We had no idea what to expect from Week 1 of the 2020 XFL season. But now that we have our first weekend of results to give us a better idea of personnel and coaching throughout the eight-team league, Week 2 is a fine time to cross over from our typical NFL picks and predictions against the spread.
After the first four games of round-robin competition, two teams stand out as strong favorites to emerge as the XFL’s best. Will they keep it up on the second weekend? Without further ado, here is our fledgling fearless forecast for Saturday and Sunday (odds courtesy of BetOnline.ag).
XFL Week 2 picks, predictions against the spread
- Game of the Week: New York Guardians at DC Defenders (-7)
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ABC
The Defenders look like the Bizarro version of the Redskins down to dynamic former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones. Pep Hamilton has brought nice offensive energy to his team, and the defense is feeding off the big plays. It’s clear early, in a league with shaky line play and limited running games, mobile big-armed quarterbacks have a big advantage. Jones also has a nice array of weapons in Rashad Ross, Khari Lee and Eli Rogers.
The Guardians’ Matt McGloin looks more like a dinosaur in this style of play as an older pocket passer. He’s the worst starter in the league now vs. arguably the best. Kevin Gilbride’s team won’t force enough takeaways to overcome their limitations and Jones’ ceiling. Go with the playmaker over the caretaker.
Pick: Defenders win 31-14 and cover the spread.
- Upset of the Week: Tampa Bay Vipers (-2.5) at Seattle Dragons
Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, Fox
The Vipers are Dragons are both trying to avoid going 0-2. Both had shaky quarterback play in the opener, as Tampa Bay’s Aaron Murray was benched for throwing two interceptions while Seattle’s Brandon Silvers matched that number in his performance. The Vipers have the XFL’s leading receiver in Dan Williams but the Dragons counter with the running/receiving combination of Kenneth Farrow and Austin Proehl.
At home in Washington, the Dragons will be happy to not be facing the Defenders cross-country and instead have an opponent come from afar to play them. We’re believing Jim Zorn’s team to channel his Seahawks days with less trust in Marc Trestman.
Pick: Dragons win 23-20.
- Rebound of the Week: Dallas Renegades (-4.5) at LA Wildcats
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ABC
The 2012 Oklahoma Sooners, aka Dallas with Bob Stoops and Landry Jones, will keep LA’s post-Pepper Johnson defense in disarray as the Renegades get a major QB upgrade from Phillip Nelson with the former Steelers top backup starting. The Wildcats seem headed to battling the Vipers for the XFL’s initial cellar. Defensively, Frank Alexander and Tegray Sales will contain the Wildcats’ offense, which is expected to get Josh Johnson back to help a receiving corps that did little in the opener.
Pick: Renegades win 35-20 and cover the spread.
- Shootout of the Week: St. Louis BattleHawks at Houston Roughnecks (-8)
Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, FS1
The BattleHawks and Roughnecks also have excellent dual-threat QBs built for this league in Jordan Ta’amu and P.J. Walker. Between Ta’amu and former Redskin Matt Jones, St. Louis had the most impressive XFL rushing attack with 191 yards in the grinding win over Dallas last week. Walker, however, has the early XFL MVP edge over Jones with his high-level passing, spreading the ball around downfield with great confidence. Ta’amu will be up for the duel, but the Roughnecks will rule the roost in a second straight home game to keep up with the Defenders in the standings.
Pick: Roughnecks win 34-27 but fail to cover the spread.