XFL Fan Zone Week 5 Picks!

The halfway point has arrived! Teams like Houston and St. Louis are beginning to separate from the rest of the league. Will anyone be able to run them down? Here is a look at week five, along with staff picks.

Seattle Dragons (1-3) at Houston Roughnecks (4-0)

Seattle got a new lease on the season with the impressive debut of BJ Daniels. Daniels will need to give a superheroic performance on Saturday to keep pace with the high powered Houston offense. The Roughnecks average over 31 points per game, while the Dragons have yet to score 20 in a game this year.

Pick: Roughnecks 27, Dragons 19

New York Guardians (2-2) at Dallas Renegades (2-2)

New York hasn’t won an away game, and Dallas hasn’t won a home game. Something’s got to give. Home teams are 11-4 on the season so far, but there are mitigating factors in this one. Dallas lost starting quarterback Landry Jones for this game, as Jones injured his knee in last week’s loss to Houston. New York will go with Luis Perez at the helm once more. Perez led the Guardians to a 17-14 victory last weekend. Perez seemed to be able to get the New York offense moving the previous weekend. That continuity gives New York a slight edge.

Prediction: Guardians 19, Renegades 15

St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1) at DC Defenders (2-2)

DC gets to return home this weekend after two brutal road losses. The Defenders are a different team at home than on the road. DC averages 29 points per game at home and only 4.5 points per game on the road. Depending on which Defenders team shows up, this game could be quite compelling. St. Louis is quickly becoming a complete team. The BattleHawks do everything well but are especially adept at special teams and defense. With St. Louis only allowing 15.5 points per game, week five will be tough for DC.

Prediction: BattleHawks 22, Defenders 17

Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3) at LA Wildcats (1-3)

Teams that travel cross-country are 0-4 so far this season. Tampa has a chance to buck that trend today due to the running game the Vipers have established. Tampa had two 100 yard rushers in last week’s win. Los Angeles will need to force Tampa to become a passing team to slow down the rushing attack. Stopping the run is a tall order for LA, as the Wildcats are last in the XFL in rushing defense. Los Angeles gives up 131.5 yards per game on the ground.

Here are the staff picks for week 5:

A Tale of 2 Cities in 2 Weeks

by Bee Jay Glosson

Lets flash back to 2 weeks ago when the DC Defenders were undefeated coming off of the league’s first shutout. DC was in the 1 or 2 slot of everyone’s power rankings, riding high and feeling good, looking at the first road game against a winless wildcats team in L.A.. Undefeated vs winless means great things right? No, not at all. The wildcats showed up and smacked the Defenders right in the mouth and then kicked them in the ribs while they were down.

In a game that Cardale Jones throws 4 INTs and a punt gets fumbled; we saw an offense, that in weeks 1 and 2 were good enough to keep any team in a game, completely crumble and any hope of winning the game flew right out the door. L.A. would go on to blow the doors off of the Defenders in a 39-9 rout.

Its ok, just get up and dust yourself off because the winless Tampa Bay Vipers are up next and there is no way that the Defenders could lose to a winless team 2 weeks in a row, right? Well, they would indeed give a winless team their first win for a second straight week. Where the Wildcats lived off of the INT the week before, the Vipers would live off of completely shutting down the Defenders offense on every level.

With only 107 total yards in the entire game, the Defenders found a way to look even worse than they did the week before. With only 30% efficiency on 3rd down, and a complete lack of offensive ability, the Defenders who completed the first shutout in league history just 2 weeks earlier would indeed be the victim of another as they would fall to the Vipers 25-0.

Cardale Jones could be heard completely throwing his wide receiver under the bus saying “that 1 needed to be benched because he didn’t show up to play today.” In a clip that was reminiscent of Matt Mcgloin’s tirade where he stated that it was the game plans fault they were losing instead of shouldering the blame himself, Cardale pushed all the blame off on everyone else instead.

For a Defenders team that looked so great in weeks 1 and 2, weeks 3 and 4 were clearly a different tale. However, there is no time to waste on preparations though as the high flying Battlehawks come into D.C. for week 5 as they are riding a 2 game winning streak.

If the Defenders are to have any chance in this game they need to find a way to play like they did in the first couple weeks of the season. They need the defense to make stops and the offense to not give the ball over on the short field. 

Not as easy as it sounds in a league where there are no off weeks and every team is a threat. Even the winless ones like the Defenders found out the hard way. Fans shouldn’t give up on the team though as there is still 6 more weeks of football and anything can happen. The Defenders are still the number 2 seed in the east and with the toughest stretch coming up they really need to get back to their roots of defense first.

I believe Pep can find a way to get this team going, but if Jones continues to not get the offense moving then I expect to see a QB change in the near future. Jones has 6 INTs on the year and that is only 1 behind the league leader Landry Jones.  Shields up Defenders fans, stay loud and proud because your team needs you this week to try and stop this skid and start a winning streak again.

XFL FanZone Week 4 Preview and Picks

Week four is here, highlighted by the Texas Throwdown! Dallas and Houston meet for the first time this season in what is sure to be a barn burner! St. Louis gets to be in the dome again this week, looking to put out the Dragons’ flames, while DC travels to Tampa, trying to avoid getting snakebit. New York gets to return home after two brutal beatings, only to face a rejuvenated Wildcats team. Here are a preview and some score predictions, followed by staff picks.

Guardians @ Wildcats
Time: 2 pm
TV: ABC

The Wildcats come into this game off of a dominant performance against DC. LA will be without top wide receiver Nelson Spruce, however, so temper expectations. Traveling across the country may also be a factor. Visiting teams are 4-8 on the season.

The Guardians will be without starting quarterback Matt McGloin this week, reducing the quarterback carousel to two in New York. The Guardians are a different team at home but have only scored nine points in the last two games. New York needs to find an offensive identity to be able to pull this one off. The Guardians have had some success with the run game this year as running back Tim Cook is averaging 4.3 yards per rush.

Prediction: Wildcats 23, Guardians 15

Dragons @ BattleHawks
Time: 5 pm
TV: FOX

Seattle’s defense will need to do something big today to change the outcome in this one. St. Louis is a ten-point favorite to win. The Dragons will have to commit to stopping the run and force St. Louis to pass to pull off a victory. The BattleHawks are averaging less than 200 yards passing per game.

For the BattleHawks to win, special teams will play a role. Former Baltimore Brigade star Joe Powell scored the first kick return last weekend. St. Louis also blocked a punt last week. Seattle has struggled with special teams at times, so expect a BattleHawk score on special teams this week.

Prediction: St. Louis 24, Seattle 9

Roughnecks @ Renegades
Time: 4 pm (Sunday)
TV: FS1


The game of the weekend! The Texas Throwdown makes its season debut. Dallas and Houston are two of the hottest teams in the XFL right now, so expect this game to live up to the hype. Dallas has a balanced attack of both run and pass, and Houston is showcasing two league MVP candidates in PJ Walker and Cam Phillips. The deciding factor in this game will be Houston’s defense. The Roughnecks have given up an increasing amount of points each week. Pair that with the fact that the Renegades are starting to gel offensively. This game will likely be the highest-scoring game of the XFL season so far.

Prediction: Renegades 39, Roughnecks 36

Defenders @ Vipers
Time 7 pm (Sunday)
TV: ESPN 2

Tampa Bay looked much improved last weekend, despite losing to Houston. The Vipers put up 27 points, by far the highest output total of the season. DC, on the other hand, was stifled last weekend. Quarterback Cardale Jones will need to return to form this week. Jones threw four interceptions against LA. Look for last week’s debacle to be a wake-up call for the Defenders. DC gets back on track with a win in Tampa.

Prediction: Defenders 25, Vipers 23

Here are the staff picks:

XFL FanZone’s Week Three Preview and Picks

Week three! There are some intriguing matchups this weekend. Four 1-1 teams look to keep pace with the top of the conferences, and two 0-2 teams look to topple the last remaining unbeatens.

Score predictions for this week:

Seattle 20, Dallas 18 (Overtime)

The Dragons are very banged up, but the home crowd will be what propels Seattle to victory this week. This could also be the first overtime game of the season, as the teams are evenly matched statistically. Hopefully, Seattle can embrace a ‘next man up’ mentality and keep the game close.

DC 30, LA 14

This is shaping up to be an exciting game. There is a high potential for the revenge factor for Defenders Rashad Ross and Anthony Johnson. Both players began the season as Wildcats and were traded to DC. Not to be overlooked, though is former Defender DB Bradley Slyve. Slyve had the deciding pick-6 in a week one win over the Dragons and was promptly traded to LA.

Houston 27, Tampa Bay 14

The Vipers finally get to have a home game and showcase their green uniforms this week. This will likely be the only bright spot for the Vipers, as Houston is just too complete at the moment. Settling on a quarterback and scoring an offensive touchdown would be a success. Quarterback Aaron Murray is out for this game, so Taylor Cornelius or Quinton Flowers will be leading Tampa this weekend.

St. Louis 20, New York 12

St. Louis comes home for the first time this season to a sellout crowd. The St. Louis area has embraced the BattleHawks and should make for a raucous audience. New York is in a bit of a mess, having some quarterback controversy last weekend as Matt McGloin was benched. St. Louis wins this one with superior quarterback play from Jordan Ta’amu.

Here are the staff picks. Be sure to follow us at our Twitter handles below and follow @XFLFanZone as well!

XFL: One Fan’s Game Day Experience

Audi Field on a perfect day for football.

What’s it like to attend an XFL game? Is it worth the trip?

I recently had the opportunity to attend the XFL opener in Washington, DC, with my brother. It was about a four-hour drive from where we live to Audi Field, home of the Defenders. The hotel accommodations that we made were for the Hampton Inn-Washington, DC Navy Yard, and that location was perfect. Situated less than half a mile from the stadium, we were able to walk to Audi Field.

The entrance to the Fan Fest

We arrived early for the fan fest part of the event. There was a live band and some activities for kids, including making a shield. There was supposed to be a section of food trucks, but since it was not immediately in the fan fest area, we did not find it. It would have been nice if there had been some signage or a Defenders representative to ask about it. Still, the band was cool, and the energy from the fans was incredible.

One of the interesting things I noticed was the reception we received. We were wearing Dragons shirts and jerseys, which, of course, was the visiting team. We got a lot of “side-eye” glances and even heard a few shouts of “Dragons suck!” from the Defenders faithful. I thought this was incredible, especially since it was the first game of a new league in which these teams had never played one another before. The Defender fans were eager to defend their home turf.

The gates opened 90 minutes before game time. The security process was efficient and straightforward. Tickets to the game were in my phone’s digital wallet, so entrance in the event was painless. Upon entering the stadium, we noticed the extremely long line for the souvenir stand. Fans who exited the shop were changing into the jerseys they had purchased. Souvenir footballs commemorating the inaugural were another hot seller. All were sold out before we could get into the shop to browse! One of the most fun touches in the shop was the customization station for fans that wanted a specific name and number.

Audi Field seats about 20,000 people, meaning that every seat in the stadium is a good one. Our seats were on the Defenders side of the field in section 132. We were on the opposite end from where teams enter. When Seattle came through the tunnel, a loud chorus of boos rained down upon them. The game had not even started, and already the home team’s faithful made their presence felt.

The crowd erupted when DC entered.

The game itself was fantastic. Both teams made big plays; there were calls the fans hated and calls they loved. The first 10,000 fans received a replica shield to show their support for the Defenders. Fans shouted, “Shields Up!” when DC needed to make a big play. At a crucial moment late in the fourth quarter, the crowd was electric. The stadium pulsed with energy as DC jumped on a Dragons fumble to seal the victory.

After the game, our walk back to the hotel was met with a few more “Dragons suck!’” notifications from Defenders fans. One thing that was very exciting to see was how the fans began to peel off and patronize nearby restaurants. We passed several venues on the way back to the hotel, and each one was quickly filling up with Defenders fans.

All in all, the XFL fan experience is incredible. Audi Field is the perfect venue to watch a game, and access to the field is simple. DC having an excellent team is a nice bonus. I would wholeheartedly recommend attending an XFL game if possible. After all, it’s all for the love of football.

XFL: Week One Preview and Picks!

The wait is over! XFL 2020 is here and the XFLFanZone has the weekend previewed. The weekend kicks off in Washington, DC with the Defenders and Dragons. Houston and Los Angeles follow later Saturday evening. Sunday sees the Vipers square off against the Guardians in the matinee, with Dallas and St. Louis finishing off the slate of games. Here is a look at the individual game matchups and a look at the staff picks for week one. 

Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders

Time: 2 pm

TV: ABC

Line: Defenders -7.5

The inaugural game for this new version of the XFL features former NCAA champion Cardale Jones leading an explosive Defenders lineup against a stingy Seattle defense. DC is nearly an eight-point favorite, but with the new conversion rules for the XFL, an eight point lead is not nearly enough. Look for offensive coordinator Mike Riley (Seattle) to get the three-headed monster of Farrow, Williams, and Gardner involved early in the contest to mitigate the speedy scores of the Defenders. 

Prediction: Dragons 39, Defenders 32

Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks

Time: 5 pm

TV: Fox

Line: Roughnecks -5.5

The Wildcats and Roughnecks have had some interesting last minute changes at the quarterback position. Connor Cook, the expected starter for Houston, was beaten out for the job by PJ Walker. Walker, a dual threat quarterback from Temple, gives the Roughnecks more options offensively. The ability to both run and pass should factor heavily in the XFL this season. For Los Angeles, projected starter Josh Johson is dealing with a hip injury that will keep him out of the opener. Backup Jalan McClendon gets the nod for the Wildcats. This unanticipated injury for the Wildcats tips the scales in the Roughnecks favor. 

Prediction: Houston 33, LA 26

Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians

Time: 2 pm (Sunday, February 9)

TV: Fox

Line: Vipers -2 

Former University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Muray leads a talented Vipers squad into New York to battle the Guardians. Murray was last seen with the AAF’s Atlanta Legends. It will be interesting to see how Murray can flourish in the Marc Trestman-led offense. For New York, wide receiver Mekale McKay should be very fun to watch. The 6-foot-5 wide receiver was a standout performer with the San Antonio Commanders for the AAF. This will likely be the closest game of the weekend. 

Prediction: Vipers 39, Guardians 36

St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades

Time: 5 pm EST (Sunday,February 9)

TV: ESPN

Line: Renegades -10

In the most lopsided line of the weekend, the Dallas Renegades are a ten-point favorite at home against the BattleHawks. This is due largely to the coaching staff of the Renegades, led by Bob Stoops. Stoops won a national title with Oklahoma and is looking to capitalize on that success in the professional game. The only potential setback for the Renegades is the status of starting quarterback Landry Jones. Jones was listed as questionable on the injury report. For the BattleHawks, quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and running back Christine Michael will have to have huge games for St. Louis. 

Check out the staff picks for this week:

Deep Routes: Improbable Probability – XFL Week 1

by Anthony Reinhard

The XFL season will begin this Saturday and will end a period of speculation about which of the eight newborn franchises will emerge as the team to beat in the XFL’s inaugural season. This is always a tricky phase for folks like myself who gravitate more toward empirical evidence and data. While there is very little reliable information available, the absence of information presents an opportunity to test one’s understanding of uncertainty.

Months before the season, our base assumption should be that each team will win 5 of their 10 games on average and have a 12.5% chance (1 out of 8) of winning the 2020 XFL championship. As rosters start to take shape we can begin to adjust these assumptions. The challenging part is figuring out how much to adjust. I see betting markets as an ideal breeding ground for zeroing in on just how much uncertainty exists in a situation. As far as finding a favorite for the upcoming XFL season, there isn’t much uncertainty at all. Every sportsbook I looked at had Dallas as the favorite to take home the title in April.

Implied Odds to win 2020 XFL Championship, as of February 6th

I used the information above to back into Elo ratings. Those ratings will be serving as a starting point for my XFL model, which I will be updating each week. Ultimately, I found that the difference between having a 20% chance to win the XFL title at the start of the season and a 7.5% chance doesn’t really translate to as big a gap as one might think. My initial ratings would give Dallas less than a three point edge against Seattle on a neutral field if they played in Week 1. Despite that modest spread, Seattle would need to win by about 18 points (I won’t bore you with the math) to earn a higher Elo rating than Dallas entering Week 2.

My final conclusion is that while there is a meaningful consensus about who the best and worst teams are as we enter the season, we shouldn’t be surprised if this hierarchy is completely toppled come March.

Week 1 Available Tickets – Final Look

With one day before the 2nd inaugural kickoff of the XFL, it is time for one last look at the state of available tickets for this week’s home games.

Teams have seen a great decrease in available tickets. So much so that some upper level seating and standing room only seating has been opened up in some stadiums.

Get your tickets at http://www.ticketmaster.com before it is too late!

* All screenshots are as of 2/7/2020
** Blue dots are seats still available. Purple are available through re-sellers.

Houston – 2/8/2020

DC Defenders – 2/8/2020
* Section 137 is sold as Standing Room Only

Dallas Renegades – 2/9/2020

New York Guardians – 2/9/2020

SEC Junction XFL: Chris Landry

On this podcast The Swamp Dane and Mr. Landry discuss the issues of the XFL as a spring league and the general talent and make-up of the league.

NFL and NCAA scout, Chris Landry, joins the podcast and offers a unique perspective regarding the XFL. Chris has had an extensive career in NFL scouting offices and as a coach-analyst for several programs. He currently runs LandryFootball.com giving hungry fans all the breakdowns and scouting knowledge they can muster.

Follow The Swamp Dane on Twitter at @TheSwampDane and check out his other podcasts at https://secjunctionxfl.podbean.com/

Wins and Losses by the Numbers: Statistical look at the XFL Week 1

by Anthony Reinhard

Introducing a weekly article taking a look at the XFL’s elo ranking and mathematical likelihood of winning for each team.

Each week the stats will be reviewed and revised based on the outcomes of the previous games.

For more details, including an interactive schedule breakdown by team, be sure to check out http://statbutler.com/xfl/

Elo Projections

The methodology being used is based on FiveThirtyEight’s pre-2019 NFL elo model. Pre-season ratings were computed based on XFL champion futures odds on Bovada.

The difference between two team’s ratings is equal to the point spread between those two teams. The home team will also get a 2.6 point home-field advantage. An average team will have a rating of zero.This page will be updated as games are played.


Upcoming Games

Based on the elo rankings, below are the forecasts for this week’s XFL games! The length of the bars below reflect win probability and point spread can be found in the parenthesis.