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:

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

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

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)

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)

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: 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


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)


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.

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.

XFL: Each Team’s X-Factor

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The XFL is football reimagined. New game innovations and new teams have created quite a stir among football fans everywhere. For fans, the XFL is a chance to extend the joy of football season for three more months. For players, the XFL is a new chance to keep their dreams of playing professional football alive.  Many of the players on the XFL teams are players that slipped through the cracks of NFL combines and other professional leagues. With the release of the 52-man rosters on January 27, the stage is set for these athletes to shine once again. Which of the lesser known players will be making a big splash during the inaugural season? Take a look at one potential X-factor for each team. 

DC Defenders- Rashad “Rocket” Ross, Wide Receiver

Rashad Ross played collegiately at Arizona State. During the draft combine of 2013, Ross posted a 4.42 40-yard dash time. Ross spent time in the NFL with The Redskins, Bears and was most recently in training camp with the Carolina Panthers. The most successful season statistically for Ross was not in the NFL. In the spring of 2019 Ross was a WR for the Alliance of American Football’s Arizona Hotshots. Ross recorded 36 receptions for 583 yards and 7 touchdowns. He averaged over 16 yards per catch. It will be exciting to see how well the 6-foot, 180 pound wide receiver pairs with Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones. Expect to see a lot of big plays this season from the DC Defenders and Rocket Ross. 

Dallas Renegades- Jeff Badet, WR

Jeff Badet, a 5 foot 11 speedster from the University of Oklahoma is looking to make a huge impact for the Dallas Renegades this year.  Badet comes into the league with a huge advantage having his former university head coach Bob Stoops as his head coach for the Renegades. Look for Stoops to feature Badet in all of his offense of schemes, as the explosive wide receiver looks to dominate the XFL west for the Renegades 

Tampa Bay Vipers- Nick Truesdell, TE

Nick Truesdell, a 6 foot-5 tight end from Grand Rapids junior college, spent some time in 2019 with the Alliance of American Football’s Salt Lake City Stallions. Truesdell caught 24 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns with the stallions. Look for Truesdell to be a huge factor in Red zone situations for the Tampa Bay Vipers due to the fact that conversions will be a huge influence on the game.  with the option of going for a 12 or three point conversions after a touchdown Tight Ends will play a huge role in the offensive production for XFL teams.

Los Angeles Wildcats-  Shawn Oakman, DE

Shawn Oakman, the monster defensive end and most famously known for the meme generated by him on social media was a stand out performer at Baylor. Oakman was with the Wildcats at the beginning of training camp, was released, and was recently added back to the team just before the 52 man roster came out.  Expect Oakman to impact his team by giving a dominant pass rush, disrupting the offenses around the league by using his 6-foot-9, 280 pound frame. Oakman never had the chance to make an impact in the NFL, as a legal matter was unresolved prior to the 2016 draft, prompting NFL teams to pass on him. 

St. Louis Battlehawks- Matt Jones, RB

Matt Jones is a 6-foot-2, 240 pound running back from the University of Florida, spent time with the Washington Redskins, Indianapolis Colts, and the Philadelphia Eagles.  Jones leads a very talented backfield in St. Louis. Having been out of football since 2018, Jones is eager to get back into action and make a statement in St. Louis. 

New York Guardians- MeKale McKay, WR

Wide receiver MeKale McKay is a 6 foot 5 wide receiver out of Connecticut and is looking to make a huge impact for the New York Guardians the season. McKay most recently spent time with the AAF San Antonio commanders where he was a deep play threat and the team’s  leading receiver. Because of his huge stature, MeKale McKay will be a big target in the red zone this season. Also, look for him to make an impact in the conversion side of the game. 

Seattle Dragons- Ja’Quan Gardner, RB

 Ja’Quan Gardner, a 5-foot-7, 205 pound running back from Humboldt State is looking to make an impact on the Seattle dragons this season. THe  strong, powerful back was the leading rusher for the Alliance of American Football’s San Diego Fleet. Check out this video clip to see his burst of speed as he heads towards  the end zone. Gardener will be a nice change of pace back for the Seattle dragons in what is beginning to look like a three headed monster in the running game. Kenneth Farrow (San Antonio Commanders)  and Trey Williams (San Antonio Commanders) join Gardner in what is currently an all former-AAF backfield. 

The XFL officially kicks off Saturday, February 8, at 2pm on ABC.

Remaining Seats for Home Openers

With one week to go for half the league, it is time for another quick look at the state of available tickets for each team’s first home game.

* All screenshots are as of 1/31/2020
** Blue dots are seats still available. Purple are available through re-sellers.

Houston Roughnecks – 2/8/2020
DC Defenders – 2/8/2020
New York Guardians – 2/9/2020
Dallas Renegades – 2/9/2020
Seattle Dragons – 2/15/2020
Los Angeles Wildcats – 2/16/2020
Tampa Bay Vipers – 2/22/2020
St. Louis Battlehawks – 2/23/2020

Which XFL Rule Will Rule Them All?

Image result for xfl pic

Recently, the XFL released its rules for the upcoming 2020 season. Touting the major changes as “Five Gameplay Innovations,” the XFL is intent on making its brand of professional football more enjoyable to experience.  Many of the rule changes are geared towards making the game a much faster-paced product to consume. The idea is to play as entertaining a game as possible, with no ties, in under three hours. The rules have caused quite a stir in the XFL fan community, as anticipation is building for the season. But which of the new innovations will be the most popular? Which will breed the most controversy? Which might find its way into other football leagues? 

Here is a quick review of the Gameplay Innovations:

  1. Conversions: Teams will no longer kick, but will go for one, two or three points after a score. 
  2. Double-Forward Pass: Teams will be allowed to throw the ball forward more than once if the passes remain behind the line of scrimmage.
  3. Kickoffs: Both the kicking a receiving team will line up on the receiving side of the 50-yard line. Touchbacks will be brought out to the 35-yard line. Out of bounds kicks will be placed at the 45-yard line of the receiving team.
  4. Punts: Players cannot release until the ball is punted. Touchbacks will be placed at the 35 instead of the traditional 20-yard line. 
  5. Overtime: Shootout-style, Overtime scores are worth two points each. Teams alternate one possession at a time. Each possession begins at the opponents’ 5-yard line. Overtime continues until there is a winner.

One Rule to Rule them All:

The most popular innovation will likely be the conversion attempt. Teams that are trailing by nine points are now only one score away from tying the game and forcing overtime. This will lead to more exciting finishes and lots of scorigami on the scoreboard. (Scorigami is a unique total that has never been scored in a game before.) Conversions will influence everything from in-game strategy to fantasy betting. Point spreads will be very difficult to calculate and cover. The over is likely to be very popular. Going into games with very unpredictable outcomes will make the XFL extremely fun to watch. 

The Least of These

The least popular and most controversial rule, at first anyway, will be the double forward pass. Football purists will scoff at this change, claiming that the XFLis not “real” football. But, that’s the point, isn’t it? The XFL is supposed to be football reimagined. The double forward pass will initially be difficult to embrace because it is drastically different, but eventually it will allow for a deeper and more intricate playbook, and more highlight reel plays. 

The One That Will Get Stolen

The NFL brass will likely be monitoring the success of the new rules. The emphasis of the XFL’s new rules has been to innovate the game and promote player safety. With the recent early retirement of several high profile NFL players, the league will be looking to make an even safer game. The XFL rule that will most likely end up in the NFL is the kickoff rule. It will bring excitement back to the kicking game, and will reduce concussions. It may take several years, but expect the XFL kickoff to end up in the NFL eventually. 

Find all of the rules and further explanation on XFL.com