After three full weeks of XFL play, the league continues to take shape in their newest rendition with the contenders and pretenders still being ironed out with each week of play. Though they are still one of the favorites to win the XFL Championship in April, the DC Defenders (+350) stumbled last week mightily as their first road test of the season proved difficult, getting blown out against the LA Wildcats. Led by MVP front runner PJ Walker, the Houston Roughnecks (+200) continue to be the class of the league as they remain the league’s only undefeated team left and boast a touchdown differential of +4. Let’s take a took my favorite bet in week 4 of XFL play in hopes of turning another profitable XFL weekend.
DC Defenders at Tampa Bay Vipers (+2.5, 44), 7:00 PM EST (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Though they’ve yet to secure a win, from a points standpoint the Vipers production has increased each week, starting with three points in the first showing and ending with 27 last week in their loss to the league-leading Roughnecks. In that loss last week at their home stadium of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the Vipers came one possession away from a win, giving up a fourth-quarter touchdown at the 10-minute mark that they were never able to recover from. The 1-2 punch at the quarterback position once again proved inadequate for Tampa Bay, as Quinton Flowers and Taylor Cornelius combining for 244 yards through the air and an average QB rating of just 80 as their defense had no answer for Walker and his WR1 who combined for 194 yards and three touchdowns on the day. The Vipers face another tough challenge this weekend in another lethal QB-WR combo and if they’re not careful, they could face a similar result.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the Defenders and Roughnecks were in a constant back and forth for the best team in the league, but last week those questions at least appeared to be answered. The Defenders not only suffered their worst loss of the season but did so in putrid fashion dropping a 9-39 decision to the Wildcats in a game they struggled to do much of anything. Early MVP-candidate quarterback Cardale Jones had his worst performance of the season, throwing for four interceptions and finishing with a QB rating of just 20.7. As a result, his double-headed monster of a receiving core in Rashad Ross and Eli Rogers was also held in check, as both receivers combined for just 32 yards on the day. While the offense struggled, the defense also had no answer for opposing quarterback Josh Johnson, who largely did what he wanted finishing with 278 yards and three touchdowns on the day.
Even though this has all the early signs of a trap-line in a must-win spot for the Vipers who have improved each week, I still can’t look away from the Defenders and am dismissing last week as more of an anomaly than anything else. Like Walker and Phillips proved to be, I think Jones, Ross, and Rogers prove to be too much for a Viper’s defense who has continually been asked to hang on for dear life making up for an offense who can’t throw the ball downfield. The fact that the original starting quarterback for the Vipers, Aaron Murray, appears to be healthy yet is still not the starter again in this one, confirms they know they have no good option. I’ll take the more talented Defenders to bounce back in a big way in this one before they head home for a contest with the surging St. Louis BattleHawks.