XFL Predictions & Tips: Week 3

Leigh Copson:

Our resident XFL tipster Leigh Copson continued his strong start to the season in Week 2 by successfully picking all four winners and going 3/4 with his tips, and here is his free betting advice for the third week of the new American Football league.

READ MORE: Check out our take on Week 2 of the XFL in our ‘The Xtra Point’ column.

Houston Roughnecks at Tampa Bay Vipers (Saturday 19:00 GMT)

Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker throws a pass during the Week 2 win over St Louis Battlehawks (Photo by Cal Sport Media/SIPA USA/PA Images).

Week 3 gets underway with a meeting of two teams that have experienced very different starts to the 2020 XFL season. The Houston Roughnecks have made a major impression in the opening two weeks to go from also-rans in the minds of the bookmakers to genuine contenders, with back-to-back wins over Los Angeles and St Louis meaning they are one of only two teams that boast a 100% record heading into this weekend. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, are desperate to get off the mark as one of only two teams yet to register a victory so far. So can the Roughnecks continue their red-hot start or will the Vipers finally stop the rot in their home opener? This will be Houston’s first road game of the season so there will be a few question marks about how well they will travel, but it is safe to say that there is every reason to have confidence in them here because they have looked every bit of a championship contender through two games. In PJ Walker they may well have the best quarterback in the entire league – he has thrown seven touchdown passes against only one interception and he boasts the best QB Rating out of all 10 signal-callers who have stepped onto an XFL field so far this season. Walker is assisted by several weapons in the passing game, but this team is not all about the offense. The defense has been impressive too – an impressive front has wreaked havoc on opposition offensive lines over the first two weeks to average a sack every nine plays, while the secondary has proven to be opportunistic in forcing several turnovers, with Jeremiah Johnson’s pick against St Louis last weekend a major reason why they are sitting at 2-0 right now. Now that defense is coming up against a Tampa Bay offense that simply cannot turn yards into touchdowns. This unit is averaging over 341 total yards per game, but they completely fall apart when they get close to the endzone and are now the only team in the XFL that are yet to score an offensive TD (last week’s came via a pick six). So while they will be buoyed by this being their home opener, it is impossible to go against in-form Houston for this one. The Roughnecks should improve to 3-0 here with a comfortable win on the road.

Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons (Saturday 22:00 GMT)

Dallas Renegades quarterback Landry Jones in action against Los Angeles Wildcats (Photo by Cal Sport Media/SIPA USA/PA Images)

These two teams both got off the mark last weekend and they each made hard work of it. With Landry Jones starting for the first time this season, Dallas were expected to look more like the team that was considered pre-season favourites when they visited Los Angeles in Week 2. The Renegades did come away with the win, bouncing back from the opening-night loss to St Louis, but they failed to make a major impression and Jones did not sugar-coat his own performance, admitting he had “played about as bad as you can play”. Jones did throw a couple of picks that could have been costly, but he did become the first XFL quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a game and it was his first start for 777 days. He was also coming into the game on the back of a knee injury that sidelined him in Week 1, so perhaps the veteran QB was being a little harsh on himself there. However, he does need to produce a much better showing in Week 3 when the Renegades head back out onto the road to face Seattle. The Dragons also notched their first victory of the season in Week 2 as they bounced back from the road defeat to DC with a win over Tampa Bay in their home opener. It was not a stellar victory by any means though. Seattle gained just 199 total yards on the day and went 2/10 on third down, but when trailing 9-0 early in the third quarter they found the spark they needed as Brandon Silvers hit Keenan Reynolds for a 68-yard score. A pick six from Marcell Frazier then put them in front for good, much to the delight of a raucous crowd that could turn CenturyLink Field into a formidable place to visit like it is when teams travel to face the NFL Seahawks. Dallas are going to have to deal with that noise here, but in Jones they do have an experienced quarterback and the emergence of Cameron Artis-Payne in the run game in Week 2 (he scored two crucial fourth quarter touchdowns) means he will have plenty of help in the ground game if the Renegades need to lean on him. Last weekend’s win was hardly a polished one, but Dallas did show some promising signs at least and did get the better of a Wildcats team that offered a threat. The same really cannot be said for Seattle who, quite frankly, would have taken another loss had they not been facing the worst team in the XFL. Therefore I have to lean towards a road win for Dallas here, but given how difficult they made last weekend’s victory in LA I am very wary of backing them to overcome a handicap. However, on the flip side it is difficult to trust Dragons with the points, so while the odds are hardly fantastic I find myself resigned to simply backing Dallas in the Moneyline market.

New York Guardians at St Louis BattleHawks (Sunday 20:00 GMT)

St Louis Battlehawks running back Christine Michael (Photo by Cal Sport Media/SIPA USA/PA Images).

All eyes will be on the Dome on Sunday night as professional football returns to St Louis for the first time since the NFL Rams packed up and moved to Los Angeles a couple of years ago, but can the hometown BattleHawks make it a night to remember by picking up the victory in their home opener? St Louis may be 1-1 right now, but it is fair to say that they have made an impression during the first two weeks of the season, causing the bookmakers to cut their odds because these BattleHawks were considered the worst team in the league before opening kick-off. They walked into Dallas in Week 1 and knocked off the pre-season favourites and they almost pulled off a fantastic comeback win in Houston last weekend. St Louis appeared to be dead and buried when they trailed 21-6 at the break, but the offense came to life in the third quarter as they came storming back to within three points, and had Jeremiah Johnson not produced a timely pick for the Roughnecks the visitors could have ridden their momentum all the way to a victory. So while they were beaten they were far from disgraced, and once again young quarterback Jordan Ta’amu showed that he will indeed be one to watch this season. The defense also deserves both praise and hype. They did give up 28 points against Houston in Week 2, but in the second half they were able to largely shut down PJ Walker & Co. and that is something not many units will do this season. So as you can see, St Louis can go into this game with plenty of confidence. New York, however, cannot. The Guardians may also be 1-1, but right now they are standing at the edge of the cliff and could fall off it on Sunday. Matt McGloin has attempted to play down his public meltdown in the shutout loss to the DC Defenders, but the quarterback is considered the ‘leader’ of a team and him throwing his team-mates and coaches under the bus will not have helped the locker room in the slightest. Despite what is said this week that NY roster will struggle to overcome what their QB did to them, and that puts head coach Kevin Gilbride in a tricky position. Ideally he would turn to his backup in order to get the locker room back on side, but Marquise Williams did little to catch the eye when he replaced McGloin in the second half of that loss to the Defenders. Simply put, the Guardians are in trouble right now and that does not bode well for this trip to St Louis. The BattleHawks should win this, and they should win it with room to spare as the fans in St Louis celebrate the return of pro football to the ‘Gateway to the West’.

DC Defenders at Los Angeles Wildcats (Sunday 23:00 GMT)

DC Defenders linebacker Jameer Thurman returns an interception for a touchdown in the win over New York Guardians (Photo by Cal Sport Media/SIPA USA/PA Images).

The DC Defenders remain the bookmakers’ pick to win the XFL Championship this season and it is easy to see why. Pep Hamilton’s team boast a perfect 2-0 record heading into Week 3 and both of their victories have come in impressive fashion. Quarterback Cardale Jones and wide receivers Rashad Ross and Eli Rogers have quickly emerged as major threats to opposition defenses, but it is the Defenders’ defense that has grabbed the eye during their first two games. They have allowed just 19 points so far, shutting out the New York Guardians a week ago, and while an argument can be made that they have seemingly faced two of the weaker teams in the XFL, it cannot be ignored that this unit has stepped up and made big plays repeatedly to help the team cruise to victory. We should see more of the same against a Los Angeles offense that struggles to run the football and has been careless with the ‘rock’ during their first couple of games. There has been one major positive on offense for the Wildcats though – the performances of wide receiver Nelson Spruce who leads the league in receiving yardage and has scored a touchdown in each of his two games. The problem is that he pretty much appears to be their offense, so if DC can put the shackles on Spruce here then Los Angeles are going to have a serious problem moving the football and scoring points. The Wildcats cannot rely on their defense either. While they did produce a much better showing against Dallas than the one they produced against Houston, which cost defensive co-ordinator Pepper Johnson his job, it is difficult to see how this unit will have improved enough to slow down Jones, Ross and Rogers. Therefore you have to fancy the Defenders to come out on top here – they have shown themselves to be a complete package in their two wins so far. And given that DC have erased an eight-point handicap in each of their games, you have to be confident that they can overcome an eight-point handicap again against a Los Angeles team who lost their two games by a combined 27 points.

XFL Week 3 Accumulator Tip

UK bookmakers are offering only a small selection of markets for the XFL, just like they did when the Alliance of American Football launched last year, so if you are looking for bigger odds then why not consider backing all four of our selections in an accumulator bet for Week 3? Doing this offers odds of just over 9/1, with a £10 stake will lead to a £104.36 profit if all four legs are winners.