The return of the XFL has a lot of bettors wondering if they should get involved. The good thing is you don’t have to learn a new sport. We trust that our readers know how to handicap football, and except for learning the XFL’s new rules, there’s really not much difference. Football is football. Last year, we faced the same situation with the Alliance of American Football (AAF) and won our Best Bet the last seven weeks before the league folded after Week 8, so we’re confident the XFL will be beatable, too.
The bookmakers are in the same spot as the bettors in trying to analyze the strength of the eight XFL teams. And no one knows how good the offensive lines or defenses are and how they’ll perform as units, but the Week 1 lines have been up since Monday and the Over/Unders since Thursday with quite a bit of line movement already. The XFL is embracing wagering (and the spreads and totals will be featured on the graphics and discussed during the broadcasts) and this movement shows that bettors are taking to this league because people love to bet what they watch and watch what they bet.
For Saturday’s Top Play, we’re looking at the Los Angeles Wildcats at the Houston Roughnecks. This line opened Houston -3¹/₂ and was up to -6 at William Hill and other books as of Friday evening. The bookmakers who set XFL future odds (arguably the people who have studied these teams the most) have Houston at a consensus 6/1 and Los Angeles around 8/1, so that tells me there’s not much difference between these two teams and the public is steaming the favorite because they don’t know any better.
I guess some of the love for Houston is because coach June Jones has always been known for offense, but I’m surprised this line has moved higher even after Houston announced former Temple quarterback P.J. Walker will start over former Raider Connor Cook. While Los Angeles coach Winston Moss is arguably the least-accomplished head coach in the XFL, I’m excited to see what former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow can do with the offense. Josh Johnson, who is the epitome of an NFL journeyman quarterback with 13 teams in 11 seasons, is expected to be the starter, though he did miss some practice time this week with a thigh injury. Still, I’d trust former Princeton QB Chad Kanoff to pick up Chow’s offense if her gets in.
Wait for the number to peak, but take LA plus the points and then watch these games this weekend to make more informed decisions in the coming weeks.
The play: Los Angeles, +6.