come down to which defense and special teams can create the most scoring opportunities, and I’m willing to take a chance on a desperate San Antonio team to come out on top. Look also to the San Antonio Money line.
Bet: SA +3
DC v HOU
This is my favorite bet of the week. After a lackluster performance, Houston has had extra time to prepare for DC’s unique run scheme. Although I don’t think this is a great matchup for Houston’s defense, I have confidence in Wade Phillips’ ability to get them ready. The Roughnecks offense should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays downfield against an aggressive DC defense, and I don’t think DC will be able to slow them down enough to avoid having to rely on Ta’amu to throw the ball more often. When Houston has the ball look for DC to struggle tackling Houston’s shifty playmakers in space, DC has the second most missed tackles this season.