XFL WEEK 4 PREVIEW & PICKS
We’re getting close to the halfway point of the inaugural XFL 3.0 season. And we’ve got the odds, lines and totals to monetize what’s turned out to be a pretty fun spring league so far, thanks to some elite defensive coaching and legit quarterback play that will benefit the NFL in the future.
Let’s start by seeing how the teams stack up heading into Week 4.
XFL POWER RANKINGS
1. HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS (3-0)
While the Roughnecks didn’t pile up the sacks last week, the defense still looked very much like the units Wade Phillips is used to coaching at the NFL level. That alone should keep a zero in that loss column for a while, if not the entire season.
2. WASHINGTON DC DEFENDERS (3-0)
Watching the Defenders, it’s inexplicable that they’re 3-0 right now. Head coach Reggie Barlow must be living right.
3. ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS (2-1)
St. Louis has made its living in the fourth quarter so far in this young season, but couldn’t quite get across the finish line last week.
4. ARLINGTON RENEGADES (2-1)
It might have been uglier than a B-list celebrity’s outfit on the Met Gala red carpet, but Arlington picked up their second win of the season last week. Just avoid the “highlights,” because there were none.
5. SEATTLE SEA DRAGONS (2-1)
Seattle put on a solid show last week, using a fourth quarter rally to pick up their second victory of the season and, maybe, displaying while they’ll be a contender at the end.
6. SAN ANTONIO BRAHMAS (1-2)
If the Brahams can’t’ figure out how to move the ball and score some points, this will be a long 10 game season for them.
7. LAS VEGAS VIPERS (0-3)
Once again the Vipers offense showed up, but so did the bad luck that’s followed them all season. This is the Charlie Brown of XFL teams.
8. ORLANDO GUARDIANS (0-3)
Not only are the Guardians the worst football team in the XFL, until the USFL kicks off, they get the distinction of being the worst football team on the planet. And considering Jeff Fisher was not invited back to coach the Michigan Panthers this season, that might be a difficult title to shake.
HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS AT ORLANDO GUARDIANS (+8.5, O/U: 37.5)
Houston did that thing they do where the completely dominate an opponent with their defense, defeating the overmatched San Antonio Brahmas 22-13 last Sunday. The Roughnecks scored all their points in the first half and the defense slammed the door in the second. Brandon Silvers had a decent day at QB for Houston, finishing 24 of 35 for 278 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked twice. Max Borghi rushed 15 times for 74 yards. Jontre Kirklin caught six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Deontay Burnett grabbed the other TD. Tavante Beckett finished with six tackles. Ajene Harris nabbed an interception.
The Guardians continued their futile attempt at offense and failed miserably once again, losing 10-9 to the Arlington Renegades in what should probably go down in history as one of the worst professional football games in human history. The game was tied 3-3 until the fourth quarter when Orlando opened it scoring their only touchdown, but didn’t convert their extra point attempt. Their defense immediately surrendered a touchdown to the Arlington Renegades and they converted their extra point and the teams spent the next nearly eight minutes of game time doing absolutely nothing to lose 10-9. Paxton Lynch, at least, got to ride all the way through for the Guardians, finishing 19 of 31 for 219 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked four times and rushed 10 times for 43 yards and a touchdown to lead the team. Kelvin Taylor finished with seven carries for 25 yards. Jah-Maine Martin had only nine carries, but managed to lose two of them to fumbles. So, that’s not great. Cody Latimer hauled in six passes for 66 yards. Terrance Smith finished with nine tackles and one for a loss. Mike Lee had seven tackles.
If anyone can put together a scenario where Orlando, the worst professional football team to take the field (so far) in 2023 can beat Houston, the best team in the XFL, I’m all ears. Roughnecks 29, Guardians 10
SAN ANTONIO BRAHMAS AT SEATTLE SEA DRAGONS (-4.5, O/U: 40.5)
The Brahmas had the misfortune of squaring off against the Houston Roughnecks last week and paid for it with the predictable loss, falling 22-13. Jack Coan was the poster boy for ineffective QB play, finishing 8 of 20 for 64 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He added nine carries for 27 yards and was sacked once. Jaques Patirck led the team with eight carries for 36 yards and a score. Alize Mack caught a piddling three passes, which was nearly 50 percent of Coan’s output, for 27 yards. Tenny Adewusi recorded eight tackles. Jordan Williams had seven tackedowns and one for a loss.
Seattle used a 15 point fourth quarter and a four touchdown day from quarterback Ben DiNucci to down the homestanding Las Vegas Vipers, 30-26, last Saturday. DiNucci had an fantastic outing, finishing his afternoon 29 of 37 for 377 yards, the aforementioned four touchdowns and one pick. He was sacked once and rushed six times for 32 yards. Morgan Ellison unleashed 103 rushing yards on 17 carries. Josh Gordon caught six passes for 118 yards and two scores. Jahcour Pearson hauled in seven balls for 99 yards. Jordan Veasy grabbed four receptions for 63 yards. Blake Jackson caught five for 44 and a TD. Juwan Green nabbed the other TD pass. Austin Faoliu led the team with seven tackles.
Seattle has quietly shown it’s one of the league’s better teams. San Antonio just can’t seem to find anything that works on offense. I see no reason to believe Saturday’s action will change that. Sea Dragons 24, Brahmas 13
ARLINGTON RENEGARDS AT ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS (-4, O/U: 36.5)
Arlington can boast the inglorious distinction of winning the worst XFL game of the season, using a “fourth quarter comeback” to defeat the Orlando Guardians by the score of 10-9 in what no one would call a barn burner. If anything, it was an Amish Barn Raiser in which everybody got kinda tired around noon and just quit for the day. Kyle Sloter went 18 of 23 for 124 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked twice. De’Veon Smith carried the ball 18 times for 49 yards. Tyler Vaughns caught five passes for just 39 yards and a TD. Will Hill led the squad with 10 tackles, half a sack and one tackle for a loss. Darnell Sankey recorded eight tackles, half a sack and two for a loss.
The cardiac Battlehawks finally stumbled in one of their late game comeback bids, falling 34-28 to the Washington DC Defenders last Sunday. AJ McCarron continued his hot streak at quarterback, finishing 26 of 42 for 262 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked four times. Brian Hill rushed 11 times for only 32 yards. Hakeem Butler caught nine passes for 105 yards and a TD. Darrius Shepherd had five receptions for 51 yards. Brian Hill hauled in four for 49 yards and a score. Jake Southerland and Steven Mitchell both caught touchdowns.
The fact that Arlington has won two games is shocking, considering how bad they are on offense. St. Louis looks like, at worst, the league’s second best team and should soundly prove it Sunday. Battlehawks 34, Renegades 13
LAS VEGAS VIPERS AT WASHINGTON DC DEFENDERS (-6, O/U: 42)
The Vipers surrendered 15 points in the fourth quarter to fall 30-26 to the Seattle Sea Dragons and keep a goose egg in their win column. Quarterback Brett Hundley, the former Green Bay Packer, had a decent day under center, finishing 13 of 28 for 224 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. He led the team with eight rushes for 66 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked once. Rod Smith had 10 carries for 41 yards. Jeff Badet caught four passes for 93 yards and a TD. John Lovett hauled in just one reception, but it was good for a 50 yards touchdown. Mathew Sexton caught three for 45 yards. Deontay Anderson led the team with nine tackles. Mister Harriel recorded eight takedowns. Adam Sparks had five tackles and intercepted a pass.
Washington somehow kept their record perfect in spite of another lackluster quarterback performance from Jordan Ta’amu. The DC Defenders knocked off the St. Louis Battlehawks, 34-28. Ta’amu was 11 of 20 for 196 yards, one touchdown and no picks, but he did fumble once. He rushed 10 times for 22 yards and a TD and was not sacked. Abram Smith finished with 16 carried for 54 yards. Ryquell Armstead rushed 11 times for 51 yards. Lucky Jackson caught four passes for 89 yards. Chris Blair caught two for 62 yards. Dejuan Neal led the team with eight tackles. Kentrell Brice and Michael Joseph both recorded five tackles and one interception apiece.
No team has been a bigger disappointment to me in this present iteration of the XFL than the Vipers. This looked like, roster wise, a potential championship game team before the season started. Then, the season actually began and it’s hard to make the title game if you can’t win a regular season game. That has to change sometime, right? DC has gotten incredibly lucky and, I mean, the wheels have to fall off at some point. Vipers 22, Defenders 15
Straight up: 2-2
Against the spread: 2-2
Straight up: 6-6
Against the spread: 5-7
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.
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