After getting acquainted with the XFL on Saturday, we get two more games Sunday, including the debut of your New York Guardians.
The Guardians have been the hardest team for oddsmakers to figure out heading into the season openers. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had them as the co-second choice (along with the Tampa Bay Vipers) to win the title at 5/1, while William Hill opened them as the longest price on the board at 12/1. They’ve since been adjusted down to 7/1 as of Friday afternoon
Meanwhile, the Vipers are pretty much the consensus second choice in XFL future books behind the Dallas Renegades. Tampa Bay opened as 3¹/₂-point road favorites over New York, which would make sense if you think the Vipers are the No. 2 team in the eight-team league and you agree with the books that ranked the Guardians at No. 8.
However, if you agree with the Westgate that they’re on equal footing, then that makes the Guardians our VSiN Top Play for Sunday the XFL’s lone home underdogs of the weekend.
I love me some home ’dogs in all sports, so I don’t need too much convincing, but there’s plenty of reasons to think the Guardians can win the opener. For one thing, I think Tampa Bay is overrated. A lot of people are pointing to Vipers coach Marc Trestman and his reputation as an offensive genius in the Canadian Football League and several NFL jobs. But I’ll still take the resume of New York coach Kevin Gilbride, who was offensive coordinator for the Giants in their two Super Bowl victories over the Patriots.
We’re still learning these rosters, but I also prefer New York QB Matt McGloin, whom I felt was underrated in his 2013 rookie season with the Raiders and hasn’t had a chance in recent years, over Tampa’s Aaron Murray. Gilbride might also have a “thunder and lightning” combo at running back with Tim Cook in the “Brandon Jacobs” role plus Darius Victor or Justin Stockton. Mekale McKay is expected to be the No. 1 receiver and, at 6-foot-5, has been compared to Plaxico Burress.
This line has come down to 2¹/₂ or 3, but I’ll still take the Guardians plus the points (note: with no PAT kicks in the XFL, missing the proverbial “key number of 3” isn’t as important — besides, I’m picking them because I’m expecting the outright upset).
The play: New York Guardians, +4.