With only four weeks left in the XFL season, it’s an opportune time to examine the playoff picture and identify teams that may offer value based on their current standings, overall quality, and remaining schedule.
Last week, we focused on the South Division. In this article, we’ll shift our attention to the North Division, which, unlike the South, is still very much up in the air. Three teams are essentially battling it out for two spots. One way to predict what will happen is to simulate future games based on each team’s offensive and defensive ratings as they stand today. The computer will then derive an expected win probability for each remaining game, which will allow us to determine the expected final standings. However, we must rightly add some uncertainty into our results and simulate again using the expected records to conclude how often a team finishes in first or second place in the division. This approach enables me to provide reasonable estimates of each team’s likelihood of making it to the division championship game. The chart below presents the expected regular season records and the corresponding probability of each team finishing in the top two of the standings.
As shown in the chart above, it’s a three-team race in the North Division. Seattle and St. Louis are nearly even odds to emerge as the team that will face off against DC. Let’s not overlook the non-zero (13%) chance of DC not making the playoffs. With two teams only one game behind, DC can’t afford to take its foot off the gas down the stretch. The saving grace for DC is that they will face Arlington and San Antonio to close out the season. St. Louis will face Seattle next week in a game that could determine which team makes it to the playoffs. Seattle has a tougher stretch, giving them the smallest chance of making the playoffs among the top three. Seattle will play DC this week, St. Louis next week, and close out against a feisty Vegas team that should have beaten them the last time around.
The power rankings don’t shift as much as they used to, but some teams are still rising, and some are falling. St. Louis has been steadily climbing since their rough Week 1 outing, and they’re now right behind Seattle for first place. With a strong performance this week, St. Louis could overtake Seattle for the top spot. Houston has finally dropped a spot after three straight lackluster offensive performances. Orlando has been on the move since the switch to Dormady at QB. San Antonio has been on a downward slide for most of the year. Although the San Antonio defense has kept their ranking in the top 6, the Braham offense has yet to inspire confidence.
LV v STL
I hope you took St. Louis early because they opened as 5-point favorites and are now -7.5 in some places. There’s also some value on the over. A few things are at play here. Las Vegas seems to have found a QB in McClendon whose mobility should prevent the St. Louis defense from dominating. McCarron is still the top-rated passer in the league and should be able to have his way with a subpar Vegas defense. This game will be indoors, which should help the offenses.
ARL v ORL
Arlington initially opened as 2-point favorites, but the market has shifted and now Orlando is favored by 1.5. My numbers agree with this adjustment. Dormady has the second-highest QB grade according to PFF, and Orlando has been playing like a different team with him at QB. Arlington will likely give Perez the start, which could provide a boost, but it may take some time to integrate him into the offense. Overall, I have doubts that QB is the root of the problem for Arlington. If Orlando doesn’t have an emotional letdown in this game, they should be able to outscore Arlington.
Houston once again received support from the betting community, with an opening line of 4 points and some places betting it up to 5.5. It’s uncertain how Houston will perform against a subpar team. It may continue to be tough for Houston to move the ball as San Antonio has a strong defense. The Roughneck defense may finally get a week off from facing elite offensive teams. The Total opened at 41.5 and has been bet down to 40 in some places. Due to the market movement, we won’t have a bet on this game. However, I’ll provide a score prediction of 23-17 in favor of the Roughnecks.
DC v Seattle
This game is shaping up to be an exciting one, with Seattle having a chance to tie for first place with a win. Initially, DC was favored by 2 points, but the market has shifted in favor of Seattle, which is now favored by 2 in some places. My numbers agree with this move. Both teams are known for their strong offensive play, so we can expect a high-scoring game. The total points for the game opened at 46.5 but moved up to 48.5 before dropping back down to 46 due to the anticipated bad weather. However, I believe that even with a little rain, the total points scored in the game will still exceed 46.
What wagers are you placing this week. Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.