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XFL Predictions & Tips: Week 1

Leigh Copson /

The 2020 XFL season gets underway this weekend and’s resident American Football expert has picked out the Week 1 winners from the returning league.

READ MORE: Check our out XFL season preview.

Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders (Saturday 19:00 GMT)

Seattle and DC have been given the honour of kicking off the first XFL season for almost 20 years when they go head-to-head on Saturday night. For DC it is a first opportunity to make an impression on the home fans, while for the Dragons it is an opportunity to prove on the road that the bookmakers have underrated them by making them the least fancied team alongside St Louis. The Defenders are rightfully favourites for this one. In head coach Pep Hamilton they have a man with a wealth of coaching experience and in quarterback Cardale Jones they have a potential league MVP – his cause can he helped by speedster receiver Rashad Ross. Defensively they look strong too so while there is always some uncertainty when two new teams play in a new league for the first time, the Defenders do appear to have the edge in this one.

Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks (Saturday 22:00 GMT)

XFL quarterback Josh Johnson in action for the Detroit Lions of the NFL in 2019 (Photo by USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images).

The first night’s action wraps up with the most intriguing game of the weekend. Los Angeles provided the XFL with its champions 19 years ago when the Xtreme won it all, and if the bookmakers’ outright odds are anything to go by then the Wildcats are a dark horse to follow in their footsteps and keep the XFL crown in the ‘City of Angels’. They do face a stiff test in week one though, in the form of Houston. The bookies do not appear to be expecting much from the Roughnecks in the championship race, but of all of the teams headed into the XFL’s first campaign since 2001, they may well be the most underrated. Defensively they boast a couple of excellent talents in Kony Ealy and Jalen Saunders, while offensively they have one of the most dangerous receivers in the league in Sammie Coates. There are question marks over quarterback Connor Cook, and in Josh Johnson it is fair to say that Los Angeles have the better signal-caller, but the bookies are favouring them in this home opener and I am going with the bookies. Houston will make a winning start and perhaps force the bookmakers to clip their outright odds.

Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians (Sunday 19:00 GMT)

Sunday’s XFL action gets underway with arguably the game of the weekend – a meeting between second favourites, the New York Guardians, and third favourites, the Tampa Bay Vipers. The Guardians are headed up by a familiar face to NY football fans, former Giants offensive co-ordinator Kevin Gilbride who helped Eli Manning lead the franchise to a couple of Super Bowl wins. He should be able to get the best out of Matt McGloin, who may not be the most exciting quarterback in the XFL but has NFL experience and will be protected by some college stand-outs on the offensive line. Defensively they boast some talent too with several former Alliance of American Football stand-outs in the mix, most notably Jamar Summers, so this appears to be a well-rounded team that deserves their contender status. Tampa Bay are also thought to be a contender for XFL glory and that is largely down to the appointment of Marc Trestman as head coach. Things got away from Trestman during the second season of his stint in the NFL, but his first season in Chicago he made the Bears the second best offense in the entire league and that should not be written off just because of how things ended. The XFL standard is, of course, nowhere near as high as the NFL’s and Trestman has enjoyed a highly successful career north of the border in the Canadian Football League, and if he can replicate his CFL form in Florida then the Vipers will be a team to watch. There are question marks surrounding quarterback Aaron Murray, who tanked in the short-lived AAF a year ago, but with Trestman in his ear he may have a better experience this time round. Can they make a winning start? I am not so sure. The Guardians appear to be a more well-rounded team at this time and defensively they have a unit that can capitalise on any mistakes that Murray & Co. make as they try to get to grips with Trestman’s system. I am backing the Guardians here, especially with the aid of the handicap.

St Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades (Sunday 22:00 GMT)

XFL quarterback Landry Jones in action for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL (Photo by USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images).

Week 1 of the new XFL season concludes with the outright favourites, the Dallas Renegades, stepping out on the field for the first time. The Renegades were quickly propelled to the head of the betting and it is not hard to see why. In head coach Bob Stoops they have a man who has done it in the college game and he brought an immediate air of credibility to the league when it was announced that the former Oklahoma Sooner would be heading up the XFL’s Dallas franchise. Quarterback Landry Jones will be familiar with Stoops’ system and he is considered by many to be the best QB picked up by the league for the 2020 season. He has plenty of support in both the run game and the passing game, and when you switch you attention to the defense you will see another strong group headed up by the likes of Hau’oli Kihaha and Marquis Flowers. While Dallas are stacked, the BattleHawks appear to have a few holes as they get set to bring professional football back to St Louis for the first time since the NFL Rams walked ditched the city for Los Angeles. However, the bookies may have overlooked them a little because when you look over the team there are a number of notable players who could shine during the 2020 XFL season. The running back group looks to be as strong as any team can offer in this league, they do pose some threats in the passing game and they have a defensive secondary that can, and should, make some big plays throughout the season. The BattleHawks’ chances of springing an opening day upset are boosted by Landry Jones’ absence due to a knee injury, but I am backing Stoops to work out a plan to make up for the loss of his starting QB as the Renegades showcase why they are favourites on opening weekend.

XFL Week 1 Picks

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 1? Doing this offers odds of 12/1, meaning a £10 stake will lead to a £120 profit if all four legs are winners.